In kindergarten, I came up with the title for my first book: “Bad Days for Jennifer.” (Back then, my legal name was still Jennifer.) What was so bad about my days, I can only imagine. Maybe I didn’t want fish for dinner. Maybe my sister wouldn’t let me in her room or the seams on my socks felt funny or I didn’t have a friend to play with. Maybe it was too cold to get out of bed but I had no choice or I forgot we were having a spelling test or I left my wet bathing suit wrapped in a towel at school for three weeks and found it crawling with maggots (that really happened).
Or maybe I was having an early-childhood existential crisis, empathetically sensing all of the bad days of the collective human experience. At five-years old, it seems I was already doing what Alfred Adler referred to as “over-generalizing,” and what I now perceive as sort of the opposite of everything Buddhism teaches us, which is to see things as they are, not as more, less, better, worse, or in comparison to anything else.
Good, bad, ugly, or otherwise, what I keep learning is how to face rather than avoid, finesse, project, contradict, resist, fear or fix what is. Because yes, bad days happen. Bad mornings and bad moods, bad hair and big, bad wolves. And instead of leaning into the points, the truth I often try to smooth over them.
This morning’s title could have been “Bad Morning for Jena.” It’s greatly tempting to slap the “bad” label onto the girls’ morning, too, but I’d bet a sheet of candy buttons they had both moved on by the time their mama finished her latte.
So I made it to work and posted a status update on Facebook: “I will accept and appreciate support, encouragement & sustenance in any form today.” Reminders that it’s not such a bad, bad world (and I’m not such a bad, bad mama) came my way. My heart softened a little. I sent big love to my girls at school. I gratefully received an email telling me I am “just right.” I vowed to get myself to that 4:30 yoga class. A friend unexpectedly brought me lunch, which I sat and ate at my desk while taking a break to write this post. And I came here to say thank you to all of you who are helping me survive some of the biggest, baddest, mind-blowingest days of my life.
Guster, take it away.
Read the lyrics here.