A number of months ago, I was going to write a post about the importance of appreciating each day as it is, as imperfect as it is. Because wherever you are today, however hard it seems, you don’t know what the next day holds. It’s important to actively appreciate each day for all that is good, and appreciate all the bad that hasn’t happened. Like that all your kids are in bed at night, and no one has broken an arm or had to go to the emergency room. The day after I mentally wrote this, one of our children was taken to the emergency room, and I remember thinking how glad I was that I had focused on what I had before I didn’t have it.
You don’t want hard times to be a wake up call that force you to see in retrospect that you missed out on enjoying the days you had because you were too busy looking at what was wrong.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. As much as I try to actively look for the good in each day, I can see so many things I didn’t appreciate. I didn’t appreciate my baby’s wet diaper, him moving his limbs or having the strength to make sounds. There are a lot of other things I didn’t appreciate until I didn’t have them.
At the hospital, I asked a nurse who was sighing heavily what was wrong, and she told me that things were hard. I asked her why, and she told me that she has to get ready for Pesach/Passover and that we women have hard lives. I said to her, “I hear what you’re saying, but right now I’d be very happy to be at home getting ready for Pesach.” Three weeks ago Pesach preparation seemed like something significant to deal with. Now it’s hardly a minor blip to me. I wasn’t preaching to her or saying her reality wasn’t valid, because of course it is. I was just sharing my perspective from my vantage point right now.
Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed about the sequence of events lately, like everything in my life was shattering all around me. Thinking about all the things in my life that were good that I hadn’t appreciated enough made me feel even worse. I wanted the reassurance that this was as bad as it was going to get, that I had hit rock bottom and the only place to go was up. But if there were still good things left, I didn’t have that reassurance.
I’ve watched my life and the lives of others spiral down very quickly, frighteningly quickly. We want to feel like we’re in control of our lives and if we do the right things, life will proceed in a predictably pleasant way. We don’t want to think that despite our best efforts, things can shift in the blink of an eye. But today I was comforted when remembering this fact of life is two sided: it can always be worse, but it can also always be better. And just as things can get bad very quickly, they can also change for the better in an instant.
That thought gave me a lot of hope and perspective.