There are days when I am convinced the entire universe is conspiring against me.
Things break down, bunch up, and run astray. I’m overstressed, overworked, and grossly underappreciated. It just doesn’t pay to be me.
In this vein, our 4-year-old enjoys a book about a little boy named Alexander and his “no good, terrible, horrible, very bad day.”
In this book, a very normal person, much like you or me (other than that he is 4 and fictional), faces the trials and travails of a not-so-great day.
From burnt toast to lost pocket change, and lima beans for dinner to boot, this little fellow is convinced that the worst possible day ever in the history of days has been visited upon him.
This book is undoubtedly a best seller because we feel Alexander’s pain.
Poor me. Don’t we all know this one well? We run late for work, burn our tongues on the coffee, forget the dry cleaning, receive an unexpected bill, scratch the car, or elect the wrong fool to run our government who immediately goes on a rampage with our taxes.
There we are, once again, lamenting “Why does everything always happen to me?!”
Recently, I had one of those days. Unfortunately, it lasted for much of the winter.
Insult to injury. While on my regular errands, I pass the most stunning house. It is one of those “showplace” homes built to inspire envy in mere mortals.
It is gracious, sprawling, and always immaculate. People who live like that couldn’t possibly have any “real” problems, could they?
I imagine their most pressing dilemma must be which interior decorator to hire. This definitely does not strike me as a home where coupon clipping is required.
On one of my many endless errands in my seemingly endless days of duty, I passed this paragon of the perfect house, and it was clear that signs of construction were taking shape.
“Fabulous,” I groused to myself one day as I spied the laborers busy at work. “Like they NEED a bigger house?! Must be nice to have money to burn.”
I’m not normally so catty, but the strain of a life that seemed long on winter and short on comfort robbed me of my nicer side. Weeks passed but winter did not, and I was more entitled than ever to my no good, terrible, horrible, very bad day.
Stuck on my little hamster wheel of responsibility, I careened through the day muttering to myself and feeling entirely annoyed. “Why, in the name of all things pure and good, does everything ALWAYS happen to ME?!”
A closer look. Then, on yet another errand, I came to a stop next to the perfect house of the presumed perfect people, and risked momentary envy to steal a glance over to check out their new addition.
Sure enough, the addition was so fresh and new the wood seemed to gleam golden as only fresh lumber can. The angles were sharp and the structure straight and true. It was obvious no expense was spared. In fact, it was probably the nicest wheelchair ramp I have ever seen.
As I sat there, lamenting my tired hairdo, frightening checkbook, dry meatloaf, lima beans, pet hair problem, and poor gas mileage, I lost every last trace of my “no good, terrible, horrible, very bad day” for good.
It’s funny how you can learn, on an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, no good, horrible, very bad day, how good you really have it.
I imagine that when it comes to a barometer of “very bad days,” the secret is not getting what you want, but, rather, wanting what you’ve got.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is trying to be a more upbeat person when it comes to lima beans. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)