An addition to the list of the smartest things Randy has ever done: three weeks of happiness work before MawMaw’s birthday. Somehow my body and mood knew what today was before my brain did. I woke up feeling sluggish and mean as hell and started the day by being a snappy bitch. I’m not a snappy guy, so I figured something was up and then realized what today was. She would have been 87 today, and somehow that still feels too young.
The 5 happiness tasks really came in handy today, and I held on tight to my new anchor(s). It ended up being a pretty good day, and in honor of my grandmother, the efforts I made today to not fall into the belly of the whale were all for her. Thank you, MawMaw, and happy birthday. I hope the cake you’re having is massive, delicious, shaped like an owl, and full of meringue (MawMaw loved it and could throw down some meringue like nobody’s business).
I was slow today. Incredibly slow. I was having a friend over for lunch and didn’t really have time to be slow, so I had to pull it together fast after staying way too long in bed. I had to go to the market so I thought I’d bring back some oldies but goodies, and I tried the notorious, horrible hill that I started Day 1 with. I wanted to see if it was any easier three weeks later. It wasn’t. That hill is still a bastard. But this time, I had purpose. And this time, I didn’t have the pain in my side. So while it was still hard, the effort to reach the top wasn’t as painful. So I tackled the next hill, too, and I showed up to the market out of breath and drenched in sweat.
I felt like this task was my savior today. With each fast beat of my exercised heart, the sluggishness and bad mood went away. When I got home, I tacked on 15 minutes of yoga, and after it was all over “snappy” had turned to “happy-ish.”
I did 20 minutes of meditation today after the yoga, again focusing on breath. My thoughts kept going back to Day 1, I guess since I had just done that hill again, and though I was supposed to be paying attention only to my breath, I couldn’t help but think about how much this task had changed—much like that horrible hill. It was still hard, but the effort was somehow easier. Or the effort wasn’t as taxing. I don’t really know how to describe it.
But I’m going to try. Here’s the thing. This stuff is work, and I’m beginning to understand that it will always be work. I used to think that happiness meant finding some way to do nothing; that happiness meant ease and things handed to you; that it all came naturally and without effort. No, it’s hard. Three weeks in, and it’s still hard. But the effort has meaning now. I’m starting to see the effects of it. So when I want to give up, I keep going, I push myself because I know it makes me feel better. It makes me better. And I know I’m not supposed to judge any of this yet, but the difference between Day 1 and today has been on my mind, and this needed saying.
Random act of kindness
Here’s an embarrassing and shameful Randy story. When I was in high school I volunteered at a soup kitchen in downtown Beaumont, TX. Before you start thinking me selfless and kind, know that I did this for incredibly selfish reasons. I did it because I wanted to have a competitive college application. I wanted scholarships, my choice of schools, and the academic red carpet. Yes, I was that kind of high school student. So I showed up at 10 in the morning on Saturdays at a rundown space in the worst part of town in the worst part of Texas and was quietly miserable the entire time.
There was one day when it was my job to hand out pieces of sliced white bread—the store bought, Wonder bread kind. A thin, frail woman in her early 40s came through the line. I went to hand her a piece of bread, and she stopped me saying, “No, can you give me a slice of bread using gloves, please?” And I thought, “Wow, how can someone getting food at a soup kitchen be so picky?!”
I told my grandmother about this when I got home, assuming that she’d also roll her eyes and be like, “Poor people are so high and mighty,” (even though we were on food stamps and eating WIC cheese at the time). But she didn’t. She calmly replied, “Why shouldn’t she expect clean bread that doesn’t have your grubby, teenage hands all over it?” I was schooled good and proper, and it’s stuck with me 20 years later.
As I mentioned, I was having a friend over for lunch today. In honor of MawMaw’s birthday I bought a pre-made slice of lemon meringue pie, which she loved. As I left the market, I saw a homeless man sitting on a bench in front of the store. I see him often, and I always think he’s napping because he’s hunched over, his head drooped low. But with this kindness work, I look a little closer now, and I saw that he wasn’t sleeping, he was suffering, and his body was hunched from osteoporosis. On top of that, he was homeless and had a shopping cart full of heavy things that had to be hard for him to push around. He needed birthday pie way more than I did.
I was about to give it to him when it hit me that he wouldn’t have a fork. “Well, he can eat it with his hands,” I replied to myself. But then I remembered what MawMaw said. There is no reason he shouldn’t expect than same quality of life that I have. So I went back into the market and got the man a fork to go with his lemon meringue pie. It’s a small thing, and one that I’m uncomfortable telling, but I hope it made her smile and let her know that if I have a heart, it’s because of her.
3 things I’m grateful for:
1) That I had someone in my life that loved me, fought for me, provided for me, and taught me what true kindness means
2) Parmesan rind—it is the secret to delicious and flavor-filled soups (for those of you who haven’t discovered this yet, consider this my second random act of kindness for the day)
3) That I had the forethought not to be alone today
Reflect on something good that happened
Normally the mood I woke up in today would drive me to cancel all plans and make me intent on isolation and pissed-offness. But today I thought I’d try something different, something against the pattern that apparently hasn’t worked so well in the past. Sure, I was a little distracted and a lot bummed out, but I had a nice time and it was way better than spending the afternoon battling the dark side alone.