I learned a new gospel song last weekend from friend and superstar Vernon Bush called Lily in the Valley. Words, “there’s a lily in the valley… a bright and glorious star…” lots of times, followed by a bunch of “amens.” It’s a good song. An uplifting song. It’s a simple, joy-filled tune about finding the good.
Finding the good is easy to do, I find, when I’m not in a valley. But today was a swampy, off-kilter, oh-no, not-at-all-comfortable-in-my-britches kind of low down yuck day, and now I’m not in bed yet because I don’t want to go to sleep feeling bad. My brain, my darling brain, is a broken record, tormenting me with its perpetual skipping to the accumulated list of everything that went so very wrong today. It is instant gratification, like eating a whole roll of cookie dough (if you like that kind of thing) to review and add to this list. It feels like I’m in an endurance contest of trials and each of these wrong things is a notch in my belt. I grow ever more righteous, resentful, frustrated and victimized as the day progresses.
And I find, after focusing all day on this list, that I feel like I missed a day of my life. I had a few good moments there, where I stopped the record for a time or pulled the reigns in on the momentum, but then another thing would go wrong and I was kicking the dirt again. It is compelling now, to want to review the day in a kind of audit, making a power point presentation out of it and putting big yellow arrows at all the moments when I made poor choices. Or big red warning signs on situations I walked into that I know tend to make me grumpy. I think about all the decisions I could make – wear different clothes, do more yoga, drink more water, quit my job, never talk to people again – that will save me from this fate in the future. I’ve done this for 34 years. It hasn’t worked yet.
How to stop, so wholly and completely, that the strength of the momentum of this habit can’t take me on it’s ride? It feels today like turning physics on its head. A thing in action tends to stay in action.
Somehow, somewhere, whenever I sit down to write and ask a sincere question, the answer comes.
Just like that.
Now it came, like a tiny whisper from deep in the canyon of my left ribcage, saying “Make a list of the lillies.”
Things I loved about today:
- Pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
- Fresh laundry.
- The neck crack I’ve been waiting for for weeks.
- Sweet and kind words on my blog from friends and strangers.
- Saying hi to the new guy, and knowing I made his day better.
- A confirmed “yes!” from a donor for a $500 sponsorship.
- Singing along with Ani Difranco in the car.
- This perfect, dark, crickety, warm night, and the pjs I’m about to climb into.