On days like today, it’s hard for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Days of long classes, unpaid internships, and restless nights filled with rowdy dreams that stick in my mind like a piece of scotch tape folded over onto itself. On days like today, rent is due, and Bali is both too far away and far too expensive, and bills, bills, bills (cue a Destiny Child chorus). On days like today, even my emotional escapes, like reading in the sunshine, fail to bring me solace, because it gets dark before I even leave class. On days like today, it’s challenging to find time to spend with the people I love, I find myself driving in hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic, and because I’ve committed myself to 3 weeks without sugar, I can’t even drown my sorrows in a piece of cheesecake or a Reese’s Fastbreak. And on days like today, it’s hard to think about anything but days like today.
On my drive home from an exhausting evening spent with teenagers in a drug and alcohol treatment center, I felt overwhelmed with impatience from a lack of clarity about my future. My mind was filled with thoughts about an unfinished paper due the next day, the lack of sleep I was sure to experience later that night, and whether or not I’d be able to escape the bouts of stress and exhaustion that were sure to present themselves in the coming weeks. And I was out of gas, and my phone was nearly dead, and my auxiliary cord had suddenly stopped working.
And then, I thought of a small phrase I had recently come across while on a walk. It had been spray-painted onto a square of sidewalk off a street near my home:
And then, I remembered of one of my favorite commercials:
And after that, this quote came into my mind:
“When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.”
—Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
And then, I thought of a letter written by one of my favorite authors, John Steinbeck, to his son, Thom. In a preceding letter, Thom asks his father for advice about being in love, and John responds with this:
“First, if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you. Second, there are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had . . . Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it. The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it . . . And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”
And then I remembered a statistic I had once read about how over 300,000 babies are born every, single day. And every single one of them will experience days like today. But they’ll also experience what it feels like to dance in the rain, or explore beautiful canyons, or glory in the type of love that is “an outpouring of everything good.” And then I thought about how there is no other known star in our universe that burns with just the right brightness, and is suspended at the exact proximity necessary to sustain life on a planet like ours. I liked that thought, because even on days like today, that star warms the earth when it rises, and that as long as it rises, good things will happen.
Because good things can still happen, even on days like today.