On hard days I find it helpful to move my mind and spirit to things I know are true. I also move into a place of goodness. I confess, and everyone who knows me will agree, I am not always focused on what is true and being in a place of goodness. Life moves us around, we find ourselves all over the map, and we are running here and there to survive and cope and get through the day. So when a hard day comes, and it will come, we have a tendency to freeze up or lash out. I see these common responses to hard days a lot and I do these things myself. I think it is a human response, a kind of “fight or flight” auto-pilot. But just because it is human and normative does not make it healthy or good for us in the long haul.
Another human response, that takes more discipline, is to go mentally to a place of truth, of understanding what and who you are, what grounds you and connects you to the larger picture. If I am having a hard day I remind myself what community is for, what the big picture is, how we are all connected and how this connection stays healthy. That perspective gives me a sense of peace, it does not take away the hardness of the day, but it does hold that hardness in with supple hands that feel the edges and the texture of the whole experience. Instead of focusing on the narrow challenge it takes us to a broader place, a larger place, and the feeling is more comprehensive and total.
And there is goodness. Moving into goodness means connecting to something, someone or some place that makes us better, makes us good, makes us the agents of human compassion we were intended to be. On a hard day I open my heart as wide as possible, I stretch myself as much as I can, I move myself into compassion as deeply as I can. This is not a false strategy, the connection has to be real but in most cases these are experiences I have put off, left undone. By focusing and doubling down on what has been left undone I bring myself back to the perspective that makes hard days a piece and not a whole.
Today I sat down and thought about what church and community are for. I remembered the value of an organic body who live together in messiness and beauty. I placed myself within that spirit and it felt right. I also went to Value Village for a few minutes and saw a brand new hat, with tags, for a gathering place that a man who lives with loneliness experiences community. I bought the hat, it was $3, and took the bus to where I knew he would be. I presented him with the hat. I wanted no thanks, I just wanted to be in goodness.
It’s a hard day. But it is a day that can also fill me with deeper meaning if I lean into that. Being aware of how to get to those places is a great comfort to me. Hard is one thing, connected is another. The latter makes the former a moment not a memory.