This morning, the cashier at the convenience store told me to “Have a nice day.” She said it from behind a glass shield, while wearing a mask.
Here’s the thing. I don’t know her. I don’t know if she and I agree on life issues. I don’t know if we have the same taste in ice cream, or literature, or if she manicures her toenails regularly or just lets them grow long.
But she told me to have a nice day. And it felt good to hear that.
The irony here is that I used to hate this little phrase. It can sound so insincere. But the more I think about it, the more it’s growing on me. After all, who doesn’t deserve a nice day?
So this morning when I sat down to clip my toenails, I decided that I wanted to tell you to have a nice day. Why not? Shoot. Have two.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about a ridiculously happy day. No. Too much happiness can make you unhappy. That kind of elation is way too much stress. And stress is stress no matter how you look at it. Even happy stress is still stress.
You can be gut-bustingly happy on the day of your wedding, but STILL be so stressed out that you consume too many Bushwhacker cocktails—as was the case in the 2002 incident when my uncle danced on top of the groom’s mother’s table.
So I wish you easiness. Relaxation. A very mellow, simple day. Like playing table tennis without gravity. Like sitting in a comfortable chair and watching goldfish. Like sailing a boat on mirror-like water.
My father used to look at smooth water and always say, “That water’s slicker than owl spit.” I loved this particular phrase and often used it to impress my Sunday school teachers.
I hope you have an owl spit kind of day. I hope the woman who has eight schoolkids trapped at home from the pandemic pauses to eat a Klondike Bar. And I hope Jason, the kid with stage-four cancer, who has horrible headaches, has a very decent day. I hope Ellen, whose mother and father died of COVID, can manage a not-so-horrible day.
I hope your favorite show is on TV, or that you find something worth “binge-watching.” Which is a term I first learned from a 24-year-old person who told me that he had been “binging” all weekend. I told him that they had meetings for that sort of thing at the Episcopal church.
He laughed and said, “No, binging means finding a good show and watching a hundred of them in one sitting.”
So I went home and tried this with my wife. My wife selected a show that was produced by the BBC. It was a British period drama with elaborate costumes and lots of yearning. It was definitely heavy in the yearning department. We binged. She loved it. But if I’m being honest, I’ve had more interesting experiences clipping my toenails.
Although I do like how slow the BBC movies move. Because this world moves too fast for me, and it only seems to be moving faster.
Did you ever notice how when you were a kid a full year actually felt like a year? But now, the older you get, a year starts to feel like it only lasts a few months. Life is bizarre that way. Just when you get a handle on things, it all changes, and you have to relearn the rules.
New disasters happen, and you start to discover the truth about your fellow man. Pandemics come along and screw up the status quo.
You learn that some people aren’t kindhearted. In fact, some people behave like jerks. They will hurt you and not feel sorry about it.
It’s enough to get you down in the dumps. And then, just when you didn’t think you could get any lower, you turn on the TV and see things so horrible that you have to take an Alka-Seltzer.
So you go to bed wondering how this world could get any worse than it already is right now. But when you tune in next morning you find that it HAS GOTTEN WORSE. At least according to the news anchors.
Pretty soon, you have no choice but to watch BBC shows with your wife about the adventures of yearnful young women in English countrysides who are filled with unexplainable passions and can’t decide between marrying Gilbert or Whatever-The-Other-Guy’s-Name-Is.
Well, real life is not that frilly. Sometimes bad things happen, and they leave marks upon us that last lifetimes. People leave us. Good dogs die. And you start to wonder whether life is really this difficult or if you’re just crazy.
You’re not crazy. It is hard. Being human is hard. It’s brutal. And unfair. And nearly impossible. Life itself will bleed the energy out of you, break your bones, then bill you for the damages. But it’s also magnificent. And giddy. And colorful. And filled with tiny moments that paint you with happiness.
So today, just for today, just for 24 little hours, just for 1440 little minutes, I hope your life is nice. I hope you breathe. Play checkers with a child. I would love it if you ate something you weren’t supposed to eat. Or took a power nap.
Certainly, I know this is a tall order. And I’m too much of a realist to believe that anyone can have the best day ever simply because they decide they want to. But I do believe that you can have a nice one.
So have a nice day.