FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Green Blankets
Sunday mornings are mine. I get up early, make a cup of coffee and watch my favorite show on television, CBS Sunday Morning. This is a news type program without the bad news. Imagine “60 Minutes” without any dark, controversial subjects. I like good news and positive stories about interesting people. I especially like them on Sunday mornings when my family is still asleep. This is my time. I don’t have much that is mine alone, so I claim whatever I can and I claim this.
Last Sunday, while watching my show, lying on the couch, I dozed off. The soft din of Charles Osgood’s soothing voice lullaby’d me into a peaceful morning nap. I was cozy, wrapped up in a green blanket and a quiet house. It is rare that I get both of these at the same time. And, like most good things I get around the house, this was not to last.
I was awakened by my 8 year old daughter, Helena, standing over me glaring, her beautiful green eyes burning a hole in my face. She was a silent devil in pink pajamas with a loud stare. In my peaceful slumber, I felt her evil presence and awoke with a start. My first instinctual response was to fight fire with fire. The question, “What the F*** is YOUR problem!?!” was nearer my tongue than I am comfortable revealing, but gratefully did not leave my mouth. But I thought it. Yes, I did. Instead of screaming these unrecoverable words, after my brief fury at having been awakened in such a manner, I asked, in a nice voice, “what’s wrong, Sweetie?’
She continued her hard look into my eyes, though she shifted it down slightly to look at the green blanket. It then became clear to me. She wanted the blanket. This green blanket is the best blanket in the house. It has a soft, white, sheep-skinnish pad on one side and a green, even softer, micro-fiber flip side. It is heavy and light at the same time and is the subject of much debate in our home. Everyone wants it. And this morning my lovely little girl wanted it so much, she angrily stood over me, glaring, until I woke up to give it to her. Which I did. I did not want to, but I knew, from my vast experience with matters such as this, that my time enjoying this moment and blanket were over. I could surely keep the blanket, but I could not enjoy it, of this, my daughter would make certain. We both knew this and so I gave her the blanket and retreated to the kitchen to make her breakfast.
The morning continued without incident. Upon reflection, the single, difference-making choice I made was my initial response to my daughter’s rude wake up call. In this moment, the outcome was determined. I chose to be better than my nature would generally guide me to be. In a split second, I recognized that this response was significant and would create the weather for the rest of my morning, if not the rest of the day. I chose well. It is nice when this happens. It doesn’t always.
This episode highlighted the fact that in every situation, many responses are possible. Some are good and some are not good, but, always the power to choose is ours. Choosing well creates good outcomes. Choosing bad creates bad outcomes. This is a very simple insight, but also an important one.
Basic physics indicate that for every reaction there is an equal, but opposite reaction, and so for every word we utter, a very predictable reaction is imminent. Each word sets into motion a chain of events or, at least, sets a tone for events that determine our day. Since every life consists of a string of days, whenever possible, I try to choose good words, which will, hopefully manifest themselves in good days. “Try” being the operative word here. I fail plenty, but I know it when I do it and usually try to do better next time. This idea is at the heart of any progression we attain as human beings: being better than we were before. Again, this is a simple insight, but an important one. Learning from our mistakes is a constant challenge, but it happens, sometimes in spite of us.
Recognizing the impact of our words is a powerful understanding and is a true game-changer. It determines a day and indeed a life. And, though it may not return us to a sleepy morning nap with a comfy green blanket, it is not without value. This is good to know. Today…I hope to choose well…
[EDITOR'S NOTE:"Feel Good Friday" is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: "Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!" Also, you can "friend" Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his new exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]