Yesterday was one of those days when “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters played non-stop in my head. I thought about that song off an on (mostly on) all day yesterday and couldn’t quite get it all sorted out. Try as I may, I also could not successfully push it off the radar screen of my conscious awareness. It weighed heavily on my mind. It still does. Do you ever have days like that?
Of course you do, everybody does. How’s that for misery loves company? When I deal with a “blue Monday”, I generally try to skirt the issue and purposefully choose to focus on something else. If that doesn’t work, I can always bring out “Don – the funny guy”. I can crack a few jokes, put on my happy-go-lucky persona, fabricate a smile and be figuratively on top of my game (at least for a little while). How’s that for: “Fake it until you make it?”
The crazy thing about yesterday is the toughest personal dilemma I faced had to do with rocks. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks”. Shattered glass of my own doing or rock throwing wasn’t part of yesterday’s dilemma. My biggest personal dilemma and I’m embarrassed to admit it, had to do with the color of rocks – eleven tons of them.
It’s immature of me. I can’t deny it, but it is not my fault. It is ALL the General’s fault. How’s that for sounding like a two year old? I know you think I’m playing “copy-cat” with Adam. After all, didn’t he credit Eve with the rotten choice he subsequently made? How did the punch line of that poem go?
It starts out: “On the third day, I was dust, common, ordinary dust like you see on a country road in a dry spell. Nothing expected of me, me expecting nothing neither. Then he comes along and blows, “In my own image too,” he says like he’s doing me a favor. Animals – “Name the animals?” I should give them names? …” Okay, so when I tried that poem at church thirty-seven years ago I got into a lot of trouble. Of course, I still like the punch line: “He could have made that woman where she didn’t eat that apple or He could have blown on some other dust.”
Getting back to the General, it was her idea that we needed a second opinion (ours collectively didn’t matter). We needed a second opinion on river rock for our (almost said “her”) landscape project. Okay, so I laid out the two different choices in the front flower bed next to our house. We asked everyone who stopped by on Sunday or Monday, “Which collection of rocks do you like best?” Without fail, everyone voted for the most colorful sample. That made the choice easy even though the selection was well over twice the price of the other stone. After all, this is our one shot to get it right. Everyone was of the mindset that the colorful rocks were the best. We even went to bed Sunday night thinking the color is in, the bland is out.
I woke up early Monday morning with the thought, “Are we crazy? If we go with the colored rocks, our yard will look like a perpetual Easter egg hunt?” What were we thinking? It was time for me to “man up” and tell the General how the cow ate the cabbage. Much to my surprise, she agreed with me. She had been having the same thoughts. Easy choice: The colorful rocks were off the table and the bland rocks (and least expensive) were our selection despite what other people thought.
Nothing is ever easy. Have you ever had that thought? I moved the rock samples to the back of the house next to the patio. The flagstone on the patio made the bland rocks look golden or worse yet, yellow. The colorful rocks look great next to the flagstone. Quick as a flash, we changed our minds again. By 8:30 a.m., the problem was solved. We were going with the colored rocks.
Consequently, yesterday’s blue Monday had no relationship to me, but it did include a number of people I care for and pray with regularly. Currently, several friends are dealing with end of life issues. Sadly, they are younger than I. Some of the challenges they face are really complicated. I feel privileged when they express a desire to visit with me. After all, when your days are numbered they seemingly go by really quickly. Seldom do I have a word of advice to share. All I can say is that I care and remind them that God cares and that whatever they are going through, he is going through it with them. Sharing time with them is important for me because high on their list of needs is someone with whom to talk.
Yet, I’ve never been backed into the kind of corner where several of them find themselves. Do you continue chemo if it makes you deathly ill? How important is quality of life in the midst of treatment? Is simply still being on this side of eternity enough or is it okay to say “No” to the treatment regime?
I also have several friends struggling with job related difficulties. That, too, is impacting their quality of life. One of the young men on my prayer list is unemployed through no fault of his own and needs work to support his family. Another friend hates her job, but can’t or won’t stop working for another two years. She and I are the same age. I don’t get it. If my job promoted the kind of misery hers provides her, I’d be long gone from that environment.
Throw in relational and familial issues and you come close to touching everyone with the stroke of your broad brush. Folks are not having an easy time of it. People are hurting and their experiences impact your experiences and your life. Didn’t Paul say, “If one member suffers, then all suffer together?” Occasionally folks talk about compassion fatigue. Recently, a former ambulance attendant (paramedic) told me, “I couldn’t do it any longer. I finally reached the place that for me, I couldn’t see another seriously injured or dead child. I had to find something different to do with my life.”
It was a blue Monday all day for me yesterday. The problems that weighed heavily on my mind and heart yesterday weren’t personal problems that impact me directly. They were problems that directly impact people that I care about and love.
So what about yesterday? Was it compassion fatigue? Was it the telephone call mid-afternoon yesterday with the news that another friend had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer? Was it the telephone call last night that another neighbor was being transported to the hospital and that the probable diagnosis is serious? Was it simply the need for a good night’s sleep?
My best guess is that it is a combination of all of the above. The good news is that today is a new day, a fresh start, and a new opportunity. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against the sound of “Rainy Days and Mondays”. It is a good sound, but it is not a good experience. I am grateful for a new day.
All My Best!