January 19, 2005

Three Yellow Buses

On my bulletin board hangs a drawing made by a three year old with the caption “Awaken to the Exuberance of the Day.” The usual stick figure and swirl of primary colors were created by me during an art process at a Gathering at least twelve months ago. I do not remember the process. I do not remember the instructions. But I remember the results.

My intent was to create an image of how I wanted to wake up every morning. I am not one of those people who slides out of bed and feels the way to the coffee pot. For them only deep breathing will do until the caffeine hits the bloodstream. I am one of those obnoxious perky people who hits the floor running with a smile and a cheery greeting. At least sometimes I am. On good days I am.

The moment of waking is a crucial part of my day. It is at that critical place that I decide how my day will be. This morning I awoke from a dream in which I was spending my time at work doing nothing, trying to look like I was doing something, and hiding out. How was I going to fill out my time sheets to bill clients if I was doing nothing? Doing nothing at work is hard. I have not worked in thirteen years. Some things just do not let go.

My malaise at work in my dream hit the reality of my awakened state and stuck. Today was not going to be a good day. I did not have any particular word that I attached to my beginning attitude, but if I had had one, it would not have been “exuberance.”

A morning attitude, good or bad, is like a pair of glasses that I put on for the day. Sometimes it comes from a dream. Sometimes it is like a hangover from the night before. These glasses are a filter through which all of the events of the day will be processed. How I greet these events will depend on whether I put on a good filter or a bad filter.

“Good” and “bad” sound judgmental and God forbid I should be judging myself. I have searched for other words. Several years ago I used to wake up every day convinced that the nature of the day ahead was written on my bedroom wall. Up at the top of the beige blank slate was one of two words: “shitty” or “good.” You can probably guess which one prevailed. So you see, good and bad are a step up in my world.

I am learning that there are other worlds out there. Better systems of morning attitudinal adjustment exist. I was wowed by the system of Christopher, the fifteen year old autistic narrator of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. He counts the cars he sees from his morning school bus. If he passes four red cars in a row, it will be a Good Day. Three red cars in a row means a Quite Good Day. Five red cars means a Super Good Day. Four yellow cars in a row means a Black Day. On a Black Day he will not speak to anyone, will not eat lunch, will sit alone in the corner all day and will take no risks.

I love his system. It is orderly, even if illogical. Even he could see that it was not logical, but it worked for him. Is it any more illogical than my system of looking for words on the bedroom wall? Or just waiting for some lousy attitude to descend?

My system is not working. I am not “embracing the exuberance” too often. Too often my pair of glasses is dark and smoky. So I am adopting a new system. If I see two yellow school buses in a row, it will be a Good Day. If I see three yellow school buses in a row, it will be an Exuberant Day. If I see seven red school buses, it will be a Black Day. Who wants a Black Day anyway? I would miss lunch.

I have more to say about this, but the school day is starting soon and I have to hurry down to the elementary school before I wake up.