The only easy day is yesterday. A phrase that the Navy Seals often utter.
I thought that I had a hard week leading up to my birthday. It culminated on Friday with some backwards steps in completing a crucial April work project, with not fully processing my Grandma’s death but knowing this would be my first birthday without a card from her, with a weird email from someone I was becoming good friends with letting me know that maybe he didn’t want the friendship to progress in the same way I did, with making an error in judging at my gym which led to a new friend having to redo a hard workout and me having to apologize for my error and with an awkward conversation with a coworker asking him to please stop stalking me. My pride was shot on Friday, and by the time my birthday dawned, I was still reeling.
Then I learned tragic news regarding the death of my brother-in-law’s not yet born but nearly full term infant son. Between that and a day spent on planes or in airports, I mentally postponed my birthday because it was all too much.
So then I read this sentence in Service: A Navy Seal at War, on March 3rd. “At 4:27 am local time on March 3, 2002, Neil Roberts became the first SEAL to die in the War on Terror.”
Ouch. I considered postponing my birthday for a full year. Or choosing a different date entirely.
Life doesn’t unfold the way we want it to. That has become so clear to me on this vacation I just took to Montana. Holding a toddler for 3 hours on a plane while her army mother dealt with two broken legs, was not my ideal plane ride. But I’m guessing it wasn’t mom or toddler’s ideal either. Spending 3 days in Glacier National Park and it being so foggy that I honestly could just have easily been in New Jersey for all the stunning mountain scenery I saw, wasn’t my plan. Struggling with cleans and snatches at Crossfit while my friends set PR after PR is frustrating as anything.
But you know what else wasn’t in my plan? A hot tub on a clear night with beer in hand and stars above me and engineers talking shop. Six hours in the forest of Glacier National Park snowshoeing on 7 feet of snow (the trail signs were all buried below us and the trail markers way up on trees were below my hip level) while snow fell lightly and continuously and I felt like I was in Narnia. Hours and hours in a car singing The Decembrists and Milk Carton Kids and Of Monsters and Men songs while gazing at snow capped mountains visiting a state I’d never been to before.
On our last night, we decided on a restaurant for dinner after what took ages. Nothing could top the Mexican and Creole cooking we’d already enjoyed but this place sounded promising.
It was closed.
So instead we ate in a local pub. And the food was delicious. We played cards at our table and made everyone else envious with how much fun we were having. And then we visited the local brewery where we had the place to ourselves. I never would have planned the $8 for 6 sampler beers, the couch and fireplace, my intense love for Huckleberry beer, the rodeo on television, the amazing beer posters on the walls, the root beer on tap, the shuffleboard and games in a balcony overlooking the brewery operations, the fun of being on vacation with no plans on a Monday night. Or the fact that somewhere along the way despite my cold and sinus issues, despite the high altitude and the dehydration and the lack I sleep, I had relaxed. I had stopped working at vacation and started chilling out.
Maybe I would never have planned all the bad stuff that happens in life, that piggybacks on top of itself until I stagger under the strain of it all.
But I would certainly never have planned most of the good in my life either. The friends I’ve made this past year alone – who’ve gone from strangers to soul mates so quickly it’s almost scary (I’m still waiting for them to hit the panic button and eject.) The scariness but excitement I feel over moving in with one of my best friends. The fact I’m actually taking vacations this year.
In Service, Marcus Luttrell often says “thank God for another day.” Can I honestly thank God for all these days? The really great ones and the really awful ones both?
The only easy day was yesterday.
But since I never know if I have a tomorrow, I’m going to be thankful for each today.