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Sweet Somethings of Service

Today’s dose of the Good (and Not So Good) Words will be short, if it is sweet I will leave for my faithful and faithless followers to determine. Today’s dose will be short because yesterday’s was so god awful long. Besides which I am tired.

Today was a Alexander and the Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day Day.

All sorts of small things went wrong. I got bike grease on my pink pants and was not able to scrub it all out. This was just one of the things that sucked today. But it wasn’t the string of small calamities that made my day so terrible seeming. What hurt the most was that my brain was determined to focus on the days small wrongs and ignore today’s big rights.

At lunch, my father brought over my keepsake box. Recently, the box was knocked over, and as it hit the floor it fell apart; the glue that held the wood together had lost all its stick. While not an antique the box that had belonged to Nana (my paternal grandmother). I cried as I gathered up the broken parts and found a shoebox to hold my keepsakes. My father taking the time to fix the box for me was a great gift better than any chocolate valentine. But I couldn’t savor the sweetness of this gift of my father’s time and skill. My brain was caught in “poor, pitiful me” mode. I couldn’t shake off the put upon feeling even though I was aware of exactly what was happening in/to my head, but at least, I did not hate myself for being in a ridiculous mood.

This is how bad it got. When I looked at my mailbox and noticed that all the other folks at my level had been given cutesy My Little Pony valentines, my eyes teared up. Now that I feel better I do not care, but in that moment I was thrown back to when I child and had hoped for more Valentine’s cards. I was transfixed by shards of sharp loneliness and loss. The sharpness soon passed, but I carried a little bit of heartache with me as I worked.

Work helped. But what really made a difference was when a co-worker asked me about my knee. I had gone to the doctor this morning. I have swelling behind my right patella which is causing the muscles around my knee to do wonky things- locking, trembling, hurting more than a little but not horribly. It is easily treatable. I have to take an inexpensive daily anti-inflammatory for a couple of months and modify some of my movements at work, like avoiding kneeling for long periods. I kneel a lot.

My co-worker taking the time to ask about my knee seems so simple, but today it was huge. She asked in a way that let me know that she had time (and energy) to hear the fuller truth versus a shorter social ritual exchange. I told her that is was frustrating that I was going to have to drag a stool behind me, but that I was glad that the injury was so easily treatable. She sympathized. I was able to tell her just how pitiful I felt and that I realized how ridiculous my mood was. I was able to tell her that it was the kind of day that not getting a valentine in my box made my feel sad. We soon shifted the conversation to other things, but for a short while there was space for my pain. All I needed was a short while.

She gave witness to my “poor, pitiful me” state of mind. It was a small service. My bad mood did not instantly go away, but after talking with her I felt lighter, freer. Our conversation helped me shake off of the worst of my sadness and self-pity. On a day when people buy and give so many ridiculous sweet nothings, I received a sweet something of service. I cannot put it in my newly fixed, also a sweet something of service, keepsake box, but I can treasure it.

My Valentine’s Day challenge to y’all: for the next few days, keep track of how many sweet somethings of service you receive, and for an extra bonus points, figure out how many sweet somethings of service you give out.

Savor the sweet somethings. It will help you let go of the yucky nothings.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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