I wanted to stay in bed this morning. It was Monday. The weather was bad, I hadn't slept well, and there just wasn't a whole lot compelling me to get up and get moving. I did, but I felt sorry for myself throughout my shower and as I was getting dressed and ready. And then, I felt really ashamed.
As much as I wished today had been a weekend day or a holiday, I thought back to a time long ago when I had nowhere to go each morning. I was a single mom, and I had lost my job, and I would have given anything to be in the place I'm in today. So why do I have such a short memory?
I don't know many people who, during the course of their employed lives, haven't lost a job. But still, when it happens to you, it has a way of blindsiding you like nothing else can. To some degree, we all have identities that are tied to the way we earn a paycheck, so when the relationship ends abruptly, who are we? Who do we become?
Thankfully, I became stronger and happier, and I remain that way. And once I'm up and moving each day, I really like my job. So why is it that I'm so unappreciative while the alarm clock is going off?
In my job directly before this one, I met a woman who worked in the corporate cafeteria where I bought my lunch each day. Helena was from Bosnia, and she and I struck up a friendship of sorts; my stepdaughter and her son went to school together. In Bosnia, Helena had been a scientist -- a plant geneticist. She had tried to get a similar job in this country, but her credentials didn't translate.
So Helena took the only job she could find. She had to leave her sleeping husband and children to take two buses each morning to a lunchroom, where she would don a hairnet and dole out food for people who were not nearly as clever as she was. Very few of them looked her in the eye, let alone thanked her. And yet Helena had the grace to be grateful for a paycheck, and to know that things would get better.
And I whine because I'm still tired when I wake up at the reasonable hour of 7 a.m. I wasn't raised to be this selfish.
Like a lot of people, I'm pretty sure, I bargain with a higher power. In my case, it's God. I did it just last week, bothering him with something to the effect of, "God, if you let me have a clean mammogram, I'll stop whining/exercise regularly/pull out the fridge and clean behind it." And guess what? My mammogram was clean, thankfully. And I've completed a grand total of none of the items on my bargain list.
"Human nature," says the great and powerful Wikipedia, "refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to exhibit naturally." So maybe it's human nature that causes me to forget my gratitude as soon as I've gotten what I feel I want or need?
I have a good job. It allows me to send two kids to college and have money to eat lunch on the skywalk every day and buy a pumpkin-scented candle for no reason at all. Will it make me wealthy? Never. But it's a job that allows me to use my skills in an atmosphere where, for the most part, people like one another.
Have you looked at the unemployment figures? You'll agree, then, that I'm pretty darned lucky.
And human nature or not, it's probably time for me to make a concerted effort to be thankful. Getting to bed a little earlier at night probably wouldn't be a bad thing, either.
Do you know who actually wrote "Manic Monday"? Not these ladies.