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It was day 42 of the quarantine—work from home order and virtual school—all around lockdown in chaos.
My friend said to me, “I complained on Facebook today that I just didn’t want to cook another meal for my kid. And a friend of mine who owns a restaurant in New York liked it. I mean, I shouldn’t complain; all he wants to do is cook for people.”
I heard sentiments like this time and time again, especially since all of this began—complaints followed by regrets. And I’ve said the same thing repeatedly, “You can be grateful and still be frustrated.”
I had just put in a load of laundry and sat down at my desk (in what is now my office/doghouse, and what was my yoga and meditation room). My desk is an old rickety table that was my grandmother’s.
It sat in her kitchen, and I would walk next door as a little girl and eat cinnamon raisin bread with her while she let me have coffee in my milk (probably the reason why I like that light caramel color to this day)—and maybe why my quarantine guilty pleasure has also been cinnamon raisin bread.
I set my standing desk on it, and it’s not quite the right height for both standing or sitting without my ankles swelling. I placed my yoga blocks under my feet to prevent that dangling swelling feeling—good use for my props that don’t get used enough for their intended purpose.
But these days, what gets used for its intended purpose, anyway? My fridge used to be a good place for my meal planning storage and my take-home cheat meals from the weekends. Now it is full, but from cooking—three meals a day and for one person. At least, it is only for one, so I begrudgingly remind myself to find the gratitude in my complaint.
As I sat down at the desk and began to work, my mind drifted into the space of being productive, not looking at social media and feeling grounded (with my feet on the blocks, of course).
Since the procedure I had right before the pandemic, I could barely hear over my incessant sniffing to try to pop what can’t be popped—though I noticed the beeping in my ear was constant, different from the usual ending cycle beeps.
I decided to go see what the issue was, so I turned around in my swivel chair, and my office turned back into my home. The only thing in the yoga/meditation/office/doghouse that didn’t have an inch of water on it was the space surrounding my chair and my tiny square breakfast table/desk.
“Dad, there is water everywhere; my washing machine has somehow gotten water all over the floor! What do I do?”
“Get towels,” he said calmly but assertively—the way my dad always tells me the obvious.
“Dad, it hurts when I do this.”
“Don’t do that!” He’s always been good at pointing out the obvious, and I’ve always been good at calling him when I need to know how to do something I should; otherwise, know how to do.
Thankfully, I have the worst home warranty company—there’s gratitude in my complaint. It turns out that I got the water cleaned up in time, and the washing machine did not malfunction, but rather, I forgot to tighten the trap I had just cleaned out before I did the next load.
It was owner error. $100 dollars later, the trap was tight, and I felt like an ass. But at least, I had the 100 dollars to pay for my stupidity.
Since the quarantine started, I have had my fridge break twice (likely from extreme over usage of staring at it for minutes, hoping what was in there would suddenly become something else); my air conditioning has broken three times; my car was hit; I took a pay cut; I had my hearing loss; and then my washing machine malfunctioned.
That day, I yelled “f*ck” at all of it.
I yelled it at all the bullsh*t.
I yelled it at the frustration.
I yelled it at the caged animal I felt like.
That was the day I just didn’t care to find the gratitude in the complaint.
That was the day, however, I started to feel comfort in saying, “No thank you, may I have another?”
Because that is when I started to see strength in resilience. I mean, it could be worse—it could be worse for all of us. And we don’t have to look at every single thing and say, “There is a lesson, and I’m thankful it isn’t harsher.”
We can look at things and just say, “F*ck it, I’m going to try again tomorrow.”
The universe is going to hit us with it again—maybe with a different issue—but it’s coming for us. It’s coming for us to realize that it’s not great, and that it is.
We can find gratitude alongside the complaint.
Just as my yoga teacher said, “Happiness won’t last.” He was also the first one who made me understand that it isn’t what happens to us or around us that we can always control, but we can take control of what happens within us.
Even if we have to say, “F*ck it, I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Sorry, dad, for the language.