Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Seeking the Perfect Day

My idea of a perfect day? Since that seems to be the current theme, I've been thinking about it for several days and I've concluded that perfect days are a lot like the way President Hinckley compared life to a ride on an old-fashioned train; lots of smoke, cinders, bumps, jars, and a few grand vistas. It would be nice to have a day to sleep in, have a nice big breakfast of pancakes, sausage, eggs, and orange juice, spend a few hours writing (the words would all come easily, of course), eat a leisurely lunch on the deck watching the birds and working a Sudoku puzzle, putter around in my garden for an hour or two, then spend the rest of the afternoon reading a fascinating book and perhaps making a call to one of my children. The evening would begin with a scrumptious dinner with my husband (either eaten out or prepared by someone other than me) followed by more time to read until bedtime. Such a day may sound quite ordinary, but is actually rare or never.

Among the smoke and cinders of my not-so-perfect days have been rheumatic fever, being the new girl too many times, financial worry, broken bones, bloody noses, picking potatoes, thinning beets, hurt feelings, disappointments, knowing I could have done better, sick kids, deaths of loved ones, a dishonest boss, not enough sleep, hayfever, asthma, cancer, and worrying about my children and grandchildren.

There have been a number of days in my life that have come pretty close to perfect, but those have been pretty rare too. There was the day our first daughter was married in the Salt Lake Temple, the day our son returned home from his mission, the day our second daughter and her husband joined us for an excursion to Victoria . . . There have been far more days when perfection was only a moment or a few hours, but those short glimpses of perfection make up the moments I treasure the most. My childhood was filled with a lot of hard work. That's the way it was for farm kids. But it was filled with perfect moments as well; riding on Flicka, playing house with Mona or my sisters, hiding out in the tree house with my best friend, Roger, swimming in the canal, Mama reading to us in the evening after the chores were done, going for a chocolate malt with Daddy, Christmas mornings, riding in Grandpa's model-T, falling asleep watching the stars, fishing along Willow Creek . . .

As I grew older there were dances in Sun Valley, skimming over the ice on a frozen pond, giggling with girlfriends, shopping trips with my sister, Vada, hiking and fishing in Montana's wilderness area with my dad, college roommates, a special boyfriend . . .

The time was filled with a lot of bumps, but also many beautiful vistas as I became a wife and mother, holding a newborn in my arms, falling asleep with a two-year-old in a big chair, family camping trips, visits to Grandpa and Grandma's farm, trips to Yellowstone, zoo excursions, watching my children grow and learn, then become responsible adults. There were perfect moments, pay days you might say, with each of our children's weddings. Walking into the room in the Bountiful Temple where our fourth child was married was one of the most overwhelmingly beautiful, perfect moments of my life.

Few experiences are more perfect than holding each grandchild for the first time, though seeing our only adopted grandchild placed in our daughter's arms by his brave little birth mother ranks right at the top of the perfect moment chart. I find a lot of perfect moments serving in the temple too.

Professionally there were shining moments as well as I wrote an occasional magazine article, then became a newspaper reporter and experienced entering a burning house with firemen, flying with the Air National Guard on a refueling tanker, and receiving state and national journalism awards. Receiving my first book contract, then holding the finished product in my hand stirred feelings impossible to describe. Being honored by my peers for a lifetime of achievement as a writer certainly ranks as one of those grand vistas.

To have that perfect day, I think we must take Michele's advice to step outside of our comfort zones, work at it, and be prepared to make discoveries. There are some who choose to wallow in hard times and adversity. Some let hardship or misfortune define their lives. Some let disappointment and rejection smash their dreams. If we want perfect days we need to first look past the hard times to see what is right in our lives then keep moving. We need to accept new challenges and we need to take joy in the here and now. Rejection should be turned into determination to be better. Just as a perfectly toned body endures a lot of bruises and aches along the way to perfection, so must we take a few lumps along the path to perfect days. Perfect moments and days aren't the product of elaborate vacations, gifts, or perfect plans. We need to recognize that our children will misbehave, sometimes we or loved ones will fall ill, cars break down, there's never enough money, and sometimes we really are too tired. Instead of allowing these lumps to become roadblocks, let's set them aside and make the best of what life hands us. It's funny how the ordinary has a way of becoming a precious memory and time turns those memories into perfect days.


Valerie said...

Fabulous post, Jennie. Something to read and reread, and something to pass along to your kids so they can be even more proud of their mom. Hugs and thanks for sharing your life, Valerie

Lynn Gardner said...

So many of your memories of growing up were just like mine. Working in the field, swimming in the canals; life on the farm was hard, but we learned how to work, didn't we?
We never grow to old to step outside our comfort zone - and it is important that we do so that we can continue to grow. If we stop and rest on our laurels, we will begin to fall apart. Literally. Great advice for you and old. Thanks! Lynn

Gale Sears said...

Bravo, Jennie!
Thanks for the peek into your life and the insight as to what makes a perfect day...and a perfect life.