The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 12, 2014

Days of whine and neurosis, and soggy bananas

ENID, Okla. — It was one of those mornings.

I was running behind, for one thing. It was my own fault, as usual. I’m a piddler, for one thing. I like to piddle around in the morning, doing a bit of this and a bit of that, all the while letting time precious slip inexorably away.

I had to clean the cat box, I had to remember to get some stuff out of the car and I had to clean up the mess of leaves and stuff blown up on the front walk by Wednesday night’s storm.

I also had to eat breakfast, get cleaned up, dress and get out the door and to work, all in much less time than I normally allow myself for the task.

First I would tackle the litter box. This is a supremely vile task, a job for which one should almost be required to don a full body haz-mat suit and mask.

Alas, I lack the proper equipment, so I go about it completely unprotected.

As I was about to go into the garage to tackle this noxious bit of business, one of the cats, the tabby, wanted to go out. I shooed him away, opened the door, and watched in dismay as his coal black brother bolted past us and out.

The tabby looked at me with an accusing glare, as if I had some how slighted him. I relented, opening the door to let him join his sibling.

All the while I was getting farther and farther behind. So I decided to go ahead and eat my breakfast before tackling my other tasks.

Just then the tabby came back in. Hopefully, I went to the door and called our black cat, who started toward the door, then suddenly stopped and ran away. Just then the tabby ran back out. The whole thing was a great game.

My frustration level was growing, my blood pressure was climbing.

But my daily dish of oatmeal was ready, so I turned my attention to it, reaching for a banana to cut up into the bowl.

When I picked up the two bananas on the counter, both fell off the stem, one hitting the floor. And, as if that weren’t enough, both were mushy.

On top of everything else, one of the headlights on my car was out, and I had to take time to get it replaced.

I don’t remember whining, exactly, but I must have made some sort of piteous sound, since my bride immediately reacted by saying, “Life is hard.”

Darn right, I thought, then it struck me that her voice, though fairly neutral, carried subtle undertones of disdain and mocking disapproval.

“No,” I said, “life’s not hard,” and was immediately ashamed of myself.

And it’s not, not if you have someone to love and to love you, not if you are healthy, not if you have a roof over your head and food on your table, not if you have a job, not if you have friends, not if you live in a free country.

Not that life is easy. It’s not, certainly not all the time. Stuff happens to everybody. Some is little stuff, like soggy bananas, burned out headlamps and recalcitrant felines. Some of the stuff is huge, like losing a loved one, battling serious illness, losing a job, dealing with depression, becoming a victim of crime and suffering chronic pain, among many others.

Life is a series of challenges, ranging from tiny gentle mounds to sheer, towering cliffs. We all are challenged and our lives are defined not how successfully we conquer these challenges, but how we approach them.

Some people have the strength to go through tremendous tribulation, suffering, pain, disappointment, sorrow, and do it with grace, heads held high, always looking ahead, trying to find the best in everything and everyone, not falling into the dual traps of cynicism or self-pity.

I, on the other hand, whine about soggy bananas. Consider me properly chastised.

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Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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