Columnist’s Note: I am not particularly fond of the month of March. In fact, I prefer any of the other eleven over this month in which we now find ourselves deeply mired. Perhaps you share my disdain. It might be the dreary weather, rain and snow, or maybe it’s my impatient anticipation of spring buds and summer days, but March usually succeeds in getting me down. It is because of this that I have selected two of my favorite writings to share with you in each column this month. I hope you find in them the same lift from the muck of March as I have so many times before.
Do you get out of the bed on the same side every morning? Like most people, you probably do. Right or left, it’s a habit we form without realizing, just like putting your left or right shoe on first or putting your right or left arm first into a sleeve. But whether you exit the bed each morning on the right or the left, eventually, one day it will be on the wrong side. And stubbing your big toe on the nightstand on your way out probably won’t help much. Add to your frustration a water heater on the blink resulting in a cold shower or finding the outfit you’d planned to wear in the dirty clothes hamper and you’ve got all the makings of a day in which others you encounter may well ask, “Did you get out on the wrong side of the bed this morning?” Well, that query will certainly help your attitude! However, the way in which you approach the rest of your day revolves around one crucial element: attitude.
The first writing I’d like to share with you this month comes from the pen of Rev. Samuel F. Pugh, an ordained minister and prolific writer and poet of the 20th century. And if at any point you choose to dismiss his words as nonsensical, I will remind you he lived to the ripe old age of 103—so I suspect he may have been on to something here. He writes, “This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it, or I can use it. I can make it a day long to be remembered for its job, its beauty, and its achievements; or it can be filled with pettiness and ugliness.”
Despite the many ways our day can begin, we are ultimately left with a choice and the decision we make is a direct result of our attitude—our outlook on life itself and each day we’re given. A crossroads is placed before us every morning at the foot of our beds—a new day to make of what we will. Our attitudes about each day may be affected by weather, illness, or our own sense of purpose. These factors may positively or negatively impact our day, but regardless, the choice of what we make of it is our own.
Rev. Pugh continues, “What I can do today is important, for I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, but I shall hold something which I have traded for it. It may be no more than a memory; but if it’s a worthy one, I shall not regret the price.” Have you ever considered that unique perspective? Have you thought of each day of your life as currency to be used to purchase memories, accomplishments, and a legacy? I suppose if we took that view each morning, we might not be so quick to dismiss the days that don’t begin too smoothly. We might strive to change our attitude and shape the day before us with more positivity.
“So here is a day and here am I. There will be beauty and I must not miss it. There will be cries of people in distress and I must hear and answer. There will be opportunity for good, and I must be ready.” Our daily allotment of time can slip quickly past when we take a negative approach to the day. Even the smell of a single rose will sour with the wrong attitude; the sunset become a distorted haze when viewed through dark glasses. But with a chin up, eyes wide open, even the worst of days can contain lessons of immeasurable value.
So when it’s once again your turn to rise on the wrong side of the bed, when the rains and snows of March chill and depress, when your foot misses the first step and you take a quicker, albeit less comfortable trip down the stairs, remember the words of Samuel F. Pugh, and adjust your attitude accordingly. “And then when night comes, may I look back without regret and forward with a radiant spirit and a thankful heart.”