The sun is just beginning to peek over the horizon, and I awake.
Before I open my eyes, I make a mental note of five people for whom I am grateful today. Then, I count backwards from five…
On “one”, I open my eyes and get out of bed.
So far, I have successfully completed two self-improvement exercises that I’m told will put me on the path to a better existence. I have shown gratitude and implemented the countdown method to overcome my tendencies toward procrastination. I will do the countdown several more times throughout the day. It’s supposed to be helpful. This is what I’ve been told.
During breakfast, after I log my protein shake on a food app – because we must keep track of our intake to ensure a nutritious lifestyle – I open another app which is teaching me how to speak Spanish. Being multilingual is the first step to becoming a citizen of the world and uniting us all in peace and co-existence. And it makes me feel muy inteligente!
So far, I have put into practice four ways to improve myself and it isn’t even nine o’clock yet.
Thanks to people like Oprah and some affluent reality stars, living one’s “best life” is a big movement these days. Everyone is doing it, right?
People refer to their pursuit of personal growth as a “journey” which, quite frankly, sets my teeth on edge. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because everything is a “journey” now. Being on a diet is a “Weight Journey”. Going to the gym is a “Fitness Journey”. Taking the dog for a walk is a “Journey In Pet Parenting”. How many steps does it take to reach the end of a journey? Your smart phone can tell you. It’s counting them. The target is 10,000 steps per day. It’s something we should all work toward. That’s what I read on the internet.
And speaking of the internet, if you aren’t living your best life, then I guess you don’t have any social media accounts. Because if you did, you would see other people’s posts – better people’s posts – of their weight loss graphs, their workout spreadsheets, their successful entrepreneurial enterprises and so on. You would then know you’re getting it all wrong.
Are these posts designed to make you feel bad about you? Not necessarily, but they will anyway. If you look at Instagram or TikTok or the cesspool known as Twitter, you will be influenced by the influences of all the influencers. You will then start downloading apps until your thumbs cramp. There are apps to help you sleep better, write better, eat better, and do just about all things better than you’re doing them now. You better get cracking!
After breakfast and my morning sun salutation, I meditate. Meditations is supposed to make me more spiritually fulfilled and focused, but my mind wanders. It’s not supposed to, so that’s just another thing that makes me feel inadequate, of course. But as it’s wandering, I think: If we’re all striving to be better individually, why aren’t we better as a collective?
If as many people are on these quests as claim to be, why then does so much negativity, unrest and corrosiveness abound? Why are there entire websites devoted to public meltdowns, and viral videos of all those “Karens” and spittle spewing vitriol at school board meetings? Why aren’t these journeymen and women more enlightened? They all seem to be working so hard at it. Doesn’t anybody watch Ted Talks anymore? Tedx even?
I have a “friend” on Facebook, a woman I vaguely knew in high school 45 years ago. She is always posting inspirational quotes about how to treat others as you wish to be treated and how to be the change you want to see in the world and how judgement of others is wrong because they might have scars that aren’t visible because it’s their souls that are wounded. But she is also the first person to criticize people for eating meat, for not holding the door open for her when she enters the mall, for not adopting animals, or for cutting her off in traffic. Here she is, a living, breathing platitudes poster and yet, she doesn’t follow her own advice. Maybe her soul is wounded. Or maybe she’s just a hypocrite. You be the judge (even though that would be wrong).
Would the world be a kinder place if everyone had a subscription to O Magazine? You get a subscription! You get a subscription! Everybody gets a subscription!!!! Maybe on their evening strolls to get their steps in, people might offer to help a neighbor? Smile? Some of the people in my neighborhood won’t even make eye contact or respond to a friendly “hello”. Mr. Rogers didn’t mention anything about them, did he?
Anyway, after my morning workout, I do the facial exercises that are supposed to discourage wrinkles because you must look good to feel good. Sometimes I worry that stretching my face this way is creating more wrinkles, but women on Pinterest swear by them. What do I know? And worrying causes stress, which causes wrinkles, so…
I then take an invigorating shower (complete with pre-shower dry brushing for my lymphatic health and post-shower essential oils which are said to cure everything under the sun). For lunch, I log my healthy salad of kale, seeds, nuts and some plant protein. I have just enough time to squeeze in a quick guitar practice before my afternoon walk. I started teaching myself guitar at the very beginning of the pandemic. Two-and-a-half years later, I can perfectly play a D chord and not much else. Yes, I fall short on this, too. Nonetheless, I press on because I just know I could be better. Everything around me says so.
I learned lots of self-improvement skills on a wellness retreat with my friend, Carrie. She and I attended a variety of classes every day, for three days. This included yoga, meditation, classes about dreams and their meanings, astrology interpretations, tennis, swimming, etc. We did everything and left the place feeling like empowered goddesses. We were energized. We were focused. We were grateful. The morning after we returned, a crushing decision came down from the Supreme Court. Suddenly the only thing we felt grateful for was that we live in New York State. The devastation was real. It took us months to get back on track. But I’m going off topic. So, back to my day…
Late afternoon includes doing laundry with planet-friendly detergent and another Español lesson or two. Yo soy una buena estudiante!
By dinner time, I am exhausted from all this improving. I don’t feel like cooking and no amount of counting down is going to make me do it. Instead, I order pizza and a Coke. I don’t log it. I leave the dirty dishes in the sink. No bueno. I have failed myself. The guilt leaves me feeling less than my best.
I get into bed without washing the 50 SPF broad spectrum sunscreen off my face and flip on the TV to binge watch nothing wholesome or enriching. My phone chimes a lullaby as a reminder to prepare for sleep and tell it to go screw itself. I won’t need the sleep app because I’m drowsy by the third episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
At dawn, before I open my eyes, I make a mental note of five people for whom I am grateful.