The Gift of a Paradox

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 Today, we woke up. In the likely chance that you woke up and have not been living under a rock, you have probably heard that you should “live each day like it’s your last.” Of course, I cannot necessarily predict how you’d assemble your last day. But I can tell you that if I chose my last day’s events it would include surrounding myself with every human I love, soaking in mountains and sunshine, ditching financial cares, and throwing all responsibility to the wayside. Since my “last day” would not be sustainable as an “everyday,” I’m working on reframing my life approach a tad. So, I’m starting with the basics: today we woke up.

That is a pretty sweet miracle, my friends. It’s a pretty sweet miracle that we didn’t die in a car accident yesterday. It’s a pretty sweet miracle that a bomb didn’t blow up our homes while we were sleeping. It’s a pretty sweet miracle that we aren’t another story on that old show 1,000 Ways to Die. I mean, if there are 1,000 things that could have killed us before the moment we meet on this post, it’s a pretty enormous miracle we are here… that today we woke up.

I know I am not the first to point out that “today is a gift,” but I am curious if the gift we are referring to encompasses both the desired wonders of life and the unpleasant surprises.  If today is actually a gift, the present is obviously in the little joys of laughter, intriguing interactions, smiles from strangers, pennies on the ground. But if the gift is the whole of today, doesn’t it also contain the little disappointments of traffic, criticisms from loved ones, spilled coffee, and rude desk clerks? Don’t the bigger gifts sometimes surprise us with job promotions, engagements, graduations, and on other occasions leave us shouting up the stairs, “God, I would like to return this present?”

The colorful packages of Christmas morning sometimes contain yet another ugly sweater, other times a radiant red bike, sometimes both. Today may contain disappointments or joys, oftentimes the juxtaposition of both. Could the gift reside in the paradox of all the exhilarations and fears of a new day, opening the package our only way of discovering the contents? Isn’t there some morning joy in just unwrapping the gift? That today we get to unwrap another?

Today, my gift box contains a colonoscopy, so I get to write this in the middle-of-the-night as I simultaneously try to finish drinking a gallon of some substance that tastes like melted plastic and makes my insides jump to my outsides. While I am slightly wishing that my package contained a full night’s sleep and less chugging, the gift is that I woke up. The gift is that you woke up. The gift is that we get to unwrap another package today.

Since I get the exhilaration of opening another gift, I’m looking for humor in the fact that mid-sentence my face morphs into the wide-eyed emoji, followed by a sprint to the restroom. I’m finding a little comedy in the fact that at 22, I have to have a doctor stick a camera up my behind while my best friend gets to galavant through Portugal like the carefree 20-somethings we really are. I’m also appreciating the fact that, whether I know you or not, you were in my gift box this morning, that I was in yours, and here we collide. I may not have gotten to select who was in my present today, but regardless, I am glad you are there. I am grateful you woke up, as I am grateful I did too, and I am stoked that we were gifted another challenge to wrestle with the paradox of exhilaration and fear.

Today, we got to wake up. Let’s start opening presents.

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