We visited Mr. E on a Sunday. He lives in Bayfield, which is about a two and half hour drive from Halifax. It's a short ways past Antigonish. It rained the entire time. That always seems to happen when we go visit Mr E.
But we never let it dampen our spirits. We had a great time picking cranberries by the beach in the rain, hauling fresh vegetables out of the garden, drinking beer and wine, and reminiscing about all sorts of things late into the night. It was a good day at Mr. E’s. They always are.
Sometimes cold, wet feet are worth it.
That same morning I read that Lou Reed had died. I’ve never been a devout fan of The Velvet Underground or his solo recordings. But I know and appreciate the great music he made. So before hitting the rainy road to Bayfield, I dove back into the Lou Reed recordings I do have, including this song.
So those two things made me think about having a nice day. It’s one of the most common expressions we use in daily conversation. But how often do we mean it? More importantly, how often do we do it for ourselves?
I suspect we don’t give ourselves nearly enough nice days. I’m guilty of it too. I’ve offered some thoughts on the subject before. But for what it’s worth, here are some other things I believe are essential to having a nice day.
Don’t work all the time. I like working, I really like my job, and I really, really like the people I work with. But I like not working even more. Even though I work at least 40 hours a week it ain’t who I am. Who I am is the guy who writes stories, listens to music, wears cheap jeans and t-shirts, and exercises during the other 128 hours of the week. Our jobs are not who we are. Work is important. However, it’s never as important as living and being yourself on your own terms.
Immerse yourself in entertainment that you really enjoy. Listen to your favourite song, album or musician. Watch your favourite show or movie. Read a book, magazine, or online blog that you really enjoy. Make a point of doing at least one of these things every day. Watching, reading, or listening to things we like can only help us feel better.
Do something creative. Everyone has a creative side in there somewhere. Draw a picture. Play an instrument. Write a story or a poem. Knit something. Build something. Who cares if you suck. You'll be a more authentic version of you. And that's always a good thing.
Eat something that tastes good and is good for you. We are what we eat. When we eat junk we feel like garbage. When we eat good food we feel satisfied and energized. It’s a simple philosophy that’s summed up very nicely in this short, amazing talk.
Exercise! It boosts your energy, helps you think better, and improves your emotional well-being. Exercising gives you a better physical frame and a better frame of mind. It makes you more capable, able, and willing to live life. Do something. Anything. It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the simpler the better. Go for a walk. Chop some wood. Shovel snow. Do jumping jacks. Jump over a Jack if you know one. Vacuum the floors. Whatever. Just move. And if you haven’t already watched the video link I just provided, click it now. Sorry, but you’re not getting out of here without watching this.
Meet up with a good friend or group of friends. You may work several days a week with people you don’t like or connect with. That sucks. Do yourself a favour and put yourself around the people you like and love and have fun with.
Call a close friend or family member who’s far away. Sorry, texting don’t cut it. You need to be able to hear that person’s voice. Video chat’s even better. We don’t need to be in the same room to connect with those who are close to us.
A nice day can be many things. For some people it’s drinking Sangria in the park, feeding animals in the zoo, and maybe catching a movie before heading home. There’s no right way to do it. We’re not the all same. We’re all designed to be different. My idea of a nice day (which could include listening to this Bob Dylan song, this Rolling Stones album, watching an Akira Kurosawa movie, walking down by the ocean, and doing something like this) is probably not your cup of tea. That’s fine. I don’t really care anyways. All that matters is that you identify and do the things that make the day nice for you.
Let’s go back to the food thing for a moment. We are what we eat. That’s just it. But I’d contend that we are also what we do. If we only do things that stress us out we’ll feel bad. If we do some things we enjoy we’ll feel better. It’s that simple.
I know as well as you do that things will never be perfect. It’s impossible to clear all the shit out of our lives. So if that’s the case then why not pack as many good things into our days as possible? Good things have a funny way of making the shitty stuff stink less. When you can’t get rid of manure just grow a garden over it.
Mr E. in his natural habitat.
I started this essay by talking about Mr. E and Lou Reed. And while the cranberries and vegetables picked from Mr. E's garden are all gone, Lou Reed’s music lives on. So here’s another of his absolute classics. And have a nice day. Seriously. I mean it.