A Disastrous Start
It was a Tuesday in an ordinary week, in an ordinary month, in an ordinary year.
As we did every day, my wife and I got up to go to work, except that on that particular day she had been moved to a branch office of the company she worked for. It was our plan to go by car to the headquarters of her company, and from there we would take the Underground, and each of us continue to our destinations.
A friend of my wife from work, knowing that she would be going to another location that day, called to tell us that the Underground line that passed near our house and had a stop near the branch office wasn’t working. When we heard this, we were pleased that we had made the plan to go by car.
While we were on the way, that same friend called again, this time to tell us that the other Underground line, which we were going to use to get to work, was not working either. We thought about what to do and decided that we could go by car to my wife’s office and pay for parking, and from there I would catch a bus to my place of work. I knew I would be late in and, in my haste, I failed to see a pothole in the road and hit it straight on. A little while later I heard an intermittent noise and, using my vast knowledge of cars, I deduced that a tyre had been damaged in some way.
We decided to park the car and go to an Underground stop to catch a taxi. When we got to the stop, there was a taxi waiting, and we asked the driver if it was free. He said it was, so we asked if he could take us to the address where Andreia was going to work that day and, when he answered affirmatively, we got in the car.
No sooner had we stepped into the car than the driver received a call from his boss, and as soon as he hung up he said that he was sorry, but he had made a mistake. He was actually waiting for a group of women who had already reserved the taxi.
We got out of the taxi and thought again about how we would get to work. We walked to the next bus stop and, while we were waiting, I decided to call a taxi company, but the dispatcher told me they had received a lot of calls and that taxis would only be available an hour later. After almost half an hour of waiting, we got on a bus that was more like a can of sardines. After two more stops, the driver announced that he had changed his route because of an accident.
At that point, since the bus was no longer going where we needed it to, we decided to get off and see if we could catch a taxi, but it wasn’t possible. So, we continued on in the right direction on foot. We walked three kilometres or so and reached my wife’s workplace; she was more than two hours late. From there I caught a bus and finally arrived at work, more or less two and a half hours late.
This disastrous day is part of our history. It’s written in our book of memories, and from time to time we think of it and talk about it.
Discovering the Value of a Day
In the introduction, I told the story of a day in which a situation occurred that spun entirely out of our control, a day that was therefore disastrous and quite disturbing to us. At the time we were worried about our jobs, anxious about whether we would get to them or not, and what the consequences would be. At the time, the many emotions this caused provoked several reactions, such as blaming one another. My wife told me that if I had been concentrating while I was driving, none of this would have happened and the car would be working. I said that on that morning I was ready to get on my Underground train, and she asked me to take her to work, so it was her fault, because if she had not asked me to do that I would have arrived at work on time.
And the accusations didn’t stop there. We ended up discussing what attitudes we should have assumed regarding the taxi and the bus, and that brought to the surface past offences.
I’m sure you can identify with these things because you must have had a similar experience, maybe even more tragic or comical. We each have our own stories.
Times like these raise a number of questions, but, for me, looking back at the inconveniences we experienced that caused so much stress in our day, the main issue is this: after everything that happened, could we still expect anything good to come out of our day? Could we give it another chance? Could that day end well for us?
We left the house annoyed and we got to work stressed out, but at the end of the day, when it was all over, we started to laugh because, in fact, the day had been a really good one.
So, the question remains: when things happen to us during the day that bother us, what should we do? Throw out the whole day or give it a chance, believing that things can get better? What should we do in regard to our ‘now’?
Sometimes we fail to live in the moment because we get stressed about what the future will bring. We are able to play out stressful situations in our heads that cause us great distress, even though they haven’t happened. These are the fruit of our imagination and project a future that is still non-existent. I know of people who, for lack of faith in a better future, let their lives come to an end by giving themselves over to addictions or even by attempting suicide. We can also tell actual stories of people who are dying every day because they don’t know how to live with day-to-day stresses.
I had, and still have, many difficulties with stress myself. I once participated in organising a conference in London – that was probably one of my highest moments of stress. In the week prior to the event I hosted a Brazilian man called Wilson, who had come to help us and was one of the leaders of the event. He had arrived in advance to help put the last details in place and let us know how the Brazilian members wanted things to be done. Every day I gave him a ride to a particular location, left my car there and caught a bus to work. Trying to get through the A40 towards central London in the morning rush hour with the four lanes completely stopped was awful, so I was always very stressed. So, every day Wilson would look at me and say, ‘This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ After hearing this for a week and going through all the stress and lost sleep from anxiety and worry, I decided to give some thought to what he had said.
It was out of this desire to learn to appreciate my day that this book was born, and I invite you to put into practice in your own life the principles I share here, because I’m sure that your present and your future can be better for it. On this journey I not only learned that my day depends on how I live my ‘today’, but I also came to understand that one of the most significant challenges to valuing my present is believing that I have value – now, at this moment. Simply by being ourselves, and for no other reason, we have value and are worthy of recognition. We need to live our lives loving ourselves as we are.
However, we often fail to love ourselves as we are because it seems as though our life is not the way we would like it to be. My question is, ‘Who has a perfect life?’ And the answer is, ‘No one.’ But I can certainly say that there are people who have discovered how to live their ‘today’. In the process, they have learned that they deserve to love themselves and belong to a group, that they have the right to be loved simply because they are a person. And to be a person is to be the image and likeness of God.
Unfortunately, some people think they need to first meet some prerequisite before they can deserve love – lose weight, have children, get married, be a good father or a good mother, get a ‘decent’ job, get a college degree, and so forth.
However, I want to tell you that who you are in yourself is enough.
Following this line of thinking, I would like you to put into practice the changes suggested in this book and not be afraid of them. Remember that you are not yet a perfect creature, nor are you a finished work. Rather, you are a unique person who is still a work in progress under the care of the Author of authors, who is still going to complete His masterpiece, which is you.
What would your perfect day look like?
Why do you believe that?
Psalm 118:24, NRSV.
See Genesis 1:27.