This morning things seem ideal. I woke up, which is a nice start to any day. My house was warm, my children healthy, and when I sat on the edge of my bed and thought about what I had to do today none of the things seemed particularly objectionable. After school I’m taking my kids skiing, which is both exciting and depressing. It’s fun to have a wintery activity to pass the time. It’s exercise. But on the flip side it’s only just now the middle of November, and I’d rather see the calm waters and sepia landscapes of November’s past. Even so, there is that warm house and that ski hill and in between an office fire will ward off any premature feelings of wintery doom.
And what if my house this morning weren’t so warm? What if it was cold and drafty and the roof had a small leak in the corner? What if my kids were healthy, but one had the flu and spent the night puking on their blankets and puking on their floors and puking on the dogs? What if the dogs were sick, too, puking their own puke, maybe because of the kids, but maybe not? What if this office fire went out and what if my jacket was thin and threadbare? What if I wrote a beautiful story this morning and then my computer seized and the story disappeared from everywhere except the faintest and frailest corners of my memory? Then what? Would things still be ideal? Would things still be okay?
What if my wife called to say she’s had it? It’s over. After all, we’re all running a 50/50 chance of that happening nearly each and every day, right? What if my son’s school called and said he was caught vaping in the bathroom, and instead of aiming for a high ACT score this coming spring we just find ourselves aiming for a mostly tobacco free 2020? What if my dogs, who were puking from the previous graph were still puking, but since I’m at this cold, shivery office I don’t even know it, and when I return home they may have both succumbed to their illnesses? What then?
What would happen then is I’d still find a way to count my blessings, because no matter what happens today I still won’t be a pier guy in Wisconsin during this November. No matter what ailments or tragedies surface today, I won’t jam my fingers in between two icy stringers. I won’t get icy water down the left boot of my leaky neoprene waders. I won’t retrieve voicemails from angry owners wondering why their piers are still in the water. I won’t slip on the edge of the barge and slam my hip into the unforgiving wooden bow. I won’t do any of this and then wake up tomorrow having to do it all over again. And the next day, and the next. No matter what happens today, I’ll still thank God that I’m not a pier guy.
(With special thanks to the pier guys for being way tougher than I am.)