On a recent Friday afternoon, one so temperate and glorious I kept looking around me and marveling at its perfection, I opted out of work and plopped myself on a bench with my new copy of New York magazine.
My view, as per usual, was the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline just a block away from my home. As a self-employed person, it’s easy to justify these moments. I’d rather work on a Saturday afternoon. An easy trade-off for someone who likes to play while others work and work while others play.
But truth be told, there was more to it. I desperately needed a day that felt well lived because I had just breezed through the headlines and my social media feeds and was feeling the weight of the week. Four United States Marines fatally shot in Chattanooga. My President greeted by citizens of his own country waving Confederate flags. The cancer death of a woman (married to a former colleague) I didn’t know at all, but who left behind two young children who must be reeling.
Sometimes it’s all too much, isn’t it? Denial feels like the best place to go for a bit while it all sinks in.
Living well as antidote.
In the morning I sent an email to a few friends with the subject line “HH?” That’s a call to our standard happy hour. It wasn’t enough that I was planning to go out swing dancing later that night. I needed to stack up the living.
Breakfast al fresco. Aforementioned magazine reading on a bench. Leisurely dressing for a night out, including bright red lipstick I haven’t worn in ages. Happy hour with a delightful rose prosecco. Swing dancing. My God, people are lit up when they swing dance.
There’s this t-shirt I wear the heck out of when I’m running errands around town. It’s black and says, “Live Right Now” in white block letters. Sometimes I forget I’m wearing it and then remember when I see someone smile or give it a thumbs up. Lately I’ve been stopped a few times by people who actually wanted to discuss it.
“Isn’t that the truth?” one man said with a smile.
“I think so,” I said.
I do walk that talk. While our society is primarily based on the idea that one should work-work-work until retirement, I am living the kind of life I’d like to keep living as long as I’m here. Write, coach, enjoy friends, see art, see places, read books, appreciate moments. And beauty. Revel in beauty.
Of course it also means picking up those we love when they struggle and using our gifts to make the world better in some way and a whole slew of other things. Sometimes it also means digesting the news of the day and engaging it rather than denying it.
But not this day.
As I walked to the subway after dancing, passing a lively Bryant Park, and looking up in awe at the bright green Empire State Building, I felt I’d done my denial day just right.