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The Postscript: “Lukewarm Water”

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Yesterday wasn’t the best day.
I don’t like to complain and, the truth is, I have very little to complain about. Still, yesterday was not the best day.
I woke with a stomachache. I’d gone to bed with a stomachache, and this is not terribly unusual. My mother gets stomachaches, and now my 20-year-old niece is prey to them. Stress and irregular eating set them off, these stomachs of ours, and sometimes they take hours or even days to get sorted out. This one was particularly stubborn and saw me through the night and into the next day. By midmorning, I realized, unless I was writing about a stomachache, I wasn’t likely to get much writing done.
So I thought I’d learn a new program I’d promised myself I’d learn. The young woman on the video assured me that this training was for “absolute beginners,” and I felt reassured. I sat down with my stomachache and started watching.
I had no idea what she was talking about.
It wasn’t that she left me behind—I never got on the bus. The bus pulled away and left me standing on the curb. I suddenly felt old. I was an old woman with a stomachache.
Then I heard from my agent. My agent is cheerful and hopeful and loves my book, and she’s working hard right now to sell it. She wrote to tell me I got another rejection. She sounded pretty down—for a perpetually upbeat person. She sounded as if we might be running out of people to send my book to. This was depressing news.
That’s when I saw the Facebook post.
A friend objected to my recent column where I looked through the stained glass in a church and found color—and reason to be happy. It wasn’t realistic, he wrote. Bad things happen, and people like me should acknowledge them. He talked about tornados and shootings. He said people like me would go looking for a pony in a pile of horse poop. He wasn’t very nice. And I still had a stomachache.
Nothing makes me feel better when I am down than a nice hot bath by candlelight, and it was certainly time for one of those. But the bathtub faucet was not working, and so the hot water filled the tub very slowly—so slowly that, by the time there was enough for a bath, it was lukewarm.
“Oh well!” I said as I hopped in. “A lukewarm bath by candlelight is better than no bath at all.”
That’s when the candle fizzled out.
I sat in the lukewarm water in the dark. I still had a stomachache as I mulled over the rejection of my manuscript. I remembered my friend’s accusation that I was not realistic. I realized he was right.
But, as I considered the options, I honestly couldn’t think of another way to live. Life is short, no matter how long we live. Knowing that my time is short, and my abilities limited, encourages me to do whatever I can with this precious time I have—right now—sitting in lukewarm water. I get a choice about how I wish to feel about all of it, even the stomachache. And I believe (realistic or not) that it is a precious gift to live in this continually amazing, astonishingly beautiful world.
I feel better today. The sky is still gray. The faucet is still broken. There is still no word on my book. But my stomachache is marginally better. And I am enormously grateful to experience all of it.

Till next time,

Carrie Classon

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