42. It might be that extremes are never helpful

The day started well. When Benny stepped out from his front gate on to the street the first thing he encountered was a $10 note being blown along the footpath, which he deftly stepped on and picked up. “There was no-one else around that it could have escaped from, so naturally its next home was my pocket. And it’s funny, but being in the right spot at the right time kept unfolding for me that day. In the city, people were handing out promotional samples of a new energy drink at different random street corners, and the way I was going found me walking through two of those intersections that morning.”

Without really admitting it, let alone spelling it out in a conscious way at all, from then on Benny more-or-less expected that everything else on that day would go well for him. And generally things did — all that was meant to happen, and even those that were not planned, went very well or even better, and for no discernable reason. And just little things too… like when he later bought a coffee, he had exactly the right amount needed sitting in his pocket, precisely the right change (“…I think this one was when I got my first car”).

No-one could blame him for enjoying a good day, where everything just fell into place. After all, we all have days that are better than others. But the thing was that this time there were no mediating factors, no less-than-premium results or elements to take at least a little bit of shine off Benny’s pristine run of good luck. This might sound fine, but the trouble was that this unspoken positive expectancy seemed to be more firmly cemented-in from each piece of successive serendipity, and that outlook also seemed to be feeding an out-of-ordinary inattention. It was odd… and it was also conducive to complacency. His otherwise clear-mindedness was just switched to ‘off’, which I knew, under my watch, is not helpful. I wished that he would have listened a bit more carefully.

And at other times of course, like everyone, Benny also had bad days. “It was an early start to a cruddy day, my phone ringing at about 5am, and it was just one of those ‘private number’ nuisance calls. It was hard to get back to sleep then, especially when you know you have to get up not all that long after. When I did, one of the first things I saw in the mirror was that a mosquito had bitten me on the eyelid overnight, and as I have a mild reaction to them I had a visible bite mark on my eye all day.

“I should have read the signs and just stayed home, but of course that wasn’t an option, so out I went and straight away found myself being hassled by a bee at my front gate, which I guessed must have been sitting on the gate somewhere that I didn’t see as I opened it. I wasn’t stung at least, not that that was a sign that things were going to improve. I cut across the park and a friendly dog ambled over and got a big pat from me, after which I realised that my hand had picked up a bad smell from the dog’s back… he must have rolled in some very stinky dead thing. Just wiping it with tissues (I had a pack in my bag) didn’t do much, so I felt like I had to keep that smelly hand in a wad of those tissues in my pocket until I got to work and could wash it with lots of soap (which I had to repeat a few times before the smell was completely gone).”

That would have all been fine as far as having a string of bad luck goes, if it ended there. But after drying his hands Benny could see that after all the washing and accompanying splashing of water he had a wet patch on his pants ‘just there’. Immediately after, when Benny took off his coat to hang it up, he saw that a bird had crapped on the back of his shoulder — a very visible long white streak, and he guessed he must have been walking around with it on display all the way in.

But this wasn’t the last of it for Benny. Later, seemingly to remind him that this was not a stellar day, he couldn’t hold back a huge sneeze immediately after taking the first bite of his lunchtime sandwich. Later still, at the end of this day of bad happenings, he decided that he should wash the pants he had on in case some of the pungent dog smell hung around in the pocket that he had shoved his hand in that morning, but he forgot to take out the wad of tissues that was still in the pocket when he put them in with the load of other washing. The result would be a delayed bad-day confirmation.

The trouble was that this string of negatives had a similar affect to his string of good luck that we saw before — his otherwise clear-mindedness was just switched to ‘off’. Benny was just too caught up and worried about what had happened, and what might happen next, to really take a patient view. It was the same in both situations — either too caught up and blissful or too caught up and worried. With the first he indulged, things were going well, and he milked it for what it was worth. With the second he suffered, things were not going so well, and he hunkered down and felt miserable. Either way, good times or bad times, Benny’s focus lapsed (it felt like being in a fog), and it didn’t have to be that way. He just had to take a step back, be patient, and keep his head in a clearer place than where this daily life can take him. I don’t think I could ever tire of reminding him of that.

(Whichever of the two occurs, be patient)
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