I recently heard comedian Pete Holmes talking about how he deals with setbacks and bad days. "Good Episode," he says to himself. Pie in the sky? Is Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi pie in the sky? Is Shawshank Redemption pie in the sky? Were those worlds and moments biography rather than fiction, we would find them even more compelling. The one that overcomes receives a bigger crown than the one who never met an obstacle. Shawshank without life in prison and crawling through sewage lines to his escape is a story about a man who lives alone and works in accounting for 40 years before retiring in Baja. Accounting.
Yesterday was a good episode. After I finally overcame my typical fears about all the work I needed to do that day, I spent the next two hours burning copies of CDs in a way that means they are now useless to me. I followed up that debacle later in the afternoon with one of my poorest performances as a teacher to date. At which point—and at several more discouraging points throughout the afternoon—I muttered to myself, "Good Episode."
This was not a positive thinking mantra—Sienfeld's "SERENITY NOW!" bottling of the pain. But a challenge—to myself, to the universe, to God, to make this a part of a compelling story.
At 10:30pm I was rinsing campfire smoke out of my hair, reflecting on the last second appearance that evening of several friends swapping stories and ideas and laughter around the cracking logs. I was thinking about the meteor I saw streaking across the sky, about the tour I'm planning for September that started coming together in big ways earlier that day, about the White Oaks practice I had poorly prepared for in a way that actually resulted some delightful new arrangements due to our limitations.
And so the morning after, a hint of camp smoke still with me, I accept the whole thing and not a commercial break less as a good episode.