The Shirelles meet Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Mama said there’ll be days like this,
There’ll be days like this, mama said.”

Monday, if I recall correctly, started out sunny. We had breakfast and I went on to my newly found routine of sitting on the back terrace, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise.  

As I listened to my favorite classical music station on my Kindle, I jotted down a brief, thoroughly unambitious to-do list for the day. 

Ralph W. Emerson, dressed up for
Concord H.S. prom.

There were no breakthrough medical discoveries, profound thoughts about the meaning of life or other biggies on tap, but instead two or three relatively menial tasks such as starting a bunch of cactus cuttings in the modest greenhouse Félix had just put together, and walking around the yard with the dogs to check on what plants were coming up. It promised to be a calm, relaxing day.

Then small snafus crept in, which combined with the miraculous process of “catastrophizing,” I allowed to ruin my whole day. 

“Catastrophizing”—and I’m one of its leading practitioners—is the old practice of letting molehills turn into mountains.

My secret formula is to start out with one or two firecrackers to which I add a half-cup of imaginary napalm, some made-up dynamite plus a pinch of uranium and presto, I have a hydrogen bomb ticking inside my head. 

In retrospect, Monday’s triggers are embarrassing to mention. Félix showed up in our pick-up that he had borrowed for the weekend, except the gas tank was quarter short; the remote for the garage door opener was missing; and the headlights, fog and tail lights were doing some sort of winking dance that could only be controlled by disconnecting the battery.

We, worry?

Félix had no plausible explanation except that things went bump in the night at a car wash where he took the truck to be cleaned.

There went my to-do list—and my whole day—by first trying to fiddle with the garage door opener and failing that, looking for a repairman. Meanwhile, I forgot to transfer to the car three bags of gravel I needed for gardening, plus the shovel, all of which ended at the mechanic where we took the truck to be fixed.

No garage door opener, no gravel, no truck, no gardening. A catastrophe brewed.

With my head still on a spin cycle Tuesday morning, I did my usual navel-gazing on the back terrace and a note fell out of my notebook.

It was a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson who, even in Concord, Mass. in the 1800s, seemed to be familiar with days like Monday:

Finish everyday and be done with it. \
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.

Tomorrow is a new day:
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.

This day is all that is 
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations, 
to waste a moment on yesterdays. 

Or as the Shirelles paraphrased Emerson in their 1961 single:
Mama said there’ll be days like this,
There’ll be days like this, mama said. 

Couldn’t have put it better myself, girls. 

6 thoughts on “The Shirelles meet Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. Three things leap to mind here:1. Where did you get a Kindle that plays music? It's an eBook.2. Catastrophizing. Nice word. I now understand your hysterical reactions to President Trump.3. Loaning a motor vehicle to a local is a colossally bad idea, no matter how great a “friend” he is. I would never, ever do it.


  2. The concept of living one day at a time has been a goal of humankind for centuries:”Look to this day:For it is life, the very life of life.In its brief courseLie all the verities and realities of your existence.The bliss of growth,The glory of action,The splendour of achievementAre but experiences of time.For yesterday is but a dreamAnd tomorrow is only a vision;And today well-lived, makesYesterday a dream of happinessAnd every tomorrow a vision of hope.Look well therefore to this day;Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!”By Kalidasa, an Indian dramatist and poet of the 5th century.


  3. Felipe: My Kindle Fire plays music in a couple of different ways. One is through Amazon Music, or Amazon Prime. For a monthly fee of five or six dollars you can download all sorts of albums and playlists. I used it during the free trial period of 30 days to get a bunch of woozy classical music playlists, like Coffee Shop Classics etc. They are all stored in a section of your Kindle Fire called “Music.” You can also get an app called TuneIn Radio that will stream radio stations from all over the world. So I listen to stations from Texas, Chicago, Amsterdam, etc. The best deal is to get a Bluetooth speaker (they are small and cheap) that will link with your smartphone, Kindle or even the car radio, assuming they all have Bluetooth. So you can play TuneIn on the car radio. What I've never been able to do is link up iTunes and the Kindle; they seem incompatible.2. Catastrophizing is a nationwide rage that respects no political barriers. Rightwing nuts play it and so do leftwing nuts. That's why it's so difficult to hold a rational conversation about matters of great importance such as health insurance for everyone. I did some research on this issue and for awhile listened to Hannity, Jones, Limbaugh and read Drudge and Breitbart. Talk about hysterical. Jones gets going and he looks and sounds like a Big Boy tomato ready to explode. About lending out the truck, please speak to me. I've been told that the insurance is on the vehicle, regardless who drives it as long as they have a license. The police also told me anyone can drive the car as long as they have my permission. If any or all of this is wrong, I'd appreciate hearing about it.Peaceal


  4. Deborah: Indeed. It's amazing that no matter how different religions might be in their rituals they share several important pieces of wisdom such as mindfulness and living in the moment as essential to sanity. Thank you very


  5. Ah, mystery solved. The Fire is not a Kindle. It's an Amazon tablet though you can read books on it. Wish I had one. Kindles are eBooks that do not even have speakers.Yes, there are catastrophizing hysterics on both sides of the political divide. Lame, eh?I did not mean to imply that lending your vehicle to a Mexican cancels the insurance or is illegal. It's not as long as the borrower has a driver's license. Many Mexicans drive without licenses. My point was that if you lend your truck to a local, the chances of its being returned damaged in some way is quite high. Their attitudes regarding property of other people is very different than ours.


  6. Kindle Fires are not cheap but not prohibitive either. About $150 bucks I think. Thanks for the advice on cars. When we drive to church or something on Sunday morning we get to see the damage caused by drivers on Friday and Saturday night—guard rails, lamp posts, curbs, signs. It looks like a demolition derby. al


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