Carpe diem. Seize the day. Live each day as if it were your last.
It doesn’t work. Can’t work.
Leaving aside the obvious shenanigans we’d all get into if we acted like it was our last day (a literalization of the saying anyway), I’ve always been suspicious of this approach to life. Well, maybe not “suspicious.” Perhaps “incredulous” is more apt.
A simple truth to juxtapose with this simple aphorism: the bulk of any given day, even a pretty good day, tends to be pretty lousy. If we put any random day under a microscope, it reads a lot like Hobbes’s take on life: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, short.”
I feel this way about days when there’s more autism than boy.
They are solitary days of the worst kind—surrounded and alone. Constant action without interaction.
They are poor days. Days where we scramble to pay for an extra set of therapies—gymnastics, swimming, horseback riding—something that might make a difference. Loans paying loans paying for hope.
They are nasty and they are brutish. My arms and my wife’s are covered in scratches, bruises, and the occasional bite-mark. We’ve had blackened eyes. We’ve been asked the solicitous questions in the doctor’s office that leave us stuttering “are you serious?”
But they are not short days.
Up at 5 out the door by 7:30 work until 11:30 pick them up from school feed them lunch squeeze in alternating work periods between therapies work out for thirty minutes make dinner go through two-hour bedtime routines while we squeeze in a little more work get them asleep work for 3 more hours watch TV for 30 minutes go to bed by 11 wake up at 12:30 sitting through bouncing-screaming-laughing and rotating every two hours until he falls asleep again at 3:30. Up at 5…
These days are not short.
Carpe diem? Fuck that.
Carpe momentum. “Seize the moment.”
Even though a day can be an existential marathon, there can be moments—second winds—that take the edge off, even make the struggle worthwhile.
Today was not short. An early am head-butt after 3 hours of sleep, clawed cheeks, screaming car-rides to and from school. Continual pinching after afternoon therapy.
But then there was this. There was me walking him away from me whenever he pinched—admonishing “there’s no pinching”—and gently closing the door to his room. After about 10-15 cycles, Jamie woke up from a nap, tag-teamed in, and I went downstairs to box and run. Forty-five minutes later, I came upstairs and plopped down on the kitchen floor—exhausted and disgusting.
Liam walks over, kneels down, puts his hands on the back of my calves, and rests his face against my knee for just a moment. And then he bounds away, bouncing and hooting, in search of the iPad or DVD player.
He didn’t pinch, scream, or bite.
I didn’t deflect his contact to protect myself.
For a moment, a breath, we were just there, touching. He didn’t ask for anything from me. And I couldn’t have asked for more.