Big Days vs. Balance

Some days reroute lives forever. Some events occur as game-changers, severing any continuity with the past, and leaving us to wonder how a new future will ever be possible.

I was reminded this week of a few of those moments. For people in my life, but not just us.

This week of May shines summerish sunlight we’ve missed through the long winter. It’s been mild here; windows open at night. Things are dry but not too dry. Most people have a garden in. The best outdoor time of the year so far, in Kansas.

So we spent time outdoors this week. Like standing with Mother and Sister, at my Father’s headstone. Gathering all together, maybe only for the second time I really remember, we talked about normal stuff, like the big week they had ahead. Their trip to Mexico. A wedding. Without too much angst, we just had a conversation. Eventually someone looked down, we could see the names of not only my Dad, but Uncle Steve, and Grandparents William (Bill) and Dorothy too… The ending date on my Daddy’s stone shows May 21 1983. It’s been thirty years since that big day.

Why was 5 years ago, the first time we three stood there? I don’t know. Lots of little days go by in between I guess. Times past, we couldn’t have. In that day’s moment, it felt good, it felt right. It wasn’t too hard, but I revered that little space we created together. It was time to go, nearby, another too-young person was laid to rest. We stood together and hugged. Funny, I felt real tall. It was like the heads of my sister and mom, only came halfway up my chest. It was a good hug. I probably won’t ever forget it. It was a big day, in honor of a Big Man we all lost too young.

That was Tuesday.

Last week, there was a birthday. I celebrated in my own way, late at night by shuffling through bunches of old pictures and posting some to facebook. My cousin Megan would have been 35 that day. Her too, lost too young. A big day, none of us will ever understand.

Then Monday, we saw the news. Moore, Oklahoma. A Big twister, a day so many of them will never forget. A day that erased the past. The day before, someone mowed. The day before, someone shopped for groceries. The day before, someone fought over something trivial. The day before, wasn’t that Big Day. On the big ones, nothing else matters, but love. Finding someone alive. All the stuff in their world gone. Didn’t matter at all. The people. The love. Life itself was enough. Everything else could be taken. Have it. We’ll start over.

We had other big days this week too… On Tuesday, at the Restaurant, we installed a new computerized ordering system. A big step forward for us. We changed the game. We can now do lots of new things, to measure our business. We can serve our customers better, when things are clearly defined. We want to be in process of making improvements always. This is just another one. Big nonetheless.

My wife and I hung out with our favorite band this week too. The boys of the Band of Heathens including their sixth member, the freight train whistle and it’s lumbering screeches, put on another awesome show at Knuckleheads. We rocked out. We had a date night. We had real fun. Watching my wife bring us two crisp clear bottles of water, while the rest of the party guzzled booze, was big, for me. Sure, I still feel the tug of cracking a cold one during a concert. But this new way is even more refreshing. Even more rock’n roll rebel style. Against the grain. That’s me.

I could go on and on, about the big days we’ve experienced lately. Tons of moments, not the least of which was seeing my youngest sister say Yes, to a life-long commitment.  I was lucky enough to join her for the small ceremony that legally united them, before they stood in the sand and did it oceanside. Her dream wedding is taking place today. I was really lucky to get to witness and be there for her, in part of her journey, if not all of it.

So what about balance? What about the little days? What about times and weeks that pass without much exciting taking place, or life-changing going on? Should we be thankful for them? Should we be glad that not every day is totally radically tragic, or fantastically inspiringly romantic and blissful?

In this moment, for me, I’m saying screw balance. In the waves of emotion that have moved me both up and down in the last few weeks, I’ve felt a rush. I’ve been pushed and I’ve sailed, and the rigging is up and catching wind. I have a rhythm of activity and of dance that brings pleasure then pain then back again. It feels natural. It feels like real life. I’m so thankful for all of it.

Balance is suffocating. It feels so teeeee-dious and irritating to try and achieve balance. Barely adding a bit to this side, while barely taking away from that side. Ever so slightly adjusting this and that, to find this perfect moment where all things have the right weight and energy and ritual and discipline in my life. Yuck. Lately, it’s been Big Days. We’re pushing waay forward and making cool stuff happen. I’ve shared these super deep moments, in love. I haven’t however kept my house cleaned up, and in perfect order. I haven’t done all the projects on my plate. I haven’t done everything right. I’ve made messes along the way too. It’s cool though. With me.

I see that there will be Big Days for those things too. Days to make a decision and cut projects loose. A day to block out, and just clean and clean. A day to finally put a garden in. A day to say thank you, to people in my life, for the cool things they’ve given me. A day to appreciate the forgiveness and flexibility I’ve been given, as I wander and reroute and play with my life, sometimes changing too much. The old familiar ways are now the uncomfortable ones… Crazy idn’t it.

Really, every day is a big day. Every day contributes to the weight of these big events. None of the big things happen without thousands of tiny little things coming together. Watching this band, with my wife, sober, and appreciating the gift of God, didn’t happen out of the blue. Thousands of moments lead to this. Including the death of my Dad, when I was age four, and he, only 26… Wow.

Balance doesn’t inspire me. Keeping things perfectly all in order, while nothing gets the chance to be great, or die, leaves no risk and no reward. Life doesn’t have meaning without death. There is no halfway between the two, that we can maintain for any amount of time. Jesus told us to be hot or cold, not lukewarm. Balance is lukewarm, and I’m not interested. So today, I’ll again barely show up on time. I’ll drop the ball. I’ll sit here among a mess. I’ll also take a step, working to make a business great. I’ll pound out the very last word of this message, to completion. I’ll, be who I am called to be today. In the only way I know how. I’ll guess at it. I’ll just shoot in the dark. I’ll do something, instead of waiting and wondering.

I’ll do things wrong, and screw up the balance. I’ll feel the rush of the swings and swells and the winds of change. It won’t be teee-dious though 🙂 It will be another Big Day.


Aaron Nichols


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