Thick white sox are peeled off, rather than pulled. I stand and dump the pockets out onto my bed. Change goes into a Starbuck's mug, along with pens. The cell phone needs to charge. I turn the Nextel off, silencing the familiar chirp which durng the day causes any working man within earshot to reach for his own Nextel. Blue work pants with extra front pockets slide off my legs, sometimes sticking to the tackiness of my sweaty feet. I give 'em a once-over. No mud. I fold them and put them back on the closet shelf where they sat 13 hours ago. The whole get-up, pants, tee shirt, work shirt, wind shirt, is a small load of laundry. If the pants aren't too trashed I wear 'em two days.
I grab to small black book and step into the adjoining bathroom, where I do a quick shower, soaping only the pits, groin and feet. I have dry skin so I scrape the rest with a stiff brush to remove the dead skin cells. A couple of drops of shampoo are enough for my buzz-cut. I turn off the water and shake my head. I like to drip dry. Most of the water that used to go into a towel drips off into the shower tub in under two minutes. I use this time well. A couple of slow neck rolls each direction. I reach up with the left hand and pull the head sideways, trying to touch left ear to left shoulder, then the other way. Then chin into chest, then swivel the head back and try to reach the chin into the ceiling. I breathe in the lingering steam though my nose in long, slow pulls, then let it out in a hearty dragon breath, haaaaaaaaaaaaaa. If you were anywhere upstairs, you would hear me.
I towel off my hands and grab the black book. It's daily meditation book called Twenty-Four Hours a Day. It contains short verses for every day of the year, but I always open to my favorite, July 31.
Anyone can fight the battles of of just one day. It is only when we add the awful burdens of yesterday and tommorow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday, or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefor do our best to live but one day at a time.
By the time I toss on some soft, dry sweatpants, I am a new person. I now look forward to my wife's return from work. We have a couple, three precious hours before sleep and I don't want to waste a second. It is so easy to forget why we exist. For toil alone, it sometimes seems. But this is never so unless we have been turned around and upside down.
I lived much of my life that way. Even after I quit drinking. I changed from an alcoholic to a rage-aholic. A friend counseled me to start each day over after getting home from work. Always shower and change. No woman wants to sit across the table from a pissed off guy with his name on his shirt, just above the company logo. I realized I was so testy around dinner time because this used to be happy hour, and I was missing it. Though I truly wanted to quit drinking, I behaved like a small child whose toy had been taken away.
I started doing my readings after getting home from work, and it's a habit I've never broken. The spouse of a recovering alcoholic may forgive, but she can never forget. She'd drive home wondering which drunk would be home when she arrived, giggly drunk, morose drunk, pissed off drunk, horny drunk or disappearing drunk.
One day she discovered nearly-dead drunk.
So, after much wise counsel, I determined to heed the advice of St. Francis, to seek to understand, rather than to expect understanding. I try to reassure her every day. Let her see a man at peace, a man who has put aside all thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow so he can share a few hours of precious now with the woman he loves.