Thursday, June 6, 2013

How Was Your Day?

One question that is used a lot that I really have difficulty answering is the question “how was your day?”.  In truth, I sometimes feel agitated as I attempt to come up with an answer to the question even though I know the querent means well.

I will use an extreme example to explain why.

On one particular Tuesday, I said goodbye to my son at the train station as I prepared for my daily commute.  The sun was shining, the trains were on time, the train connections were dead-on and I got into NYC ahead of schedule.

How was my day so far?


As I walked to my office on Madison Avenue, the air was fresh (as fresh as it gets in NYC), people were smiling and I thought “A day doesn’t get more beautiful than this”.

How was my day so far?

Filled with gratitude.

An hour later, a sequence of events transpired that left me, my colleagues and the whole city in shock.

How was my day so far?


An hour after that, events continued to escalate and it looked like many of us were in physical danger.

How was my day so far?


As the events of the day sank in and we realized the losses that so many of us had endured, we realized our lives would never be the same again.

How was my day so far?

Filled with grief.

As the day wore on and the reality of who had conspired to create this day for us became clear, many of us began to feel something else.

How was my day so far?

Filled with anger.

And as I finally made it home and was able to reach out to people to tell them I was ok, I was overcome with a different feeling.

How was my day so far?

I was filled with gratitude for being alive.

I was exhausted.

And I wept.

It was 9/11.

So …. how was my day?

Our day cannot be described in one or two words

When people ask “how was your day?”, they are asking us to net out the ups and the downs of our day into a generalized description that doesn’t really speak to the rich experience of Life that is a typical day for many of us.

But if we try to go into any level of detail to explain the day, many people are so busy (or so self-absorbed) that they would prefer a quick answer, which brings me back to the previous paragraph.

And unfortunately, too many people’s lives are so strained that the negative events of the day seem to outweigh the positive ones no matter how many positive ones were experienced.

An extreme example

Now in truth, my 9/11 example is an extreme one and it is impossible to look back on it to see the positives of that day.  Many of us have had days where the negative events were so large that they blew the positive ones away (and vice versa if we are fortunate).

But as I lived the day, despite the difficult things that were being experienced, there were little nuggets to hold onto also … nuggets such as love, gratitude, hope and resilience.

The day simply …… was.

Moving forward, as each day ends for me I am grateful for what the day brought, for the gifts of love, happiness, elation and overcoming, for the mysteries that remain unsolved and for the difficulties that ultimately will make me stronger (even if I don’t believe it for the moment).

And so if you ask me how my day was, I will tell you simply that it was …. and that I was grateful to be on the top side of the turf to experience it.

To net out the ups and downs to a simple expression or a single word would not give it the justice it deserves nor would it adequately encapsulate the richness of the experience of the day.

On the flip side, to recap our day in the detail that it deserves might take as long as it took to experience it in the first place. :-)

So if you want or need to ask someone how their day was, consider asking them how they are feeling instead or if there is anything you can do for them.

Listen to the answer, no matter how long, good or bad.

And then do something …. if the answer calls for it.

Create a great day, because merely having one is too passive an experience. 

In service and servanthood,


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