I looked up from my phone and questioned what was stupid, to which my husband directed my attention to the Life is Good tire-cover on the camper beside us.
“Just because you have a camper doesn’t mean life is good,” he said. I laughed at his bah-humbugness, but his face told me he was truly annoyed by this wheel cover, even though I could easily see myself purchasing one for my Jeep.
Then to add insult to injury, I shared that I had literally just posted about our thirty-two hours at the beach on Instagram, and added #lifeisgood at the end of my post.
“No you didn’t!” His look of disgust along with his words were strong indicators that this wheel cover was a punch straight to his gut in our current season of life.
The old adage that you can only get knocked down so many times before you start to feel defeated is proving itself to be true in my family. We’ve been going through some tough life experiences lately: family stuff, work stuff, stuff in our life that just keeps building and building.
You know those seasons when you barely get out from under one damn-it moment before the next one appears, and you feel like you can’t catch your breath and you can’t even bring yourself to hope that tomorrow will be any better because it hasn’t been for months. That’s the season we’ve been in, and we’re all ready for the heat to pass and the leaves to turn, and life to return to good.
The longer-than-thirty-two-hour trip to the beach kind of good.
The not-worrying-about-who-you-are leaving-behind kind of good, because you know that person will be okay no matter how long you are gone.
The just-get-in-the car-or-Jeep-or-camper and not make any plans or preparations and still expect good things are up ahead kind of good.
This Life is Good wheel cover and camper story resurfaced at the Sunday dinner table later that afternoon with our oldest son. In our family’s typical cynical way of managing the uncontrollable hard seasons of life, we wondered if there is a Life Sucks wheel cover. Surprisingly, even though my son searched, he couldn’t find one on any of the usual outlets. I say surprisingly because surely everyone has thought that life sucks at one point or another, but obviously no one wants to advertise that truth, and obviously especially not on the back of their camper or Jeep. It’s considered more appropriate to advertise the reverse—what is desired, what is acceptable in our culture, and that is happiness.
Social media is a prime example of our conditioning to advertise the good life. Scroll through any of your favorite platforms and look at the number of smiling faces, perfect sunsets and/or sunrises, perfectly plated food, and happy moments captured on film for your viewing pleasure.
My own social platform is all about squeezing the goodness out of life, not taking life for granted, living life to the fullest. Which is why my previous post about our quick getaway to the beach during a shitty season included the life is good hashtag underneath a picture of a beautiful sunrise, and no mention of how my life at that moment was in a state of suck.
We know we can’t be happy all the time, and if we are expected to be that is toxic positivity. Life is not some fictional fairy tale. Bad things do happen, AND they happen to good people. We all suffer through the sucky seasons of life, whether it be homes, cars and appliances that need constant repair; demanding jobs with difficult co-workers and/or bosses; debilitating and life-threatening diseases; or the inevitable losses (jobs, friends, marriages, precious life).
Still, our goal is to be happy, chase our dreams, do what we love, fulfill our purpose—live the good life we know is out there somewhere because, again, we’ve read about it in books and seen it in movies and on our social media feeds.
Trust and Believe
My twenty-ninth wedding anniversary came around a mere three weeks after that Life is Good wheel cover encounter. My husband and I wanted to do something, go somewhere, leave all our life muck and problems behind—and we wanted more than just a thirty-two-hour trip. We weren’t quite on the other side of our shitty season, but things were looking up. We decided on a trip to the mountains, hoping to catch a hint of the beautiful show the leaves put on right before the seasons change. The forecast was calling for rain all four days, but my husband pointed out how beautiful it is in the mountains when the clouds sink into the valley and the sun is shining above them.
Somewhere between proclaiming we were going to make this happen and the Thursday morning when we hopped in my Jeep to see where the road would lead us, hope started to grow inside both of us. He started looking at maps and destinations, and I started looking at Pinterest boards of similar locations and must-see destinations.
Hope gave us momentum, and we took that trip. We spent four full days on the road, filled with a sense of possibility and the expectation that something good was around every sharp curve and behind every mountain. The leaves weren’t in full show, but we experienced the clouds in the valley, and patches of showy leaves, we ate perfectly plated dishes, met so many kind people, and had a good time creating memories while celebrating twenty-nine years of life’s ups and downs.
Sometimes life is good and sometimes life sucks, and sometimes life is good AND sucks at the same damn time. But with a little bit of hope that tomorrow will hold some new possibility, we can ride through the seasons expecting the heat to finally pass and the leaves to put on that beautiful show—season and season and season again.