I hope you have a good day. The entire day. Start to finish. Not the Best Day Ever. No, that’s too much excitement crammed into twenty-four hours. I’m talking about a plain-old, ordinary, run-of-the-mill good day.
I hope you wake up to smells you love. Like donuts, bacon, coffee, or halitosis from a kitty-litter-eating bloodhound.
I hope you have nothing pressing to do. No schedule. No appointments. We do too much, you know. Long ago, our ancestors practiced the noble art of being worthless. A lot of folks won’t do that anymore. I’m doing my best to bring it back. So today, I hope you’re as worthless as a waterproof dishrag.
I hope you remember your ancestors. Your grandparents, and their grandparents – even if you’ve never met them.
I hope you think about the simple things they passed down to us. A hamburger with pickles. Whittling. Hydrangeas. Will Rogers. Baseball games. Pajamas. Smacking ketchup bottles with the butt of your hand. Hank Williams music playing on kitchen radios.
Childhood porches. The smell of peach cobbler in the oven. The faded family photo album. The ancient Betty Crocker cookbook that once belonged to your mother.
I hope you close your eyes and recall the best pieces of childhood. The days when you played hard, and the best games only happened in backyards. I hope your smartphone quits working – just for a few hours. I hope the absence of a digital screen takes you outdoors. I hope you hear the sounds of the earth all at once. I hope you see lots of trees.
I hope you sit for hours with nothing but a cold drink and your best ideas.
I hope you meet someone who inspires you. A kid who’s had kidney cancer. A girl who got pregnant too young, who just finished nursing school. The single father who lost his wife to suicide, but is still raising his four kids.
A woman who lost her husband to an overdose. A child whose daddy is in prison. A hillbilly who put himself through the GED course. A homeless woman, selling pencils on the side of the highway.
An EMT who saves lives every afternoon before supper. A school custodian who brightens the days of children. A lonesome grandmother, who is grandmother to an entire neighborhood. Anyone who’s adopted a child.
I hope you look at these human beings and feel proud to be one. After all, they are the only ones worth being proud about. People like them. People like you.
Heroes aren’t on television. They aren’t celebrities who have designer clothes, lots of TikTok followers, and silicone thighs. Neither are they the sorts of fools who use teleprompters and urge for your support.
Heroes aren’t athletes, news anchors, televangelists, pop stars, or reality-TV contestants with pink hair.
And heroes sure as hailfire aren’t the folks you see performing acts of charity for the benefit of Hollywood film crews.
No. You are the hero. You, the single mother in a single-wide trailer with the single income. You, the school teacher in No-Name-Town, Georgia, who inspires at-risk kids to become poets and artists.
You, the professors building schools in Africa. You, the 69-year-old woman delivering pizza to the cancer ward every Tuesday night.
You, the man buying KFC for the homeless veteran in Baton Rouge, just because. You, the volunteer greeter at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. You.
You are the real thing. I know it might be hard to believe, but it’s true whether you believe it or not. You make the world spin. You are the heartbeat of our earth.
The things you’ve gone through, the things you’re about to go through, the things you’re going through now; there’s meaning to them all. Your life means something. Today means something. This millisecond means something.
I don’t know you, but if you’re reading this right now, we’re here together. In this little moment within space and time, I’d like to give you a gift.
Sadly, I don’t have much to give. I’m not a particularly smart guy. And I don’t have a lick of credibility to go along with my hillbilly name. I have crooked teeth. A big nose. I have a list of life failures longer than a roll of Charmin. So this will have to do:
Have a good day, today. And if you can’t. Well, then help someone else have one.
Because that’s the same thing.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist, novelist, and podcast host, known for his commentary on life in the American South.