That’s how my Tuesday morning started. Tuesday, because it was the day after Memorial Day.
The Tuesday after Memorial Day was designed by someone who hates only one thing more than children — and that’s people who have children. There’s an amazing tension with that Tuesday. Your kids have now spent enough time talking about Summer Camp to know the school year is ending, but they’re not educated, informed, or synaptically advanced enough to understand when the year ends. Separately, they get the pump fake of a long weekend and enter Tuesday looking at you with “WTF” sharpied on their foreheads like Zach Braff and “Balls” in Garden State — but not so literally.
The day after Memorial Day for a parent is like waking up to the cryptex in a Dan Brown novel — your kids are operating with a code and a sequence that you need to spend hours deciphering. Nothing makes sense on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. Kids are primed and ready for summer vacation and then have to go back to school for three more weeks. Everything stinks for everyone.
That was this past Memorial Day.
Why? Because flying in and landing on the tarmac just in advance of the holiday weekend we had an exceptional lineup of events (COVID, birthdays, the loss of loved ones, starting new jobs and just, life).
After a hell of a 4 weeks going into Memorial Day, I didn’t even have time to think about the day after (and if you’re wondering, “The Day After” sounds like the title of a post-apocalyptic narrative because, it is, thank you 80’s and the Cold War, and also, welcome to Putin and our Remix). I didn’t have a moment to think about anything.
When you’re really tired, even your panic and anxiety looks at you and says “Ok. We get it. We’ll wait.”
I woke up on the Tuesday after Memorial Day ready to take on the world … for about 15 seconds … until my daughter’s alarm went off and the reality of my To Do list snapped into place like a Tik Tok chiropractor showing off for the “opportunistic” videographer.
“It’s going to be 90 degrees today and I didn’t put the kids lunchboxes in the freezer. They’ll have temperature regulating lunch boxes that will regulate … equivalent to the surface temp of the sun!”
At this point, I’m a failure. I mean, I’m likely a failure in training running up to this moment but this moment is when it gets real.
“I’m going to make my kids a turkey sandwich … that’s going to turn into a panini by 9am.”
That’s how I felt. I love paninis? But only deliberate ones.
I handled business upstairs post-alarm. Got the kids mobilized. Dressed. Ready. And I descended the stairs.
Why? Because my house is only two stories and I was upstairs.
I walked up to the freezer to open it and get ready to make space for some lunch bags. I know the instructions say these lunch bags need hours to transform from room temperature to cold temperature holding vessels — but also, screw you, I’m American and these rules don’t apply to me.
I was ready. To excuse my failure. To prepare my children for a sh*tty ass lunch (at least from a temperature standpoint). I was ready.
And then, this happened.
My bad@ss wife was two steps (and two backpack zippers, one freezer drawer pull) ahead of me.
Their lunch bags were more than cold. They were cryogenically ready for whatever I needed them to hold. Hell, I double checked my organ donor opt-ins with optimism.
My bad@ss wife covered for me. And this moment was maybe, the highlight of my weekend.
Not my kids smiling post first roller coaster.
Not family time at LEGOLand resort.
Not promotions, and bonuses, and successful conversations at work that transform our sense of self and value professionally.
In the freezer.
My wife. Stepping up. Like whoa.
My wife and her moves around a freezer drawer are PRECISELY what make the world go ’round, the right way.
Which brings me back to the title of this post. And I’m excited to share this with the three (3) people who will make it this far.
The secret to life and happiness isn’t “hard” to find, it just means working through a lot of boring stuff that happens just before something works. The bills are paid. The fridge is stocked. The lights turn on. The gas tank is full. The calendar is updated. The clothes are washed.
The secret to life is not missing the big little things that keep life moving forward. That make moving forward possible.
Let me put a point on it; this past week, the secret to life, was bags in the freezer. Specifically, it’s not bags in the freezer when somebody asks you to put them there, it’s bags making it to the freezer when nobody’s watching.
Friction is not having bags in the freezer when they should be; friction is also having to ask someone to put bags in the freezer where they should be.
Most human beings will put bags in the freezer if you ask them to.
People who love you will put bags in the freezer when you wished they would have.
But love. Well, love is when people put bags in the freezer, against their standard OS, regardless of whether you asked them to or not, only because they subconscious (not their conscious) knows what will delight you. It was my job to put those bags in the freezer. But that’s why we do better in teams.
Put that sh*t into a process map.
I’m sharing this because I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling all of the above pre-freezer drawer open, and feeling overwhelmed by the rest of the above post-freezer open.
I had another moment similar to what I’ve had the past 12 months. One where I realized that I’ve found someone who’s worthy of infatuation but deserving of my love.
When you’re young, it’s hard as hell to differentiate between love and infatuation. You just don’t know enough or feel enough. You don’t have enough experiences.
As you get older, you start seeing the difference. You infatuate at first sight; but love, well, love is what happens when you’re infatuation meets conflict, tension, and a slap in the face.
Infatuation is pre-Will Smith Slap, love is when you carry that infatuation well after the slap was televised.
The difference between infatuation and love, is how you recover from friction.
The past 2.5 years have been sandpaper in a f*cking jockstrap levels of friction.
It’s not been easy. But I’ll tell ya. The past 18 months have proven that my wife, this wonderful woman, is the antitdote for friction during infatuation.
She’s the person who sees that Tuesday after Memorial Day coming; who lets me say dumb things like “let’s take these lunch boxes out of the freezer for the weekend to make space for ice cream”.
She’s the one who let’s me say all that, be totally wrong, tucks me into bed so I can count sheep and sugarplums…
…and then descends the stairs …
…and then finds lunchboxes that I’ve archived and filed away better than <<insert world’s greatest archivist’s name here>>…
…and drops them in the freezer.
The difference between infatuation and love, is how you deal with friction. It’s Mike Tyson’s best quote brought to life, about everyone having a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Friction is the punch in the mouth.
Infatuation, is crumbling in response.
But love. It’s when the punch sets you straight not knocks you down.
Infatuation is just like that. It’s everyone being infatuated until they get punched in the mouth with what the world needs.
Love, is getting punched in the mouth, and waking up to find lunchboxes in the freezer.
Love, is having Priya, as your wife in response. May you all be so damned lucky.