My daughter once taught me a game that her third grade teacher taught her called Fortunately Unfortunately. Someone starts a story and the next person continues with a twist of fate, either positive or negative. It can be very funny, and more philosophically a good reminder to count your blessings. There’s a story told by Stillwater the Panda in Jon Muth’s Zen Shorts with a similar moral.
I feel like our lives this weekend have been a litany of good fortune and misfortune. Not all of them are funny, but all of them are true.
Unfortunately my wallet fell out of my back pocket into the toilet. Fortunately I had only peed, and the $25 in cash remained miraculously dry.
Fortunately I accomplished a lot of cleaning and organizing. Unfortunately, I fell hard after mopping the floor because the soles of my feet were covered in lint and therefore slippery. Fortunately I didn’t have to go to the hospital!
Unfortunately I also whacked the back of my head hard on Zeke’s bunk bed while trying to make up the bed for my nephew to come for a sleepover. Fortunately Zeke and Charlie had a great time together. Unfortunately there’s a giant knot on the back of my head. Fortunately it didn’t bleed!
Fortunately I convinced my kids to go on a walk with me this afternoon because it was sunny and warm after yesterday’s endless torrential rain. Unfortunately Zoe stepped in the creek and soaked her feet, despite wearing her boots. Fortunately she shrugged it off and we continued on our walk and went to the playground for a bit, which we all enjoyed.
Unfortunately our thermostat stopped working last week, just as it was getting rather cold out. Fortunately Randy called in an expert who determined that it was just the thermostat and not the heating system, which was much less expensive to replace. Fortunately Randy was able to get a new one on sale and the guy came to install it on Saturday morning and we are masters of our indoor temperature once again.
Unfortunately the kids complained and dragged their feet when we wanted to take them to the No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man exhibit at the Renwick Gallery the other day. Fortunately we finally got ourselves together and drove downtown. Unfortunately it was raining and we got a little wet on the way, despite our raincoats and umbrella. Fortunately it was warm and dry inside the museum and, more importantly, the exhibit is AMAZING (if you’re in DC between now and January 31 I highly recommend it!) and everyone loved it. Unfortunately at the end Zeke begged for something from the gift shop and I refused, so he sulked. Fortunately his sister was kind and spent her own money to buy him something. Unfortunately this may ultimately be sending the wrong message, but I’m not going to worry about that right now. Unfortunately when we were about to leave it was raining even harder. Fortunately Randy volunteered to go get the car and pick us up. Unfortunately he got completely soaked. Fortunately we went home and he changed and everyone had hot chocolate and we watched The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Unfortunately, services at my church were canceled this morning because a car ran up onto the lawn of the church, ran over the church sign, and crashed into the power line pole, and somehow ended up half suspended on one of the power lines. Fortunately, no one was hurt, which I can’t even comprehend.
Fortunately, my kids have started a tradition of their own volition of filling a stocking for each other to put by their beds late Christmas Eve. They asked me to take them to Five Below to buy presents for each other. I was helping Zeke shop and he said, “I want to make Zoe really happy this Christmas,” which filled me with happiness. There’s really no unfortunately to this except that we spent more money than I was anticipating, but it’s really not a big deal compared to the awesomeness that they wanted to do something nice for each other. In case you’ve never been to Five Below, it’s a lot of toys and accessories and candy. Zeke asked if Zoe liked Pop Rocks and I said yes, so while I was looking at something else he put about 25 packets of Pop Rocks into our basket. I put about 23 packets back on the shelf.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, tomorrow is Monday and we have to return to school and work. For Zoe this seemed unfortunate. Fortunately, we spent a while talking with her about the good things and the bad things about middle school and what could be done to tip the scales toward good. Unfortunately she seemed despondent throughout our conversation. Fortunately I think she may try some of the things we suggested. We’ll see. Unfortunately (but not unusually), Zeke didn’t want to shower tonight. Fortunately I distracted him from his complaining but asking him to teach me the lyrics and dances to the Go Noodle songs he is obsessed with and sings around the house constantly. Next time you see us, ask us to demonstrate our sweet moves.
Unfortunately, our country and our world are in incredibly bad shape right now, and so many people are treating their fellow humans with contempt and cruelty. Unfortunately there are more examples of this than I can count and it feels like things are getting worse every single day. Fortunately, I know there are a lot of people–including many I have the privilege to know–who work to care for their fellow humans and the planet. Fortunately, there are people such as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who was recently elected to Congress and who has quickly become one of my heroes, who are not afraid to stand up for what is right.
And so it goes. Unfortunately I know there will be more sorrows tomorrow. Fortunately I know I will also find joys.