I learned an essential life skill from BJ. She didn’t set out to teach me anything, I just learned from being around her. Nearly thirty-five years my junior and she had a handle on something I had yet to master. BJ taught me how to turn any ordinary day, heck, even the worst day into the Best Day Ever.
When BJ first came to live with us at Casa Kumasi we got to know each other while walking to the markets together. Frankly, this is the very best way to get to know anyone. Walk around with them. Look at things, see what each other notice and what you have to say about it.
It quickly became obvious that BJ was in her honeymoon phase and I was fed up with Kumasi. She would draw my attention to some undeniably unique African feature like a mother bathing a child in a tub beside the road and I’d realize I was holding my breath against the stench of the open sewer. I’d see a rooster shitting on the ground, she the incredible sheen of his tail feathers.
We’d laugh about it and I’d apologize for being so negative. She waived my guilt away with “I’m sure I’d feel this way if I’d been here as long as you have.”
The first time she exclaimed, “This is the Best Day Ever!” I was taken by surprise. But then I went with it. “Wow, you’re right! This IS the best day ever!” As I repeated the words, my day was suddenly promoted from drab to magnificent. This, I realized was alchemy! The key to turning shit into shiny.
I used to think a positive outlook was a sign of intellectual shallowness but BJ dispelled this mistaken assumption forever. She was/is very sharp – well-read, articulate and full of deep thoughts and theories. During the months we shared a home we enjoyed many wonderful conversations. BJ sees the dark side of life yet chooses to highlight the bright side. She taught me by example that it’s one thing to notice the unsavory aspects of daily life, but we don’t have to dwell on it.
I now have the magic potion to transform each and every day. Regardless of what the day entails, there comes a moment of bliss worth commenting on and as soon as I say the words, that day becomes The Best Day Ever.