What Did I Exchange Another Day For?


As the weeks pass one into the next, I am mindful that each day is yet another blank canvas.
One of our clients wrote these words, “ What did I exchange another day for?” I loved this. It made me stop and think… yes, there is gratitude and contemplation…

I had a good cry this weekend. I was swimming in the waters of the collective grief, mourning for the loss of so much, praying for hot dog vendors, healthcare workers, and everyone I could imagine impacted by this in ways seemingly much more painful and significant than my own experiences. Yes, some survivor guilt too.

I have heard myself in the past, bandying about the word “entitlement” - but now it is interesting - it has taken on personal, local, regional, statewide, countrywide and global meaning. Admittedly, I used to use this word in judgement. But here I am. Entitled. Here I am, “deserving” to exchange this day, for another one. Will I have another day? And if so, have it mindfully? Will I make this day I’ve been given count? How? What is my purpose? How am I using my gifts?

My son and I continue to unite over making dinner, eating, talking, walking, Philosophy and US History assignments, games of “SEQUENCE” and watching “Schitt’s Creek.” I have watched this show on and off since it first appeared on Netflix. At the time, the characters seemed so outrageous and hilarious. I rarely laugh out loud, and I howl throughout it. I love it.

For those of you who watch it, you probably know the back story- The show was created when Dan Levy was contemplating what it would be like if very wealthy people were stripped of all they had- it was actually inspired by his watching the Kardashians.

The story line is that the wealthy Rose family and video magnate Johnny (Eugene Levy), his wife and former soap opera actress Moira (Catherine O'Hara), and their adult children David and Alexis (Dan Levy and Annie Murphy)—lose their fortune and excessive, entitled lifestyle. After being defrauded by their business manager, they are forced to rebuild their lives with their sole remaining asset: a small town named Schitt's Creek, which Johnny had bought for David, his son, as a joke birthday gift in 1991.

The Roses relocate to Schitt's Creek, moving from their Palazzo style mansion of probably 20,000 or more square feet, into two adjacent tiny rooms in a run-down motel in a rural Canada. They argue over the quality of the toilet paper, the towels, the filthy rooms. As soon as they arrive with all they could squeeze into their car, the family starts bickering, arguing, and blaming each other. As they attempt to adjust to their new lives, their “holier than thou” and “well-to-do” attitudes come into conflict with the more provincial residents of Schitt's Creek- people they think live so far below their standard of living and without that same values, they must be “worthless”…

But to the Rose’s surprise, without those “worthless” residents, their lives will not go on.

They become very dependent on all those they criticize and try to avoid – when their car breaks down, when they need to eat, when they have no resources, only those who occupy this crappy town can help them, and they wake up each day to realize they are definitely up the creek without a paddle- unendingly.

David, the son, tries to run away, but he lands on a Quaker farm when the family car he stole breaks down, and as a flamboyant, gay man, Quakers are clearly not exactly the people from whom he was hoping to find refuge. 

His parents come after him with a borrowed car- his experience, harrowing. Back he must go.

By season two, there are friendships forming, business ideas burgeoning, love affairs steaming, and while the family dynamic continues to be founded on self-centeredness and narcissism, they begin the journey from outcasts into working their way into the community. They actually have to “try” to fit in. Something very foreign to them… At first there is nothing authentic about this. They are using the locals to get what they need, but eventually, shreds of their humanity begin to surface…

Moira, (Mrs. Rose,) has managed to bring along with her not only multiple couture outfits, but 25 wigs or more, which she has hung on the wall of her room. She appears day after day, more glamourous and self-absorbed than the previous, but she has “skills” and she offers those skills, providing unsolicited advice, trying to control the uncontrollable and the inimitable way she communicates -every sentence loaded with her brand of criticism, incredulousness and righteousness, as she tries to help up-level the townspeople’s lives.

Despite Moira’s self-importance, she lowers herself to interact with the local mayor ( Chris Elliot), his wife Jocelyn, “the first lady of Schitt’s Creek” and a teacher - and some of the other residents who try to be welcoming, but for the most part she is feigning superficial connections with them… Will she evolve, or will she meet her end here? Will her lack of adaptation do her in? I don’t know yet.

Dan who wears a suit every day in a town where lumberjack attire is more the norm, tries to be helpful to others with his business knowledge, whether they appreciate it or not, and he regularly falls victim to the “corporate” and strident regimentation of his former life, which has no place in “Schitt land.” His son, David who, like his mother favors fashionable attire, starts a business- trying to offer his “branded” luxury health care products to the town ( I don’t know where this is going.) His sister who has never finished her fancy boarding school in Switzerland, because she skipped her last semester by running away with a guy, has flirted with and bedded every good-looking guy in the town, including a veterinarian to whom she becomes engaged but so far, dumps, for a hot contractor. Even though she is much older, she has to go to the local high school to get her diploma so she can get a better job- she has already had a run in with the law and has to do community service- she, too, with her designer garb, sense of entitlement and bourgeoisie attitude - is such a misfit.

But they all have one thing in common, they are all up Shitt’s Creek and they have to figure it out. Tight quarters, cheap toilet paper, crappy towels, strange, well-meaning “loser” townspeople, and their own “sh-t” to deal with, this once pampered family must find their way together, as they face their sacrifices, poverty and deprivation. Stripped of their comforts- they are still who they are.

I have not seen the end of the show. So, no spoilers here. I am working my way through it now-with a hefty 80 shows, 6 seasons, I am nearing the end.

One thing is for sure, the Rose’s journey, has lessons in it, and some that are very heady.
In Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” his essential message after his experience in the concentration camps, was the theory that it is through a search for meaning and purpose in life that individuals can endure hardship and suffering. It is not the pursuit of “happiness” that is essential to life.

So, from “Schitt’s Creek, to Victor Frankel, my heart and soul wander in and out of that which perplexes and confounds me, to that which enlightens me and brings me joy.

There are more birds now. I am hearing them calling out their songs, loudly and defiantly.
They wake me very early. Something new. I have learned to see and value the early morning I once rushed through- in my pursuit to get “somewhere” without noticing. I appreciate even more, those people whom I have valued, but my hair colorist is definitely the first person I want to see.

I might just go on-line and buy a wig today. Thank you Moira, yes, you are a TV show character, but your imaginative re-inventions of yourself have inspired me.

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