Love him in the morning when you see the sun arising. Love him in the evening ’cause he brought you through the day. And in the in between time when you feel the pressure rising, remember that he loves you and he promises to stay. So when you feel the need to worry, because it seems the thing to do, remember he’s not in a hurry. He’s always got time for you. So…love him in the morning when you see the sun arising….
This was a song I learned at Nameless Valley Ranch in Leander, Texas, when I was a kid. It was church camp, and I was maybe eight years old. I have very few real memories of NVR or what I did there. But I do remember that it was a long country drive from the time we exited Highway 35 in Austin and made it to Leander on a road that was then one lane in either direction. And I remember every line of this song. I’ve sung it to myself many time over the years, and today, I find myself humming it at work.
It’s a cheesy little kids’ song in some respects. Google it, and you’ll find the tune. But this cheesy little kids’ song has calmed me down more than once in my adult life. It’s calmed me down during final exams, in moments of rejection, and in moments of overwhelming deadlines and fear. Today, I’m not facing any of those things. I’m plugging along at work on a relatively quiet day in the office, and this song pops into my head.
I’m learning to listen when my thoughts wander from the task before them.
Last night, I shut out the world and finished a beautiful book (Hillbilly Elegy) about a young man who worked his way to a better life, never forgetting the people and places that made him who he is and who helped shape his vision of who he wanted to be. It’s the first book I’ve read in years that brought me to tears. When I closed it at the end of the night, I wasn’t ready to shut down my mind, but I forced myself to sleep given the late hour. I should have expected that I would wake up a few hours later with the book very much still on my mind.
Growing up, I was a child who was deeply loved, a child who was given every conceivable opportunity to succeed. I was a child who had a room of my own and that room didn’t change from kindergarten through the middle of ninth grade. I went to school fed, and I came home knowing my mom and eventually my dad would follow. I was only alone when I wanted to be alone. I had friends – dear friends – who remain my friends to this day. And I grew up knowing I’d go to college and probably graduate school and that I’d own my own house and perhaps have a family of my own some day. I never expected anything less, and if my life had gone any other way, the question would be, “How did she get it so wrong?”
Reading this book, I saw one man’s very different life. He was deeply loved as well, but the people in his life couldn’t or didn’t communicate love in the same ways I received it. He moved more than he should have. He had more dads than he should have. He saw more drugs and alcohol in his youth than any child should have. For a long time, he couldn’t focus on learning and didn’t have any plan for college or a future. He had few certainties and no real expectations in his life, so the fact that he did so well raises the question, “How did he get it so right?”
I can’t answer that question. I can take in his experience and be grateful on his behalf for the people who loved him where he was and encouraged him along the way. I can look at the people I encounter and remember that no two lives are the same and the experiences of some are vastly, vastly different from my own. I can catch myself in moments of judgment of another and remind myself to seek understanding of them above all else. And I can sit quietly with the certainty that I’m not in control really, not even over my own life.
We are all people in this place temporarily, doing the best we can with what we have before us and, hopefully – at least from my perspective – honoring the people and places who made us who we are and helped shape our vision of who we want to be. I believe that. So I sit in my office and hum.
Love him in the morning when you see the sun arising…