My wall calendar tells me today is Australia Day.
To Australians, it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, which is the beginning of the country of Australia we know now.
To me, it’s a reminder of a classic. Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
First published in 1972, it’s still a best seller and an iconic text. Alexander, an American kid, is having such a bad day that he thinks moving to Australia will solve his predicament. It’s logical, in the way kid logic works. Australia is far away. Australia is upside down, in the southern hemisphere. Australia is shrouded in otherness and it’s “not here.”
Many adults never outgrow this sort of thinking. When “here” is hard, “elsewhere” will be better.
At the end of his terrible no good day, his mother assures Alexander that tomorrow is another day and, besides, there are bad days “even in Australia.”
I’ve never been to Australia, but my Aussie friends and acquaintances gave me the impression Australia is culturally rather similar to the United States, especially when compared many other parts of the world.*
Viorst’s choice here is poignant, because there is no running away from challenging times. There’s only moving forward, for tomorrow is another day.
This kind of Australia Day I can celebrate, and do every day. The assurance that tomorrow— everything is possible.