It is one of life’s deepest blessings to be able to take a moment in the midst of figuring out your life, to have some grateful meditations. To stop and take stock of what’s good instead of focusing on the bad shit all the time. That will make you crazily unhappy.
I used to live under the impression that I had to work through every hard challenge, every relationship problem, every comment said by a co-worker that made me feel inadequate, every emotional issue. I thought that if I thought of something else, or didn’t stay in the “how do I solve this issue” place until it was “solved” that I was failing at something. It’s very silly to think about that line of thinking now, because it was so clearly wrong.
When I was pregnant with my son Liam, I was writing my Master’s thesis on storytelling and creativity. I was stuck. I kept putting my daughter Piper, then 3, in front of PBS kids (thank you PBS kids) to watch Arthur and Dragon Tales so I could write. I just could barely concentrate, and had only one chapter out of the 5 I needed to write. I was worried that I’d have to take a leave and finish the thesis after the baby was born. My advisor strongly advised against that. She said it was super hard to come back and finish a thesis after a leave, and that she knew I could do it. Then my kids’ dad and I went to Arkansas for his work, and I brought all of my thesis writing materials with me. I didn’t work on them a single minute. We were gone like 4-5 days, and when we got back, we were refreshed and energized, even though me at 6 months pregnant on a puddle jumper plane from Dallas to Little Rock meant vomiting. When we returned from Arkansas I wrote the rest of the thesis in three days and graduated with my MA with Liam in my belly 5 weeks before he came. There is no way on God’s green earth I would have been able to write that next year, and I’m so relieved that I didn’t have that hanging over me.
Sometimes we need to just let the troubles become part of us for a little while. Sometimes we need to let the joy of life bring us out of our negative nelly fixation on “solving” things. Worrying is useless, and it is definitely not a helpful present-moment-experience.
Another symptom of trudging through is to not use the resources I have available to me because they might not be renewable. I have a habit of saving things that are mostly used up, but not completely, for later. I eat a chocolate bar until it is 3/4 finished, then put it in a ziploc bag for later. I use a fancy candle and burn it a little, then put the lid on and let it gather dust on my shelf for years. I have been given beautiful office supplies and I’ve looked at them as desk jewelry instead of using them. It’s so refreshing to be around Tom in this manner. He just uses the stuff, eats the thing, completes. Used up. Done. Moving on. Typing this feels very weird, because it sounds so ridiculous. It’s like an OCD habitual pattern. Knowing that I will have more resources out there to come has been a big hang up of mine. You mean, I can use all the fancy condiment I have and not worry that in a month I won’t have any? I can just honestly enjoy the resources around me that have been made available to me via luck, money, effort, hard work?
I think some of this hang up comes from being in a big family, where there really weren’t always enough resources. My sisters and I fought over the clean pair of white socks to wear to school. We fought over hair brushes. We fought over shared supplies like they were drugs. We fought over food, we fought over boys, we fought for parental attention. My sister even broke my right hand in high school when I was going for a shred of the cheese she was grating for quiche. (I’m sure it was more to do with me interrupting her project than the actual cheese.) It was generally not assured that there would be enough resources the next day, week, month. We always knew we’d have enough food and shelter to stay alive, but anything extra that felt like creature comfort was definitely not guaranteed. This is not some childhood blaming of my parents. They provided for us. It’s the emotional take away of an anxious person that was raised in a household of 7 people.
My week’s intention is to boost myself out of the doldrums by finishing something that I have been the only one to use/eat/have. I am going to let myself have the thing and not attempt to save it for later. I am going to practice present moment experiences and really savor them.
Savor. Wow. That’s a really good word. That may be my word for 2019.