When things are bad in our lives, we have this choice: we can fix it or live with it. Or, we can poison everyone else with it.
That term, “sweet poison of self-pity,” came from Boethius in The Consolation of Philosophy. The personification of Philosophy comes to him in his lament over his unjust imprisonment saying, “let me now wipe his eyes that are clouded with a mist of mortal things,” reminds him of the fates of Seneca, Socrates, and other noble sufferers, then inspires Boethius to live above his circumstances.
English author, Neil Gaiman, has a prescription for getting through anything; Make Good Art. (If you haven’t listened to his funny graduation speech, Google it.) Ultimately, the message is…we can take charge of our lives wherever they are…and actually enjoy doing it.
Or, we can drink more sweet poison and succumb to misery.
Be aware, though, we are poisoning people we love in the process.
Check it out:
When I feel so nostalgic that I cannot be content with the present.
When I feel so negative that I shut down my own productivity.
When I am so pessimistic that I attempt to solve tomorrow’s challenges without tomorrow’s resources.
…and better logic.
Even if we get past Monday, going to work is hard.
- we learn to treat everyday the same
- find joy inside instead of outside
- decide that life is about giving instead of getting
- resolve to make the most of wherever we are
Happy Tuesday. This is the day we make life better for the people around us.
Today, I was thinking about the Mother Teresa quote, “Let no one come to you without leaving better,” while wondering if I was leaving people better or worse than I found them, which reminded me of this John Green quote.
I still need a reminder that my actions are not just mine, but create a wake that rolls over unsuspecting, and often, innocent parties.
When I am conscious and aware, I want to leave something much different than scars.
I want to leave hope: hope for those who might have given up on hope.
(Thank you to whoever clicked on this past post and reminded me of my homage to trees. It made me stop and look again.)
I hope you will too.
If trees are just trees to you
And not jaw-dropping edifices that rose out of dirt
(The freakin’ dirt!)
As inconspicuous as grass
Somehow spared by mower, herbivore, and weather
If they are not high-performance landscape
Original works of art
Treasured shade and succor for myriad versions of life
Housing super-highways of nutrients
Commanding leaves of every color in the spectrum
Blossoms, both dainty and strong
Geometrically modern and traditional
Nuts, cones, burrs, berries, fruit, and flower
All manner of inventive offspring
(Oh! And don’t forget the bark!)
You won’t get it when I say
You are born of magic and have power beyond your wildest imagination.
I can so relate to this quote from the author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Into my teens, I frequently sat out in the woods hoping and waiting for Martians to take me away. I did this for two reasons:
- I was bored with my life
- I thought I must be an alien because I was so very different from (and inferior to) my peers
But, the Martians never came.
Instead, I was forced to grow up–and into an appreciation for my life.
It took a while, but today, I can marvel at the miracle of:
- living things all around me
- mistakes that turn into miracles
- and the countless other humans who feel so much like I did
(originally posted Feb 2014)
“When we blend our unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” -Deepak Chopra
For many years, while working as a mediocre middle-manager, I told people I had no talents.
Privately, I wondered if caring about people and talking could be talents.
This morning, I offered up to the Universe my inclination to care about people and to speak honestly about my failures.
Yesterday, someone paid me to do that (and, I could tell it made a difference).
Do you have a chaos management plan (CMP)? Not just for North Korea but for the other times when your life is “nuked” by relationship, financial, or circumstantial violence.
We can’t be lulled into thinking we don’t need one, especially if we are currently quite impressed with ourselves and our “cool.”
It doesn’t take much for the props that make us feel cool to fall away and our inner deficits to be embarrassingly exposed.
My simple CMP:
- Accept what is.
- Forgive myself and others for the chaos.
- Invest in inner strength more than props.
- Expect chaos and smile at the future.
If you are wondering
What your life is about
Or if your life has been a waste
Or if you ever had anything at all to offer
If you are wondering
What you should do
Or if it will even matter
Let me just say
That very small things can make
A very big difference
A good deed brightens a dark world
If you are wondering “what deed?”
Or where you would get the energy or the money
A text, a call, a smile, a prayer, a compliment
A kindness that someone never expected
A good deed brightens a dark world
My friend who was on mental-health leave from a brutal work-environment told me that his counselor encouraged him to make a list of daily activities such as brushing his teeth, taking a shower, and getting dressed so that he could check them off as accomplishments (if he managed to do them). Seemed ridiculous but it helped.
Every time we check something off a list, our body releases endorphins (natural pain killers). When we are paralyzed with pain, doubt, fear, or disappointment, pain-killing is the first, critical step.
Pythagoras and my friend’s counselor seemed to understand the simple formula of:
- One foot in front of the other
- One step at a time
- Bite-size pieces
- Just get dressed
…as a path to the impossible.
(Turn on the computer and write one word worked for me today.)
I’m cheering for your “impossible.”