It’s Easy to Live Well when you hold All the Aces

 A series of unfortunate events: some of them ordinary

This past week there have been a series of unfortunate events happening to people I know, including me. Everything from pain; allergic reactions causing severe itchiness; broken oven; internet and phone not working; teeth problems; horrible diagnosis; still waiting for test results; car problems; zoom link that didn’t work; needing to be in two places at once (that was interesting) mental and emotional fatigue; not enough time  or resources. I could go on.

Ok, I will go on. It was the call to the service provider, where you wait for 25 minutes with phone on speaker, and as you are ready to give up, the music stops and the pause arrives, just before the technician is supposed to answer. (Whew!)

But then, instead of the technician, an automated voice is asking you to please take a short survey to rate the service you just received. And you want to shout into the phone, “Wait! Service didn’t happen yet.” Of course that is useless. There is nobody there. Nope! It’s back to the end of the line to start over.

The truth is that there is nothing unusual about any of these things. Except to the person they are happening to. And even then, we can often roll with the inconvenient ones, but once there is a bit of a pile-on, we can get discouraged and fed up, even with the best of intentions and skills.

Once in a while it’s ok to just say your version of “the heck with this.” One of the reasons that I love and admire Darlene Cohen, author of Turning Suffering Inside Out, is her unlimited warmth and understanding towards ordinary and extraordinary human suffering and fallibility.

She understands more than most that we can’t be on our best behaviour all the time. Some days we need to go to bed with a bag of chocolate and a whole series of our favourite Netflix show. (Or equivalent) Sometimes we may need to cry for three days or throw a glass into the fireplace or something dramatic that doesn’t hurt anyone.

It’s ok to not be the poster person for anything.  We do the best we can, most of the time. And sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we sit at the bottom of the cliff and we have no energy at that point to do anything about it.

We are human beings. We get discouraged and weary. There are occasions when it all feels like too much.

Go ahead, indulge for a bit. Give yourself a break. It won’t last. And if it does there are things we can do to encourage ourselves and each other along.

These words from Barbara Kingsolver’s book High Tide in Tucson, are close by when I need them. She shows how this transformation is possible, even when our life is in ruins. She also shows the reality that there will be many ordinary times when we will be in need of pulling ourselves back up.

I hope you all, dear readers, will cultivate a certain tenderness towards  yourselves, at those times. Cut yourselves a little slack. There are many pieces in the puzzle of our lives. We don’t see the whole picture yet.

Notes

Note 1:) I know I could have written about all the things that are going right and all the help we get. This is unequivocally true! We want to keep that in mind. But I also want to remind us that there will be days when we wallow a little. There are times that we don’t want to hear “at least this or that didn’t happen…” And that is ok too.

Note 2:) You know that I appreciate you turning up here and I will never grow tired of thanking you. With appreciation, Trudy

 

 

5 replies
  1. Diane
    Diane says:

    I just read this and it helps but…
    Two weeks ago, after a few disappointments, I felt so frustrated and fed up with the limitations imposed by my illness that I allowed myself to cry and get angry. I usually feel better afterwards, but not this time….
    I’ve been sad ever since and lately I’m often close to tears.
    Reading this blog entry made me realize I’ve been hard on myself these past 2 weeks. Feeling guilty for all kinds of reasons has only made me feel worse.
    It’s good to realize this… but I still feel the same. I don’t know why I can’t get myself out of this slump. I’m just so tired of it all.
    Thanks for this post Trudy.
    It makes me feel less alone … and that maybe I can dig myself out of this hole.

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi Diane: I am sorry you are going through this rough time. I am convinced, however, that you can dig yourself out of this hole with a little help from your friends. You do have to ask.
      I posted a blog awhile back that included this:
      “There is a story I remember that Barry Magid, (Author, Psychoanalyst, and Zen teacher) tells about a retreat he attended with a Rinzai Zen teacher. It goes something like this.

      The teacher told a parable about a Mother tiger and her cubs. And how the mother threw all of her cubs off a cliff, when they were only a few weeks old. She would raise only those who were tough enough to get back up under their own steam. The rest were left to die at the bottom of the cliff.

      “Which kind of cub are you,” he asked the group?

      Barrie indicated that he knew right away his answer to the question. He was not Samurai material and what he wanted to do was to set up shop at the bottom of the cliff and help those abandoned cubs, each according to their needs. (Excerpted from memory from the book Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: Unfolding Dialogue. Edited by Jeremy Safran)

      I am no Samurai. Similarly, we all find ourselves at the bottom of the cliff at one time or another. And in fact we are sometimes the helper and sometimes the helpee. We are called upon throughout our lives to be both. It is the ongoing circle of life for which, we need each other.”
      Here is a link to that post:
      https://livingwellwithillness.com/celebrate/

      The disappointing part of these kinds of despairing days is that there is no magic formula. It takes hard work to climb up that cliff even with a helping hand. And you can do it. and it is worth it. I offer my hand.
      Thank you for writing.

      Reply
  2. Diane
    Diane says:

    “Let’s celebrate more” is such a beautiful blog post! Thank you! I’ve printed it and will be re-reading it many times.

    Though I’ve always worked hard at getting myself out of “the hole”, I’ve never done it alone. I’ve been very fortunate to have help from friends, family, and professionals.

    Thank you Trudy for your encouraging words and for offering me your hand.

    Reply

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