So here’s how the pattern of my life has been going:
Overwhelm myself with too much that needs to get done and deal with as much crisis and stress (expected and unexpected) as I can. Then when my body cannot endure anymore, get sick at the worst possible time (like when we buried Mom at Thanksgiving or like, again, about a month later at Christmas.)
Sometimes, my body waits until there’s a slight break in my stressful life (like in the middle of this past May when I got a three-week break in between quarters at school.) Boy, did I have plans for those three weeks! Of course those plans never materialized because − hey, why would I actually want to enjoy my short break with uninterrupted productivity and enjoyment when I can be sick and miserable and fall way behind again?
All I know is that this last bout of being ill has been a doozy which has lasted far too long. It began as a kidney infection and somehow morphed into bronchitis. Don’t ask me how that’s possible. I’m still scratching my head over that one − in between trying to cough up a lung, which then leads me to sucking hard and heavy on my inhaler! But that’s what happened and it’s been damned near close to a full month now, which puts me squarely back in the middle of a new quarter at school while I’m still sick. Matter of fact, I’ve already had to turn in homework and I have my first test this week. So, what the hell – well or ill, rest time is over.
Of course, the moment I started feeling the slightest bit better, I forced myself to get my ass up out of bed. As has been typical, my focus has shifted from being sick to working as hard as I can to get caught up − only − how can I ever catch up when I have so much to do in the here and now, along with all of the stuff that I’m so far behind on?
That’s one of the reasons why I like dust so much. Not that I like dust itself or that I like dusting. I just like the nature of dust. Yes, it accumulates, but it has no shelf-life − so to speak − there’s no it-has-to-be-cleaned-by due date unless I’m expecting company. Then that’s a whole different ball of wax (usually in the form of Lemon Pledge) and stress. Provided I’m not expecting company, though, dust will silently and patiently wait for me − unlike homework assignments or laundry or other kinds of cleaning that has to be done or bills that have to be paid or pets − or people.
If my pattern remains consistent, sometime during the next week or two of intense focus − trying to get caught up on everything − my body should finally and fully heal without my even realizing it. Then just as I’m about to get a handle on things, which will probably take me a few weeks or months to do, I have no doubt that I’ll go through the whole cycle of getting sick again, falling behind, trying to catch up, etc.
I have just one question: How did this happen? When did this become my life? (Okay, that’s two questions, but still…)
It’s tempting for me to say: Well, now that I see the error of my ways, that’s it! I’m changing − starting right now! Except, what exactly is it that I’m supposed to change? And at the moment, trying to change everything or anything just adds more stress and unrealistic demands on my life that I know will ultimately fail. So, at least for the present, I think I’ll refrain. Those things that I’ve deemed not as important in my life – I’ve already minimized those to the extent that I can. All the rest is important to me, though − even the dust.
So what else am I supposed to do then? How am I supposed to break this cycle when clearly, none of the above has been working out for me so far? The answer is: I don’t know. I guess I’m going to have to wing it.
I don’t have any “Ah Ha” thoughts or answers or even a plan that I think will be successful or that I can consistently maintain over any length of time. What I do have are commitments that are important to me that I intend to see through. For me, there will be no running away to a new life or new adventures or even letting up on my current commitments. Yes, my commitments are time-consuming and often stressful, sometimes super stressful – I’m sure they’re part of the reason I’ve gotten to where I’m at in this endless cycle of work/demand/stress/get sick/try to catch up − but they are also things that give my life purpose.
So, there will be no retreats where I can regroup or get away from it all for a little while. There will be no vacations. Maybe later, but not now. I guess that means I’m going to have to take a breather here and there throughout each day in the business (busyness) of my life. I’m going to have to slow down enough to smell the roses instead of just weeding the garden on my way to the laundry room to put in a new load of wash – or something like that. That metaphor, at least in my life, actually makes sense in a nonsensical sort of way. Go figure.
In my case, instead of smelling the roses, maybe I’ll go outside and appreciate our pond in the backyard where at the moment there is an amazing blue dragonfly that calls this place home. I’ll watch Birdie (our tortie cat) watching herself in the pond. She’s completely bewildered by what she sees. Is it her reflection? Is there a bug in the water? I’m not sure, but she looks both fascinated and worried. I check to see what she’s looking at. I see ripples in the water. As I stare, I start getting a little dizzy and nauseous and have to turn away. Maybe that’s what she’s been staring at with that odd look on her face like, “What the heck is going on here!”
I notice the sound of the traffic on the other side of our fence. At 10:00 a.m., there aren’t a lot of horns or screeching of brakes or sirens blasting like during rush hour, just the whooshing of a few cars going down the busy road. The sound isn’t all that unpleasant. As I listen, I realize it’s not that different from noisy waves crashing over the shore. It’s funny how one sound is deemed desirable while the other is considered noise pollution. Again, go figure.
It’s been awhile since I’ve walked around in our backyard. As I do, I notice things I need to do: that area of the flower bed needs to be weeded. This broken pot needs to go to the trash. Ah, more work!
Nope. I need to stop. This is something I can control and change. This is where the cycle can be broken. I’m not going to focus on what still needs to be done. Right now, I’m just going to appreciate and be curious. This is my moment to just be and breathe and enjoy. What caused that pot to break, anyway? Not sure, but it’s still quite lovely in a ruined sort of way. The distressing only adds character and charm. Yes, the weeding needs to be done, but the clay pot gets to be appreciated and also gets to stay.
So that’s the plan for today for right now: I’m just going to turn down the intensity in my life a notch or two, quit feeling quite so guilty about everything and just appreciate and experience this moment with fresh eyes and ears.
I’ll focus on tomorrow, tomorrow.
These past several weeks of being ill has been exhausting in a way that has amazed me. I’m used to bouncing back, but for some reason I seem to have lost my bounce. Does this mean I have to give up my “bumble” membership? (For those of you who didn’t just get this reference, you have to watch the Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.)
Even so, I’ve been reading and going through paperwork as I’ve been able. Today, I feel almost human again, which gave me the idea to include the following short piece entitled, “Rules for Being Human” in this post.
The rules seem incredibly relevant to my current situation. I wish I’d written these words. Even more, I wish someone had sat me down when I was young and drilled these words into my head. Not to say that I would have actually listened back then because I was pretty hellbent on doing things my way when I was young. Oh well. These rules have caught my attention now. Better late than never.
In the future, as I come across interesting articles, quotes or short pieces, I’ll try and either provide a link or provide a written copy under the “Inspired Living” or “Words I Wish I Wrote” category on my site, hopefully to give you something to consider or just to brighten your day. I’ll also put a copy of “The Rules for Being Human” on its own page so you don’t have to read through all of this to get to that if you want to check it out now and again.
I hope you get as much pleasure out of this article as I have. By the way, even though I received a hard copy of these rules from my professor last quarter and it stated on that copy that the source was unknown (I typed it for you the way I received it), I did an internet search because I do believe in giving credit where credit is due if at all possible. According to one site, these rules appear to be an excerpt from a larger piece with the same title from the book, If Life is a Game, These are the Rules by Cherie Carter-Scott. So, thank you, Cherie Carter-Scott for reminding me of what I already know but sometimes need to be reminded — what it means to be human. Maybe this will help me relax a little.
Lastly, if any of my Wayward Friends come across words or an article or something funny — or if you have written something that you think others may be inspired by or that might provide a much-needed chuckle, please let me know.I’ll be glad to share it with others on my site. I can’t pay you, but I’ll credit you for providing and/or authoring it. Hope to hear from you soon!
Sparkle on my Wayward Friends,
RULES FOR BEING HUMAN
- You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it but it will be yours for the entire period you’re here.
- You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like what you learn or think the lessons are irrelevant and stupid.
- There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is the process of trial and error, experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”
- A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.
- Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
- “There” is no better than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here” you will obtain another “there” that will, again, look better than “here.”
- Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
- What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
- Your answers lie inside you. The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.
- You will forget all this.
(Found on a refrigerator door – If you can identify the author, please let us know.)