In the last few months, I have been passed over for a job, totaled my car, been turned down for a loan, and – just last week – broke my foot. Those things kind of suck, right?
But then, in those same few months, I learned we are having the baby we’ve wanted for such a long time, got myself in shape, been tears-level proud of my kid, improved my job, made my wife laugh, and produced more cool stuff that ended up getting my name said on the radio every day. I have known every day where I would sleep that night and never missed a meal.
So… are those bad months, or good? I’m coming down on the side of they were months, and time passed.
One of the things we keep telling the girl is that she needs to appreciate the things she has, instead of worrying too much about what she doesn’t have. That has been working pretty well for me the last long time.
Growing up when I did (maybe for everyone?), it was easy for effort to seem pointless. Why bother with the daily grind when you were going to burn in Hell unless you kept to some arcane and arbitrary rules that made everything not fun anyway? Or when the Soviets were going to nuke us tomorrow? Or when you-know-who was going to rise up and put all us good folk against the wall? What was the point? (Gen X 4eva!)
Then with age, or maybe just watching all the terrible things repeat themselves over and over again, I have taken a different perspective.
Everything everywhere has been kind of terrible forever. In fact, looking back long enough, or far enough away from my comfortable/terrible existence, things now are WAY better than back when. Dysentery? Probably not. Dying from a scratch? Unlikely. Raiders going to burn our village and sell the ones they don’t kill into slavery? Not here.
I’ve come up with a zero point for calibrating general well-being: “Am I running for my life right now?” No? Then get a grip, Jason. Things are not so bad.
Now there are definitely plenty of things that need to change. Internet commenters should step away from the screen, for one. (Obama going to “end America”? No.)
And of course I’m commenting as a white, highly educated, North American male on the upper end of the middle class, so I’m pretty much the special-est of the special people. Maybe everything really is apocalypse-level awful out there for everyone else? I don’t see it though. Most people appear to be getting along alright, and the ones that aren’t, we should help (Anyone remember ‘civic duty’? Your responsibility to your fellow humans?).
So here’s what I do now when I get down on myself… anything. Anything at all to improve my situation. Last week, sitting on the couch with my foot up, I reorganized my project list. Re-created is a better word. I’d gotten away from keeping tabs on everything I have going on. Without a list it’s easy to just see one thing after another and struggle to stay afloat. Now I can see again what needs attention, and take a step to get it to the ‘Done’ list.
Any step. It doesn’t matter, do something to move a project or desire just a little closer to its goal. “Emailed” works.
Bored? Do something else. Tired? Go to sleep. Sad? Be sad for a while, cry even. Angry? Eat a cookie. (It is cognitively impossible to be mad and eat a cookie at the same time, fyi.)
Everything feel like it’s spinning out of control? Find something you can control, and do that. No one is coming to save you, and it’s not anybody else’s fault.
I guess I’m just rambling now. It’s 7 a.m. and the house is quiet for just a few more minutes, so I might as well get it all out.
Nothing is static. Everything is changing all the time, and expecting anything to stay any particular way just leads to disappointment. Or rather, believing that things are MEANT to be a particular way. If it doesn’t change too much and you want that, awesome. If not, it is the way of things. The hero always dies in the end.
Be kind, pay attention, don’t panic. That’s how I try to operate. If I can keep those three things in mind then I do alright. The world is for sure a terrible place, but did you see the sunset last night? And sunrise this morning? Hear the birds sing? Amazing, every bit of it.
Yes, it’s a little(?) selfish, but how can I expect the world to meet my needs if I’m not making any effort to meet them myself?
So anyway, I’ve got some stuff to do. The cat is purring insistently in my ear. And here comes the girl with all her dolls.
I am pretty pissed off about this whole broken foot thing, though.