Most of us become accustomed to the patterns in our lives. We wake up and face the day in various ways, feeling comfort in our daily rituals. My partner and I chat for awhile and our cat Mr. Boo invariably jumps on the bed between us and always bumps our heads as a way to say “good morning”. He then lays down and watches us till we get up. When my partner Kenny goes in the kitchen to get our coffee he dashes after him anticipating his breakfast.
I always have my cup of coffee in my favorite chair overlooking a small fish pond. I embrace the day slowly when I can without any need to discover what the media has to offer in the way of doom and gloom. Kenny goes down to his man cave to listen to his sports show and as I sip my coffee, I can hear Boo chomping on his kibble. This has been the scenario for quite some time until this past week.
Mr. Boo had been exhibiting some weight loss and lethargy. I took him to a Vet weeks ago and he was given an appetite enhancement and some probiotic powder to spread on his food. Things seemed to be looking up. The rituals stayed the same. Life was good. Then three days ago he stopped eating and drinking. Another Vet visit, and lots of tests, which have led to hospitalization and the possibility of sending Boo to his final resting place. The doctors are exceedingly compassionate and dedicated to their patients. However, they really can’t tell you when “enough is enough”.
At one time my feline friend was a big white and black cat with long hair. He always made me feel as if he was of royal stock. He had a jaunty walk, with a tail that was always straight up in the air. He never sat on my lap preferring to lay next to me instead. After all, he was the king. The only time he deferred to me, was when I was recuperating from my knee replacement. I fell asleep in my recliner, only to awaken to find him splayed across my chest. We looked at each other and I realized that he had decided to gift me with himself to possibly enhance my healing.
Over and over as I journey through this life I am given lessons on the challenges of not being attached to how we perceive life “should be”. It is not an easy lesson, since it is easier and more comfortable to be deluded into thinking everything will stay the same. Perhaps, the gift impermanence can teach us is to relish every moment with those we love and cherish.
Think for a moment of the hundreds of ways you make yourself feel bad throughout the day. Trust me, I’ve done it too!
There are a lot of things that bring out the guilt in me, but some are more powerful than others. Trying to lose weight always elicits major self-flagellation. I usually start well in advance of the actual process of shedding pounds by spending a few months torturing myself with how awful I look and continually asking myself, “How did this happen?”. The answer is obvious…I ate too much. But that doesn’t seem to quiet the monster of self-loathing that many of us are familiar with.
My voices continue in an inspired chorus: “You’re getting older—what do you expect? What happened to the 24 inch waist—it’s now your thigh measurement, isn’t it? I wonder what year you’ll fit into that size six you used to wear. Maybe they can bury you int it!” Then when I’m actually invested in some kind of program, the voices remind me that I didn’t exercise enough, even if I ran a 27 mile marathon; or that maybe I should eat less, even though I just finished a meal consisting of a lettuce leaf washed down with a bottle of water. I even went to a spa to boost my incentive to lose weight and was left so hungry with the micro portion that I almost ate the centerpiece.
My friend Shirley has a guilt demon that constantly reminds her that she needs to stay later at work to catch up—-even though her overtime is starting to exceed the amount of hours she was actually hired to work. I know from friends that we have in common that she spends a lot of time talking about her feelings of guilt.
In some ways this kind of drama gives us some form of negative validation—but it saps our energy and devours our spirit. If Shirley spent the same amount of time finishing her work, she could probably go home early. And if I spent as much time walking as I do talking about losing weight, I probably would have lost the weight by now.
There is a necessary reason for some guilt, it helps form a conscience. It helps us stop from being unethical in business, or mean-spirited towards our fellow humans. But it does not serve us when we use it to ruminate over mundane situations.
It takes a conscious effort to become aware of what we say to ourselves and others. But in order to do so we have to wake up to the fact that certain stories we have become invested in no longer serve us. If you change the story, you change the outcome. Remember, you are the storyteller.