PHOTO BY UNCLE BEEFY
Oh, for heaven's sake. Let's just get this done. I have been mulling and mulling and mulling over what to say and where to start that, I mean, I have to start somewhere. Since my current mantra is "start where you are" then here and now seems a logical conclusion. So, here I am. Ta da! (Suddenly, I envision myself in a sidestep tap routine wearing a tutu? Same for you? Anyway...)
I've been away from 'The Bedlam' for the longest period of time since I first started blogging in 2007. But, despite appearances, I hadn't given up. The thing is, 2013 threw me for a serious loop - laid off from my job, a depressing and shockingly competitive job market, my mom's declining health, etc., etc.. It sucked. Sucked. And, being the Cancerian that I am, I suppose I needed to retreat into my shell in an attempt to regroup. That's not to say that I'm back and better than ever with all my ducks in a row and a strategic plan in place. But, with my flaws and imperfections, I am here. And, dammit, that's saying something.
There's nothing like a series of [what feels like] never-ending setbacks and disappointments to start whittling things down; first at your self-ascribed stories and perceptions, then what feels like your foundations, and, at some point, to the bare essentials. I'll try and spare you the gory details but I'm definitely forging a new perspective on things. No, I don't have any broad-sweeping, prophetic insights on things and I wouldn't expect to see me perched on a mountaintop dispensing Zen bits of wisdom any time soon. But I've begun to see the cracks that recent months have inflicted as insightful openings rather than evidence of being inherently broken.
Who knows why things happen when they do? I'm sure most of us have some framework or belief system to account for the purposes behind the ebbs and flows of life. I've been making valiant efforts over recent months in the figuring out of things by moving away from the "why me" to the "what is the lesson" phase. Don't worry, I'm not going to go all woo-woo on you. But what I will do is tell you that it has helped ease the weighty burden of the difficulties I've been facing by taking a more objective viewpoint. I found myself being able to create enough conscious distance that I could conjecture about the possible reasons a difficult moment could be serving me as opposed to merely causing great discomfort. And, admittedly, in other moments, I've slipped right back into the deep muck of processing through self-pity. A slip like that might ordinarily just add to the frustration of the circumstances and I'd likely feel as though I was doing something "wrong". But this time that said slip provided the perfect contrast and allowed me to feel the difference in the two approaches.
Once I'd been able to step back enough times and seek the possible lessons in a situation I was able to really see or, more accurate, feel how heavy and defeating the "why me" moments were. Additionally, I began to see that another glaring difference between the two vantage points was acceptance versus control. (Not that I have any, eh hem, issues with control. Yeah, right.) Just reading those two words, doesn't "acceptance" feel more open and "control" feel more constricted? And who wants to feel constricted in times of trouble? Not me. Despite my best efforts to the contrary. So, now I'm trying to be more mindful of how I'm feeling (i.e., getting out of my head and into my heart) and taking note of how a little surrendering can yield a lot of relief. Such sweet relief.
Now, I'm not merely sharing where I've been and am at the moment just to make excuses for my absence or to solicit sympathy. Really. On the one hand, it only makes sense as a starting point. But, on the other hand, I like the idea that it might also serve as a reminder in our "put your best face forward" world of social media that things aren't always pretty and perfect. This brings a few moments to mind.
First, while I was away, I received a kind and lovely email from one of my readers wondering where I was. Along with her supportive wishes that I might return to 'The Bedlam', she also shared her assumptions of what my life was probably looking like off the blogosphere including travel, parties, and making "fistfuls of money". (Um, not even close.) Secondly, a friend made the decision to shut her own blog down because of both wanting to spend more time with her family as well as feeling exhausted in keeping up with the 'Jonses', i.e., other bloggers. Some might say "super bloggers"? "How do they consistently make it look so easy?! And pretty?!!" (Um, editing?) And, lastly, a friend who became rather upset with me based upon her perceptions of what I was doing, where, with whom, and how often (and not with her) as deduced from postings on Facebook and Instagram. (Um, exsqueeze me?) Comparison is the thief of joy? You bet it is. It's also fertile fodder for wild assumptions that typically only function as a disservice to ourselves.
I get it. I mean, I get it. I have my own moments. I know you probably have yours. But those moments of "they have it so much better than me" are utterly futile if we only use them to flog ourselves into submission. We can whip ourselves into a frenzy over all the things we believe we lack in the face of what we assume another person doesn't. But the vast majority of the time it's an incomplete picture. Here's the thing, it doesn't matter what the other person has that I/you don't. Assumed or otherwise. I mean, sure you're lacking. Duh. We all lack something. But we all have things, too. Things that others lack. Not that it's about competition, it's about perspective. And, oftentimes, we skew the view.
Before you think I'm using this post as potential to get a column in "O Magazine" or something, let me wrap things up. It's been a rough year and I feel like parts of my soul have been heavy grit sandpapered. But I've started to see how much that could be a good thing. The rough stuff isn't all over but I'm on a much better bridge for traversing over troubled waters. I'm good. The key to this, as I mentioned before, has been learning to accept things as they are. And, in light of the conversation about comparison, I would encourage you, should you have any doubts, to accept yourself as you are. You just do you. Cheesy? Maybe. But that's just me.