I was tired and stressed enough at the beginning of this day that I wearied early on of trying to find productive solutions and just powered through. This turned out to be exactly the right thing. Chewing one’s own tail gets tedious and painful after a very short while—forcing myself to focus on tasks that I could actually accomplish and feel good about was neither. I didn’t set any records for genius or productivity today, but I put in a solid day’s work, got to the grocery store, took care of a couple financial chores, roasted some vegetables and managed to find an elusive bunch of cilantro that was lurking—clearly up to no good—in a bag of turnip greens. At the happier end of the day, I feel very only a malingering trace of the malaise hangover that was swamping me this morning.
Figuring out what to do with myself when crankiness and general misanthropy are the order of the day is an ongoing and meandering journey. Some days I wallow in it, warning my close friends to avoid me at all costs and drowning my sorrows in tea and cookies. Other days I fake it til I make it, making sure I am loaded up with social engagements and other challenges that restore my faith in my ability to cope. In particularly severe cases I have been known to practice my own peculiar form of retail therapy: cookbooks, iTunes downloads and knitting yarn. This is not for the faint of heart. Fighting off the demons of self-absorption and grumpiness takes all the fortitude I’ve got; my strategies are battle-tested and refined in the crucible of decades of experience.
Today was a textbook case. I let myself get caught up in anxious mental hand-wringing about things entirely beyond my control and ended up frustrated and exhausted and still unable to find a useful path to straighten anything out. So powering through is what I did instead. I paid attention to the things I can control, like whether I chew my own tail. I did the things that need to be done to the best of my ability because that’s what grownups do. I let go of the rollercoaster and let careen on without me. Every issue will have its own time to be resolved, and I might as well be well-rested, well-fed and decently exercised when the time comes to be part of the solution. Those things I can control, and at least I won’t be at my anxious, bitchiest worst when my best is required. Small victories, right?
I’m getting better at this over time and even starting to gain a little perspective about the value of keeping on an even keel regardless of what life or people or a given day throw at me. This is probably long overdue, but to me it is still an active source of growth and insight. This notion that I can choose when to deal with life, that I can choose to square off against problems or issues when I feel confident and comfortable rather than being blown about by them willy-nilly is still pretty nifty. I’m starting to see that lasting peace of mind may have more than a little to do with this nugget of knowledge, and I’m hoping that the rest of my life will have a lot of that in it.
©Mary Braden 2013