A friend had a bad day. There’s a lot of that going on.
(Want to read my story? Check out my other blog.) We call to check on each other as good friends do. His day required a list of what wasn’t going right: insurance battles, family health issues, business worries, and a pet that just had a stroke. And then he thanked me. That was a surprise. He thanked me for what I wrote about how I am learning to find joy in every moment. Most folks buy the book because of walking and Scotland (he was one of the uncommon ones who bought the paperback), and maybe because of the drinking. It is also a story of personal transformation (check out the new review on amazon. Who are you, Susan A.?) He caught that and was getting through the day using the lessons I learned and continue to learn.
Personal transformation is a lot of syllables for the changes we all go through. Call it maturation, the school of hard knocks, lessons learned, it is the metamorphosis experienced by anyone who is trying to improve themselves. Sometimes that exercise is spiritual and rigorous, sometimes it is practical and informal. I know people who embark on pilgrimages and spirit quests. Others are forced to change by daily circumstances outside of their control, except for the one thing they can control: their inner self.
My friend was besieged. Like he said, it was a tough day; and, it was getting to him. Then he remembered what I wrote about “Every moment contains every emotion. Choose.” Without disregarding or disrespecting his concerns, he also took a few moments to acknowledge what was going right. The house was fine. The business was doing better than ever. He was healthy. There was food and drink in the house. He was happily married. Sure, the house had a dent in the deck from a car accident, and the business was eating up all of their free time at low profit margins, and getting older is tough; but, there was balance. On the positive side of that balance was sanctuary and what he needed to handle the concerns.
Writing a book about personal transformation can be such a self-centered indulgence and a bore. That’s why I didn’t dwell on those events from my walk across Scotland that changed my life. But personal are precious; especially, if someone else benefits from them too. So, I made sure they were given their space between the drinking parts.
As another friend wrote in an email, “I . . . admire your stamina and courage through all this. I’d be completely freaked out by the situation.” It is too easy to get freaked out. Even if your life is fine, news and commercials seem intent on spreading paranoia and hypochondria. As my money diminished and my anxiety rose, I disconnected my television (TV Less). My stress receded, naturally. I continue to feel and react to the news, but I check it at my convenience. Between the times I tune in, anxieties can abate, rather than being amplified by every repeated Special Report, or Breaking News, or even New and Improved (because the old and unimproved wasn’t saving your life as well as this version.)
My list of worries includes words like foreclosure, and dwelling on that list, even listing that list, can bring me down. But while walking across Scotland I learned another lesson that didn’t find a label until last month. I try not to gnaw on a rock. Life is full of things to think about. We talk about “not biting off more than you can chew”, or “chew on this for a while”; but, I came to realize that there were things I chewed on the morning and the afternoon and chewed on them the next day. They weren’t changing. All they were doing was giving me the opportunity to grind down my own emotional resolve. I was trying to chew on rocks. That’s not a good idea.
So, whether it is finding the joy in the moment, or simply setting aside concerns when they’ve been chewed on long enough, I thank Scotland and my walk across it for giving me the time and space to learn those lessons. And I am glad to learn that my words have helped others too. In a practice of self-esteem, I will acknowledge that.
Be well. Take care.
I might just take my own advice and have a drink on the deck before getting back to this evening’s work.