I saw this sign in one of my favorite breakfast places last Saturday:
It was a good reminder BEFORE I ordered breakfast, especially since I had a hankerin’ for something syrupy. My best wouldn’t have been to order the praline-stuffed French toast or the Indian pancake. My best was to order the egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms, and smoked gouda. Nothing about smoked gouda would make me whine or complain that I didn’t have something with syrup. Booyah!
I’ve been thinking a lot about what my best is, especially since posting my last blog about depression. Depression can take away your desire to do what’s best and, instead, tell you it’s OK to settle for what’s safe or do what takes the least amount of effort. After breakfast, I thought about sitting around, pretending to write and do homework while actually playing Words With Friends. But it was a beautiful day and the lawn needed to be mowed, so no excuses. I chose to do my best. I got out of my jams and into my work clothes and I cut the grass. Except for the wood tick that embedded in my arm, it was a good morning of mind-cleansing, honest work.
Thank you so much for all the comments, both on my blog and via email, regarding last week’s post. As Sharyn wrote, I wasn’t looking for sympathy. What I got was a LOT of empathy. Many of you have been there, done that, still wearing the t-shirt. It’s not an easy place to be in. Depression can isolate like nothing else. Just knowing we’re not alone can sometimes make it less scary, and together, we can offer each other a hand up out of the dark.
One of the comments wasn’t so kind, but in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t deleted it. Anonymous (of course) wrote: “Uh…..how about an SSRI dumbass.” That stung a little at first, but I breathed it in and gave myself space to explore my response. I thought again, as I often do in difficult situations, of the Buddhist teaching of the second arrow, that when we encounter things like insults from anonymous commenters (when we’re shot with the first arrow), we have the choice of how we internalize that situation. We can whine, complain, or give in and believe ourselves to be dumbasses, thus shooting ourselves with the second arrow, or we can experience the insult of the original arrow and live from within that sting and work out the best course of action that will not further our suffering.
For me, that best course of action – doing my best – was to see inside the comment and to wander into the mind of who would write such a thing, especially to someone who was already feeling pretty badly. What I found there was pain and anger, emotions I am familiar with and could empathize with. To be angry with Anonymous would be the same as being angry with myself for those times I suffer like that. Spending time in that kind of petty anger is a waste of energy. Better to put that energy into something positive, like metta (loving-kindness)meditation, or, as others might do, offering a thoughtful prayer up to God.
My best is not perfect, but I’m not a dumbass.
Another awesome weapon I have in my “doing my best” arsenal is Alice T. Dog. She makes me want to do my best, and to not whine, complain, or make excuses. Walk you in the rain? ….OK…. Throw your Kong even though I’m in the middle of a Mad Men season 5 marathon? ….OK…. Thanks for letting me cry into your scruff, Al. Thanks for always being happy to see me, even when I’m not so happy.
|Al, on left.
I took Al to see her sister, Willow, a few days ago. They’ve been apart for six weeks, but Will remembered Al and she was so happy that she wagged her tail for the first time in weeks, her owner, Becky, said. Will is afraid of most everything and everyone, but under her sister’s care for an hour, Will was a little happier, a little more free from suffering.
Alice T. Dog: champion of best.