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… 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.

15 thoughts on “Best

  1. I love this Lynn! I missed your post about depresseion – will go back and have a look. I, too, struggle with chronic, low level depression (and the occasional full on DOOZY version)so empathy is abundant from me!

    No – you are definitely not a dumbass!
    My mantra these days? “My BEST is damn well good enough!”

    Heart to you fellow maintainer!

  2. I think blogger ate my comment on your depression post (and I wasn't anonymous).

    Our best has to be good enough, but then there is the difference between best and settling. As long as we are always trying, we are doing our best.

    Isn't it always amazing, too, when you get outside how much better you end up feeling? That was my very thought this morning.

  3. Aw, Alice is a good egg. 🙂

    I liked how you declassified that shitty comment, and I'm taking your method to heart in dealing with negative words that I've been hearing. You are so right; no need to get a double whammy from believing what is said.

  4. I don't normally comment, but had to chime in this time. Sadly, I am not shocked that some idiot would leave a cruel and thoughtless remark on your blog about depression – trolls like that seem to run rampant on news sites and blogs these days. But I wanted to cancel out that person's stupid, pointless thoughts by sending you some loving, supportive and healing thoughts. Your depression blog touched me deeply, as did your total honesty about the experience of depression, something many people who are not as articulate as you are may find very hard to explain to their friends and loved ones.

  5. I'm so happy you have Alice in your life!

    Why couldn't the actual dumbass have simply asked if you'd considered an SSRI? It would have been a tolerable comment at least. I will never understand why people respond as they do sometimes.

  6. What a wise, deep and thoughtful person you are! Thanks for the uplifting post, it reminds me to take the more spiritual path!

  7. Lorna, LOVE your mantra. Some days, my best is just to breathe. And that's good enough since it keeps me alive, right?

    Lori, I may have accidentally deleted your comment in a rush to delete the spam and Anonymous that got posted 😦 I'm heading outside today to feel better.

    Shelley, whose been sending you negative messages? Tell me and I'll take care of 'um for you 🙂

    Ada, thank you for commenting. I've heard in emails from others who find it difficult to express their experiences with depression and seek out other people's words to help them. I get that because I do that, too! Sometimes just writing helps, though.

    Cammy, you're exactly right. Asking me about an SSRI is a legit question and one I may have answered (because I do have an answer for it!).

    And Anonymous, thank you for restoring my faith in anonymous commenters 🙂

  8. Lynn,

    You're posts are always amazing. I haven't been reading your blog for very long but everything that I've read so far I can relate to and it's even brought me to tears sometimes. You are an amazing person and I really admire reading about your journey. I'm sad to hear that someone felt the need to post something so negative like that but I think you're awesome for overcoming it. You've truly been an inspiration for me.


  9. Dang it Lynn. You're making me teary again. Everything you wrote was great. But Alice and Willow. And a dog afraid to wag their tail. It just makes me cry for the good and the bad of it.

  10. It's amazing how dogs can brighten our days even if we are in dark days as I understand you are at the moment.

    Alice is a great dog.

  11. Ha! Kateri, the restaurant I was at makes Indian pancakes with cinnamon and cardomom. They smelled wonderful, but I just said no 🙂

    Thank you, Jenea. Thank you for sharing your link to your site! I will be lurking 🙂

    Debby, a sad dog is sooo hard to witness. Will is so afraid of everything, but she's very much loved by her family. I know one day she'll overcome.

    Fran, Al is amazing. I call her Awesome Alice!

  12. I have to remind myself that as long as I'm doing my best, it's all I can ask of myself and I should be happy with that on any given day. Great post.

  13. I loved this post. I am sorry you had to deal with that negative post. I had a youtube channel two years ago and got some mean comments and they destroyed me back then. Hopefully, now I can handle them. My favorite part was this,

    “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. ”

    That is an awesome meditation to do to get out of suffering. See how a person can get to that place and feel their possible pain. I like that. Thanks for the post.

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