Earth to You Going Through A Very Tough Experience: Do Not Hunker Down

A weekly summary of my dance with Life – in 9 subheadings 

The most important lesson this week taught me

I had a scare last week. I almost lost an important team member. 

I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t even understand how this was even a thing that was happening. So my first instinct was self-judgment, then sadness, then disappointment, then anger.

It’s amazing how one can circle through the stages of grief more than once. 

I could see myself withdrawing into a protective shell, hunkering down, getting ready to survive this tough moment, to brace myself for impact, to immediately enter Plan As and Plan Bs. 

And then I was proud of myself for pulling myself up to full size. To remind myself that there is nothing I cannot get through. That I have also done my very best. That everything that happens to us happens for us. And that the story was still being written – how I responded to this moment was more important than the moment itself. 

More than that, I realized what this was. This was a moment of feedback. One for me to use as a gift to look deeply into my actions, my behaviours, my impulses, and to use this moment as a ladder to doing better, being better. 

Self-appraisal rather than self-justification. Paying attention rather than playing defense.

And then I discovered what one always discovers: What this moment was saying to me was that I had an opportunity to choose more effective paths, to learn from missteps, to change things around, and make things better. 

What’s incredible? I also in that process, discovered more effective ways of handling the situations that led us here in ways that are almost unbelievable. Like, why did this not occur to me before? The ease that has already come, and the ease, clarity, and transformation that I can see coming from the changes we are making are already making me excited. 

I must remember, as I hope you too will when your time comes again as it will: That the breakthrough came because rather than hunker down, I opened up, I stayed open… and then the light began to stream in. 

What I am rumbling with 

I used to have a lot of problems with my best friends. I couldn’t understand why this one couldn’t keep her promises, the other one always had something to disagree with, and that one would be pedantic over the smallest things. 

I have had long stretches of very little to no conflict with my friends and it occurred to me the other day that the reason is perhaps (apart from the fact that their love and patience makes a big difference) that I am learning better accept them just exactly as they are, while deepening my gratitude for who they are to me. 

And then I have been wondering: How did I ever think that there was another way to be in relationship with other human beings? Isn’t the fundamental nature of reality the fact that humans beings are different. And we might share the same desire to be in fellowship with one another, but we come to it with our different behaviours, experiences, and reflexes? Isn’t the difference part of the package, in fact, essential to it? 

Isn’t that variety the essence of being in a world of others?

How, also, do I help myself not to forget? Because I like to remember, always, the truths that give us peace. 

For the culture 

It begins to appear to me that while people managed to survive the severe lockdown and the disruption to their lives, the almost lusty return to the way we used to be signifies something that might be happening under all of it all – the after-effects of disconnection, the emotional load of change that came too fast, the collective exhale of people who have pretended to be all right for too long. Is this the case? I see signs of it all around me. I hope it is not. But we should carefully watch ourselves for signs of fatigue that is not just physical – and then for others that we love. 

A mistake I made this week or a challenge I am facing 

I am getting a lot of physical rest. But last week after my shutdown day of no work and only movies, I woke up the next morning and I was still very exhausted. 

Usually, that happens when the body is ‘resting’ but the mind and emotions are hyperactive. This is directly tied to anxiety I have been feeling around work for the past few weeks. It’s a fascinating thing to remember that true rest is a mental and emotional process more than anything else. 

I am gently working through this. 

What I am watching/reading/listening to 

I am watching through Abel Damina’s 14-part series on Prayer. If you are a Christian who feels a stirring in your spirit that everything you have been taught about prayer doesn’t cohere with reality, Damina – who is my favourite Christian teacher – uses the bible to tell the story of prayer in ways that are ennobling and soul-lifting. I have watched many of these videos twice. They bless me each time. 

Fine sentence

“There’s a scene in Lawrence of Arabia where one man puts out a match with his fingers and doesn’t flinch. Another man watching tries to do the same, and yells in pain.

“It hurts! What’s the trick?” he asks.

“The trick is not minding that it hurts,” the first man says.”

From my gratitude journal 

I am grateful for the calm wisdom of my colleague.

I am grateful for the privilege of rest. 

I am grateful for my room, which I utterly love. 

From my daily affirmations

I am willing to, and look forward to, quickly understanding, accepting and embracing whatever is and whatever comes, and then responding to it in the best possible way, including emotions that may spring up. 

Food for thought

“What we do not make conscious emerges later as Fate.”