General burnout wasn’t the only thing that made me initiate survival mode. It was also a few episodes of being emotionally knocked off my feet by a metaphorical mean person dressed in tight blue denim overalls with a blue t-shirt underneath who used a heavy shovel to smack me in the soul shins to get me on the ground. Why the outfit? Well, the thought of those overalls with the blue shirt does not make me happy, and that mean person had to be wearing a bad outfit to complete the picture.
My suffering is not the focus of this blog, so let’s just say that the causes of my suffering would be well-understood by some, but laughed at by others. I do have perspective, and I don’t want to exaggerate the blows, but pain is pain.
I am back on my feet, but I find that there is some feeling of emotional paralysis. Can I dive right back in to creating enjoyment for myself after spending time not thinking much about the quality of my life? The truth is that I have been afraid to. If ugly-overall person returns again and I am not having much fun anyway, then I haven’t really been robbed of much. I don’t look so vulnerable and almost pathetic, merrily and lightly walking along when I’m about to be knocked over. If I can appear surly and alert during the attack, at least I won’t look foolish. There is something extra cruel about an attack during enjoyment.
There is also something cruel, though, about encouraging oneself to be surly when it is possible to at least be neutral, or even experience some good feelings. The attacks are going to happen because they are part of life, but if we allow them too much power, they do more than hurt us; they keep us from wanting to enjoy life. Then, the cruelty is not coming from life’s nature. It is coming from ourselves.
Our power is frustrating and liberating. Effort is required of us to live well, but thankfully, in this and some other societies, we have the opportunity to do so. Survival mode, for blessed me, does not mean walking for miles with my starving and sick children, starving and sick myself, in the hopes of getting some food and medical help.
I have used the horrors and injustice in the world as a reason to not put in the effort to be happy. Why should I be happy when so many people don’t even have the chance? I am no better or more deserving than they are, so maybe it’s even respectful of their struggles to suffer myself. Then, at least I am not being a silly and ignorant person.
Such thinking does not pay respect to the inherent complexities of life. Living well means accomodating many truths simultaneously, and not using some of those truths to support holding ourselves back.
When we have the capacity for it, gratitude is often the only wise psychological choice. A truly grateful person is not a surly one. I can know that I will hurt in life and hold on to the strong wisdom that goes with that knowledge, thereby keeping myself from being foolish. At the same time, as long as I am not using all of my energy just to survive, I can actively create enjoyment for myself.And I know that when I feel good, I am more inclined to share and help than I am when I don’t. So, to move back in to beauty as soon as possible is wise for oneself but also helpful to people in the world.
Off I go, then, to put on one of my favorite movies and work on some creative projects instead of wasting the entire day doing chores and feeling sour inside. Post-survival, be brave enough to have some fun as soon as you can. And avoid overalls, particularly tight ones.