Day 10 – Mindfulness Year and a Day
I love this line…
In “A Girl I Knew,” Salinger’s narrator describes Leah as “…beautiful in an immediate yet perfectly slow way.” And even though Leah and the narrator have what amounts to a series of inconsequential conversations, we find out that there is an unspoken depth and inner turmoil to Leah’s character.
When I read this famous line, I think to myself, this is what I feel like right now. To the outside observer, I’m just here… being me… presenting myself in normal fashion. Taking the kids to school. Working. Keeping my routine.
But inside, I’m stretching with everything I have, pinning my universe together and grasping tight to that which I can hold.
It’s okay, really. This happens every year at the end of the school year. From the beginning of April to the end of May, it’s a series of demands on my time and energy that do NOT let up.
However, this year, there’s a kicker. In a week and a half, I fly up to Washington state to visit my mother who has been placed in hospice care.
Yeah, that whole “holding the universe together” is sucking every bit of energy I have right now. And it’s showing. And I’m attempting to not totally unravel.
Last night, near tears, I told my husband, “I just need to be able to stop for a minute. I need space to breathe. I don’t even have the bandwidth to process everything that’s happening right now.”
But the world doesn’t stop for us, and we’re expected to stand against our railing, stoic and beautiful, regardless of how our universe is coming apart inside.
A friend pointed out yesterday that we’re expected to leave our home life at home when we go to work, and we’re equally expected to leave work at work when we get home. Well… I hate to break it to society, but sometimes, this idea of separation of our internal state from our external lives (so as to please everyone around us) can be a pretty unreasonable expectation, especially when the demands don’t let up long enough for us to take that deep, focusing breath that we so desperately need.
Part of living mindfully is knowing and accepting our inner state. It’s mindfully choosing our reactions. It’s knowing what we’re capable of giving, understanding our own limitations, pushing our boundaries when it’s appropriate, but also knowing when to give ourselves permission to just let go.
The other side of living mindfully is understanding that the other people in our lives have shit going on that could be affecting the quality of both their work and their mood. Our expectations might not always be met, and it’s our job as friends, coworkers and family to understand that the people in our lives aren’t robots. We can’t expect them to be exactly the same, day in and day out. Sometimes, shit happens, and we have to allow the people in our lives the ability to grasp and deal with the tough times, even if they don’t feel like sharing outwardly.
So my invitation to you today is this… because I need people to do this for me right now… if someone you know seems on edge; if they aren’t performing up to their usual standards; it they’re unusually short-tempered, or atypically quiet, or overly sarcastic… understand that you’re not inside their universe. You might not see the strands that they’re clutching. React with love instead of expectation. Ask if everything is okay. Don’t be afraid to let them bring their home life to work, or their work life home. Allow them the space they need to process the tough stuff.
This too shall pass. I firmly believe that… no mater what “this” is, nothing is permanent. Everything changes, given enough time. But until those shifts happen, lean up against that railing besides your beautiful friend, and help her hold her universe together as best you can.