Over a year has passed since my dear friend, lover and confidante chose, or was reportedly compelled, to break ties with me; and yet every day is still filled with pain. Will I ever be happy again?
My unhappiness is a bottomless cup. I know I must be cheerful, living in a loving family and having good friends, yet gloom haunts me… Something has to change or I shall be sick. Clearly my situation is not going to change; therefore, I shall have to change. But how?
I have given much thought to my predicament and I have devised a simple set of rules by which I plan to live. I intend this to be a daily exercise. I pray that the plan will somehow deliver me from my dismal swamp of despair. It has to…
I have formulated the following simple strategy, in effect, rules-to-live-by; and will endeavour and resolve to do the following every day:
1. Do something for someone else.
2. Do something for myself.
3. Do something I don't want to do that needs doing.
4. Do a physical exercise.
5. Do a mental exercise.
6. Do an original prayer that always includes counting my blessings.
I limited myself to six rules because I feel that number to be "manageable." Here are some of the things I have since done, and do, to fulfill my six assignments.
Something for someone else. I would like to think that my messages of inspiration or advice I blog or post on the social networks, quite cover this daily activity; but something is still lacking. My idea, of really doing something for someone else, would be something physical - or at least more tangible and personal for a particular individual. Visiting a sick, or even just lonely, friend makes up for this lack. I also always try and have an item or two available for our local rag-and-scrap guy. Tossing the odd coins to a street-beggar does little to satisfy my need to indulge this assignment… but when I can, I do.
Something for myself. At "doing something for yourself" we all probably can excel. I began with a friend’s idea of bath therapy - A bath should be the ultimate place of relaxation. Gather lemon, mint, lavender and rose geranium. Steep the dried leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes and strain into the tub. Lie in the bath with your eyes closed, and do not think while soaking. Let the tensions of the day melt away. It is sensational. – The occasional sauna at the gym also does wonders, but is not a pleasure I get to indulge in too often. I started a herb garden of my own with a view to making up herbal sachets for Christmas gifts. In so doing something for myself I can turn it into doing something for someone else. I also really enjoy doing my own laundry – from machine-wash to iron-folded. There is a tremendous joy I derive from wearing a fragrant garment, laundered by myself!
Something I don't want to do. There is no heroism attached to this assignment. It has covered things like vacuuming the bed-bugs from my mattress to detailing the grease off the under-carriage of the car. Some of the worst include tidying up the bathroom ‘airing’ cupboard (very little of its content required airing – more like chucking), cleaning the leaves from the garage roof and gutters to shaving, or at least, trimming my beard… self-manicures and pedicures, hair treatments, eye-brow, ear and nose hair plucking sort of cover a lot of this aspect… lol
Physical exercise. Surprisingly I have taken to walking quite well. I enjoy the walks to the shops, or to familial or friends’ houses for a visit. Most times I walk alone, and the perambulatory solitude leaves much time for meditation and reflection. However, I must endeavour to start a gym programme. I don’t feel too bad though, the odd jobs and help I give to neighbours and family also lends me to quite a bit of physical activity. And yes, taking the on-going chores around my home into account as well, this has become a daily exercise.
Mental exercise. The "mental exercise" was also challenging. I have neglected reading for too long. Bible readings, I decided were more suited for the ‘original prayer’ facet. I decided on poetry. Emily Dickinson’s works sent me into orbit - "I dwell in possibility," wrote Emily. Marvellous words. To blog and post my social network updates on-line, I do quite a bit of reading (book and internet), always with a view to finding some gem of wisdom to share. Biographies, anecdotes and quotations are my favourite sources - if not for onward sharing; then just to ‘feed’ my own soul.
To my surprise, I had trouble with No 6…
Original Prayer did not come as easily as I had presumed. My utterings always felt contrived and empty. I can't concentrate in church, I find myself appraising the people’s outfits. Eventually I discovered a solution: when I sit in solitude on a rock, or rise, overlooking God’s natural beauty, I can pray. I ask the Lord to help me bloom where I am planted, and then I count my blessings, always beginning with my family and good friends, without whom I would be alone and lost.
We are all involved, actors and victims alike, we all need to become aware that we all fight the battle against darkness. It will prove worthwhile to heed the following wise words: "I alone can take the initiative to escape from 'the sarcophagus of self.” - The sarcophagus of self. Beware not to become buried in your own ego. Sometimes the thing you dread doing is the very thing you should do, just so you can stop thinking about it.
The prayer assignment is the most helpful of all. I strive now to make up a short prayer every day, and I always include some thanksgiving in it. Writing a prayer isn't always easy, but it's a valuable spiritual discipline. I don't always have a meditation rock, but I do have a few special places where I can attend to that inner voice.
I don't worry how well I fulfill the six rules, as long as I do them daily. I will give myself credit for just one letter written, or one drawer cleaned out, and it's surprising how good feelings about a small accomplishment often enable me to go on and do more.
Can life be lived by a formula? All I know is that since I started to live by those six precepts, I've become more involved with others and, hence, less "buried" in myself. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I have adopted the motto: "Bloom where you are planted."
I do not think of the ‘lost’ person that often (what or who she is doing now is too painful to imagine), I think of a lost ‘us’ – what could have been; and in my best moments, ‘what still might be!’
Love you ~