Excuse Me –
Someone asked me today; “Who’s your favorite killer?” I did a double take and asked in return; “My favorite what?” “Color,’ came the response, ‘favorite color?” “Oh!, blue,” I said. I was told I needed to work on my Tennessean listening skills.
It was a good laugh at my expense and a good reminder about listening. Each of us come from a unique background. We often forget that when we are speaking and listening to someone. People speak using words we don’t use, wouldn’t use, aren’t sure how to use. Folks speak with biases, colored by experiences, influenced by generational cycles of positive and negative cultural, religious and familial understandings.
This is why it is so important to listen with our whole being, not casually while we mess with our phones, distract ourselves with “more important” things or not honor the person who is speaking with mindfulness and focus.
Listening is a sacred gift we can give one another.
What is self-awareness? My favorite quote from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.” The idea is that just because a thought pops into our minds or we’ve been convinced of a thought most of our lives doesn’t necessarily make it true or real.
The problem is that few people arrive at this level of self-awareness. Few question their beliefs, convictions, and paradigms of how life should be, how it’s supposed to work. In fact, for most, it’s the opposite. There’s never a question about themselves and how they came to think the thoughts, do the deeds, be the person in the mirror.
The most important journey each of us takes is the journey within. Knowing ourselves, accepting our prejudices, biases, preferences, and understanding how they make us unique and how they set us apart from others.
A wisdom proverb states; “What annoys you about others reveals the character within you.” The path to self-awareness is first setting aside your preconceptions about everything and allowing the world to just “be“. Each experience, moment, lifetime is a once in an eternity expression of the universe and it’s Creator. Allowing it to make its impression upon you instead of charging into it wanting to put your stamp on it is the first steps into a larger world and a deeper self.
Whew! Spent most of the day framing in the porch. We are almost ready for the screening and the end is in sight. There’s a good tired feeling after a day’s worth of hard work and feeling as if you’ve accomplished a lot.
To finish out the day I watered our plants and flowers. It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve had any rain and they were quite thirsty. In the front yard, we have four Blue Spruces. We bought them at the same time and they looked the same; small and a bluish-green. However, today, when I was watering them I noticed they all looked different. They were planted at the same time, are basically in the same place. They receive water, mulch, pruning at the same time and yet they are growing in disparate ways. One is taller, one is “fatter”, one has two stems on top, and one looks bigger than all the others. Even though they’ve received the same amount of attention, sunshine, rain, hot and cool days, the are not the same.
Wisdom teaches us that people are similar to the Blue Spruces. They grow at different rates, in different ways, at different times. Often we forget how unique each of us are in how we mature emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We are tempted to judge negatively those who aren’t keeping up with others only later to perhaps discover an unexpected growth spurt from a “late bloomer” has surpassed them all. Patience. Acceptance. Perseverance. These are all needed attributes when measuring the growth and maturation of those around us.
“Never judge a person’s progress no matter how slow.” -Plato
in the Moment –
Yesterday, while watering flowers, a beautiful bright green Dragonfly (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly) landed on the wrist of my left hand. I froze! My first thought was; “Awesome!” My second thought was; “Do Dragonflies bite?” The third was; “This’ll make a great Instagram photo!” I slowly began to walk toward my phone which was about a hundred feet away. I tried not move my arm or scare the insect in any way. Finally, I got to the phone, gently leaned over to pick it up, turned it on, entered the lock screen code and pressed the Instagram icon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram). It opened but at the same time the Dragonfly decided it would leave and fluttered away. “No!” I screamed. “Sigh.” So close.
It was an exasperating reminder that no moment can be taken for granted nor forced to last longer than what is intended. Instead of worrying about taking a picture, sharing the photo for “likes” and “comments” I should have simply enjoyed the Dragonfly sitting on my wrist and the bliss of the unique moment. In wanting to capture it I lost the joy of it happening and felt the corresponding disappointment of the moment fly away, slip through my fingers.
Crawl. Walk. Run.
A couple of weeks ago I shared; “My Depression and Anxiety Story” (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/04/27/my-depression-and-anxiety-story/) after I had gone on my first run in over two years.
My goal was simple. I would run/walk as often as my physical and mental health would let me. Knowing it would take time to build strength and endurance I took days off and did my best to pace myself. It was important that I didn’t push too hard so I tried to be careful not to strain or sprain anything. However, after two weeks, I noticed both knees were beginning to hurt and by Wednesday of this week I couldn’t walk without severe pain and there were times I thought about crawling from my office to the truck or from the couch to the kitchen. On Friday I went to the doctor and she noticed there was swelling on both knees and we made the decision for me to receive one steroid injection in each leg. Following the shots the physical therapist told me; “Stay off your legs as much as possible until Sunday afternoon. The less you are on your feet the more potent the steroid will be to the injured areas.” So, on a beautiful weekend, I am stuck on the couch. “Ugh!”
Long journeys never seem to abide with our plans. Doing my best to follow the doctor’s advice the last couple of days I’ve had time to reflect on this long journey with Depression and Anxiety. Much like dealing with knee difficulties there have been days with depression and anxiety when all I could do was sit despondently and watch the world go by. Other days I’ve crawled along the path. Most days I walk, albeit slowly, and one day I hope to be able to mentally run on my journey toward recovery.
Wisdom teaches us to crawl, walk then run. Whatever we do, wherever we go, there is a pace, a rhythm. One must be in sync to find and navigate the path towards wholeness and healing.
On my journey with these diseases I cannot dictate the speed. Instead I must accept that each day will be unique and sometimes stillness is the only way forward.