Thursday, August 11, 2011

How We Learned to Love The Things That Suck: Mild Scrapes and Minor Humiliations

So Monday, I'm walking to the bus stop after work and just thinking to myself, "Gee, (I do say that to myself actually)I'm managing to maintain my dignity about having to ride the bus pretty well!" Despite the heat (over 100 degrees every day now) and the inevitable and unsightly sweating that goes along with, despite my odd foot virus that makes it difficult to walk comfortably, despite the waiting and what could be, wasted time. Earlier that day, the street on which I catch my first bus in the morning was under repaving. The flagman assured me that the bus would stop in the middle of the street for me, after all there was no sign from the bus system saying the bus stop was closed for the day. All stops within walking distance on that line were coned off, so the construction and bus system must have coordinated this... surely.

At 8:24 on the nose here comes the bus and there goes the bus. Not even a wave, or a point, from the driver! I had to call for a ride to the next stop. That afternoon when I was feeling proud of myself you see I had good reason. I hadn't been incensed or sorry for myself, I just handled it, found a solution, got on with the day.

As I turned the corner to the stop that Monday afternoon, I thought briefly, "What's up with my left ankle, hurts a little" then I noticed the early bus, I am never in time for, sitting there! I started walking faster, could I possibly catch it? I waved at the driver when I was within sight and shockingly he pulled away from the curb! I started running and waving at him thinking he must not have seen me, but I'm so close now I have to try. Then, just as he pulls back toward the curb - SPLAT! Down I go, flat on the ground, my right foot having hit the concrete edge between sidewalk and landscaping. I lay there briefly, swallowed in a puff of dust. I pick myself up, don't even bother to dust myself off, and get on the bus. I realize my right knee is bleeding through my pants, my left ankle twisted and throbbing - see, somehow it knew.

Then the driver says to me, irritated, "You didn't have to run, I was pulling back to the curb. You're alright I take it".

Yeah, sure, all except my dignity.

Monday, August 01, 2011

How We Learned to Love The Things That Suck: I Am One

Sometimes the only way to deal with things that suck is to be one with them.

Yeah, there are things that suck. Everyone has some (at least one) thing that sucks in their life. But sometimes the suckiest of the sucky thing is the way you look at it. So, if you can just relax your mind and let things that suck, suck, well then at the very least you can get perspective.

The difficulty is in not letting the "this is" attitude bleed into a "this is and that's not fair!" attitude. Not an easy task. I think if one could accomplish it for more than, say, a few minutes, that would be a colossal achievement.

I think of all this because I watched 60 Minutes last night wherein they replayed their interview with Mark Wahlberg. Now, that is a guy for whom things could have sucked for a lifetime. And though he may be more talented and/or determined than the average bear, he certainly is not more deserving. Herein lies the rub. Deserving. Oooooo. It is the elephant in society, at least since the 80s (good job by the way baby boomers on changing the tone of the nation - I'm assuming its all your fault - see, I'm laying blame, a sure sign I have not yet grappled with things that suck in my life, I'm trying...). This idea that if you are wealthy, have a good job, married a pretty person, have well behaved children, that somehow you have been divinely touched. Or maybe you went to the right college, made the right connections, have "talent". Maybe you said all the right affirmations or were able to unleash the awesome power of the law of attraction on your ass! That, if you have all these things, you somehow (in a way unknowable to us mortals and thus inarguable) DESERVE it. The implied and ancillary meaning, that if you don't have all those things (i.e. if your life sucks) that you do not, in fact, deserve it.

OK. There, I said it out loud. Almost as hard as saying pretty women have better lives... oops, didn't mean that to slip out. What I am trying to get at is that this idea of 'fairness' is entirely erroneous. In fact, any explanation you try to lob at any life situation comes up short, because there are ever exceptions to every rule and platitude you may step on.

So, here is what I think. My husband is unemployed. That sucks. I have a crappy, underpaid job to no where, my talents sorely underutilized and non-appreciated (see, not even 'under', that really sucks). That sucks. My daughter has ADD and struggles with school work and behavior. That sucks. Because my daughter gets so much attention due to her ADD my son feels neglected. That sucks.

Now, in the very next breath, you would expect me to start spouting all the unexpected but wonderful side effects of the above chock full 'o suck situation. But then we would be getting on the boat for a trip down denial. Trying to look at the bright side of a lousy situation is one normal human response, which could be characterized as either healthy optimism or delusional, depending on your particular perspective of the moment. Wanting to doooooo something to better a crappy situation, also normal and questionably good, again depending on your particular philosophy at the time. Ignoring said suck-o-rama, also normal, could be defined by the self-medicating and more lazy among us as healthy, or, easier. But none of these is what I am talking about. What I am talking about is that awful aphorism I have avoided till now, "It is what it is" (usually used by the lazy, I am aware of that).

One with the things that suck. Really, just allowing things to be the way they are without mentally changing or judging. Not so easy, but if you can achieve it, even for a moment, it can be relaxing and even, dare I say it, enlightening. Things that suck, still suck, of course. But without the judgement or need to do anything beyond observe, a little bit of stress and tension may fall away.

Now, of course, you can't do this forever. Only Eckhart Tolle can make a living just 'being'. But maybe, if at least for a few moments, we can look at the things that suck as 'what is' at the moment, we can really connect with life, our own life. Instead of always trying to get distance from it...