Saturday, August 31, 2013

Life lessons never stop

Today I put together a flat packed desk. Not a huge task but it is very time consuming when the tools are extremely inadequate. And they were totally inadequate. I bought the desk and an office chair as an early birthday present for the gamer son. I was pretty blasé about putting it together since I have assembled plenty of flat packed furniture. But I have never assembled flat packed furniture with the only tool at hand a multi-function tool with a short phillips head attachment.

I have - make that had - tools. A decent ratchet screwdriver, a good quality hammer, a range of smaller screwdrivers. But they have all disappeared, 'borrowed' and not returned. So I assembled this desk, with its multiple screws and screw sizes, dowels, and various other bits with with the multi-function tool with its inch and a half phillips head screwdriver. It took a long time, my hand is very painful from gripping the tool and using all my strength to tighten the screws. And it wasn't even my multi-function tool, it belongs to gamer son's friend Luke - thank you Luke.

Now I am aware that I could have gone and bought new tools, I didn't from sheer bloody mindedness. Having started I didn't want to stop, go to the shops and spend more money on tools when I should actually have tools in the shed. So I persevered, taking my time, focusing on each screw, each dowel, not worrying about the ones to come. I fell into a kind of trance - gamer son being at the movies with friends so that I was alone. I had the radio on, my mind was empty apart from the music and each individual screw. I had multiple moments of triumph, for each screw (and a flat packed desk such as this one has soooooooo many) took considerable effort. When I finished I had a perfectly functional desk, a very sore red hand, and a multi-tool that had fulfilled its purpose in its metallic life.

It was a metaphor for life, as so many things seem to be to me right now. Live in each moment completely, give all your attention to what you are doing right now, don't worry about what is to come until it gets here. Plan for sure - I had the instructions in front of me, I identified each piece and each screw and followed the directions. So plan for the future, but live in the moment. And don't worry, worry achieves absolutely nothing positive. I know it, this desk proves it in a physical metaphorical way. If I had looked at the whole thing, all the pieces, all the different packets of different sized screws and then looked at my sadly inadequate multi-tool I would not have even started.

Don't I sound wise? Ha! It's a case of do as I say and not as I do. I worry still, I over think, I become anxious, I become fearful. All the things I say over and over again that I will not do, I do. Old habits sure do die hard, they are so difficult to break. I am still trying, I don't want to be this worry-wart person, I don't want to make happen the things I fear the most. And that's the thing with fear and worry together. They make the mind come up with scenarios that do not exist, but thinking these things make us behave in a way that is guaranteed to make the very thing we don't want to happen come about. That's a terrible sentence but I'll let it stay.

Worry is counter productive, fear is counter productive. They are the most negative of negative emotions. Healthy fear, the completely healthy fear when confronted by a massive bear perhaps, that is positive. It produces the adrenalin needed to outrun the bear, if it is really fat and out of condition. But fear born of worry and over thinking, that is negative. We react to the fear, we say things and do things as though what we fear has already occurred. We can actually make it happen. Worry helps nothing, solves nothing. Careful thinking, planning, searching for solutions, that is positive. Worry is negative, it causes the mind to plunge into depression and fear, that big black hole that I am so familiar with.

So how to overcome it, how to stop this negative thinking, this cycle of defeat. I don't know really. Just keep trying is all I can suggest. Meditation helped - that nice word I use to describe contemplating my belly and falling asleep. But when I worry and fear and begin to panic, I can't even begin to meditate. Exercise certainly helps, and I am increasing my exercise all the time. Writing helps too, as it always does. But still, I find myself slipping back. I have to find a way to break this habit, something to use in place of the worry and fear, to stop it from starting.

I have to change the way I think, and I know I have said this before, and I have changed a lot, but not enough yet. So now, I have a mantra, and I will say this mantra to myself every morning, and every night until I sleep, until I have changed my thinking. And I have some words that inspire me particularly and I will read these words every time I feel myself slipping. They are guaranteed to stop me, to make me change my thinking, to make me let go of this negative cycle. My future is hurtling towards me like a freight train and like a freight train its going to flatten me if I don't get a handle on myself, own my fear and kick it out.

This is a year of change for many people, and many friends of mine are facing their own demons, driving them out and striving for their own personal resolution. We may have different demons, but we are all striving, reaching, trying to be better people living better lives. We all have to find our own way, for ultimately each of us had to change ourselves before we can effect any other change to our lives.

And in the meantime, gamer son has his desk :)

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