Life is way too short to waste time or energy trying to match my socks
I find myself sitting on the glossy cinema steps of our best movie place. I’m waiting to taxi my boy and four of his friends home from a night at the movies.
The cinema is a distance away from our home, so four hours ago when I dropped them, I had to make a decision…. was I gonna drive back home and then back to the cinema to collect them (at least an hour long return journey), or was I just gonna try to find a restaurant with a plug for laptop and a steady supply of ice drinks? I opted for the latter.
I just left the restaurant a few minutes ago literally sick and tired of working. It’s been a long Friday. Their movie is about to end, so I find myself waiting in the foyer for them.
And I am thinking…. Let this be enough. I am so grateful that I have a healthy 16 year old son. And that he is well adjusted and happy. He has friends and he is having a good time. Being privy to the boys’ conversation as I drove them here was such a delight. I have no doubt that driving home will be too.
His friends are staying over to do a post-mortem of the movie, and just being able to be part of this experience leaves me feeling blessed. Life is tough. Life is really downright hard at times. But sometimes, like now I just feel content. I’m happy to be totally and fully immersed in the present moment.
Let this be enough
Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.
Photo credit: Alex Jordaan (Definitely not just a pretty face …. a truly gifted photographer too! See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexjordaan/)
The most beautiful thing about being in my 40s is the realization that I don’t need to control everything. True story, I don’t always succeed at relinquishing control, as I still catch myself trying to chase down elusive targets with much effort instead of just doing, letting go and letting be. However, it’s work in progress me thinks. And at least for now I am aware, even though I am not yet a master at it.
Against this backdrop, my ‘lifestyle’ evolved as a side effect of my desire to control outcomes in my future. A yearning for security. I’m not saying it’s a good or a bad thing. It just is. I was imitating the traits ‘that I perceived’ characterized the people that I regarded as successful. Similarly media (social media and other media) portrayed that lifestyle as one belonging to successful people…. ‘Go great or go home‘ has been my personal motto for a decade now. Alcohol is a part of that lifestyle.
That lifestyle can be summarized as “Work hard, Train hard, Drink hard, Play then Work harder, Win hard and win again. Repeat. Rest occasionally when you just can’t anymore”.
I am seeing things differently now.
I won’t say that anything that happened was wrong for me. And I won’t judge or criticize that lifestyle which I identified as my own at one point. I am sincerely grateful and even humbled that I achieved many of my personal targets which seemed impossible at one point.
However, since about two years ago I’ve become increasingly aware of imbalances in my life. In an effort to self-correct, I’ve started meditating. I’m trying to eat healthier and I’ve started yoga. Since the beginning of this year I started thinking that I’m drinking too much. And over these past few months a culmination of incidents has lead me to the doorstep of now being ‘sober curious’.
I have at least four district memories from since February this year – incidents when I know that getting as drunk as I did was completely unnecessary. I wasn’t completely reckless because each time I was in a safe space – either with very trusted friends or I was alone. But that I realize now, was the problem! Alone or with trusted friends, I was using alcohol as a crutch to relax and escape my hectic lifestyle. Fortunately, there were no significant negative consequences of my drinking aside from a massive hangover the following day. I never ever missed work or a deadline. Thankfully nothing ever happened that would jeopardize my reputation (professional or otherwise). In fact after one drinking binge, I even ran a 10k race (still very much hungover) and I finished the race in 1hr1min – which is an enviable time for many people. However, I could not escape my own thoughts – that that behaviour of mine was just completely unnecessary. …. A functional alcoholic? Hmmmmmm
The culmination of incidents that opened my mind to seeing that there must be a better alternative were simple things which transpired – such as a news report of some influential person who also quit drinking for reasons similar to my own. Also an Instagram post or two that I spotted, new friendships with people who don’t drink alcohol for religious or other reasons. The time is just right for me to give sobriety a chance. A case for being sober curious.
And funny, as I was telling my sister-in-law this story, my brother who was sitting besides us, catching up on the news on his phone, remarked as he stumbled across this article below at very moment!
Coincidence maybe. I prefer to believe that the universe talks to me (to all of us) all the time. I think that my life will be happy and fulfilling only when I am willing to open and listen.
Case in point, ….Present and Aware. Non-alcoholic drinks with my Boeties last night. Not such a bad thing. Not bad at all actually – in fact quite the very opposite!
A missed flight. I don’t know how we missed our flight. We really don’t know how on earth that happened. We were at the airport more than two hours before the time. My colleague and I were checked in and went through the check in gates.
As we walked towards our boarding gate she mentioned that she could not see the gate number. I saw it and I pointed it out. But it was closed. So we went to the ladies room.
When we got back from the ladies room, we sat at the gate, waiting for it to open. Neither of us checked the time. Neither of us realized it was five minutes before take off. We should have been in the plane already. And there was no boarding call for us.
When everyone around us got up, we did too. And then the shocking realization occurred, that we missed our flight.
We argued a bit with the ground staff. But there was really nothing left to do than buy new plane ticket. We were seriously ticked off. … Beyond ticked off – how on God’s green earth did we miss that flight!!!! R506 extra to pay each. It was not funny.
We tried to make the best of it. Took out some work as we waited for the two hours to pass before our next flight. Cold comfort. We agreed… let’s not think about it. It’s just upsetting. Phahhh.
We made small talk. Agreed that there is some greater cosmic reason why we missed that flight. For someone else’s benefit. Or ours… who knows… who cares. Let’s just go on. And we made damn sure we were at the gate when we needed to board our rebooked flight.
Seated on the flight we settled down. Started talking about some guys we knew. I didn’t pay much attention to him as he went through the preflight safety drill. Seen that crap a billion times before.
And then he came around with the courtesy trolley. I wanted a beer. Was still trying to sooth my ‘being upset’ after missing our flight. And that is when he went out of his way to catch my attention. He was listening to me speak to my friend and responded with gestures to my quirky chirps.
My turn came and I asked for a beer. As he got it, he then asked me something. My response was ‘only if you gonna keep me‘ – and his response was that he would. As he gave me the beer, he asked ‘Ms or Mrs‘ and I said ‘Dr‘ (holly har Bronwyn 😱). Then he asked if I had a business card. I said no.
And then he helped the guy in the aisle opposite me who wanted heaven knows what – an assortment of odd treats. In between doing that he put a pen and serviette on my tray table. ‘Just in case, putting it there, Use it. Don’t use it‘ he says….
I did the necessary.
A random vague blur. The stuff that real life is made of? Fact seems stranger than fiction.
The universe has got this. It doesn’t need my interference. Nothing is random. Everything works better when I don’t try to control it.
1) If we caught our flight, I’d have never met him.
2) If my friend and I chose our own seats on the next flight, I’d have never met him.
3) If the guy on the opposite side of the aisle didn’t want a bunch of random stuff, and make small talk, I would have never given him my number.
Are you for real?…. Enough said.
A must see….
So my new favourite thing is yoga. I simply love my two new pink yoga blocks and my bubblegum blue yoga mat. The thing is, Bella (our cat) seems to love it even more than what I do!
I suspect it might be the spongy texture of the yoga mat. As soon as I take out the mat to start doing some asanas, then Bella is on the mat – before I can even get into a tadasana!
Then to add insult to injury, Bella then proceeds to show me how it should really be done. Never mind downward dog…. Downward cat anyone?
Ohm Shanti. Namaste 🙏🏾
Failure is a good thing. We’ve all heard this before. No one can deny that failing builds character. It builds resilience. It builds problem solving capabilities and it can make one a more compassionate, a valuable individual to the benefit of society at large. In that way failure promotes growth.
It’s noteworthy though, that the word ‘failure’ implies that something went wrong. Either we did something or we did not do something, when we could have done something different = failure.
Against this backdrop, I think that we often confuse failing with something else. I actually can’t define that ‘something else’ yet ….. I just don’t have the term for it yet although I know it’s a tangible concept. It also leads to growth but it is not failure. Let’s call it ‘not-a-failure‘. It is confused with failure because the process towards growth is so similar to when you failed at something.
In the case of ‘not-a-failure‘ a person might even say ‘but I tried my best but I did not succeed’. This means that what you tried was wrong. This emphasizes the person’s effort and the fact that they did not get the reward for that effort. When this happens, most human beings involuntarily turn against themselves and believe that they have failed ….when in fact they did not, because in cases of not-a-failure, the situation was just outside of one’s control.
Ok Ja what I’m saying might like waffle but let me use real examples from my own life to explain…
The job I took, after I finished studying my Masters degree. It was a disaster. I just didn’t fit. There were tons of variables that played a role including an insecure micromanaging supervisor. I tried my best but eventually resigned after a year. I felt like a failure…. but did I really fail? Fast-forward a few years and I ended up in my dream job, teaching at a University. Resigning from that job freed me in terms of time, to do things which gave me the experience I needed to apply for my current job.
My marriage. I worked so hard to save it. I was devastated, shattered when my ex-husband left me. There are things that I know I could have done differently but I think that truthfully, the majority of what played out was simply just out of my control. Looking back I see that no matter who said or did what, we were both just not mature enough to manage the situation in a way that would change the eventual outcome, which was a divorce. Failure? Yes, No… there was more out of my control than in my control. Growth yes definitely. In retrospect, failure not. Similar too, other relationships since my divorce. I have the tendency to want to think I’ve failed because each time I’ve genuinely opened up and allowed myself to be vulnerable. When one is openly vulnerable and you don’t achieve a successful outcome then you feel like failure. The same would apply to sporting activities, work or other projects or even friendships that don’t work out even after you tried your best.
The ‘not-a-failure‘ concept really is an intense form of disappointment. Disappointment is a result of failure but, importantly, it’s not always because of failure. The mistake that I think many human beings make is associating all our disappointments with failure. Our brains seem to be hardwired into tricking us into believing that all our disappointments are all failures! How unkind we are to ourselves 😔
The bottom line for me with all of this is that I need to remember to be kinder to myself when I feel disappointment. Not medicate disappointments with self-pity, or anger, humiliation or shame. I need to medicate myself with kindness and reject any self deprecating thoughts which tell me that I have failed.
Essentially, that is the act of surrendering control over something I never had control over in the first place!