This is the post I’d written for Monday, but I had an unexpected this-feels-too-personal reaction and didn’t want to publish it. Maybe it is because it came from a journal entry, since it isn’t that much more personal than stuff I’ve written before. I don’t know. It just feels really personal! (And is kind of long…)
I’ve had my Mini for almost 6 months now. (Can you believe it has been 6 months?!) So many people tell me that I’ve changed a lot over the last two years, so I wanted to journal a little bit more about that…
I feel like I should be able to write some wonderful, coherent narrative about it, but can’t. So I decided to just start with the simple examination of “I’ve learned…” and see what came out.
So, these are the things I feel like I’ve learned, so far. ; ) Some are repeated, some expanded, some new.
I’ve learned that I can engage in activities that I don’t know how to do well – that I don’t have to be the best at something to derive pleasure from it. (I’ve learned that my desire to be the best was really an attempt to the get the outside world to mark me and my work as valuable.)
I’ve learned that I am still my slightly agitated and anxious self, wherever I am. External circumstances (pretty natural environments) can be helpful and healing, but they don’t do all of the work. Learning to be centered is something I have to remember to practice, accept that I often do poorly, and keep attempting to do.
I’ve learned how to ask for help.
I’ve learned that I can do things that completely terrify me.
I’ve learned that practicing courage is important, especially when I don’t feel courageous. I’ve learned that I need to keep practicing, so that I can connect with that courage when I need it.
I’ve learned to at least try to tackle problems that seem completely beyond my comprehension.
I’ve learned to feel proud of myself. (And to tell people I am.)
I’ve learned that being honest about the darker sides of my character brings people closer to me, but also invokes hostility. (Many a deleted comment!)
I’ve learned that bumps and bruises (my poor Mini) are part of every journey. Instead of perpetually cocooning myself in an attempt to avoid risk or injury, I need to use each event as an opportunity to practice my ability to cope. The more I practice that skill, the more faith I develop in myself. The more faith I develop in myself, the more freedom I have.
I’m slowly learning to hold on to my own anxiety and not be annihilated by it – and to not attempt to get the outside world to solve that problem for me.
I’ve learned that suffering is an important part of the journey. Being brought to the end of my endurance (in suicidal depression) is what it took for me to finally learn to be humble, to listen, and to start over in my attempt to make sense of myself and how to live well in the world.
I’ve learned that I am here to learn from my own journey and have no idea what other people are here to do. This helps me to stay centered when I am around others, and not feel overwhelmed or anxious about what they are struggling with.
I’ve learned that I am not going to figure out the mysteries of the universe. I’m not going to discern meaning in a critical theory course at the University of Chicago. That a big part of the answer is, “I don’t know.” There is an inexplicable mystery that will forever be beyond my comprehension.
I’ve learned that I have no idea who my teachers are. When I am silently ruminating over how I think I know more than some person who is irritating me, I am more likely shutting down the voice of a teacher that I need to learn something from.
I’ve learned that kindness is not something I merely indulge myself in when everything is going my way, but is a discipline I need to practice – especially when I feel tired, irritated, or feel like I have a justifiable complaint against someone. Being mean is being lazy.
(I try to remind myself that my gentleness towards others is something I want to be borne out of my own choice. That my response to the world shouldn’t be determined by this jerk I want to strangle this other person on his own mysterious journey, but by my own decision about how I want to be in the world. To put it more simply, I want to be kind, because I choose to be kind, and not because others are doing and giving me everything I want. )
I’ve learned that living imperfectly in the world is how we do it. That I need to know how to forgive myself as much I need to know how to forgive others.
I’ve learned that the things I am learning do not make up a coherent narrative, but are more like patchwork growth in a never-to-be-competed quilt. (And I think the mixed metaphor works here!)
I’ve learned that I want more connection, but I’m still learning how to do that.
I’ve learned to have faith that if I stay with this, I will learn how.