A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
Have you ever had a day when it all just seemed like it was too much?
Your fuel gauge is on empty on the way to work so you have to fill up but then you are late. You need an answer from a company on a quote before you can do the next five steps of your project but they’re taking their time. Your mum has decided that this week she is going to call you five times a day about nothing in particular. You’ve fallen over and twisted your ankle two days before your footy final. The list goes on.
And sometimes these days turn into weeks. Where we’re dragging ourselves through the daily grind and we’re coming up against a mountain of never ending shit. It’s exhausting. And it’s debilitating. And it sucks the life and joy out of everything. Although we may know that we must see the positive, sometimes seeing the positive is just incredibly difficult and we start to flounder slightly, and head down the rabbit hole. And as any Tom Dick or Alice knows, once you are down the rabbit hole your reactions to these situations don’t always reflect you in the best light, sometimes anger and frustration and exhaustion cloud your best intentions to deliver a level headed response. Alice understands how this feels, remember when decided to follow the label and ‘Drink Me’?
Every person has a different way of digging themselves out of this hole. My favourite way? Perspective.
I’ve always been a bit of a history boffin. I love how the story of our world over the past few millions of years is told and the individual stories of civilisations, animals, ice ages, movements and developments are intertwined to lead us to where we are today. Several years at university majoring in the field only served to enhance my knowledge and enthusiasm for the art, as well as my understanding of how everything is linked together. I am a big picture historian; I love to see the whole undulating narrative as one continuing experience.
And so it has become my anchor. On days when present issues seem overwhelming and I’m drowning in a sea of my own fuzz, I look to the story of our world to put my feet back on solid ground.
When Simon from Accounts has stolen my pad of sticky notes for the fourth time this week and I desperately need one to write something down. Just as I feel the anger rising in my neck, I remember that the Egyptians managed to build the pyramids without sticky notes, so I can probably get by without them for today.
When the bloke I’ve been dating hasn’t replied to my message for the last three hours, and I get distressed and start to panic and postulate ridiculous ideas about him being run over by a car or actually strongly disliking me and never wanting to see me again, I wonder how Jane Bennet felt when Mr. Bingley just buggered off to the city with no word of reply in Pride and Prejudice. Quite frankly, I’m impressed the girl managed to keep her cross-stitch together. (Granted not necessarily historical but I’d like to think Jane Austen was speaking for her generation when she wrote that one.)
When I’ve got a deadline in two hours and the power company has decided to do work on the power lines and shut off the power for the rest of the day. I think about Thomas Jefferson writing the American Declaration of Independence and how he didn’t even have white out or a typewriter, let alone the ability to send off his final copy at the click of a button. And he was on a bit of a deadline to get it in so they could stick a final fork in the English.
When I lose a friend or family member to an illness or simply just old age. I think of all of the souls who pass away around the world every day, and then I think back to when the average life span wasn’t even 50 and then I consider how absolutely lucky I am that I knew this person for so much longer than that.
This isn’t easy. And in no way, shape or form does it detract from the emotions of each situation. The heartache, the loss, the grief, the anger and the distress are all very real and very present. But when I bring perspective into play, I understand these experiences as part of the ongoing patchwork of life, not as isolated incidents which are occurring just to cause pain to me.
And slowly, after a bit of a trip down history lane and some perspective, I find that my feet have landed back on solid ground. The situation is more often than not still in front of me, and the solution has usually arrived and sometimes it’s not even the one I was hoping for, but because I understand the occurrence as something that has happened before, is currently happening to many others right now and will probably happen again, I am able to accept it as part of life. Not as a defining aspect of my character, or a struggle that I alone must face but moreso just a part of my experience on this Earth, which in the big picture is just a tiny speck of sand on the beaches of time.
And then, I’m just grateful to be here.