Monday, February 11, 2013

The Constant Struggle


February 6

There are some battles I have been fighting for several years now, and I think the only pat on the back I can give myself in this regard is that I am still fighting. Thank goodness for social work school and the art of reframing they have us practice in class – otherwise I would say I have a stack of failures piled in a corner. But as it is, I can be proud of being persistent, of recognizing what I still need to do and being mission driven – despite years of milling about the starting line of several goals.

I guess one of the problems with these goals is that they do happen to be lifestyle changes. I have heard or read somewhere that it takes just two weeks to develop a new habit. Isn’t that lovely? The flip side – it takes just two weeks of not doing something to unlearn that pleasant habit.

One-time goals are easier, right. An aspect of my self-diagnosed mild OCD is making goals out of everything: doing laundry, mailing the rent check, dyeing my hair. This means that I get the fleeting feeling of accomplishment every time I check one of these mundane everyday tasks off my list. Even slightly more ambitious goals like writing a 25-page research paper, traveling to Montreal in the summer, or finishing a scrapbook of one’s college adventures are good because they have a definite end point in time –the moment you type up the reference page, or book your tickets, or get the lamination done. The problem with my general goals of wellbeing is that they have to be achieved every other day: eat more fruits, drink milk, go to the gym, be more thankful, stop holding onto those five regrets like I’m a squirrel and the regrets are the nuts I have to feed myself on for the remaining winter. (What an absurd analogy).

We all have things that come really easily to us, and then those things that we try and try but we just can’t get the hang of it (in some cases we don’t want to get the hang of it, in others when we finally get it we just let it fall out again). For instance, I find it relatively easy to block out things (some things, mind you, others I cannot forget and subject myself and a certain other individual to torture regularly because the memories just stick, like that elusive twig in your jeans that you can never see but every now and then it pricks your skin annoyingly).  Usually, if something is out of sight I can do a pretty good job of putting it out of mind. Other people are not so lucky and they start fretting about something that is going to happen in the near future, or that happened in the near past and just won’t leave them alone.

I don’t stress out too much, I can rationalize, open the window and look at the bigger picture, or simply choose to ignore something so I can enjoy a movie.
I can be patient and listen to you, I can try and rein in my judgment and try and find the middle ground, be a peacemaker.

Then there are things that are hard for me. I will admit I find it hard to feel other people’s pain if I cannot see it. I can sympathize for the first few “my leg really hurts” or “my throat is on fire!” but then I find it hard to pay attention. I can pretend but I don’t really feel very sorry for the said individual. I know, it sounds awful, but this is just the truth. I mean I will still tend to their needs – hopefully – but my heart won’t be crying tears of blood. Other people I know can empathize so much better and really be sincere and loving and are meant to be nurses.

Then there are things that change about us. We used to be really good at, say walking in the morning, or riding rollercoasters and swinging so high but then something happens – we grow up, grow old, pull a muscle, get bored.

I believe we can’t let our lives revolve around one thing (individual, hobby or object) because that means we are ignoring the larger, creative world all around us. The economics of it is it is smart to diversify one’s risks, the social lesson is to be independent and holistic and willing to try new things.
Some battles, I guess, are meant to be constant – eating more fruit and becoming an independent, caring individual happen to be two such struggles. Sometimes it will be the body that reacts, and other times it is the mind that will refuse to listen, it will throw itself into a rut and stay there, mull over broken promises, budding fears, and pull the heart down with it. Sometimes it will be a hard battle. But I guess that’s okay. 

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