…In sickness and in health…

Life's simple glory, complicated, simple, strange, wonderful, new or familiar; it matters every bit as much as it doesn't matter at all.

Life’s glory, complicated, simple, strange, wonderful, new or familiar; it matters every bit as much as it doesn’t matter at all.

This is a pretty fragile vessel I occupy. Backaches, tendonitis, headaches, sore feet, bumps, bruises, bad days, and…head colds; being human isn’t pain-free, convenient, or particularly easy some days. Today is one of those, and I do indeed have a head cold. Worse, I have a head cold on the handful of days that my traveling partner is visiting home. I have a cold instead of hugs and lovemaking, because I choose to take responsible steps to prevent the spread of illness, where I can. I find employment, generally, in call centers. It’s humble enough work for an analyst, and head colds go with the territory – in fact, I have numbers on that, and some trending. lol  Love isn’t hindered by a head cold, though, and I enjoy the companionship of my partner in spite of it.

Annoyingly enough, this is also an extraordinarily busy week at work; as much as I’d like to, taking the day off to be sick isn’t an option. From my perspective, neither is getting all my coworkers sick, however trivial the illness, so I am working from home today – for as long as I can bear to toil over numbers. Every choice we make matters, in some context or another, to our own experience, or to someone else’s. My sleep was disturbed and restless last night and I woke from some surreal dreaming meditation on this particular strange thought; it all matters so very much, and it’s so interconnected, I lose sight of how irrelevant and unimportant any one detail really is. Perspective, balance…and the strangeness of the observation that ‘the opposite of what you know is also true‘. Is it? Isn’t it? Certainly it is an idea, for me, that sparks contemplation on perspective.

What we face, what we turn away from; we choose the world we see.

What we face, what we turn away from; we choose the world we see.

I can focus on the head cold if I choose, certainly it tends to be in the forefront of my thoughts and awareness this morning, or I can choose to be aware, awake, and observant of other details. The taste of my coffee, the trickle of the aquarium in the stillness of dawn, behind me, the internal glow of being well-loved, the moody gray sky outside my window…being present and in the moment, for me, still involves choices; what do I attend to, and what do I turn away from? For a lot of my life, I have ‘turned away from’ myself, and anything else I could turn away from, that built on ancient pain. I didn’t understand that by ignoring myself and my own needs, by showing myself no compassion, by disregarding my hurts in life and treating myself callously I was teaching myself that this was an acceptable way to behave towards others, and that it was also acceptable for them to treat  me poorly. It set up a see-saw of emotional abuses over time, many of them self-inflicted through assumptions, thinking, and internal story-telling that have done a lot of damage to my relationships, and my own experience of life, and myself.

Lately, I am making it a point to treat myself well. I don’t mean lavishing myself with expensive trinkets, costly vacations, or inflating my ego; that doesn’t work for me, personally. I am learning better habits about treating my heart well, though, and studying the neuroscience of emotion, practicing nurturing behaviors, learning self-compassion…and the results are more valuable than sparkly jewels, by far.  As with meditation, there’s a verb involved and practicing requires actual practice. Having a head cold, I rather expected it would be pretty easy to treat myself well…but being human isn’t really different just because I am feeling ill, and the requirement to be aware, present, mindful, and making choices that meet my needs are over time still requires small, continuous acts of will. It is, admittedly, harder to care when I feel ill…but surely in that case it matters even more to make the effort?

We create beauty by seeing it, we create love by loving; so much of who we are is what we choose to be.

We create beauty by seeing it, we create love by loving; so much of who we are is what we choose to be.

So. Yeah. I have a head cold. I’ll try not to be cross or irritable. I’ll choose to treat myself and others well, in spite of feeling poorly. Today is a good day for choosing wisely. Today is a good day for kindness and consideration. Today is a good day to change the world.