This morning I woke contented and relaxed at a very ordinary 5:00 am. An hour later, sipping my coffee, innocently enjoying a lovely quiet moment, I recall that my visiting friend leaves today, and feel the excitement of my traveling partner having returned…and realize I have a job interview this afternoon, too… oh, and the housekeeping needs some attention… and I need to do laundry… crap! I haven’t yet checked the weather! Is it going to be very hot today? It didn’t take long for my sweet moment of contentment to expire, and for anxiety and tension to wash over me.

One new day, approximately infinite possibilities.

One new day, approximately infinite possibilities.

Initially, I blamed my sudden tension on the irritating sound of a freight train idling on the track, not too far away (near enough to be annoying). It wasn’t honestly that at all. I had drifted from now into the future – a place where anything can happen – because nothing has happened there yet.

I breathe. Relax. I inhale deeply, feeling my chest tighten as it expands. I exhale fully, feeling my body relax, my shoulders ease themselves back down where they belong. I am okay right now. There is literally nothing wrong (right here, right now, in my own experience). It wasn’t even a bunch of scary details that got me, which frustrates me some; it was all utterly commonplace, and pleasant or neutral in emotional content.

My visit with my dear friend has been lovely. It’s time for him to return home, to his life, his family; he misses his love, and his children. There’s nothing about that which is either noteworthy or stressful for me. My traveling partner’s safe return home is a matter of pure joy and great delight; I’ll see him soon, before he departs again, for new adventures elsewhere. The job interview? Okay, there’s some small amount of natural (healthy?) stress to that; it’s time to get back to work, and it matters to me to do my best. Still, hardly the sort of thing that should be permitted to blow the morning.

I wonder if I could get through life without using the word “should”? I smile to myself, aware that as words go, “should” has far too much power over my experience. “Should” is a word that signals an assumption, or an expectation, potentially one that defies reality entirely – and still guides my thinking or behavior. Powerful – and generally not in positive way. “Should” holds me back, keeps me down, causes me to keep doing something that doesn’t work at all, prevents me from walking away from bad situations… I’m trying to think of a situation in which “should” has served me well, in some positive way… I struggle to do so. “Should” is often the word I turn to specifically when life is not cooperating with my thinking. (I wrote more about this, but it got twisty and confusing. Perhaps another time. I don’t like “should”.)

The cool morning has my attention once again. Birdsong, the sounds of traffic nearby; it’s a noisy morning. Tuesday? The community landscapers will be working, so I try to appreciate what quiet there is now; it’ll be noisier later on.

Strange morning. I feel a little sad to say good-bye to my dear friend – and eager to have my routine back.  I feel eager and joyful to welcome my traveling partner home – and a little “pressed for time” knowing he will leave again fairly soon. I feel hopeful and self-assured about the interview this afternoon – and a little anxious about the outcome, in spite of myself. The complex back and forth of my emotions will benefit from more time meditating, today, and taking especially good care of myself.

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One day of many. The plan is not the experience. The map is not the world. Today is a good day for moments, for kindness – and for changing how often I use the word “should”. 🙂