This morning I woke up with pain. Some sort of weirdness yesterday afternoon with a nasty cramp in my right calf, after a long Solstice walk in the forest, that lingers this morning as unexpected pain associated with some specific movements. It hurts in the background as a dull ache until I do something ‘just the wrong way’ and it reminds me with a moment of acute agony that it doesn’t plan to be so easily dismissed.  Still, I woke in a good mood and I was pleased to find that walking on a flat surface is one of the more comfortable things I can be doing – which made making coffee this morning relatively easy and not particularly painful. So…good mood…good coffee… time for a good morning. Right? Oh. Wait – there’s more!

I had an irksome moment with technology this morning when I sat down with my laptop (note to self – please, PLEASE, do take time to meditate every day before anything else, it does make that much difference!). My mouse wasn’t working. I did the troubleshooting, rebooted the laptop, still no mouse. I replaced the mouse battery, no mouse. Rebooted again – finally, I have a living mouse. But… for some reason using it ‘feels weird’. Sluggish. Like the buttons are not as responsive. I become aggravated, I fight it. I struggle to set aside my frustration – and the background irritability that stems from a loving partner pointing out just last night that I’m due for a better mouse – one that doesn’t shine a laser in his eyes every time I thoughtlessly lift the mouse while pointed in his general direction. At that moment, I was really liking my mouse – it’s a pretty one. Right now I’m just frustrated with it and wanting to smash things… but the wanting to smash things is not solely the fault of the mouse. There’s more.

I use online services. Many people do, these days. Some services require strict authentication and identity verification – like banks – and while I value that they do, and appreciate the good security, I also find that during the holiday season, it can be a huge irritating bit of inconvenient bullshit. Yep. Total bullshit. I managed to ‘lock up’ an account on such a service by starting and then canceling a transaction. Yep. I just wanted to see if there would be a fee – and the fee structure is not easily available to view, making it easier to start the transaction, get to that point to see if there is a fee (and what it is) and then cancel the transaction if it is not worth paying that fee… generally not an issue. Today, it locked up my account and generated a dismally polite email advising me that ‘all’ I have to do is re-verify ‘a few’ ‘simple’ account details – by snail mail.  I call this ‘a service I am unlikely to use again’. The amount of frustration generated, and the resulting emotional volatility and rage are actually just not worth dealing with at all. My immediate reaction is ‘I won’t use this service anymore’. My strategy for getting my morning back on track is ‘take a few deep breaths and meditate’.

I am easily frustrated by dealing with banking, with frustration, with technology failures, with deviations from simple routines – they hit me hard, and momentarily disable me with a sudden increase in emotional volatility and a sudden loss of cognitive skill (or a perception of it). I very much doubt that online businesses, or application developers, spend much time thinking about how changes to their products affect the small number of people who do have challenges with brain injuries or cognitive challenges. Something as simple as changing the authentication process can be frustrating for anyone, but for me that bit of frustration can set off an avalanche of anger, confusion, and emotion that turn the simplest task into something almost unachievable in seconds. It sucks.

I’ll take a pleasant moment for gratitude – it is surprisingly comforting to remember how much worse an experience like this used to feel when I didn’t know why I reacted the way I did, or why it seemed so much more challenging for me than it seemed for ‘other people’. I’m grateful that I found out about my brain injury.  It’s easier now – at least, it is easier to ‘find my way home’ to a place of balance and calm, again. More like a storm, less like climate change. 🙂

It’s actually a pretty good morning, now that the irksome bit is behind me. My coffee is cold, and my leg hurts, but… it’s only pain and cold coffee. Nothing to cry about. Certainly no need to smash things over it. Wow. What a difference mindfulness makes! Yep, still human – but I am human; I use tools.

This guy is mindful, and living in his moment.

This guy is mindful, and living in his moment.