Wednesday, January 22, 2014

True and True

Having just put down a beloved cat, I am struggling now with facts and feelings.  Toony was physically healthy but, for some reason, every so often, he went psycho and would attack me.  Though we ran many tests, neither I nor my vet could figure out why.  I struggled for a year and then accepted that I had to put Toony down.  Many kind friends have reassured me that I did the right thing and I'm grateful for their intentions, but the truth is I know that.  It's simply a fact.  Knowing the fact does not alleviate the sorrow.  I loved my cat and I am responsible for his death.  A contradictory experience abides in me.

Learning to live with conflicting truths is one of life's not-so-easy tasks.  Black and white do not always meld.  Often they remain black and white and live side by side.  You love your mate and s/he annoys the hell out of you.  You want to be close to your friends and you want distance.  You don't like your job and you like your salary.  You hate fighting and you believe in telling the truth.  You love your parent and his/her death will be a relief.  You long for adventure and home is very dear to you.  Notice I didn't use the conjunction "but" I used "and."  "But" might imply weight on one side or the other, whereas "and" indicates that both sides of the conflict are true.  A lot of time can be spent swinging between two things that are both true for you.  As if by trying really hard you can eliminate conflict.  Often true but not always.  Another choice is to accept living with contradictory truths.  Accept is the key word, a word, by the way, that helps eliminate guilt. I love my cat and I  killed him. So there you are.  The person who first said, "Life is messy," was ever so wise.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Monday morning, gray skies and 5 degrees here in Cleveland.  Great day for staying under the covers and toying with the idea of calling in sick.  A fleeting thought because duty and necessity and even passion call.  Routine takes over, you're up, dressed, fed and on with your day.

But what if you stay under the covers?  For whatever reason, health or depression, or someone else is paying your bills ( thank you mom and dad) you do not have to follow a routine.  You have no agenda.  "A dream come true," you might say as you scrape ice off your windshield.  And for some people who own their own time, it really is.  They are able to fill their lives with meaningful activity, whatever it might be.  They are not drifting.  Drifting is overdosing on free time.  It is answering the siren call of escape.  And escape, unless you are a very hard drifter, is followed, if only momentarily, by the awful face to face with real life (your other, better self) and the dive back under the covers.

To get out of drifting one must, and who doesn't know this, get off the drug, whatever it is that is used for escape: Facebook, video games, sleep, alcohol, hard drugs, sex.  I'm not inclined to write about the "how to." There is a lot written and it's easy to find if you are so inclined.  But I will make one suggestion that can be a powerful motivator. Think back to a time in your life when you liked yourself.  When you had success, big or small, when you got up every morning, followed a routine, had a place to go, work to do, people in your life that admired and liked you. That self is not lost to you, it is only inactive.  Any day of the week, even on a cold Monday, you can choose to activate it, use your old talents, call up the self-discipline you once had, get a grip, get out of bed.  There is no free lunch and there is no free time.  It gets filled up with something.

To read more about how routine can serve your life see  "Dear Routine" in Lies, p. 22.