Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Petit à Petit

Attention, application, accuracy, method, punctuality, and dispatch are the principal qualities required for the efficient conduct of business of any sort… They are little things, it is true; but human life is made up of comparative trifles. It is the repetition of little acts which constitutes not only the sum of human character, but which determines the character of nations. And where men or nations have broken down, it will almost invariably be found that neglect of little things was the rock on which they split...Fifteen minutes a day devoted to self-improvement, will be felt at the end of the year.

-Samuel Smiles

I think Samuel and I would have been friends, were he around today (I actually have no idea who he is or whether he's still alive or not). I've always taken great comfort in the concept of taking things day by day, hour by hour, etc., and in the value that can come from the little things we do to fill up those moments. And yeah, I know that physically speaking we have no choice but to live life one moment at a time, but I'm talking about the mental attitude here, people.

I'm almost positive that my inclination to this attitude is something I've picked up from a few years of needing to cope. Where my fellow depressives at?! Can you all back me up when I assert that when you are depressed, you MUST live this way? There is no other way, you'll surely go crazy if you attempt to consider anything beyond now. Exhibit A from my journal a few months ago:

As cliche as it is, I continue to take the most comfort in subdividing my day into single moments that I must get through - taking it one day (or moment) at a time. Right now, I am focusing on getting through my next class. And then I will focus on getting through the hour between that class and my next class. And so forth. And even though it's easy to look ahead and feel overwhelmed at all the thousands and thousands of moments there are to get through, it is sometimes enough to take it just that gradually. It's not only enough; it's sometimes the only way I can fathom doing any of this.

I always thought Michael Cunningham expressed it perfectly in The Hours:

But there are the hours, aren’t there? One and then another, and you get through that one and then, my god, there’s another. I’m so sick.

So that's where it comes from. Even now, though, when things are better and I am functioning normally, I find that I need to have specific plans to pass my days. No, not only that, but I must have tangible items to cross off my to-do list every day or else I will feel like crap. And since I also tend to be very quickly overwhelmed, sometimes my to-do list consists of things like “shower” “take meds” “feed Mo” and “go to bed early”. It works for me. So be it. And when I'm feeling especially stable I try to do as many worthwhile, self-improving things as I can. I figure as long as I do something, or a combination of things, every day, that improve me in some way, then I am doing ok. Great things happen over time anyway, right? It has to be that our day-to-day to-do lists are micro and unimpressive. This is what I say to reassure myself. This is why I think Samuel and I would have been friends.

And meanwhile, I continue to strive to inhabit each of these moments, and to love each one, knowing that they are all mine, and all I really have. The Hours again:

I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn't the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

They say that money can't buy happiness. But money can buy ice cream, and I'm not ready to live in a world where there's a difference.

Thanks for your prayers, folks. I ran, I conquered, and I certainly couldn't have done it without my fabulous fan club. It was great to see you, parents! Cheering loved ones along the course really makes all the difference. But holy cow, that hurt. I am having serious doubts as to the value of this masochistic habit I'm developing.

Finals are over, mazel tov! I love mint oreos! Boys still make me sad! But, T-minus one week until Carol and myself hit the high seas for our super happy fun rad Mexican cruise! Man, I didn't realize it until Jack brought it up, but things really do even out.

Here's some wise words from our pal Rainer Maria Rilke:

People have (with the help of conventions) oriented all their solutions toward the easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must hold to that which is difficult; everything alive holds to it…we know little, but that we must hold to what is difficult is a certainty that will not forsake us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm scared.

Not to be a whiner, but seriously, what cruel demon of fate decided that in anticipation of the marathon that is taking place FLIPPING TOMORROW, I should experience some random lower back pain, ankle soreness, and hip flexor angry-ness out of nowhere?! Sorry for the convoluted sentence, but do you understand why this outrages me and simultaneously makes me fear for my life? I've never had back pain before. My hips are usually fine. I haven't even run very much this last week because I've been trying to let it heal. No dice.

What I'm really trying to say here, folks, is that I need your prayers. They say that the second marathon is easier, but then, I didn't have any bodily aches or pains going INTO that one, now, did I. Plus I was physically ready because I'd actually been training that week.

I'm scared.

And by the way, I went biking this week for the first time in...well I just did, and how come no one ever told me that it's way more fun and easier than running? What have I been doing?!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So tired.