Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses

Never quite got around to organizing my thoughts into a post yesterday. I'm trying not to feel guilty about that. Missing a day so soon in the post-every-day thing. I'm trying to remind myself that it isn't important, I haven't lost my class standing or grade point average, didn't miss my chance for promotion or a some great new job, nor will anyone whose respect matters care (or likely even notice) that I missed a day. And certainly life happens to the most dedicated of us.

Somehow I feel as though I am obligated to some higher standard. That if my dedication to my craft were legitimate, I would be more wholly committed. That Real Men step up to the plate no matter what the distraction. Pain, chronic disease, constant fatigue, snuggling in bed with a surly teen to laugh together over a movie, all be damned in adherence to the stated goal.

Yet, isn't that belief what got me into this condition in the first place? Wasn't I taught that giving my all, my very life itself, to an ideal was the definition of commitment? That God despised the lukewarm and committed-when-it's-convenient and would spit the apathetic out of his mouth? (Although I now believe that interpretation is not at all what that verse in Revelation is taking about and, besides, do we really want to hang out in the mouth of God? What a crazy metaphor.)

Once I left fundamentalist sold-out-to-Jesus Christianity, it was easy to transfer that all-or-nothing pattern of living to my new ideals. After all, even outside religion, I heard from many bosses that I'd never get ahead in business if I didn't cancel my plans at their whim. That it's the first one in and last one out that snags the commendations and rewards. Workaholism is a national addiction.

Work hard, play harder. Just do it. Give your all to God. Religious and secular culture both conspire to guilt trip a martyrdom for the goal--regardless of the goal. The expenditure of your vital force is more important than evaluating the worth of the cause. Because if we stopped to give any really critical thought to it, most of the causes to which we sacrifice our all are merely flag- or bible-covered dollar-grubbing ventures. And even the ones that aren't, are they worth the loss of health, relationships, community that comes from giving a 110% to an ideal?

I'm so tired, literally physically exhausted, of all the ways I get shamed and blamed for letting some work slide in favor of fostering relationship--whether the relationship is with family, friends, or my own Higher Self. I get bullied on Facebook for not reposting some ideological meme, harassed by my family for not making dinner, guilted by my healers into "seeing how this disease serves you". The very last thing I need is more pressure from myself to conform to some external standard--feeling guilty for not posting one day--I am my own harshest disciplinarian.

I am sure that if the voice in my head that berates me for every missed mark, so many sins, each less than exemplary action, could be silenced (or at least limited to actually worthy standards), the multitude of external voices would be much easier ignored.

That is just the trick, though, isn't it? Silencing that inner chatter, the white noise, the monkey mind? Be still, says the Psalmist, and know. Know that I AM. With all due respect to Stephen King, It isn't a matter of "get busy living or get busy dying". It is a matter of breathing. Noticing the breath, what allows the breath to flow easier and what causes it to catch and stick in the chest.

Breathing. Just breathing is a good thing. Be still. And breathe.


  1. We're definitely pressured into being perfect in our culture- if you're a woman, you're children need to be perfect, you should work (perfectly mind you, always focused on the job), until you get home make the perfect dinner and then be the perfect mom and partner. And the guilt that ensues...yikes!

    I understand the whole leaving fundamentalism thing. I'm an atheist now and feel more comfortable in that skin than I ever have. Nice to meet you! Cheers!

  2. Hi, Danette, thanks for stopping by. The DoMoreBetter guilt gets everyone, no matter what your tradition. But I'm determined to break its vice grip on my psyche. It may be the work of a lifetime.