Stop! Sucking! Day 3: Pressing the reset switch

Before I go forward, let me take the briefest (I hope) of steps backwards.

A few days ago, when my feelings of self-suckery had reached their apex (or nadir, depending on how you look at it), I stumbled on a shaft of enlightenment from my friend, Gretchen Rubin, regarding change and what's necessary to effect it.

She was talking about her own personal bugaboo, taming her sharp tongue. I'm familiar with the implement; had a pocket-sized one of my own for many years, honed to a razor's edge in a household where wit was your only defense, and not much of one against some much, much more skilled wielders. In fact, one of the greatest things my ex-husband, The Chief Atheist, did for me was to make me see that tongue again and again: "that Tone," as he called it, or "the mean voice," in the words of Gretchen's daughter.

Anyway, the entire post is excellent, but it was the title that really grabbed me:

"Resolutions for how to be happy have to be made over and over. Alas."

"Alas," indeed. Part of what is so irksome about change is that it's not finite, but a process, and pretty much one where you not only loop around to see your same-old same-old at another altitude, or even slide back a few feet down a slippery patch, but where you can find yourself teleported back to your original suckitude instantaneously, as if you accidentally stepped into a wormhole that's missing its big, iron, wormhole cover. Thanks, cartoon construction worker gods, for that little prank; thanks a lot.

So while yesterday's Rush Hour Crosstown Driving Meditation did me a world of good yesterday, this morning I woke up right back where I was two days ago, cumulative change be damned.

Of course, now that I've turned my attention on Stopping Sucking, I'm able to halt the slide before it gets too far. And I could feel the tug a few minutes into sitting down at the computer. I've developed staggeringly trenchant habits of unawareness and inattention here, I practically go into coma mode when I hear the chime of the G5 starting up. It's like sweet, sweet heroin flowing into my veins or, to use an actual example from my actual life and not a Hubert Selby novel, like when I had the nicotine monkey on my back. Back then, just walking past Chock Full O' Nuts or inserting the key in the ignition could trigger an itch for a smoke.

Unfortunately, while I was fine giving up coffee and even driving for a while (Chicago has a wonderful public transit system), my life now demands that I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. That I quickly reach the point of diminishing returns, productivity-wise, usually means I just have to push myself to work later and longer.

Today, I knew it was time for that thing all workaholics dread: a period of enforced relaxation. Two hours of extracurricular reading or a three-mile walk will usually do the trick, but I was feeling too agitated to read and it was too hot out to walk. So I slipped on some headphones, stretched out on the floor, and put on a guided meditation audio*. I have some experience with this, from last year's Hypnotherapy Project, but I still resist anything like slowing down with all my might.

This particular guided meditation is the first in the series: stillness. Because for anyone needing a guided meditation, stillness is pretty much the first step. And damned if that shit didn't do the trick. 25-odd minutes later (and I do mean odd, what with the birds chirping and my thoughts drifting by them like clouds), I felt calm and refreshed and...not so speed-a-licious.

According to buddhist nun (and great sport) Pema Chodron, speeding up is the preferred Western mode of laziness, just as lounging about on rugs with tea and yakking the day away is the preferred Eastern way. Either way...

Whether we flop or rush, and wherever on the globe we happen to be, the comfort-orientation brand of laziness is characterized by a profound ignoring. We look for oblivion: a life that doesn't hurt, a refuge from difficulty or self-doubt or edginess. We want a break from being ourselves, a break from the life that happens to be ours. So through laziness we look for spaciousness and relief; but finding what we seek is like drinking salt water, because our thirst for comfort and ease is never satisfied.

I am tired of being thirsty. I am ready to feel refreshed. For now.

Tomorrow, I'm sure, will bring its own sucky challenges, its own torpor, its own pull toward the familiar. But there are tools to change tomorrow, just as there are tools to change this very minute.

It starts...with stopping.

xxx c

*Full disclosure: the guided meditation I used was from my friend Adam Kayce's Inner Peace Audio series, and I got my review copy free. If you're interested in checking it out, you can buy your own copy here. I've only listened to the one so far, but I liked it enough to recommend it, and for no other reason than I really do like it: those aren't affiliate links. Besides, if for some crazy reason you're not digging on it, he'll totally give you all your money back. And, I think, some extra. Because...he's nuts? Or because it's really good. I'm guessing the latter.

Image by iamilk via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.