March 28, 2008

“Everything Put Together Sooner or Later Falls Apart” – Paul Simon

Posted in Inspiration tagged at 12:51 am by otherdeb

Are you familiar with this song? In it, Mr. Simon comments at length about how life tends to be a series of things falling to pieces and that you should “spare your heart.” For years I lived that song – trying to protect myself from the hurt I imagined was just down the road waiting to pounce.

I’ve noticed that things have changed lately; this process that has taken time and effort but has been worth every step. I credit this change to many influences: Albert Ellis and his theories on Rational Emotive Behavior; Sri Swami Satchidananda and his calmness (and bad puns); Natalie Goldberg, Kathleen Adams, Tristine Rainer, and their books on writing and journal-keeping; and the many friends who have listened to me work things out over the years.

One lesson in particular stands out: learning to walk with an open hand…that is, learning to accept what comes into my life and to let go of what is no longer needed. Admittedly, this is not always an easy thing to remember; like everyone else, when things go pear-shaped I – like most of us – tend to beat myself up over it. That, however, does not do anything but take time and energy that could be better used in figuring out how to pick up the pieces and rebuild. (If you want to add a few great tools to your work box, I suggest reading the following two books as a start: A Guide to Rational Living, by Albert Ellis and Robert A. Harper, and Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. Dr. Ellis has created a list showing how people turn molehills into mountains, and has some wonderful ideas on how to avoid doing that [and how to reverse the process]; Ms. Goldberg has many ideas on how to be kind to yourself.)

When I drop the ball – and believe me, I do it more often than I am happy about – I have found that what works for me is to:

  1. Acknowledge that I have done so.

  2. Try not to beat myself up over it. I make an effort to remind myself that I would not be human if I didn’t mess up on occasion.

  3. Look to see what I can do to start moving forward again, and what I can do to make better choices in the future.

  4. Be realistic. Some of the situations I’ve gotten into cannot be resolved quickly. Setting realistic goals to accomplish resolution means that I will be much less likely to become overwhelmed and drop the ball again in the future.

Above all, I remind myself that having the chance to rebuild things, from where I stand now, increases the likelihood that I will rebuild them in a stronger, sturdier manner.




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