Thursday, June 30, 2011

I am not everyone. And everyone is not me.


He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men, and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty, or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.
--Bessie A. Stanley.

Just the other day I had a breakdown. Between waking at 5:00 in the morning to prepare three pack meals and organize my life, then biking an hour to my 8:00 a.m. class to slosh around in wetlands and fens and retrieve soil cores, then biking an hour to my place of employment to stand on my feet and greet customers for 8 straight hours as though I was the happiest most awake person in the world, and then biking another hour back home after closing until 9:30 at night--well, it was more than enough to wear me out after a full week of that.

Of course I called my lovely cousin. We think very much alike. It's very easy for me to be put back in a positive mindset with her help. After our discussion, I realized I had been comparing myself to 'people' all week long.

So a little background. Our car broke down before this week, and my brother's bike was in the shop. Given our drastically different schedules, he needed the car. And I was happy to bike, as I had been biking pretty regularly already anyway, although I was far too out of shape to push my body as hard as I did this week. But here's what really killed me: as I grew more exhausted, I began to convince myself that I was weak if I couldn't complete class and work and life as well and as happily as before that week. I convinced myself that placing foolish demands on my body made me a stronger and better human being. Stronger and better than what?! Stronger and better than others. I was comparing myself. And when I finally did break down, to my brother I calmly said this:
I just feel so weak, because I have so much and I am sitting here crying about it. There are people in the world that can't even get a job with good pay or even a job at all. They have to feed their starving family. And they have to pay rent. And they have to walk or ride a rickety bicycle to fetch dirty, polluted drinking water. I, however, have a great job I really enjoy, have no mouth to feed but my own, am living for free in a lakeside cabin, and have a great little bicycle that gets me to class so that I may have an education. And what am I doing? Crying. I just feel like such a weak human being.

My cousin caught me red-handed when I said that to her. I was directly comparing myself to the rest of the world. I forgot that "I am not everyone. And everyone is not me." I am myself. And to act or think as anyone other than yourself is a waste of energy. I don't like wasting energy. I like being efficient. My best is my best. My body is my body. And I forgot to treat my body and my mind with respect and care. My cousin reminded me that all these wonderful things I have are tools I can use to help all those with so little in the world. It was foolish of me to think that I was any less of a person for having so much. What is foolish, however, is having luxury and not using it to leave the world a better place--not using it to leave "the world better than he found it."

So today I'm well-rested and feeling much better. I am going to remind myself when I get too tired, that sometimes it is okay to be a little late to class and to give only 90% at work. And if my peers, professors, coworkers, and employers don't understand my situation, I will have to accept that. I can only do my best from day to day.

And I close with another poem:
I find earth not gray but rosy,
Heaven not grim but fair of hue,
Do I stoop? I pluck a posy.
Do I stand and stare? All's blue.
--Robert Browning

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Thoughts--A Lovely Gift.

Tonight my 'sister' gave me a gift. It was a small booklet titled Happy Thoughts collected by Everett Thornton Brown. The first poem is a stunningly perfect representation of my day today.

It was only a glad "Good morning!"
As she passed along the way,
But it spread the morning's glory
Over the livelong day.

Today--most days for that matter--I was feeling exceptionally chipper. At my job in a very busy retail store, I was working the checkout. Each time I greeted a customer, they seemed to cheer up a bit. It is as though we humans get lost in the monotony of daily life, and to have someone genuinely recognize your existence with just a simple "Good morning!" can be quite pleasant.
Numerous times throughout the day I received some very heartwarming compliments from customers and coworkers. Happiness can be contagious. Simply be joyous, and share your joy with others. Greet people with a genuine "Good morning!" instead of a fake and lazy "Oh man am I tired!"
And if you just plain don't feel happy or joyous, try faking it for a couple minutes. Once you set a smile upon someone's face, it will inevitably bring out joy in you.

I had a great discussion with my father tonight. He quite passionately agreed with my statement "there's just no reason to be unhappy in life." At this moment in time, I believe we all have two choices: be happy, or be the opposite of happy. Make a choice and live with it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Happiness & Beauty

What is beauty anyway? I find it interesting when one rebels against what they might consider the 'status quo' among human beings--stick-thin magazine models, for example. Of course, such air-brushed beings are far from the norm. But I think some people can look at such media and find an easy release or outlet of their stress by criticizing what they irrationally claim to be a norm. Can you admit this for yourself? Have you not ever looked at your favorite actor/actress and compared yourself? If you honestly never have, then please let me know, for I am confident we could have a wonderful and lengthy discussion in which I would find great delight. Such a comparison often results in either a criticism of that person or a shoulder pat for yourself. I shall not claim that either action is good and/or bad, but I am wondering if either action could bring anyone long-term jump-up-and-down sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs happiness. I think, at this moment in time, that such comparison could never bring anyone true happiness.
Is a skinny model with smooth skin wearing the latest in fashion beautiful? Is she beauty?
If you are thinking, 'hell no,' or 'hell yes,' then I am curious what leads you to believe she is or is not beautiful.
Is a sixteen-year-old tattooed young man beautiful? Is he beauty?
If you are thinking, 'hell no,' or 'hell yes,' then I am curious what leads you to believe he is or is not beautiful.
Is an overweight peer with an occasional blemish wearing hand-me-downs from her mother beautiful? Is she beauty?
I am curious
If you are thinking, 'hell no,' or 'hell yes,' then I am curious what leads you to believe he is or is not beautiful. My answer? Well I cannot know if either of my three examples is beautiful. "Beautiful" is a tough word. I still have no definition that satisfies me. I think all people are beautiful, and all people are ugly.

Once upon a time I struggled with accepting my body. I was a very unhappy soul inside. I used to look at models in magazines; and, instead of proactively making changes to improve my health, I very inactively hated all the skinny little models in the world. To me they were all ugly, and I was beautiful because I supposedly 'loved myself for who I was.' Well that's a load of kaphlooey. I didn't really love myself for who I was at that time in my life. I only said so because it seemed easier to point fingers away from myself at the time. As it turns out, I was only making things harder.
I foolishly claimed to love myself while hating others. That brought me no happiness. I didn't want others judging my weight, so I judged others for their weight. What a silly concept.

Judgement and comparison do not bring me happiness. This I know.