I like to think I’m not a slouch in the bakeshop. That is, after nearly a decade, I should certainly hope I’m not. Between confidence in my skills, good time management, preparation, and prioritization I’m considerably faster at various tasks than the people I train.
All those things come with experience, but the one thing that I’ve had to learn and am still learning is that I can go faster if I slow down first.
I’ve been walking a good chunk of the afternoon. I walked down from my home on Mount Tabor a nearly-straight shot on a blessedly warm March afternoon because I was a man on a mission. Only part of it was to get a good walk in on a sunny day and absorb as much vitamin D as possible. Another solid chunk was to go out among the populace on St. Patricks Day and find some friendly souls to get blitzed with.
Truth be told though, I walked over fifty blocks downhill in the sun through suburbs, commercial districts, industrial zones, and homeless camps alike because I wanted to try some friggin whiskey.
I did, it was delicious, and I have some thoughts about alcohol.
“You cannot change how your story started, you can always change how your story ends.”
For plenty of people, those are wonderful and hopeful words of wisdom. It is hard, and we often need help to do it, but it is possible to rise above our pasts towards a future we want. That is an empowering, terrifying, and beautiful thing. A hallmark of our intelligence as sentiment creatures is the ability to internalize what we’ve experienced and use it to make decisions in the future.
This can be both a blessing and curse. We learn from traumatic experiences as well, and healing from that is as much a (re)learning process as a spiritual/emotional practice. When things happen that really and truly shake you to your core, you can’t always just dust yourself off and go again. If you think you can, I congratulate you on your compartmentalization and/or sociopathy.
The truth is that, even if you think you’ve recovered from a difficult experience, there is no returning to the person you were before. It’s a “what is known cannot be unknown” sort of thing. Before, you didn’t know you could be hurt like that. You didn’t know you could fail that hard. You didn’t know whatever it was could hurt so much. It’s the price we pay for being thinking, feeling, loving creatures- but it’s a price we never consciously think we must pay until it happens.
When it does, we learn. We learn to wake up the next morning and keep trying. We recover, we hope, and we carry on. We also need to mourn the people that we were- because that is never coming back, and it’s something I’ve been wrestling with a lot recently.
If you want to know how strong a person is, see how they handle feeling weak.
Last week was a long and miserable one, not least because when I woke up on Monday morning it felt like the color had drained from the world. Nothing tasted good, I had no energy or will to do anything, but all the guilt of doing nothing. As I dragged myself around the house in the early morning, half-coasted my bike to the shop and turned on the ovens, I knew that I was in a depressive episode.
I reached out to others- not for help, or even for pity, but connection. Lots of people responded, and I was grateful for that- but not everyone knows why or how to be helpful in those situations.
How do you help someone manage depression? You just be there.
It’s another of the best worst bits of advice you can give someone. It means well, it’s true, but it’s also false and ignoring it can lead to ruination, pain, and injury.
”There are no limits.” ”The only limit to what you can do is what you put on yourself.”
You see them all the time on motivational posts and calendars- and the annoying thing is that it’s true! In a lot of cases, the only thing holding us back from what we want most is just a couple decisions that we make for ourselves, with no gatekeepersother than ourselves. As soon as you realize that, you are a monumental step closer to living the kind of life you want.
In some cases, though, pretending there are no limits to what you can do can lead to serious, painful problems. Let’s be real here: winners quit all the time, and successful people know when to take (and give!) “No” as an answer. They know their limits. They may test them, even stretch them, but they respect them- because they know that failing to do so can lead to self-destruction.