Permission Granted

The simplest acts of kindness are far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer. – Mahatma Gandhi

I woke up Monday with a raw throat and sniffles. I’ve had a lingering cold, maybe allergies, for a while. Comes and goes. Yesterday it reappeared. When I woke up I gave myself permission to ignore my daily ritual. I typically get up and go to my coffee shop and spend the morning writing a blog post until my therapist appointment around noon. Then I go to the market, figure out what to make, and head home where I prepare my one real meal for the day and edit.

Because I felt lousy, and had errands to run, I ignored my routine. I made a real breakfast. Eggs, bacon, toast. Earl Grey tea. I don’t remember the last time I did that. And I did it without beating myself up. There was no chanting chorus including my wife, my late father, and most importantly, myself repeating, “You’ll never lose weight. You’re a fat loser.” Yay, progress.

After breakfast I drove to Georgetown. Normally I walk. I had some errands to tend and it would have taken too much time to get back to my apartment, get my car, yada yada yada.

In the car, I didn’t think, “wow, driving is so easy, I’m going to stop walking.” I wasn’t anxious that a minor change to my routine had the capacity to send me spiraling into a place I’ve been working so hard to distance myself from, trapped under a weighted blanket of listless lethargy from which I could not escape.

What has traditionally triggered anxiety in the past didn’t. The anxiety is still there but I no longer consider it an infection. Instead I accept that anxiety is part of my personality and the only thing I can change is how I deal with it. Do I fight it in hopes of vanquishing the feeling forever? Do I give in to the feeling, allowing it to overwhelm me and even paralyze me at times? Or do I acknowledge it and then choose to soldier on? Or on occasion, give in to anxiety, but as a choice. For example, it is much more pleasant for me to arrive at an airport an extra hour and a half early than not. That’s who I am and I accept it.

On Monday, I recognized that my routine is not my progress. My progress is I feel in control of my choices. I no longer take the path of least resistance. I am better at acknowledging when I make choices to satisfy other people’s perceptions, ahead of my self, which I still do, but not as often.

Compassion is not weakness. I once rationalized it as just another way to excuse my failures. Now I appreciate the liberating power of compassion. Showing my self the same love and compassion I feel for others is the key to authenticity, to connecting with those I care most about, and ultimately, to living a meaningful existence.

If breaking my Monday routine reminds me of the power of compassion, I’m all in favor.

Thanks for listening. Stay in touch.

P.S. This has nothing to do with the post. I just really like anything Wes Anderson does. Especially Rushmore. So much going on. The silence. The pauses. The awkwardness. Enjoy.

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