“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.” —Elizabeth Gilbert
There are times when we find ourselves looking at our lives from the outside through a kind of bizarre-fitted bubble. I think everybody goes through it at least once, probably more as years pass.
The first time I remember feeling it was 10 years ago, when my dad passed away. Most of that time is now a hazy blur, but I distinctly remember riding to the funeral home, watching people cross the street while I was sitting at a stop sign. They were smiling.
I know…the nerve, right? My dad had died when the sun came up that very morning and those people were oblivious.
Of course they were. I know that now and hold no hard feelings against the percentage of the random public who didn’t take my pain to heart. I was inside of my bubble. Things get a little distorted in there.
As much as our family was there for each other, a lot of energy was spent on individual suffering. No one could have shaken me out of the miserable feeling that day. It feels good to slosh around in the sting for awhile. It’s necessary for sure, but comforting too, in its own pitiful way.
Looking back, I can see why I got passed it. I sat still for a while and didn’t beat myself up for it. I did eat too many cookies, hence the term “comfort food.” That’s just the way after a death—people like to deliver plates of comfort.
That bubble fit me nicely but eventually it popped, and I merged back in with the general population.
There’s a lot of talk about authentic living in the past few years. Authentic relationships, authentic living, authentic intentions. On one hand we’re supposed to take time to focus on ourselves because we’re worth it (possible bubble). On the other, we’re supposed to focus on others to gain perspective (sans bubble).
The best plain English word I can come up with is balance. Living in a bubble is great. It’s a pleasant, all be-it, false, sense of untouchability. I’m over here, you’re over there. It’s all good. Until it’s not and it turns out to be the opposite of balanced. Unless someone is incurably self-absorbed, that’s not authentic.
I get this concept. It’s so simple. (As simple as Jennifer Aniston’s nutrition advice. “Stop eating ***t.” You can fill in the asterisks.) It’s a common sense knock up side of the head.
Climb on in to your personal bubble if you need to. It allows for personal time, saying “no” or “why not” depending on the situation, and taking just enough time to fix at least one inside thing before attempting to fix every single outside thing.
Maybe we are making this too hard. I’m raising two kids past age 5 and attempt to establish some denominator rules for them.
Sit still once in awhile. Don’t hit. Have one cookie—not 20. These are good enough for kindergarten, couldn’t they cover authenticity, too?
(Happy Father’s Day to my dad, the king of common sense.)