Yesterday was a peculiar day. It was President’s Day and I had the day off. Wait. What? Why President’s Day? I don’t know.
Anyway, it provided to me some solitude due to the fact that the kids were at school and Jenn was working out of the house. I had an entire house to myself in complete quiet. YES!
It came to be, however, that the solitude I desired wasn’t what I was looking for. Allow me to explain.
On Friday I was excited about the idea of a 3 day weekend, knowing that Monday I would have an all day “me” day. I jewel given to me to do with whatever I desired. I mentally planned out my day Sunday night, daydreaming of all the cool stuff I would do: read, write, rest, meditate, practice guitar. No interest in TV or sports. And since I already exercise regularly, I wanted a break from that too. I woke up early enough to see the sun rise* in a cool, clear blue sky.
Throughout the day I did the things I set out to do. Happily. At one point, after I had come inside from being in the yard basking in the sun, the entire neighborhood’s electricity went out. Now, not only did I not have the noise of pattering feet from the kids, I did not have the noise of the fridge, the dishwasher, the air conditioner. Just complete quiet. I heard frogs in the distance, kids playing, the highway. It lasted 20 minutes or so and I soaked it all in, grateful for this opportunity.
By the time my middle daughter got home about 3:45 PM, I had only spoken a few words since they had all left in the morning: “I don’t need my receipt, but your printer is jammed.” That’s it. The rest was my own internal dialogue.
The complete details of the day aren’t that important, only the feeling I had afterwards: loneliness and depression. I meditated and found no anchor. I read and only found a few nuggets of wisdom. I played chords but no song. I could not get to the source. Was I trying too hard? Not hard enough? I’ve felt more enlightened after sitting at my desk all day.
Waking up this morning, I was cold. Not cold temperature wise, but my soul felt cold. I was depressed. I did not want to get up. The night before, my plan was to do a 4+ mile run, but I had no interest. I tossed and turned, finally awakening, dragging me and my soul to the bathroom. Maybe a run would help.
I felt like somewhere on this run I would find something. It was better than lying in being confused about what I was feeling this way.
I had already pre-loaded a Rich Roll podcast and used this as the catalyst for getting my ass out the door. Maybe Rich would have the answer.
Rich was interviewing Douglas Abrams who established his own publishing company, Idea Architects. The podcast, so far (run time of 90+ mins so I didn’t finish it) surrounds the architecture of Doug’s once in a lifetime convergence of Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama, which culminated into the writing of a book called The Book of Joy.
“Suffering, is actually, a perfect crucible or a mechanism for cultivating greater joy.” This said by RR and neither of the heavyweights who wrote the book. 😉
In the podcast, Doug mentions Edith Eger, a psychologist, but more important a survivor of Auschwitz who was made to dance in the presence of Dr. Joseph Mengele (check out her 2015 blogpost on Huffington Post). On her way to the camp, her mother told her “We don’t know where we’re going. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Just remember, no one can take away from you what you put here in your own mind.” Reading this immediately brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes when you see a truth so simply, it moves you. Blow off the dust. It’s right there.
Victim vs. Survivor. About 30 minutes ago I texted my wife. I told her that I felt like I have been trained all my life to work for someone else. The entrepreneurial spirit snuffed out by an algorithm that has an affinity for homeostasis. And like a prisoner who is finally free, but can’t make a decision on their own due to the institutionalization that they have endured, I sat seemingly powerless. Impotent.
There’s a scene at the end of the Shawshank Redemption where Red (Morgan Freeman) is bagging groceries at a grocery store shortly after he was released from the penitentiary:
Red: Rest room break, boss?
[the manager indicates for Red to come over]
Food-Way Manager: You don’t need to ask me every time you need to go take a piss. Just go. Understand?
Red: Yes, sir.
Red: [narrating] Forty years I’ve been asking permission to piss. I can’t squeeze a drop without say-so.
Victim vs. Survivor. About 15 minutes after texting my wife, I read Edith’s article (above). In it she says “The biggest concentration camp is in our mind”.
Red: [narrating] There’s a harsh truth to face. No way I’m gonna make it on the outside.
[Red stops outside a pawn shop window to look at some guns then past to a compass]
All I do any more is think of ways to break my parole, so maybe they’d send me back.
[Red is sat in his room alone]
A terrible thing to live in fear. All I want is to be back where things make sense, where I won’t have to be afraid all the time.
Big sigh. Breathe in… breathe out. Breathe IN… Breathe OUT. Repeat.
There are two ways to look at the picture below.
1) A prisoner, who was once a writer, is being locked in.
2) A person, who became a writer, being released.
Red: [narrating] I find I’m so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.
*I have seen more sun rises in 2017 than I did for the entire year last year. #5AMclub