Thursday, September 25, 2014

Following Advice

There’s a terrific blog that you should be following and reading. It’s called Zenhabits and it’s written by Leo Babauta who might be one of the smarter guys I’ve read. He’s got a clear head and a clean writing style, two things I dig, one of which I sometimes attain. He’s a guy who used to smoke, was too heavy, had a lot of debt, and was basically in trouble. The blog isn’t about him transforming himself, it’s not the story of his success. That’s good. While I can sometimes read or listen to those stories, they seem most of the time to be more about the author feeling good than providing any kind of new understanding. (Now I’m wondering if I’m writing just to feel good here. Damn.) Babauta provides service to readers in the form of compassion and good ideas. I don’t feel like he’s preaching or demanding anything. He just talks and what he talks about fits what I often need.

I’d like to be a healthier guy. That thought is probably as common as mud, but I’m not trying to be unique here so much as understand things. I’m heavy by about twenty-five pounds. I eat too fast to taste my food and eat past the point of being full. Again, not a new story. I’m pretty common in this way. I also struggle with my mood though my therapist doesn’t believe I’m depressed. I just get bummed out regularly and have the habit of keeping myself down.

It’s this last bit that I’ve been thinking about today. Everything that’s not right with me—which is to say, everything that I wish would change about me—is the result of the habit of making myself unhappy and then finding ways to stay unhappy. That’s how I’ve gotten heavy, that’s why I eat the way I do, and that’s often why I sink into troughs of sadness and anxiety.

Leo would say this more clearly, so let me try it again.

Tuesday I got way down about the job I have. I’m a teacher and there is enough stuff raining down on teachers as it is, but my school system seems staffed by specialists in sucking the life out of the job. I teach at two at-risk programs and so the kids can be difficult to reach and tolerate sometimes. Tuesday they went bananas. Rude, swearing, threatening bananas. I left work that day desperate to quit and sure that nothing could ever work in the world.

I went from there to therapy where my therapist gently tried to turn me into a better direction than my usual spiral. She talked about finding a connection with them, using some skills that I’ve used before to get control in the classroom, and finding people who would help me change the situation. I didn’t want to hear it. I closed my eyes for most of the session, rubbing thumb and index finger hard over my eyelids. Just stop, was the thought I was screaming inside my head. Let me be. I don’t want to fix this. I want to feel like I do now. I want to sit in the darkness and keep believing that there is no hope.
That’s my habit. An object at rest will remain at rest until acted on by some outside force. I don’t want to move. I want to remain in that darkness even though it’s a sad, hurt, and angry place. I’d like to say that I don’t know why, but it’s oddly comforting. Just as eating too much food too fast and getting fat is comforting. Just as sitting on a couch until midnight instead of going out for a run and then going to bed is comforting.

The solutions are so simple and obvious. Eat slowly. Eat less. Run more and sit less. And when I feel down, reach up and get help. I know these are the solutions. I just don’t follow them right now. I haven’t found the way to do the obvious things.

I wonder if any of you do the same kinds of things. If nothing else, knowing that you do would put me in good company. And it might just get us all working our way forward. Whatever the case, I’m writing on, just to see what happens.