Monday, April 22, 2013

Infinite brain candy.

So Mondays right? Blech. Who's tired? This one, right here, for sure.

If you're at all like me (and you know you are; don't be frightened), some days suck more than others. You know the days I'm talking about. The ones where you want to curl up like a snail in your shell, shriveling oozily into warm dreams of rotting fruit (that's what snails eat), and hoping that if your fragile, snoozy carapace is crushed by busy life as it trundles over you, at least you'll dream right through it.

That's Mondays for some, I'm guessing.

Life's hard when you're recovering. When you struggle to cope with disease, addiction, trauma, loss and pain, your insides can feel like they're cracking open, all the time, everywhere. The base of your skull can throb like a pulsar. Your trapezius muscles can seem as if they're strangling you to death. And when this break, the brokenness inside you, bleeds out like this, it can take every ounce of will and courage just to breathe spasmodically yet consistently through the shuddering breach.

And you're supposed be someplace at 9 a.m.? With a suit on? And with prepared thoughts, about things no less, things irrelevant to anything seemingly consequent, such as "Where the hockey-puck is my Prozac?" and "Why the fudge-ripple-in-a-can must I jog down the block just to smoke?"

On days like this I cling with desperation to the wisdom of "Infinity." And no this is not some new yogi mantra... though it may already be an old one. This thought-provoking painting by Jerod Kytah is a good illustration:

Infinity, watercolor, by Jerod Kytah
I like this painting because it literally shows what is meant by "the wisdom of infinity" (I like to imagine this echoing in the voice of James Earl Jones). In each of us there is a part in the shadow and a part in the light. One part hurts, really bad. And another is okay, knowing everything will be all right.

Living successfully in recovery requires cycling through these parts. Like walking. One minute you're on your left foot. Next you're on your right. You don't get very far hopping along on one foot only. If you try, you could get numb-footed, half-atrophied and, eventually, bloody-nosed.

The same goes with life. You can't thrive only in the part that's "okay," tight-fistedly rejecting any hint of the more shadowy part (or, at best, assuming the shadowier part can fix itself just fine without any uncomfortable assistance from you). Nor can you thrive only in the dark. Perpetual, purgative catharsis is no good (believe me, I've tried). Just give pulling on flowers a whirl. No matter how well-intentioned your yanking, it aint going to make them bloom.

This is where brain candy comes in (mmm yum for serotonin). We have to wash our faces, do our jobs and meet the world with some semblance of self-sustainability. There's no getting around it, unless we are blessed with a complete, financial support system. On days when our spines crack with grief and woe, our shadowier sides have hard times of this. They need help -- help that does not come in the form of self-harm (a.k.a., insert your addiction of choice here). And what better help is there I ask you than web memes that make you smile?

Buzzfeed has this good one, but it's old. So queue this adorable article I StumbledUpon this morning, listing children's definitions of love. The last is my favorite:

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. 

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. 

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. 

When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, 

"Nothing, I just helped him cry."

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