Thursday, June 9, 2011

Check Your Attitude

“Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.”
-William James
Everybody has an attitude. Some brandish it like a weapon ready to wage battle with those of opposing attitudes or wills. Others may have a multitude of attitudes that can be switched at will depending on the situation at hand or the population being faced… thus the saying “Check your attitude at the door.” I don’t believe “attitude” is necessarily negative or bad or destructive, as when someone might say, “Watch out for someone he/she has an attitude.” To me this quote simply refers to our outlook on life.
For me I do have to be constantly checking my attitude, examining my emotional barometer and adjusting my outlook on life. I’ve been accused of being too optimistic, happy, or positive. Quotes like, “Aren’t you the little Miss Sunshine today.” Or “God who gave him the happy pill today.” Or simply, “Cheer up already!” (with a heavy dose of sarcasm). As if I may not have a firm grip on reality, who the hell really does? Yeah I know life can suck big time, and it just plain aint not fair. Life and those who live it can delight in kicking ya when you are down and know just… where … to … place that kick to wreak the most havoc. I’ve had to haul my ass out of the deepest pit of depression one claw at a time. I’ve survived suicide, and found that drugs don’t take the pain away just deaden the nerves. It aint pretty and I don’t deserve any awards or praise. We all have to face our demons and must do it in our own way.
But I can not afford to slip down that slippery slope again, it is much, much too easy to start with a pity party and end up alone at the bottom of a deep dark pit. I have to FACE the obstacles and all the chit life throws my way. The other day my love and I went for a walk, I had set the lock on the door but was still looking for my key when I stepped out to look at something she had pointed out. Before I knew it the door was shut with my only keys indoors. I know… where’s the spare key dummy. I knew my wife would panic if she knew the situation, there was a time this would have sent me in a tailspin of anger, frustration, rage, and then escape. But I can not afford to harbor such an attitude now. I knew that our neighbor sharing the other duplex might be able to let us into her side and there was a solution. Rather than mention the dilemma we simply continued on our walk, stayed out an about until I was fairly certain our neighbor was home and headed back.  All was well, crisis averted, and we managed a wonderful evening out and about town. The altering influence was my attitude.
So how often do you have to “check your attitude? How often do you judge others according to their attitude. I wish you a most excellent day that will not challenge your attitude too much. Enjoy the gift of the day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Smooth Seas...

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”
-African Proverb
She awoke at 5 AM with terror in her eyes. Dawn was beginning to push the first light into the shuttered room. Panic raced her heart. Gazing around the dimly lit room her mind, still groggy from sleep, struggled to comprehend her surroundings. “Where?.... What the? … How did?... Why?” Too many questions crowded her mind and refused to solidify, surface through the muck of her utter confusion. She lay there, her breathing ragged, eyes darting everywhere desperate to recognize something. Where in the hell was she? Why couldn’t she remember how she got there? Sitting up on her elbows she turned to look at the man sleeping next to her. He stirred, turned to look at her and smiled. “Good morning my love.”
What is it that draws me out from a deep sleep on mornings like this when my love is fighting through her panic attacks? Can I somehow sense her panic? Feel the fear radiating from every pore of her body? This is the toll to be paid for the awesome time we often have when travelling to visit family and friends. During this particular trip we had such an awesome time the day before, visiting her sister, leisurely strolling through the King Tut Exhibit, imagining ourselves back in time with the Egyptian pharaohs, sipping cold drinks while the city sweltered around us.  I dread going to bed in a strange room, waiting for the mixed results after sleep has reset her brain. What will this damn disease erase, how will it reconfigure her memories? Then there is the dread, will she even remember me in the morning?
The day before on this particular trip, when she awoke, all was fine, there was no blank, terrified stare and the child-like frightened voice that kept whispering… ”Where AM I? Why don’t I remember how we got here?” It is always a crap shoot what the morning will bring when we travel. Oh dear sweet Creator I know that these trials and heartbreaks are part of life and will make me a stronger person but how many times can I repair this vessel? I am bailing as fast as these little ol arms can. A few storms will build my skills but how many hurricanes must I endure?
But then I chastise myself, “Quit your whining you wimp! Do you think you are the only one sailing on these seas? Grab the tiller, hoist that sail, full steam ahead. You’ve still got a passenger and your all she’s got… and visa versa.” So I swallow my own terror, frustration, and grief… paste on a smile and begin to slowly draw my beloved out of the dark pit of despair that often accompanies her confusion. Once it took me four hours to calm her when we were staying at our daughter’s house. I just have to remind myself it is worth it so she can be with those relatives and friends who can still elicit such joy and trigger deep rooted, fond memories. To hear her laugh, see her beam, sit back and listen to fragments of conversation that remind me of my beloved that I fell in love with those many years ago. Those are the smooth seas, the calm before the storm where I can rest and rejuvenate, readying for the next patch of rough seas ahead.
Wishing you smooth sailing this day and the skills and company to get you safely through those rough patches of water. Sail on!