One of my struggles has always been the evening appointment. I remember when I was a waitress and worked evenings, it was hard for me to be productive and enjoy the day because I had this thing to do later, the dark mass of a storm cloud slowly creeping in from a near distance.
Now, it’s my meetings: local government stuff or church stuff. When I’ve got that thing coming up at the end of my day, I struggle to have momentum in my daytime tasks. Even when I have joyful plans with friends, it holds that doom-ish feeling of something I have to do later.
Wednesday afternoon, I returned from a marvelous week spent in a cabin in the woods. The following day, I had two meetings. One was at 9 a.m. I attended as chairperson of the municipal authority. It wasn’t great to attend something first thing on my first day back, but it was in the park and it was a lovely morning, and it was good to get it over with.
Then the other was at 6 p.m. It was a committee meeting I attended as a town council member. That thing loomed over me all day, but I had an improved perspective that made it not so bad this time.
This new perspective came from a mindfulness I practiced on my trip.
Because something else I have always struggled with is that ticking clock of an expiring adventure. As each day passed, I felt shrinking future. That was my heart. My brain did much better math.
I was there for seven days, and no matter what moment of those seven days I was in, that seven days was still seven days. If I could only stop comparing what was ahead with what was behind and be in the present moment, there was nothing lost at all. I was merely replacing anticipations with memories as I moved forward in time.
More simply, I worked to stop focusing on the negative (the impending ending), and I just said out loud, “I’m still here.” I said it again. And again. “I’m still here.” The more I said it, the more I felt ridiculous for worrying about the end instead of enjoying the present.
Then I added one more layer of logic to soothe my premature grieving.
See, I don’t just love the road. It’s were I belong. I feel more at home in a cheap motel in North Dakota than I do in this adorable little house in Pennsylvania that I bought nine years ago.
While I was dining out fireside in a historic log lodge, I texted my bestie in California:
It’s all one big road trip. That just gets interrupted with stretches of time at a house.
With that simple statement, I irrefutably turned “ending” into “pause.”
My trip did not end. My trip was but a part of a lifelong great adventure; it was just time to pause for a little while. No harm.
It was the greatest breakthrough ever in my “ticking clock” struggles.
When I came back and had the day of meetings, I transferred this “pause philosophy” to my doom mindset of evening appointments. Therefore, rather than seeing a 6 p.m. appointment as a thing storming the end of my day, as hard stop to whatever momentum I might muster, I simply told myself that I had a full day to do whatever I was intending to do, just that there would be a pause at that time. Heck, we pause to eat and go to the bathroom, so this isn’t much different except it’s precisely scheduled.
I’m not perfect at this new practice, but I’m not bad at it and it sure did help.
Now I look elsewhere in my life to where I can apply the pause philosophy.
First thing I spot, is flare-ups of my chronic illness. The inevitable flare is a definite lurking doom, albeit unscheduled.
Those of us with inconsistent wellness live our stretches of good or great days (moped, Eurocar, and sedan to you Splatties) dreading the ending. But they don’t end. They pause. More are ahead. We don’t need to overdo and overlive like this good week is all we’ll get. Just live. There is plenty more ahead, just with pauses here and there.
We place too much finality on things that are just mileposts in a climbing and descending road. Don’t despair finishing the last pages of a great book. You’ll soon pick up another you love just as much. You’ll have another orgasmic cheeseburger. There are plenty more jigsaw puzzles. And plenty more experiences you’ve never even known.
More to Help
To dread your next flare even less: You Need a Splatquake Kit!
To help ease back after vacation: Travel Planning Necessity for People with Chronic Illnesses: The Return