Posts Tagged ‘fleeting pleasures’

You: Uncensored and Unwound

June 11, 2015

With summertime knocking at the door, it’s time for us to return to long, lazy, twilight evenings, warm breezes, and ice cold drinks. Of course, unlike Santa Barbara, not every clime is conducive to hours spent outdoors—I, for one, must go to enormous lengths to keep the mosquitos at bay—but I generally consider summer to be the time of the year when I feel most relaxed, unburdened by concerns of fighting off the cold and the dark. Such seasonal fantasies lead me to reflect on which individuals in my life make me feel most at ease, whose smile and genial presence draws out those parts of myself too often locked away.

Who brings out the most relaxed, playful version of you?

Alas, some of us have forgotten what it’s like to be at ease—we are so consumed with worries that we barely recall a time when life didn’t feel like a burden. I can sympathize. Before I began my re-booting journey, I was wound so tightly that it was a chore to be in my company–it was worse for me, I assure you. In those dark days, my happiness crumbled beneath the relentless pressure to contort myself into somebody I barely recognized. The barbed wire of ambition and craving for acceptance twisted itself around my heart and mind, constricting everything and making me hurt. In the worst of it, aside from time spent with my yellow lab, there was not a single moment where I felt at peace. How’s that for friendless?

I hope you’ve never experienced anything close to that, but my guess is that at least some of you have. Despair can pollute our veins and cloud our vision. Those who love and care about us become collateral damage when we are suffering so greatly—sometimes, those same people are the source of our concern. Being unable to fully predict what bad things might happen triggers enormous anxiety. But what I have learned time and time and time again is that the fear is far worse than the actual event. In the meantime, we’ve worked ourselves into such a frenzy that we lose perspective about everything. Any of this ring a bell?

It requires a supreme effort to summon the discipline to keep our worries in check. Being smart and creative, we can envision a variety of catastrophic scenarios. I remember how bleak everything felt in the year preceding my life turning upside down. My perspective was so out of whack and I was so panicky and confused as to what to do about it that I was no longer me. I was some other, tortured person.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case! Re-booting has shown me that a key to retaining sanity is to seek out joy, even in the darkest of dark days, no matter how small or fleeting the pleasure. Now, I relish and am grateful for time spent with people who put me at ease and make me laugh, recognizing that such moments don’t occur everyday. When trouble arrives at my doorstep, I do my utmost to manage my fear, remembering that blowing things out of proportion or tearing my hair out makes it all worse. When things get bad for you, what do you tell yourself? Would you say you do a good job at managing your stress?

But, back to my initial question, I want you to think about the person(s) you feel comfortable with and happy. Who are you looking forward to seeing again? What is it about them that makes your chest relax and your insides unwind?

Who gets to see the uncensored version of you?


If you’re anything like me, you probably relax in different ways depending on who you’re with, but what I want you to get is a clear idea about is what characteristics or ways of being make you so comfortable that you can actually close your eyes, let down your guard, and tap into that fundamental part of yourself you don’t always show. Hanging with friends is different from kicking back with family or time alone with someone special. Each of these interactions brings out a different part of ourselves—so which version of you do you like the best, that you wish you got to enjoy more often? Who makes you feel most yourself? Why? What is it, specifically, about how they are that makes you feel safe? Do you have someone like this in your life today? If not, it’s time to start looking…




A Mystical Experience

May 15, 2014

On those rare occasions when I have the house to myself, I’m like a pig in mud. Seized by an ecstasy of biblical proportions, it’s practically indecent. But, far from cavorting about the house naked or inviting teeming hordes to ragers on the deck, I am doing…nothing. Nothing at all. Haven’t even left the house. Listening to the birds sing, unruffled by any intrusion of my domain, I revel in the quietude.


Can you sympathize?


How often do you get to savor a space without anyone around to interfere? As beloved as these other people are (or are not, as the case may be), and as much as we may, overall, appreciate their camaraderie, there’s nothing quite so delightful as having the house to oneself. All my elation got me wondering what, exactly, is it that I am celebrating?


Not sure I know how to answer that.


I think, for me, at this point in my life and re-booting journey, there is little that feels within my control. There are things I have to do, but not much of it is what I want to do or in a way of my choosing. I struggle to establish an existence that feels solely mine. It reminds me of that man without a country. So, when I get to engage in the fantasy that this house is my house, living according to the whims of my own preferences, giddiness ensues. But the truth is, life with my dad isn’t so bad; I’d feel lonely were I rattling around all alone, all the time. (Virgina Woolf’s ruminations notwithstanding.)


What fleeting pleasures do you savor?


It intrigues me that certain situations can only be cherished when they’re ephemeral. Like class reunions, were we to engage on a daily basis with many of our former classmates—absent those cherished few who will forever have a place in our hearts–the magic rapidly fades. Why is it that only a few, treasured people or experiences are able to captivate us over the long term? That despite the years and miles between us, they remain under our skin, bring a smile to our faces, and remind us that we have been known, have been seen, have been cherished? Are my pleasures real or have I made them up, illusions to keep me company? But, that’s just me.


So, I sit on my deck, soaking in the silence, comforted by the knowledge that my solitariness has an end date. In a few days, I will rejoin the company of others. I suppose that’s where the expression, “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there,” enters the conversation. Even I, someone who lingers so much on the edges of life, want to be known. I just really, really like it when I can know others in time-limited spurts.


Reconciling our private self with the public is more elusive than many realize. More often, as mature adults, we’re torn between the responsibilities we’ve assumed and that private, demanding, insistent part of ourself which dwells within, the one that has no respect for any social contracts we’ve signed. Problems arise when we make no accommodations for that ferocious secret self, burying it beneath the priorities and obligations of the Rest of Our Life. I think I’ve just answered my own question about why all the giddiness. It is only in moments like finding ourselves alone in the house, clandestine occasions where we get to be the person we want to be, eat, or read or think the things we want, what would we do with ourselves if we could be that way each and everyday? What would our lives be like if we were with that person who appreciates the us who manifests on that sun drenched deck? So goes the dilemma of the re-booter.


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