Pain And Suffering

IMG_1087“We suffer because we marry our instinctive aversion to pain to the deep-seated belief that life should be free from pain. In resisting our pain by holding this belief, we strengthen just what we’re trying to avoid. When we make pain the enemy, we solidify it. This resistance is where our suffering begins.”

 Ezra Bayda, “When It Happens to Us”

It is difficult to get rid of the sting of adversity we often find ourselves surrounded by. Whether it’s a health issue, a relationship problem, or some other circumstance, we deem it unfair and find ourselves going to war with ourselves to keep it at bay. But none of us exits this world without experiencing pain and suffering.

All we want is to feel good. We want to be happy, knowing our own minds, surrounded by family and friends who understand and support us. And that’s the way it is much of the time.  But then pain comes calling in the form of loss and fear. Sometimes it crushes us. We feel desperation. We get depressed or anxious. We scream and cry trying to make the hurt go away.

But pain is what it is. It’s like the weather. It’s an integral part of our lives. Screaming and crying won’t make it go away. Even when the sun is shining and roses are in full bloom it’s nearby. If you aren’t feeling it now, you will before too long. The thing is that as quickly as it arrives, the weather changes and you find yourself back in the sunshine, unless you choose to cling to the stormy forecast.

While our house was torn apart by the renovations we chose to do over the winter, I spent my time suffering.  I just wanted my house back, with nobody else in it.  I ranted about the four weeks the contractor had promised us that turned into eight. I was living in a hotel without a decent kitchen to prepare healthy meals in. I was gaining weight and having one big old pity party. I was forever readying myself for the next problem that would add to my stress.  I was miserable, as well as miserable to be with.

When I decided to sit with my suffering and just let it be, I realized that I had been allowing myself to be a victim. I asked myself, “Who is it that had set up these circumstances?”  It was of course me.  I’m the one who wanted wood floors in the kitchen rather than the stone tile that made my back hurt.  I wanted the laundry room moved upstairs so that I wouldn’t have to lug dirty clothes down into the basement every day.

As I simmered in my pain, I remembered that I had choices. I could be unhappy and negative about my life or I could allow the sun to shine and pay the price of feeling homeless for a couple of weeks while my house got a lot easier to live in.  I chose to look at the positive side of my circumstances. Sure, I was annoyed when things went wrong but then recalled what I’d have in the end.  I try to remember this when other storms blow in, be it something I choose or not.  Stormy weather comes and goes  just like the sun.  That’s just the way life is.

Reno Week #1

The living room.

The living room.

The week that was went by in a flash … but it also seemed to take a year to pass.  I don’t quite know how to explain that but that’s how it was.  The hard wood flooring is being put in now and should be finished by Friday morning.  The hall and powder room where the laundry room will be located has now been gutted and work proceeds there.

All in all it was a pretty good week. I managed to do everything but work on my memoir.  Even though my studio is in another building it’s hard for me to focus.  The dogs are jumpy from all the noise and the poor cat doesn’t quite know what to do with herself.  All of us except Sweet Lilli, the cat are staying at a nearby Residence Inn, but even there the dogs aren’t themselves.  They are very much creatures of habit and all of the turmoil is intruding into the quiet security they are used to. It’s the same for both Bill and I but we’re the humans and are supposed to be resilient. We try and are encouraged every day by the progress that is being made.  I can already say that the new floor in the kitchen, though only partially laid, is going to be gorgeous and will make a huge difference in the amount of time I spend cooking.

My biggest hangup has been eating and cooking. I’m gluten-free and am trying go mostly Paleo, meaning no grains whatsoever.  I am also a cook-it-from-scratch kind of person and the limited kitchen arrangements in our room have been a problem until yesterday when we moved into a room with a real stove with four burners and an oven.  It’s still tiny and cramped but I don’t plan on making anything that is complicated. So I think we’re good until our kitchen here is done.

I could go into a rant or have a pity party and cry about how hard all of this is, but it wouldn’t help. Yesterday I finally made friends with the idea that this is going to be a time of getting little serious writing done and having untold interruptions no matter what I’m trying to do. Unlike several people I know who went to Europe while their homes were being renovated, I find it helpful to check in on what is happening in order to keep from being surprised at the end of the day.

As I watch the rest of the world, the work being done here and the great people who are doing it, I find myself being grateful that this interruption in my life is as small as it is. It is nothing in comparison to what the single dad who is supervising this job goes through every day, for his daughters, three and six years old. I’m grateful for the cooking space I do have that is inside a warm building and the choices available to me when it comes to what to eat.

Kitchen floor in process.

Kitchen floor in process.

I’m grateful for everything I have and for a huge amount of stuff that I don’t have. Sure I’m somewhat stressed. Who wouldn’t be?  Life is what it is, but I happen to be one of the most fortunate citizens on this planet.  Suffering is an option but for the moment I am choosing to live mindfully and simply notice what is happening around me and what is going through my head. The only thing I can change is the way I perceive what is going on and I’m especially grateful that I’m able to do just that.

What stresses are happening in your life and how are you keeping it from turning your life upside down?