The worst moments of my day almost always occur in the morning, those few minutes where I know I can no longer hit the snooze button and I must arise and face the day. A mixed palate of anxiety and dread swirls around in my groggy head as unfocused and poorly formed fears poke me like mean children with sharp sticks. I try to ignore them as I aim the crooked arrow that I am toward the kitchen where a black pot of hot coffee sits waiting like a medicine man with his caffeinated answer to my angst.
I sip it slowly as I head to the shower, sometimes pausing to watch a few minutes of Amy Goodman’s headlines on Democracy Now!, a helpful and reassuring reminder that the confused and crazy world outside my door is probably much worse than the world of worry in my mind. As the java juice sends its chemical messengers deep into my brain and the jets of hot water stream down upon my head, I can feel the troops of stress retreating from my frontal lobes, replaced by interest, anticipation and hope. Here comes another day and I am ready.
I always stay up too late, sleep too little, worry too much and work too hard. After fifty-eight years, I am comfortable with my contradictions. This is the life I chose and continue to choose. I understand it and it understands me.
Anxiety in the morning is normal for many of us because we are not yet moving. Everything sits on hold, like packages in a dark warehouse waiting for our eyes to open and when they do, all at once they collectively cry for our complete and rapt attention. We can’t do it all but for a moment or two, some part of us thinks we should be able to and yet knows we can’t and never will.
“What if” thoughts climb out from under their sleepy rocks and whisper their cruel messages of misery and failure that might could maybe possibly happen that day. We can thank these thoughts or ignore them but we should never buy or take them home. Leave them on the shelf. Let them fret and moan. Critics, who needs them? Tip your hat and keep moving.
Some part of me is never satisfied. It doesn’t care how many homeruns I hit yesterday, how many saves I had or all the wins I’ve notched. It stands with hands on hips, expecting, expecting. It all starts over, each and every day. A new day. Here it is. What will I do? Each day I leap off the cliff confident I’ll find the wings I’ll need to fly.
I tell my clients “Depression hates a moving target,” and we will not fail as long as we are willing. If we are unwilling to fail, however, we will play it way too safe. A life of hesitation is a life that could have been amazing. We can’t control or change the past, the future or other people but we can control ourselves at this moment. It is brand new and it is ours. Inside our own arena, we are the boss. In here, no one has more power than we do. We decide. We decide. What will we do with the magic that is our truth at this precise, precious moment in time? Will we be casual and distracted as we miss the spark that nods and smiles and whispers yes, yes, yes?
We can remember to be kind to ourselves and patient as we attend carefully to the jury of judgments that stream through our minds. Drive on. Keep your eyes on the prize. What do you value? Peace of mind? Love of family? Accomplishment? Purpose? Stay focused on the dream that calls you. She wants you to win. Believe in her faith in you. Pour your whole self into that dream and believe.
Take note of your life plan occasionally. How does this moment move it toward the target? And know that nothing worthwhile is accomplished with hate or fear. If negativity is present, imagine it as a separate thing you can hold and rotate and place on the table in your mind. Just a passenger on a bus that you are driving. What else is here? What strengths and powers are you not using? What angels are riding along with you? What do they offer? What do you need?
The most powerful tool is acceptance conveyed in three words: “And that’s okay.” Let those warm, wise and simple words sauté your brain all day every day. Let it sink in every dry place like badly needed sustenance and lubrication. You can never have too much compassion and forgiveness. There is much goodness in you. Let it grow.
Take a moment and hold your arms wide as you look to the sky. Offer the pure love that you are to the Great Love that turns the worlds and colors the universe. Dissolve any worries into that deep pool of wonder. And trust you are not alone. If your task is true, we will all benefit from your journey here. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for not giving up. We need what you are here to do and be. Please believe me. I am so grateful. Bless you always, always.
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 25 years. He believes in magic and is a Sacramento Kings fan.