Good morning blog readers! It’s a Red Velvet morning at my house. My youngest is turning 7 on Monday and that means I’ll have a house full of giggling girls expecting cake tonight. But this has been a tough week.
I woke up this morning in a mood–not wanting to do anything for anyone. Even baking a boxed cake for one of the most precious people in my life feels like a grind today. I’m standing at the counter mixing oil and water and egg and realizing, hey, something is wrong here–there’s no joy in this moment.
When you do a lot (and most sober people do a lot) you can get lost in it all. Sometimes that’s because you’re overcommitted. Sometimes, it’s because you have no boudaries. Sometimes it’s because you have no idea how to take care of yourself, and sometimes it’s just because that’s how life pans out.
So I’m beating the cake (by hand, mainly because I’m trying to avoid the extra step of washing the beater) and I’m thinking about the ‘why’ of it all. Do you know why we beat the cake? It’s because we need to get some air in it. No air=dense, tasteless cake. And that’s a great analogy of my week this week. Dense and tasteless. Bummer.
Because life is like cake batter ( I know you guys love these crazy analogies I come up with.) If you don’t get some air in it, it’s thick and dull, heavy and burdensome. We need to breathe in our sobriety (read: humor, meetings,relaxation, time with friends.) Otherwise, we’re miserable. So it’s great to have goals. It’s great to do a lot. But if you want life to feel good, you have to focus on what actually makes you feel good.
When I’m overburdened and overcommitted, I tend to act badly. Call it my rebellion against ‘the man’ or ‘the system.’ I often try to justify my bad behavior with these excuses, but rebellion is just an outward sign that I’m not taking care of inner Nina. And when I’m lonely and tired, stressed and depleted, I almost never choose something that would make the situation better (a meeting, yoga, a long talk with a trusted friend.) Instead, I almost always (still! at 11 years sober) choose isolation, mild depression, and sometimes more work (as if that’s going to help!)
I desperately want to learn to be more balanced, but the fact is that my definition of balance has to change in order to achieve that goal. Somehow, I learned that balance means that there will one day be a time in my life when everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do, acting how they’re supposed to act, and every obligation, demand and requirement will somehow find itself a perfect resting place in the 18 hours (on average) I find myself awake every day.
But of course, this is not the case in a constantly shifting world. One of my favorite spiritual leaders, Pema Chodron, says that we are all looking for solid ground to put our feet on. But it’s an illusion. There is no solid ground. And our attachment to that drive for security, whether it’s emotional, financial, even spiritual, can cause us great pain.
The BHAGAVAD GITA, a spiritual primer that is perhaps India‘s greatest contribution to the world, says that when we have pure contentment, satisfaction, and peace of the Atma (the true self) we are fulfilled. It says there is nothing more to accomplish. No more obligations to meet. When we are firmly established in our true self, we have “no dependence of any kind on anybody and nothing to gain or lose by either action or inaction.” Lofty goal, huh?
So the point is to do our worldy stuff, but to do it while letting go completely of the outcomes. It has to be as automatic as our breath or our heartbeat. This is the way we merge with our higher power.
I wish you air to breathe today. I wish you the moist, rich, and delicious cake of life. And I wish the same for myself. As writers, we are paid to be experts on material. This is a dangerous proposition when writing about spiritual concepts. It’s important for me to let you know that no matter how well I intellectually grasp some of these concepts, I still struggle. I still suffer the pain of being human and being attached to my own self-sufficiency.
Blessings, and happy Friday.