what should i do with my life

That’s what I entered in the Google search field last night. After all the Po Bronson entries (including Oprah.com), I found one for the Slice channel (cheesy “woman’s” cable television channel that airs “Till Debt Do Us Part”).

“Hey Bryan, I found a quiz on Slice.ca called What Should You Do With Your Life? *This* is going to give me the answers I’ve been looking for!” Ever since the rehab person called and made an appointment with me here, at home, in three weeks, I’ve been more than a bit overwhelmed and caught up in trying to answer this question with something more than I don’t know. See, I have issues trusting myself.

“Yeah, right.” We laughed and joked about an online quiz being the answer to my question. I took the quiz and here’s what it said:

Hands up! If you want your heart to soar, you need to be in a career that is hands on. Believe it or not, car mechanics and surgeons have this in common. Artists, builders, tradesmen… whatever you choose, you get the most satisfaction out of creating with your hands. You’d be the type who loves office events so you can create decorations, invitations, posters, and more. So if you’re feeling a little stuck, spend all your time doodling during meetings, and need more spark in your career, you’re not using your hands enough (and X-rated office activities do not count!).

I told you it was cheesy. And frighteningly dead-on. As Bryan put it, “If the universe even has online quizzes from Slice telling you that you need to be an artist, maybe you should take the hint and do that.”

Okay, okay, so I trust that voice inside of me that says to do my crafts (glass, sewing) and my writing. Let go of the anxiety, fear, and the voice that says I will fail. I don’t know how to this, but I will learn.

It’s funny, it’s when I talk to my friend who is struggling with depression, I can see which DBT skills are relevant, yet when it comes to my own situation, I can’t see the forest for the trees. Today’s skill: act as if. If you don’t want to get out of bed, act as if you do. This is a variant of WWBD? (What Would Buddha Do?)

It is the first day of gorgeous warm weather in weeks. I want to enjoy it, or at least act as if I do.

Judgment and Trust

It’s been a while since I wrote. Basically, after my DBT class was over, I fell apart. The last two months have been a blur of self-induced suffering. But, here I am, still breathing. Lying in bed earlier (trying to fend off this cold, unsuccessfully), I was practicing watching my thoughts and identifying judgments.

Now the thing that anyone who has done any amount of zazen knows is that thoughts arise endlessly and we have no control over what kind of thought surfaces from the depths of the mind. In my case, I am plagued (judgment) by a stream of self-loathing thoughts:

You’re an idiot, you’ve never done anything good, you are a fat cow, stupid, you will fail, you’re not worth it, you suck, you can’t do anything right, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Now, I know that the thing of it is to not attach, to let these thoughts fall away just as they arose, to let go. Perhaps it’s because I’m a lousy zen student (judgment & not true), but I often fail at letting them go. Okay, let’s think clearly about this. It has nothing to do with me being a lousy zen student (which is not true). It has everything to do with the unending, unrelenting nature of the arising thoughts. I can let go and let go and let go and let go and then *bam* I’m caught in the quicksand again. It’s like being worn down by a trickle of water. Doesn’t matter how firm the rock (or my resolve), the water (these awful negative thoughts) wears away the stone and I’m left with a heart torn open like the Grand Canyon.

Perhaps you think that’s hyperbole. That’s your right. But one thing I’ve learned about BPD is that the pain we feel is real. Hell, my therapist (who specializes in BPD) described BPD suffers as being a raw and pained as burn victims. Again, that’s a story that I can choose to cling to, yet it also is an apt description of how I’ve felt for most of my life.

So what am I doing? Is this post itself an extended whine of “poor me”? Could be, I don’t know really. I’m just throwing it out there. Perhaps I will learn something when I see it in black and white. Maybe it will be of use for someone else. I really don’t know.

How do I move forward from where I am? Is moving forward the best course of action? Again, I have no answer. I do know that it scares the hell out of me to think that this crap (judgment) is what my brain is going to offer up/throw at me for the rest of my life. I don’t know how I can/will deal with that. But that’s the future. Right at the moment, my laptop battery is pretty warm, the Mythbusters are shooting at hats, and Bryan and Brianna will be home in a few hours. I have a nasty cold and dinner needs preparing. My brain tells me to give up, I’m a write-off, it’s not even worth it to try.

This is one of the reasons why I have a hard time trusting myself. Who wants to trust that kind of a voice? If I did, I would be dead by my own hand. But, I remind myself, it’s not about trusting my brain, is it? It’s about trusting life itself. Trusting that the inexplicable oneness of the universe does not exclude me. It’s trusting that the ground will rise up to meet my feet. Great faith.

It really sucks that my Zen teacher is ill and had to cancel sesshin. I hope that she’s okay and gets well very soon. In the spirit of “every cloud has a silver lining,” I did learn that absent sesshin, I can pull myself together anyway. That’s a good thing to know (judgment), but I’m not cancelling plans for future sesshins. If anything, having a last minute sesshin cancellation reinforces the importance of sangha as one of the three treasures. I miss my sangha friends deeply.

May all beings have health and healing. Gassho.