The best that we can do.

When you get caught between the moon and New York City

The best that you can do is fall in love.

These lyrics were running through my mind as I worked in the garden this morning, tidying up after the spring rush of flowers, with weeds running rampant through the flower beds and pavement.  I have found a lot of joy over the past few months revisiting old songs from the 70s when I was an adolescent growing up just before or after my car accident put a violent tear through my life.  And one of my favourites is Sailing by Christopher Cross.  It transports me to a summer place of freedom and possibility and so after listening to it over and over on You Tube I got a copy of his album from the library and was listening to it on Sunday and the lyrics above, from Arthur’s Theme have been running through my brain for the past few days.

I find I often start to get stressed in the garden which should be the last thing to happen in such a calm green space.  I see all the mess and how far my garden falls short of some kind of ideal and then my thoughts tend to become negative.  I work hard these days to pull myself back,  one I must remember not to over do it and forget to eat (I hadn’t had breakfast before hand) and two I have to watch this stress dialogue that comes over me.  At that point I heard the lyrics that start this post in my head.  I reminded myself that this imperfection is in some way perfectly imperfect,  its perfect for me.  I am doing my best, things don’t really look as bad as they seem to when I focus on the details.  And because I love a house in which I can be close to an older time where there is wood and green and a cottagey feel around me I shouldn’t compare that to the manicured perfection of other gardens in my neighbourhood.  When I look at the flaws and faults I don’t see the real truth of things and my focus on the negative corrupts the pleasure of what I do have and what I can do to make things better if I need to.

I came in after the gardening to receive a text.  It was from my friend in recovery and in the text he was apologising and accusing himself of having been selfish for not having been in touch, I had given him a lot of emotional support when he was visiting his family a few weeks ago.  I personally thought he was being too hard on himself.  I thought of how he speaks all the time of his so called ‘defects of character’ and I am sure that he is not perfect but after reading his text and then reflecting on the issue of co-dependency I also thought about how one of the key characteristics of those of us who do become co-dependent or disconnected from our true self and locked in a shame bound view is an excessive focus on our defects.  Due to our shame we seem to end up putting so much emphasis on the ways we fall short and not enough of a focus on our good qualities.  I was wondering how much of this is the result of being caught up in a compulsive self improvement culture where everything is supposed to be clean, efficient, functioning optimally and sorted out with no cracks or kinks anywhere.

Its a stressful place to live and it creates an inner landscape not of comfort, relaxation and self soothing but one of discomfort, tension and inner grating and self flagellation.

It is important to know that we are not perfect and that there are ways we can heal and grow to become more at peace with life, with our inner and outer worlds.  But I do believe that this kind of change is more likely to happen in place where we create a sense of self value as the foundation or resting place upon with this other change can happen.  Do we really need to be so hard on ourselves and others?  Can we cut ourselves and others some slack?

It was lovely to hear from my friend and know he was thinking about me but the last thing I want is a relationship founded on someone’s guilt that they are selfish.  It is important to think of others, but we also need to take care of our own life.  I wasn’t caring for him just so he could show me care in return, although that would be nice,  I was caring for him because I could empathise with how it feels to be in a similar place and to remind him of how his strict religious background has left him with inner shame that still dogs his thoughts and beliefs.  I don’t say that directly but when he is not loving to himself I try to lovingly point it out, as I am increasingly learning to do with myself when I see myself getting stuck in shame, blame and self criticism.

 Today is a very hot day here and Jasper and I are now inside resting in the cool while the gardeners mow the lawns for us.  We are taking it easy and focusing on getting help so that its not so overwhelming to look after things on our own.  I am getting stronger and wiser now and part of that is reaching out and asking for help when I get too overwhelmed, its part of loving myself, seeing I always do my very best and that shame and self flagellation serves no useful purpose.  It only functions to rob me of life, joy and serenity.

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