As I drove home in the dark and the wet from yet another few days away at a far flung town where I’d been working, I found myself asking “Why am I doing this?!”. While the work earns money to meet my financial commitments and it may make some small difference to those I’m working with, it also takes me away from home and it takes up time that I think I’d like to be spending doing other things.
Friedrich Nietzsche said “He who has a why can bear almost any how” (I’m imagining this is true for ‘she’ as well). But sometimes I don’t think the ‘why’ is enough – it’s too far away – too intangible. And in those moments on the road, in the dark and the wet, my goals and aspirations are simply too far removed from my current state to feel like a good enough reason to be doing what I’m doing.
For what’s happening in the present to make sense, I need to focus instead on the ‘how’. And not the how of “I’ll start tomorrow” but the how, right now. How can I be in this moment that helps me align with the best version of myself – the me that I can feel proud of? Fortunately, The Ripenist’s Manifesto has some useful suggestions.
At midlife I’ve been in this situation many times before. But I’ve also amassed some hard earned wisdom as to what I need to do to be kinder to myself in this moment than I was in the last, and how to climb my current mountain with a little grace and flair.
Sitting in my car – reviewing some monumentally poor food choices, the conversation with my Beloved I might have handled better, the length of the To Do List and the lack of planning that means there is nothing home cooked and healthy to eat when I finally get home, let alone warmth, as the fire won’t be lit – telling myself that the travelling is all for valid long-term reasons, just isn’t enough.
Nope; in this moment all I can do is change my perspective – noting that this too will pass – and, in this moment, the only thing I can influence is my thinking. If I buy into any ‘beating myself up’ thinking, my mood will be impacted accordingly and that, in turn, will impact the rest of my evening and probably my Beloved’s as well!
If I accept where I’m at as a natural response to being tired, cranky and overwhelmed then I can allow it to just be what it is. This is not the time to make monumental far-reaching decisions about overhauling my lifestyle or my life choices. This is the time to be kind, to find my own small dollops of deliciousness: to sit up straighter so I can feel my body stretching out, to change the radio station so I’m listening to music that lifts my soul and makes me smile, to think about the small dent I’ve made in someone else’s universe today, to remember that I am loved and love others, to plan what I’ll do to take care of myself when I get home so I feel cherished.
There will be a break in my work-weather in the not too distant future to reflect on my bigger ‘why’. But sometimes, just focusing on the ‘how’ is enough for now.
And you, dear Ripenist, what wisdom can you offer about focusing on the ‘how’ in those moments when that is simply the best you can do?