“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” – Saint Francis de Sales
This quote is supremely resonant for me today.
You may have noticed I missed publishing an IQ yesterday. It was not a good day – at least to begin with. I sometimes publish these the day before, sometimes on the day, and yesterday, I woke up in a terrible funk and couldn’t shake it for several hours.
I was grumpy with my wife and my kids all morning. I took my son to day care, did my best to smile, love him, and be happy for him, but as soon as I got back to the car I felt miserable.
Here’s the thing about depression: It can strike at any time, and – in my experience – doesn’t have to be for long periods.
It’s possible to be fine one day, and f*cking miserable the next.
It can be triggered by nothing, or it can be triggered by food, by sleep, by friends or family, or by disappointment or unmet expectations. Yesterday morning, I was mostly dealing with the latter. I had also missed a good chunk of sleep the night before too, but mostly it was unmet expectations.
You see, I was supposed to be in Newcastle early yesterday morning, looking at my bus with a newly raised roof and windows installed. I was supposed to be excited about progress, signing contracts and paying a deposit for stage 2 of the build.
Yesterday morning, I was not in Newcastle, because stage 1 is still not finished. I started playing scenarios in my head: the bus doesn’t get finished by Xmas, we stay in Sydney until March, burn a whole lot of cash living here, miss the planned start of our trip, and so on. (More unmet expectations, except this time they are in the future and not even happening yet.)
Another scenario was that Bel and I made a bad decision (more fear), have to cut our losses with the guy building our bus, and get it towed somewhere else (expensive), and find someone else to finish the job (more expense and more time lost).
So you can see, rather than focus on the positive, optimistic outcomes – the bus is still finished on time, and we are able to get away as planned – I jumped straight to the negative ones. Thanks, lizard-brain.
On top of all that scenario stuff, and not-mindfulness, we seem to be in the thick of the cloudiest, rainiest, crappiest weather I can remember for a few years, at least. I’m most happy when the sun is shining. The sunshine has joined our days only fleetingly lately, and I feel my mood pulled south by the continuing cloud cover.
Yesterday morning I was so angry I could scream, and so upset I could cry. At the same time.
I sat at the beach for an hour, looking at the waves, feeling flat and unmotivated, before I finally felt OK enough to go for a surf. I decided to try boardshorts and a vest, instead of my full-length steamer. This is a little insane; it’s only *just* spring here, and September is usually one of the coldest months for water temperature. Yesterday it was about 17 degrees in the water, with bouts of rain and some gentle breezes. Quite chilly.
But it seemed to do the trick.
The cold water was a little like electric shock therapy, and the act of getting outside and doing some exercise was a form of self love. My body responded to getting woken up – brutally – and my mood felt “reset” from the experience.
I can’t say that it cured me – I wish I could – but it at least got me through the rest of the day. I wiped out again last night, but that was mostly just fatigue. It was lights out for me by about 9:15pm, and I got a full 8 hours sleep to wake up this morning around 5am.
I feel refreshed, clear, happy, centred, and balanced.
And then I found this delightfully-appropriate quote from St Francis de Sales.
It is worth reading again, slowly.
Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.
Uber important. Patience with myself is something I am sorely lacking. I am very hard on myself and have impossibly high expectations and standards for myself, and as a result I don’t often give myself much patience. But being patient with ourselves is another act of self love, which is absolutely critical to being and performing our best.
Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them.
Don’t become beset by fear, simply take action. Take action. Take action. DO something. Move. Forward. But in a patient manner.
Every day begin the task anew.
Most important line of the quote, tying everything together. Every day. Begin the task. Anew.
Each day, we get another chance to learn, to live, to love. To be all that we are destined to be, in whatever form that may take.
Each day, we get another chance.
Take the chance. Begin again. Clear the slate and start all over.
That’s what I’m talking about.
P.S. To the many people who have written to me over the past few weeks, I love you and value your emails more than I can adequately say. I haven’t responded yet, because I keenly feel the weight of responsibility to give each of you a decent, present, and meaningful response. This weight has slowly added to my overwhelm in recent weeks. But know this: I will respond, eventually, and I do care that you write me. Deeply. Thankyou.