It’s a strange contrast. Last night I watched a documentary on ‘The Virgin Killer’ , British born Elliot Roger, who went on a killing spree in America earlier this year. He videoed himself moaning about life being unfair before ending the chances of so many others from experiencing both life and fairness. What struck me was the sense of entitlement that he had – that because he wasn’t getting the sex, the women, exactly what he wanted, life was both unbearable and unfair.
The documentary talked of his ‘privilege’ – affluence, status, education. He didn’t see it, and focussed on what he thought was lacking in his life. Life isn’t fair, he complained.
I can recognise that, after going through a period of difficulty following my surgery. I’ve spent too much time ruminating on what isn’t, what’s missing, what’s unfair. I’ve only recently learned how close I came to dying. So, everything else is a bonus at the moment. I live in a world where food, water, sanitation is all easy to come by and whereby, largely, I’m untroubled directly by war, violence and poverty.
It doesn’t always feel like that, particularly when I focus on insecurities, mistakes, weaknesses… myself. It’s been a trying time, both for me and for those who have been supporting me. We all thought I was doing well – 5 months back at work, back in my own flat, driving, fit and healthy (kind of).
But good news can also be difficult. A friend of someone I know commented that it was almost a relief to know that things can be difficult for someone else. We get taunted and lured by the notion of ‘happiness’ that we lose the value of pain, loss – even unhappiness. The rain as well as the sunshine.
I’ve been trying not to beat myself up for feeling low, or for recognising that life can feel unfair.
But it’s also so much more than that. So, as a discipline, I’ve started to listen to some advice I often give to clients or family and friends. It’s very fashionable now in ‘mindfulness’ circles. People used to talk about keeping a ‘Book Of Blessings’, a term which I felt uncomfortable with because of vague religious connotations. Another term is simply ‘gratitude’. I noticed that a Facebook friend had taken to posting about things that made her happy and fulfilled. Even reading her posts made me feel a little warmer, a little less jaded. It also gave me some insight into what she found important in life – not the sex, status and privilege that had so preoccupied Elliot Roger. But simple acts, expressions, and experiences of humanity. An awareness of the present.
So I started to try it out for myself. Over the last week or so, I’ve made a point at the end of the day of using social media to reflect on what I feel grateful for from the day. It’s been about family, friends, some bare necessities that I’ve taken time to notice and been grateful for. It’s also meant that I look for those things, throughout the day and as I experience them. Sitting with family, friends, and recognising ‘I’m grateful just for this moment right now.’ It’s given me a bank of happy memories from the day.
For a long while, I’ve been having difficulty sleeping, and I’ve been missing my dreams. The last couple of nights I’ve been dreaming again.
I encourage you to try it, and see how much difference it can make. You’ll thank me for it, I’m sure.
And, by the way, thanks for reading…