I’ve been working with a therapist, attempting to understand and untangle these past few months (though she would say it’s been going on a lot longer).
Anyway, one thing we’ve talked at length about is my vicious super-ego, my inner critic…who continually decides what I should or should not be doing.
Like the other morning when I decide to sit quietly and enjoy my morning coffee at the dining room table beside my husband, rather than taking it into the writing room and checking email. I felt guilty and kept thinking about my unanswered email.
“That is your super-ego at its worst,” she said. “It is saying you should be using this time to accomplish something important (FB? Ha!). And then you should clean the bathroom, should throw in some laundry, should visit your mother.”
Her advice … fuck the super-ego and simply enjoy the coffee and your husband’s company while you drink it. No matter what you decide to do with the rest of your day, be completely in this moment. And then be completely in the next moment, even if the next moment is cleaning the bathroom toilet.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what she said and realize there are so few times that I allow myself to completely enjoy. The first that comes to mind is time spent with my grandchildren. I try to give myself up to them and see the world as they do, with their wide-eyed expectancy. It is easy to do this with them as teacher.
The other recent times I’ve felt this way were when I’d pick up my father and we’d go for a ride – to view the turning autumn leaves or spring dogwood trees and wisteria, or maybe a drive to the beach to watch the waves pounding the shore. For the last 15 years of his life he could not walk or speak, but when he’d gesture excitably out the car window with his good left hand and fill the air with the breadth of his smile, it was impossible not to be completely in the moment with him.
I have to admit this is all a bit more difficult to do with my mother. She is naturally a pessimist, made more so due to her many ailments. Good news is always met with, “Oh dear…” drawing out the last word as if multiple syllables.
I picked her up today to go summer shoe shopping. We were on the highway and she was wiggling in the seat trying to look straight up into the sky. She said, “Those clouds are puffy and pretty, aren’t they?”
“Yes, they are,” I agreed.
“How do you figure they stay up there in the sky?” she asked me.
“Well, it has to do with the Earth’s temperature and atmosphere and…”
“Oh, I thought maybe it was magic,” she said.
“Yes,” I quickly agreed. “And a little bit of magic.”
“That one looks like a snowman,” she said.
“And that one looks like a smiling baby,” I said, happy to be in that particular moment, completely with my mother. Later when I got home, I tried to recapture the same feeling while cleaning the toilet. I don’t think so…