Well, I wrote about forgiveness on Elul 2 (before I got into the BlogElul list thing) and so it makes no sense to me to do it again today. Maybe I’ll use ‘Act’ – the Elul 2 word – as my inspiration today – or maybe I won’t. Yesterday’s trust work was exhausting. I wish I could just stop. I often wish that, you know. When things get hard or overwhelming, I wish I didn’t have to do anything – I want to just get under my covers and hide away from a world that seems to be too much to bear. I remember when I used to do that – when I would seriously not go anywhere for a day or two, not because I was sick, but because I just couldn’t make myself do it any more – it was too much.
Over time, I learned many ways of dealing with that feeling – everything from breathing to writing, to-do lists to schedules, meditation to planning. I freeze a lot less. I slow down sometimes, but I don’t stop. Not giving up, continuing to do that next tiny little step (and on days when I’m overwhelmed, my to-do list has everything from ‘tie my shoes’ to ‘write the next line’) has become a defining part of who I am by now. Dogged determination is my answer to that sense of overwhelmed confusion, of inability and fear, of exhaustion and despair.
Now and then, I work on taking it further. Can I keep doing the things I need to do but do them all cheerfully, mindfully, paying attention to and appreciate the details involved? Sometimes. Sometimes, I can rise to that level and my speed increases, and my to-do list changes to have major items on it (‘organize room’, ‘apply to 10 more jobs’, ‘blog’). Life is better and more fun. I like it when I manage this level.
I don’t always though, and that’s perfectly fine. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate my ability to do the next thing. It’s a strength, and one that I value in myself. During Elul, it’s good to have traits which can start from a position of strength and only go to greater strength. And while my lists and schedules limit spontaneity, it’s a trade-off that I’m willing to accept. When I’m feeling mindful and flexible, I can put the spontaneity in as I actually have extra time to work with. When I’m feeling low, I might sometimes take a proffered alternative activity as a welcome break. So, I am not finding the lack of spontaneity a problem. With my life as it is, I am rarely if ever bored.
Given that I’m fairly slow physically, a bit distractable, easily overwhelmed and forgetful, my ability to organize my time so that I can act effectively is a skill that I can work with. It’s not perfect – I can certainly enjoy myself more, be better focused and so on, but it is something to be proud of. This Elul, it’s nice to be able to recognize strengths as well as weaknesses, and to use them as a springboard to further growth.