This girl is bouncing around in her skin. When the spring energy was all around I felt as if I would start sprouting new leaves any day. As long as I don’t sprout any facial hair or calories I am bound to keep the skip in my step.
What is it that makes me feel so happy? I have to say that I am inclined to feeling happy, but I know unhappiness to.
I’m on my own. I have no family nearby. My children are interstate and overseas. If I was so inclined I could feel sorry for myself.
I was sick for three long days this spring. I felt weak and fragile all over, including emotionally. I was alone, and nobody knows me in this new city I have moved to. Oh, that is not entirely true, I have some friends here, and they would have come to help me had I asked, but they live a distance away and I did not want to bother them. I expected to live.
Being sick I wanted that Jeanie in a bottle to go to the shops and buy me lemonade and talk to the chemist whom I was sure would be able to suggest something that could stop the pain. Heavy drugs usually work for me. Taking the pain away has always seemed the logical solution to me. I wanted that Jeanie model I could yell at and order around to ‘just do it!’ Even though that’s the Nike saying for running, I love it as a good all-rounder. I doubt I have ever used it, but I have thought it when I have politely asked someone to do something, and when they complain, in my heart, I am yelling at them, ‘just do it!’
No matter how much I meditated or begged, no Jeanie appeared, not even a bottle appeared. By day three, I went to the shops. Of course, the walk in the sun was good for me. The shops are all nicely grouped nearby and have all I need. The chemist gave me something and the lemonade was excellent.
The next day I woke up feeling almost back to my normal self and could not wait to get out for a few hours in the beautiful spring weather where the trees were showing off their new growth. I wanted to hop and jump down the sidewalk like a rabbit, but I am way too old to do so.
So I ponder in my minds wardrobe the same thought that has been hanging there for years what is it that makes someone feel happy? I have wondered this for all the years I can remember, and that’s a significant amount now.
A long time ago I discovered for myself that I cannot make anyone happy.
I cannot make you happy … only you can. I cannot change anyone. I cannot even teach anyone anything.
I continue to adjust my own thinking as there is no end to this continual shifting of the sand beneath my feet. As mentioned there are times when I could feel rather sorry for myself and then I ask ‘why would I do that?’
The self-discovery that I cannot delegate to another person the responsibility to ‘be happy‘ makes me sad.
I cannot force that on someone, nor can I give it as a gift to anyone. I would give an arm, leg, lung, or whatever it took to make a few specific people “happy”. Just happy. It does not seem such a big ask, does it? I don’t think so. I would even ask the just do it Jeanie in the bottle politely if that would do it. I would do anything. Anything.
I have found, no Jeanie has ever appeared. No amount of prayer made any difference. No amount of giving made any difference. No amount of anything I could do has changed the shape of someone’s mind. Each of us design and select the map of our mind.
I believe that it is our own exaggeration that sets our minds on a course, for better or worse. I am all I have. I am starting to figure, that’s okay, in reality (wherever the hell that place is), and it has always been that way. I am, therefore, I am.
So although we are all “I am” in a sense we each belong only to ourselves. Yet we cannot live in separateness. I think, we are so connected to each other that without love and support something in us will die. We depend on each other for skills we do not have. I cannot bake bread.
I would like to help a few others. I attempt to reach out to others, and some chose to slap me down, try to put me in my place – as if they can actually do that ! Whatever people do is done to protect their own fragile selves.
I know this from first hand experience when I get scared, I run.
What I want to do is help both myself and others. As this girl and the woman are learning, I can make an immense difference by saying or doing just the right thing at just the right time. Of course, understanding what the right thing is and when the time is right being the hard part. Applying that to the right individual is often far too complicated a mission to get just right.
I have read and heard that the perfect universal response is not to judge the anger and fear just say, “Thank you for telling me that.” This may be correct, but wait, there’s more…
I once worked with a girl who had obviously done some sort of course in communication skills as her response to everything, and I mean everything, was always, “I hear what you are saying.”This prattle she would use became maddening. It was clearly a learned response that held no meaning to her or anyone she said it to. It was as if she was turning on a light switch or doing some mundane, everyday task as she patiently said these words. It was the saddest form of communication I had ever witnessed.
Now I am aware I am being judgmental here.! I am even understanding that what we might regard as praise “oh that’s good” is also a judgment.
So I don’t want to do that, yet we do all do that.
However, comparison is the theatre of learning.
I am telling a tale to emphasise a point, I hope.
Finding a way to convey the message that I am grateful to someone who has shared with me their thoughts and feelings can be difficult. Especially if, their thoughts and feelings are producing irritation or fear in me as an automatic reaction.
To listen without judgment, takes practice. Once a phrase becomes a catchphrase it is worthless. Everyone has read the same book and knows what you are doing. Plus, it is not from your heart, it is not from you, it is from the book and everyone can tell.
Sure I confess that I have, at times, used a book phrase to get me out of trouble. I have said the words, “Thank you for telling me that the…” and they have worked. But I know that unless I start to feel that phrase, it will stop being effective. Once I start to feel what lies within that phrase, I will find my own way of conveying the same message.
I think, it is a sense of compassion or empathy that you must be able to feel. A way to show ‘I am not judging you so thank you so much for telling me how you feel, I value that and I hear that’. I try to feel the pain within the person as they feel it, not as I might consider.
Recently I was judged by someone, yeah really. Oh quite a few actually, it seemed most unfair to me. At least four people, that I noticed, made extremely fast judgments based on one or two things I said or did. It can be terribly difficult to know I am being judged and not show anger. Each person took a different path on judging me, variety hey, each person went on the attack. Took me a few days each time to shake off the anger shock, like an electric current it was to me. I did not want their anger to descend on me, but it can be a task to get rid of the anger that people toss so freely about.
So there you have it, this girl feels happy, again, and I’m sharing that with you. I have no anger or fear, at this moment anyway; and for that I am grateful.
I know the inner joy I feel so often already provides me with everything I need. Being sick for a few days, it’s nothing. I know that if I could somehow bottle this inner joy I feel I would be the Jeanie in the bottle. I’d be rich beyond my grasp and very busy indeed. We all want this. I would give it freely if only I could.
Maybe being grateful and simply accepting the things that happen as being part of life is all anyone needs to do.
I don’t think that I did anything to make this joy inside me happen. I can’t take the credit.
I find so many things are beyond my control. I think it is everyone’s birthright to feel a sense of joy each day, but this is not what I am seeing or hearing.
We are so capable many true ‘human spirit’ stories come forth to remind us that we can overcome so much. I bought and watched a movie called “The Edge” this spring. I don’t usually buy movies but, I now own hearing aids and living alone gives me no chance to practice wearing them, so I bought a movie. I am going off the track here to diversify and return. In the movie, Anthony Hopkins says, “What one man can do, so can another.” I think that is a direct quote. It was an enjoyable movie, after a slow start. I did watch it twice as my hearing aids were being adjusted, so my footsteps no longer deafen me. I needed to use the movie as a test as there were bits I did not hear, despite hearing my own heartbeat.
Hey I found it is a noisy world out there. A trip to the local store aged me ten more years when a motorbike went by. I almost left my skin from the sound of it. It has taken me awhile to give in to the hearing aid need. Attending Uni has forced the issue. I am paying a small fortune for this study and want to know I am ‘hearing’ it all. When I asked the University if I could record the lectures as I had a hearing problem, off they went with tests which resulted in me buying hearing aids. I am not deaf but have significant loss because of the noisy workshop days. Working in the motor repair business for 10 years without any ear protection has damaged my hearing. Plus, my younger brother was even more spoilt than I was, and our parents allowed him to play his music of the 80’s far too loudly. My room was next to his but when the neighbours across a busy main road complained I felt okay about being annoyed myself.
Coming back on track with that quote “What one man can do, so can another.” When I feel happy I know that this feeling is available to all. This is despite the obvious fact that sometimes life just sucks. I dislike the saying ‘suck it up’. It somehow immediately creates an annoyance feeling in me. It sounds harsh and abrupt.
It might be okay to suck up a sore toe, a head cold or some minor complaint. Often when we complain it is because we need emotional support. We are in trouble of a different nature and do not want to hear the words “suck it up” because we cannot do this with our feelings. I think maybe people do try to do this, and this is what creates resentment. But that is only my best guess.
I know people who suffer physical pain every day due to car accidents where they were clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. People suffer through no fault of their own. We can see the pain an accident has caused. We offer our sympathy out freely. When we cannot see the pain that emotions cause we simply dismiss people’s complaints as not valid.
Terrible things happen. We cannot undo some things, we cannot always right wrongs and wrong things happen to all of us, whether we always see them or not, they happen. We all have burdens to bear. Emotional burdens that many people keep cannot be seen.
As spring has turned to summer another year is coming to it’s end, and I have this time to ponder, it had been a busy time since May when I moved to Hobart. I have completed my first semester at full-time University, but most important is this girl remains happy, most of the time, and I am grateful to be where I am and who I am.
Copyright © Mary Willetts 2012