If you are like me, you travel your daily world in a bit of a trance.
Routine does it to us. We do the shopping, take the kids to school, clean the house, check in on friends… You know this movie.
Seldom do some of us give time and space for ourselves. We’re too busy fussing about. Too busy fiddling with household stuff. Too deaf to our inner voice, which requests attention. “Hey,” it says, “I’m here. Let’s talk.”
Maybe we avoid our inner table talk – that place where we dish truth to ourselves, however uncomfortable that may be – because we are afraid. Fair enough. But as we all know, like old fish in the fridge, unresolved issues don’t go away. Until they are resolved and taken to our emotional place of keeping, they remain. Smelly and a cause of pain.
There are actual ways to handle negative thoughts about ourselves. I use the word “actual” deliberately. Because, in the words of Frank Zappa, “You are what you is.” We can act and, thereby, reveal to ourselves in a positive and productive way the goodness in us.
“Am I a good person? Why am I here?” Most mature folks ask these existential questions from time to time, often when we are alone. There are answers plain to see.
The greatest responsibility we bear is to be loved. Yeah, being in love is groovy, but having someone out there who loves us is a monumental obligation – both to that soul and to our own. I think it is just so important to recognize our ability to be loved, and to love that capacity in ourselves.
We can look at our sense of obligation to our physical environment. The little things, like recycling and picking up litter on the street. Don’t let these casual acts go unnoticed to you, for they are signs of character, of goodness.
Maybe you have an old and lonely friend who you visit. Make tea. Have a laugh or two. Good.
But sometimes our good deeds overshadow sadness and regret. Those little black dogs that yap at us in quiet moments of reflection.
An old friend, sadly no longer with us, created years ago a movement and TV show called “Up With People.” I was a young and chauvinistic writer then, and I thought Bob’s work was a bit pathetic.
I was wrong. My friend was really talking about what we do and about how action, goodness, and happiness are dance partners. And how we must celebrate ourselves.
So, let’s reflect on the selfless things we have done. Let’s look at our hands and say to ourselves, “These hands have done good things. Little things. But good things.”
We’ve chopped wood for a neighbour. Knitted a sweater for a friend. Made dinner for someone in need.
Acts define us, and amid the hurly-burly of everyday life it is our becoming. We just are. We are as we is.
It is not my place to tell anybody how to make their mental space a more habitable environment. But this I know: faith in human kindness, hope, and charity are gifts we can give. To others and ourselves.
Recognize your goodness. Your little acts of kindness. Meditate upon these. If you do, the black dogs will go away.