Friday, July 25, 2014

Beyond a wholesome discipline…

There once was a monastery where the rules were very strict. Following a vow of silence, no one was allowed to speak at all. But every 10 years, each monk was permitted to speak just two words.

After spending his first 10 years at the monastery, one monk went to the head monk. “It has been 10 years,” said the head monk. “What are the two words you would like to speak?”

“Bed… hard…” said the monk.

“I see,” replied the head monk.

Ten years later, the monk returned to the head monk’s office. “It has been 10 more years,” said the head monk. “What are the two words you would like to speak?”

“Food… stinks…” said the monk.

“I see,” replied the head monk.

Yet another 10 years passed and the monk once again met with the head monk who asked, “What are your two words now, after these 10 years?”

“I… quit!” said the monk.

“Well, I can see why,” replied the head monk. “All you ever do is complain.”


I admit a certain sympathy for that poor monk, who was "always" complaining.  Sometimes it feels as if that is what I chiefly do, though I'm actually usually trying to work out a strategy for getting more done than moaning about my lot in life. 

It's difficult to balance my limited energy reserves against what must be done, and when I don't get it right I can end up spending several days in too much pain to do much of anything, which is frustrating. 

But, as I often tell my husband, you just have to do the best you can do. Sometimes that's not much more than sitting in the rocker and watching a video or reading, sometimes it's more. But as much as I tell him that, I feel terribly guilty when I can't keep up.

After a busy week (for me) last week I was exhausted. The last couple of days I've been really tired but today I felt better. I was able to do laundry, make the bed, tidy and dust.  And I made dinner! Just simple steak with mushroom and onions and some bean thread noodles and lentils with a curry and coconut sauce but it was food, hot, on a plate, which is a triumph for me many days. 

But I saw this little photo on Facebook and thought; Well, that's what we do. We do our best, with what we have.

And I guess you can't reasonably ask more of yourself than that, without doing lasting harm.

As Max Ehrmann said in Desiderata:

"Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself."

1 comment:

Linda P. said...

Dealing with an autoimmune disorder should be enough, but somehow we're guilty of self-recrimination, too. We humans want to be purposeful, to have checked off all our to-do tasks for the day. It just isn't going to happen that way some days, and we have to convince ourselves we're worthy beings even if we don't accomplish much on any given day.