I’m usually an upbeat and optimistic person, even if I have a minor setback or have to deal with a naysayer. But sometimes that part of me that hides under a rock, that dark part that everybody has, rears its ugly head, and it happens when I’m weak. It happened over the last week when I caught a mild case of the flu. I was really feeling down about life!
You know when you don’t have any energy. You feel blah and so, so sleepy and you don’t want to get out of bed. I was sick enough that I had to go in and take several naps over the course of the weekend. The worst is feeling useless and there is always so much that needs to get done. Know what I mean?
Monkey mind then got out of its cage and proceeded to batter me about. Feelings of self-doubt washed over me and as I would go about my day, dark thoughts about the whole point of it all. Why am I even here? Am I doing what’s right? What if I fail? Classic questions about fear and doubt.
I cautiously write this next part because I don’t want to. Several times I’d thought that it wouldn’t be so bad to die soon so I could do it again in my next life and make it better. I mean what the hell – I’m happily married with a wonderful son. Why do I think that kind of thing? Oh, OK, well, maybe I could die after my son’s been raised into a man in 10-15 more years. Awful, awful thinking.
I guess I think such thoughts because I’d try out a new business and it wouldn’t work out. I’d try out another. Nope. Online business? Well, after five years it earns enough to pay for groceries and art supplies. I was aiming for six figures. Social media maven? Forget it. Big art sales in the first year? Are you kidding me? Fail! Fail! Fail! FAIL!
Taking stock of what’s here now
Being out of the job market for over 10 years now, I don’t feel like I have the “job skills” for anything over a minimum wage position anyway. When it comes to employment, my awareness has been closed to opportunities and creative ways to land a cool job. The last time that happened was in the mid-nineties, although teaching English in Thailand was cool, though not lucrative. And I hear about friends getting awesome, creative, innovative jobs with fantastic companies. Part of me would like to be in that world: earning great money, working for an amazing start-up.
But really I do like my life as an artist. It is challenging and I’m confident that others like my work enough to buy it. Just yesterday an acquaintance committed to buy a painting next week, and we’re both over the moon about it. I adore seeing her enthusiasm as she gushes over the painting. she plans to buy. I love to see how she connects with a piece of art from her perspective because I already have my own perspective about it.
Being present in the darkness
The good news about my dark days of illness was that I was fully aware that these were just thoughts and that they would pass. My meditation practice (waning lately!) and inspiration for frequent Dharma talks by leading meditation teachers and monks has greatly helped. A couple nights ago after experiencing yucky thoughts and icky sicky body all day, I watched a Netflix documentary called Yoga Is. It was nice, and just the fix I needed, a reminder that our purpose in life is to love and learn.
The next time I’m sick and feeling down about life, I’d like to have a better attitude. Let people take care of me and enjoy the downtime, because I know that it too shall pass.
I also believe that meditation for a slightly longer time will have more benefits and maybe my mind won’t go off the rails quite as much next time. Though who knows? I think I handled it alright. I’m back to my sunny, cheery self, ready to take on the world.
When do your dark thoughts arise? Let me know in the comments below.