The First Day of the Rest of My Life, Again


I often like to tell myself, 'Today is the first day of the rest of my life.' The best part of this cliché statement is, It's always true.

Every morning when we wake up, we're given a chance to do it all again, differently… to recreate ourselves, no matter how crappy the day before, or the previous seventeen-month period, was.

That's why this notion of approaching each new 'Now' moment with full presence, rather than letting regrets from the past or anxieties about the future encroach upon consciousness, is at the heart of so many spiritual teachings. Not only is being able to acknowledge every day, every breath, as a fresh opportunity to recreate one's self central to being 'liberated' (relatively speaking), it's also a practice most of us need to be constantly reminded of, lest we dash our own hopes that today will be any better than yesterday before we've even gotten out of bed in the morning.

I'm actually sitting in bed with the laptop right now, as I write to you. I've had trouble getting out of bed the past few days, having awakened with a panicky feeling that, as melodramatic me likes to put it, 'I hate everything, and everything hates me.' Only, there is absolutely no truth to that statement whatsoever. It's merely a default 'poor me' utterance that usually escapes my lips when I'm feeling like there's too much to do (and I don't want to do it)… and most often, sadly, comes around when I've recently taken a few days away from my responsibilities and, having 'fallen behind' (or so I believe), I'm met with the emotional experience of overwhelm. This overwhelm is based in fearing what I've got ahead of me, rather than just jumping in and doing something (anything!) productive about it.

And the funny part is, once I actually start doing something with myself, the mood shifts. I woke up this morning feeling pretty good, actually. But the longer I stayed prone, mentally alert but refusing to pull my body out from its pillow-and-blanket nest, I started worrying again… worrying about one mundane detail about the shop I run that I feared I hadn't done correctly and might never do correctly, which led to worrying about why I ever had the foolish idea to think I could start a business, which leaves me feeling like I've screwed myself now and into perpetuity, and so chalk away the day already, right?

This is quite a sad irony, considering how I woke up yesterday feeling similarly panicky—not due to the same mundane worry, but a different set of mundane worries about the tasks I'd had scheduled to complete that day—and, after indulging the panic for an hour or so, pushed myself through the moodiness with the realization that I'd feel much better by the end of the day if I actually accomplished a lot. So, working under those auspices, I got a whole bunch of stuff done yesterday, including all the mundane tasks I'd spent my first morning hour worrying about (and, what do you know, they all turned out just fine), and finished the day feeling much much better.

The reward to myself for having saved my day yesterday? Having cleared today's schedule of essential 'things to do', leaving me with the option of doing nothing—or, perhaps put more precisely, not doing.

Of course, that didn't mean there weren't things I thought I could do or might want to do. For instance, I thought I might want to write an article for this site, about something personal as opposed to astrological, if I felt the inspiration. I also fancied the possibility of cleaning off my desk, cooking something yummy for dinner, going for a swim, taking the dog to the beach, and other such tasks. The point, though, was that I wouldn't put pressure on myself to do, as a token of appreciation for all the doing I'd done the day before.

Yet, upon awakening this morning, that reward offered no solace. Sure, I didn't have to do anything today. But the option of not doing seemed more like a day-long sentencing to the internal prison of constant harping on all that I wasn't doing, an excuse to continue the panic I awoke with.

I just grabbed the laptop and started writing to you, dear reader, figuring that if I couldn't ease the inner demons through mental tricks, I could at least be productive in getting another article up and sharing my process with you. That's what I did, and that's what I'm doing. See, I'm doing. Should I be surprised, then, that I'm currently feeling much much better. I'm eager to face the rest of the day. I'm downright upbeat.

If the psychologically savvier among you have noticed another thread running through this piece (other than 'the inspirational story of one man taking destiny into his own hands'), you might have caught on to the fact that I still struggle with being okay with myself when I'm not doing anything 'productive' or 'important' or 'purposeful'. I wonder: Am I lovable just for being me? Or need I continually be 'on task' to earn the love I crave? There are no quick or easy answers to these questions. As somebody who was an 'achiever' from a young age, shuttled from activity to activity in between grubbing for high grades and performing the role of good kid without an understudy, I will spend the rest of my life learning how to relax, to enjoy all I've earned.

That said, I do still advocate 'doing' as a strategy for shifting those moods that are largely creations of our nagging, never-satisfied minds which, if given the chance, would monopolize our time and attention with endless litanies of all that has sucked from our pasts and all that will suck in our futures, robbing us of the opportunity to do something now that just might bring happiness, peace and satisfaction. 'Doing', I keep trying to tell myself, doesn't have to be productive either. It can be as simple as moving the body out of the bed, getting it showered and breakfasted, reading a book, talking a walk, stopping to notice things along the way… anything, really, that isn't sitting still and mentally gnawing on the same used-up bones.

Today I refused to give into panic. I wrote. It brought me happiness, peace and satisfaction. And now I'm going to get out of this bed, shower, eat, and see what else there is to do.