Shikata ga nai

The rough translation of that phrase is “It cannot be helped, so don’t worry about it.” This has been my constant motto over these past 11 months, most especially in the past two months when my life started unravelling at a faster pace than usual. I tell myself that wasting time and energy over something one has no control over only causes stress and heartache for the person who is worrying, because worrying alone will not solve anything. That is, of course, always easier said than done. It is human nature to worry about things we cannot control. Living in California, I get asked a lot if I worry about “the big one” earthquake which will level everything and cause massive destruction and loss of life. I don’t worry about it, because I don’t have the ability to stop an earthquake from happening. Living in the Carolinas, I was frequently asked if I worried about hurricanes. Again, why worry about something that may or may not happen. The outcome is going to be the same no matter what. I do try to prepare myself for any eventuality, and do what I can to minimize my own personal losses if one of these disasters were to strike.

What about the little things, though? If you worried about every little thing, you wouldn’t have any time to enjoy the life you have and to make plans to make things better in the future. This has been a very turbulent two months for me. At times, it felt like the universe was “out to get me” but it’s not personal. Things happen that you cannot control, and you either have to accept it, or find a solution. As soon as I stopped worrying about what was going to potentially happen, everything came together. It’s not that the universe was out to get me, it was just that I was worrying so much about hypothetical situations and problems that may have happened that I didn’t realize that whatever was going to happen was going to happen whether I worried about it or not.

I’m not advocating doing nothing and just hoping for the best, but rather to stop worrying about what could or could not happen. Everything does happen for a reason, even if you don’t know what the reason is. Sometimes the answer is not the one that you were expecting, but it’s the right one for right now. I have been very vocal about my dislike of San Diego, and keep talking about how I want to get out of here and get back to my adopted home state of South Carolina, but all I’ve done so far is talk. I can give a dozen reasons for why I haven’t done anything towards that goal, but the simple answer is that it’s just not the right time yet. When it’s time, it will happen.

Since my last post, my two most pressing concerns have been solved. The foster cat that I took in to look after has been adopted to a wonderful couple whom I know will make her very happy, and she them. I have also settled my housing situation, at least temporarily, until I am ready to move forward in whatever direction life sends me. Maybe I won’t end up in South Carolina again. Maybe I’ll end up somewhere completely different. It doesn’t matter. I will find my happiness wherever I go, by always remembering to be the best me that I can be, and not worrying about everything else. As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

I envy small children in the fact that every new day is filled with new and wonderful things. As an adult, I have to remind myself that this is the life I have, and that it is my choice as to whether I will enjoy it, or be miserable. So, I stop to smell the roses (figuratively – sometimes they are other flowers instead), and I laugh out loud when I see a child or an animal just enjoying being in the now, and I remind myself that, while every day may not be a good one – today was a horrible emotional roller coaster for me –  there is beauty in the world. Stop and look around and really look at the life you’re living in. If you are unhappy with it, you have the power to change it. It may be a small change, or it may be a large one, but don’t continue to be unhappy by doing the same thing(s) that are making you unhappy. Do something special for yourself, because you are the most important person in your own life. And stop worrying about things you can’t change. Either let go of the worry, or find a way to change it for the better. And if all else fails, find a kitten or a puppy to snuggle with (or maybe a snake or a gerbil, or some other creature that makes you happy). Life goes on. 

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I have faith

When people ask me what my religion is, I always reply that I don’t have a religion, I have a faith. I consider myself a Buddhist, although I could certainly use some help in that area of my life. I do try to follow the basic tenets of the faith:

  • All life knows suffering. Nobody gets what they want out of life.
  • The cause of suffering is ignorance and clinging.T Wanting it is the problem.
  • There is a way to end suffering. By learning not to want it.
  • This is the way to end suffering: The Eightfold Path.
  1. Right Understanding Learning the nature of reality and the truth about life.
  2. Right Aspiration Making the commitment to living in such a way that our suffering can end.
  3. Right Effort Just Do It. No Excuses.
  4. Right Speech Speaking the truth in a helpful and compassionate way.
  5. Right Conduct Living a life consistent with our values.
  6. Right Livelihood Earning a living in a way that doesn’t hurt others.
  7. Right Mindfulness Recognizing the value of the moment; living where we are.
  8. Right Concentration Expanding our consciousness through meditation.

I am not a perfect person. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. I have made a lot of bad choices in my life. I have ignored good advice from others trying to help me with their greater knowledge because I was too stubborn to hear. Every now and then, I get it right, and I have small moments of perfection in my life. I have been diagnosed with Dysthymic Disorder (why does everything have to be a disorder these days? True, it could be worse. I could have Major Depressive Disorder or Seasonal Affective Disorder or Unipolar depression. I have some friends who have these diseases, and while I hate that they have to deal with the disease and the stigma that is still attached to “mental illness” I am also immensely grateful that my “mild” form of depression is mostly easy to deal with.

I have not had an easy life. In comparison to the rest of the world, that statement could be laughable. At the moment, I have a roof over my head, and I can afford to eat and drink sanitary food and water. Now, here is the bad part. I know that I am going to die at a relatively young age. I think I knew that as fact when I had to be taken to the hospital over and over again when I was a child to find out what was wrong with my kidneys. The night I gave birth to my son, I was told at the hospital that my kidneys had stopped functioning normally, and that I wasn’t going anywhere until I had that baby. I was then given a warning that another pregnancy could end up with my being on dialysis either temporarily or permanently. Then came the headache. It started back in 2005, and my doctor then thought it was a migraine, because my sister has a history of migraines, and I was showing a lot of the symptoms of a migraine. So, we tried assorted medications. At least five that I remember. The headache would fade for a bit, and then come back again. By the time August of 2009 rolled around, the headache had developed into a massive pain that felt how I would imagine it feels to have an ice pick jammed up the back of your skull and out through your eyeballs. I am in a constant state of pain. I honestly cannot remember what it feels like to NOT be in pain.

Most days, I am okay. I get dressed, I go to work, or do my chores, survive the day, and go to sleep in anticipation of tossing and turning all night from the intense pain, and wondering how my body is going to torture me next. I’ve gotten so good at disguising the pain that most people don’t realize that there is anything wrong with me aside from my warped sense of humor. Then, I’ll have a bad day and my world will come crashing down around me, spiraling me into a depressive funk where I feel like I just cannot handle the pain any longer. Those are the days that I long to just die and get it over with, but I can’t be that selfish. So, how does this long, rambling post relate back to my title regarding faith?

I was mostly happy living in my tiny little town in South Carolina, until my mom guilted me into moving back to San Diego. I knew I didn’t like the city when I left it, but once I returned, I realized just how badly I hated it. The traffic is terrible, the housing prices are ridiculously high, and the pay is ridiculously low compared to what I had gotten used to. There is nothing about this city that makes me the least bit happy. There are, however, people that I have either met or re-connected with by moving back that I would have never had the pleasure to know if I hadn’t come back. Does that mean that I don’t think longingly of living in a quiet town where you’re more likely to hear the lowing of a cow than the screaming of a fire engine siren or a police helicopter overhead.

I am at a crossroad right now. The lease on the apartment where I am currently living in is up at the end of the month, and as of right now, I have not been able to find any place to live that fits within my mediocre budget. So, I am packing up all my belongings into boxes, to be stacked neatly in a storage unit, awaiting a decision from me. I don’t know what’s in my future. The open road beckons me. Some people are designed to settle down in one place and spend the rest of their life there. I have a few friends who have never even left the state they were born in. I am not one of those people. I am restless. I am a wanderer. I don’t have much life span left. Or maybe I do. I don’t know. Where do I go from here? I am letting go of the worry and letting my destiny unfold as it will. Maybe something good will come out of it, and maybe something bad. Either way, it is life. So long as I have my cat with me, nothing else matters.