And now the lesson from Beyond:
If you read my little profile "About Beadfingers" to the right you will see that I describe myself as being on a path of personal healing. I also mention that I was a practicing physician, but left that career. One of my commitments in my life after medicine is not to indulge my work-a-holic nature. For someone like me, this is easier said than done. Breaking this long ingrained (and very highly rewarded) pattern of behavior is like breaking my own bones. I cannot tell you how difficult it is for me to tear myself away from the store. If I did indulge my true tendency, I'd be pulling "all-nighters" there just as I did in my medical training. But, alas, I've promised myself to do it differently this time.
Pema Chodron, an American born Buddhist nun whom I listen to and read, says "Five steps forward, 5 steps back. Five steps forward, 4 1/2 steps back. Yay!!!!!" Last week I was in the midst of 5 steps back, when I was given a great lesson to help me on my path. Of course, it came in the form of beads.
Remember that giant delica order I blogged about? I have decided to convert Margo's delica supply of 10 gram bags to hanging tubes on display. So, not only did I purchase more beads, I also ordered about a thousand empty tubes so that I can transfer the bagged inventory to the new display. They arrived in several boxes: So many beads in an unimaginable array of hues and finishes... and oh so so many empty tubes to be filled. Like a good workaholic, I spent 8 hours pouring beads from bags into tubes. At first it was an awkward task and painstakingly slow. I had no special aids like a funnel or a tube stand. I just carefully poured the beads from those little plastic bags into a little tube, pushed on the cover, and added a label. I worked alone, with an audio book playing in my ears. I developed some finesse and started to move more quickly. I could see progress. The roll of labels was shrinking as I made my way through color after color, and bag after bag.
And then it happened. The work-aholic buzz. It is an altered state, a special mix of energy, pride, and yes...a high. As it took me, I had the thought..."you know, this is pretty good. Maybe I really shouldn't give up my work-aholic ways. I can be productive and feel good at the same time. How can that be bad?" I cancelled all the healthy things I had planned for the day, like eating well, exercise, and a self-help meeting that I attend regularly. I just kept at those beads. The sun set, my hunger increased, and I was in the grip of a true high. I actually resented my need to eat, because it was interfering with my work.
Just as I was deciding that after I ate dinner I would return to the store , I noticed something odd. The tube of beads in my hand was not the same size as the tube hanging on the display. In fact, it wouldn't fit in the display. I held the tubed beads from the supplier next to the tube I'd just filled. NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!! The tubes were not the same size. The supplier had sent me the wrong sized empty tubes to fill. Realization hit, then dread. I had just spent 8 hours filling tubes that would not fit into the display, did not match the tubes of beads I had from the supplier, and did not match the quantity that was printed on the label. All the tubes would have to be redone.
Thanks to my previous career, I had a little perspective. My hair was standing on end and I felt sick to my stomach. However, I knew, even in the awful truth of that moment, that in the range of mistakes and consequences that life hands out, this was extremely minor. To my thinking, it was a gift sent from the Beyond.
I am pretty sure that had I stopped what I was doing to eat, exercise, or go to my group, I would have noticed that the tubes I was using were not the right ones. I would have registered that they seemed to be taking more beads than I'd thought they should or that the labels had more space around them. I might have hung one on the display and noticed that it was too big. But, I was so caught up in my work and so unwilling to step away from "the buzz" that I just kept going forward, with blinders on. I rationalized that what I would "accomplish" that day was worth the small sacrifice of "the things I should do." In the end I not only "wasted" an entire day of work, but I did not even do what I consider basic "health maintenance" around food, physical activity, and mental / emotional well-being.
I learned a great lesson, though: No matter what, live right. Step away, even if it I'm just loving being mired in it. Eat right, exercise, return a phone call to a friend who is down, or a family member looking to connect. Do what I need for emotional health. Be kind to the people who make mistakes - the company who sends the wrong tubes, the shipping company that damaged my delivery, and to myself - the lady who "wasted an entire day filling the wrong tubes." Because at the end of the day I may not have much in my hands to show for it. But, clearly, that isn't what really matters. Even though, at times, it feels to me like the only thing that does.
Many times on my path of healing, I've asked the undefinable great Spirit out there to guide me in a life of balance and serenity -- something I once knew absolutely nothing about. Some days I am granted peace and grace and my life feels like it is all falling into place as it should. Other days I feel that I am batted about, facing mistakes, and full of difficult emotion. I used to resent people who provoked those "hard days." Today, I know that is just the rhythm of life. Hard days are still good days. They are grist for the mill, full of lessons on right living, and if I let it in, joy too.