My boiler is broken. The house is cold. And I have just returned home from having a small operation that was not as successful as I’d hoped. George Clooney has not been in touch. And my toothbrush, although delightful, is no longer giving me the satisfaction I had imagined (past blog readers will understand this last comment!).
I wonder – am I happy?
Four years ago I had the exact same procedure in hospital. The results were positive that time, yet I remember the experience being terribly sad. Struggling. Fearing the future. Fighting the illness.
This time round is so very different; the negativity has gone. I would like to suggest, amongst other things, that I have trained my mind to approach these situations differently, and that I myself am in a very different space. I must clarify, I did not go in with a life threatening condition, my stay was only a couple of days, and there is no critical diagnosis. However, nor was there in 2012. So, why so different?
The first thing is I arrive at hospital listing the positives in my head, the things I am genuinely grateful for, starting with the hospital bed. There is much fun to be had with the remote control pad, tilting the bed backwards, forwards, up, down and, it would seem, into every conceivable comfortable position. I consider purchasing one for my house. Then there’s my wonderful consultant: one could not ask for a more caring, clear, compassionate approach, alongside his rather natty anaesthetist, who delivers my deep sleep information with a friendly smile. There’s also the kindness that surrounds me, everywhere: the nurses, the staff, my friends, family, texts, mails, messages, gifts, visits, love. I feel real gratitude as the general anaesthetic seeps through my veins, and the world seems a smiley, happy place.
Yet when I awake, the news, although not bad, is that I may need another op. Not what I expected. And this is where the challenge begins. 2012 would have now delivered a slump, a dip, one very large pity party. But, determined to heed at least some of the wisdom I have been attempting to dish out over the past months, I considered: what would I say to ‘me’ if sat at the bottom of my relaxer, adjustable very comfy bed (other than, go on – stick your feet up in the air again so you’re upside down!).
I instantly know. You’ve got to accept this. Don’t fight it, resist it, mentally judge it. It is what it is, and no amount of worry, emotional upset or other, is going to change it. Go with it, accept it, and see how things pan out.
This attitude of acceptance I have, at times, found very hard. But I recall some of the worst moments of my life, when my mind has repeatedly, like a hamster wheel, gone round and round and round, thinking: “Why?” “How can this be?” “What can I do?” “Just how can I make this better, different, the way I WANT it to be?” And for each of these moments, it was only when I was truly able to let go, surrender to the situation, and finally accept, that nothing then seemed so bad.
“Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.” Arthur Rubinstein
I’ve learnt to try not to get too attached to outcomes – tough for a perfectionist personality who always wants the world and everything in it to be happy and good and thriving. But I think there is a difference between acceptance of what is and cannot be changed, and striving to create change and deliver, when circumstances allow. So I try on a daily basis to be more accepting of whatever life throws my way, to remove the need to make the world perfect, myself perfect, and to stop continually battling the things that go wrong. Instead, I attempt to accept them for what they are, and hope, in some way, that if I sit back calmly, make sensible decisions and look at these problems from a different space, with a different attitude, then it’s very likely the outcome itself will be different.
Returning to now: I get home and the boiler is broken. What do I do? Tenth time the boiler has gone. But unlike the other nine times, I sit, I smile and I think ‘accept’. Who knows whether I’ve just been lucky, but 36 hours later, my wonderful plumber has fixed it, and here I am in my warm house, warm bed (although I admit it’s not going up and down), surrounded by flowers, too many chocolates and a good deal of love. Happy? Often. At peace. Definitely.
Footnote: For those of you who read my Toothbrush Traumas, don’t get me on the wonders of a relaxer, adjustable bed!