"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song." -- Pope John Paul II
It's been a tough couple of days, but I think I'm finally feeling better. And just in time for Monday morning.
This is Easter Sunday, a time when we celebrate rebirth and renewal, but I confess I've been in something of a funk.
I think things went off the rails--quite literally--on Saturday night when I allowed an abysmal experience on the New York City subway system to whip me into a 20-megaton conniption fit.
The MTA got us coming and going with tortuously slow rides in and out of Manhattan. When we reached 59th Street in Brooklyn, we ditched the subway entirely and took car service the rest of the way home.
It was horrible, but I made it much, much worse by raging and fuming over things far beyond my control. It infuriates me that I have to actually pay for this abuse when I know that if this were any other service I would demand my money back and take my business elsewhere.
That's a little tough to do with the subway system since we only have one in New York. But freaking out is not going to make things any better--and being angry at myself for freaking out is even worse.
What’s really frustrating is that earlier this week I felt I was really getting a handle on my emotions. I’ve been trying to be more present, focusing on now rather than the past or the future.
This has been particularly helpful in the gym, where I take this really demanding boxing class. The toughest part of the hour-long session comes when you square off against the teacher for a round with the focus mitts.
"You're gonna eat lightnin' and you're gonna crap thunder!"
It's the craziest two minutes of your life as the teacher yells at you to hit hard and smacks you upside the head whenever you drop your guard. It’s also exhilarating as hell.
I caught myself thinking some pretty negative thoughts during the last few rounds with my teacher-—I can’t do this, I’m too tired, I’m too old, and other such destructive crap.
I tried psyching myself up with a macho man pep talk, but on Thursday I decided to do something a little different.
Instead of all the badass lingo, I just allowed myself to be in the present moment.
I didn’t think positive thoughts. I didn’t think violent thoughts. I didn’t think at all. And I think it paid off.
I felt like I did a really good job of blocking the instructor’s shots and throwing punches.
This has nothing to do with being a tough guy or a killer boxer because I am neither. It’s more like stepping aside and letting your true self come out.
The allegedly positive stuff I tell myself isn’t particularly helpful and I suspect it’s sapping my strength. It takes a lot of energy to fight with toxic thoughts instead of letting them just roll off you.
I wanted to take this mindset out of the gym and apply it to other aspects of my life. And it was working for a while. I was patient, effective, and reasonably happy.
Then I got on the N train and mentally smacked myself silly.
All right, so I slipped on the path to enlightenment. It happens. The important thing is to get back up and continue the journey.
It's Easter, a time for joy. Like the man said, Hallelujah!