Saturday, August 21, 2010

Letting Go

I make lists. Columns. Towers of to-do's, pro's and con's, needed supplies. I try to categorize and shuffle goals, ideas, ideals--each waiting to be crossed off. I organize my thoughts into lines of code; I think I believe that if I write it down, it will become a reality. Sometimes it does. Most times, it does not.

I've been trying all my life to organize my life. It's a constant battle because of the constant shift in my reality. Consistency is change. Overwhelming change, subtle change --doesn't matter. I'm usually unprepared for the battle within myself to control it all. I have this incessant need to control. To plan. To make lists. Some would call it a strength. Organization begets leadership and success, doesn't it?


I have found that a lot of my Depression is founded in the frustration of not being able to control the things around me, as well as my inability to accept it. Other causes include fatigue, hormones, and diet/exercise, of course, but these are things I've conquered before. My inability to let go? I'm still fighting it.

I read the best quote today in Three Cups of Tea. It wasn't necessarily something new I've heard, but it was a good reminder of things I had forgotten:
"Haji Ali spoke. ‘If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die. Doctor Greg, you must take time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated but we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time.’ That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned in my life. We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We're the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills...Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them."
I heard this before, you know. I've heard all the quotes and read all the scriptures where we are taught to slow down! Listen! Make the relationship the priority! In fact, here's a great one from President Uchtdorf at the most recent Priesthood Session in April 2010:
Waiting can be hard. Children know it, and so do adults. We live in a world offering fast food, instant messaging, on-demand movies, and immediate answers to the most trivial or profound questions. We don’t like to wait. Some even feel their blood pressure rise when their line at the grocery store moves slower than those around them.
Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter.
Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace.
As parents, we know how unwise it would be to indulge our children’s every desire. But children are not the only ones who spoil when showered with immediate gratification. Our Heavenly Father knows what good parents come to understand over time: if children are ever going to mature and reach their potential, they must learn to wait.
I know this, you know. I do. You know it, too! And yet, we keep forgetting! I keep thinking that the clean house, the on-time schedule, the perfect routine is somehow going to make my family happier. If the house could be clean NOW, if the kids could obey NOW, if I could stay on top of all of my goals and lists NOW, if I could just find time to exercise and lose weight NOW, if I could plan more than two weeks into the future even though my husband's schedule doesn't really allow for it NOW...

So, today, I let go. I let the kids play. I spoke softly and patiently. I scratched #3's back, had a long conversation with a good friend, played some games with #5, and held #4 for a while. I prepared the Sunday School lesson I'm subbing for tomorrow. I watched Wizards of Waverly Place! I didn't ignore my lists --I just re-prioritized. I realized I couldn't do it all, and worrying about what I couldn't do wasn't helping. So, I let go.

Man, did it feel good.


Karen Tapahe said...

Thank you for sharing this! I've struggled with the same kind of thing with my bipolar. I can't even go to sleep at night if I start thinking about the things I need to get done. I learned to keep pen and paper handy so I can write things down. That lets my mind let go enough to sleep since I'm no longer worried about forgetting. Now that I'm in my 40's, I have finally learned to do just what you mentioned here - slow down and allow things to happen. The "to do" list will wait. Hardly anything on it will suffer for waiting another hour, another day, or even another week. In a lot of ways, I think it's much better for my bipolar to have this attitude rather than give in to the anxiety of keeping up with the list.

Karen Tapahe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annette Lyon said...

Another thanks, from me. Maybe if I keep reading these kinds of things, I'll finally learn the lesson.

Julie said...

Love it, Cheryl. Love it.

I like lists, but I am not an obsessive list maker. I used to be, but it just didn't work with the life I have right now. I love the quotes you shared and your experience today because, I guess, it's sort of validating.
How was Wizards of Waverly Place?! That's one thing I have yet to make a reality. I just never seem to have enough time to sit down and watch a show with my kids. It's ridiculous, really, I mean who doesn't have time for that? But somehow I don't prioritize it well enough. I've got to do better there.

Love you much.

Michelle said...

Really loved this, Cheryl. I'm working on this, too, and it's really fun when I figure it out.

I think maybe that's why I've loved this summer so much and am so sad to see it go. I'm going to try to bring that feeling of living more in the moment to the school year -- harder because it is so schedule and list driven, but it's worth a try.

Keep it up. And thanks for the reminders!

Alison Wonderland said...

I'm fairly good at letting go of my lists but not so much letting go of some other things and I'm never good at putting relationships first.