A few days ago I woke up in an awful mood. I knew it the second my alarm went off and I was startled out of bed. My body was aching, I had a dull headache feeling. I felt tired, uninspired, reluctant to be human. It didn’t feel deep or real enough to be worried and warrant taking the day off work. The problem with being your own boss is that I’m far less likely to say “fuck it, I’m better off staying at home”. Not because I’m better at judging sickness levels, but probably because I’m a harsher critic of what I can achieve at 50% capacity. Also, there is no sick pay in my life at this stage…
So I painfully did what I had to do to get ready for my day which included a meeting, teaching 3 classes and class planning for the rest of the week. I’m pretty good at ‘parking’ things where I judge them to be unhelpful or uncontrollable and on that morning, feeling less than was both unhelpful and out of my control. So I got distracted, taught my first class and had my meeting. I always get a rush from teaching, even when I’m down, it fuels me. But I still noticed that all too familiar bitter taste in my mouth: I could have been better at this, if only I felt good”.
On my way home in between classes I took the train (I was ‘too tired to walk’) and knowing I had a safe 3 hour window before I was teaching again, I allowed myself to feel crap. I physically felt my face frown and my eyes fill with victimisation and self criticism. I’m certain that if an aura professional was in the train they would have been offended by my dark cloud. But although I knew this (pretty self aware these days) I dare say I didn’t care. Nope. I was in total self pity mode.
You know the one. It goes like this:
I don’t feel well.
I want to stay at home.
I don’t want to teach.
I can’t do that. I HAVE to teach. I HAVE to go to work.
I love teaching – wait – why don’t I want to teach?
I should feel excited.
I’m so ungrateful.
I’m an awful teacher.
I’m a scam.
What if my students knew what I was thinking before class?
They would never come back.
Who am I to inspire them when I feel so crap?
I feel ill.
And I haven’t paid off my debt yet.
Oh yes, I’ve had this chat multiple times before.
My shit storm was well underway and it would have gone on for some time, except that on this occasion it was interrupted by a woman getting on the train with a baby in a buggy. I moved sideways so she can get in and momentarily looked up from my thoughts, only to be greeted by the widest, most expressive baby eyes. He stared at me, I stared at him. We paused. And then – BIG HUGE INCREDIBLE SMILE.
And the buggy was turned around, the brakes secured. Our eye contact was so brief probably his mum didn’t even notice. But I did. It woke me up. I saw it: the joy, the curiosity, the pure wonder at pretty much everything. He LOVED it. His baby stare and infectious smile were a helping hand out of my hole. He said to me: come on, get up, look around, take a breath, you’re good. It’s all good. Just keep going.
So I did. Just like that. This huge smile reminded me that life is happening now and we are missing it. – I – was missing it, because I was so busy complaining and feeling sorry for myself. Don’t let that inner dialogue take you away from what is happening right now. You are only living in this moment; this is really all we have. I beg you, if there is no baby smiling at you to wake you up, find the smile on your inside. Create it, feel it, use it. It’s there for you to come home to.