Round 66.9: Brain vs. Heart

Just when I figure something out, ascend into the golden clouds of enlightenment, I get tested and climb into the dumpster like Jimmy McGill did in the last episode of “Better Call Saul”. 

Life is gooey. That’s my reoccurring theme. 

What I knew one day, was sure of, buzzed about, wrote about, was straight-spined million percent convinced of a mere 24 hours ago, is instantly shattered by an agitated text and fist-clenched phone call …

if I allowed said communication devices to consume me.

And I did. 

And I do. 

And it’s clear

I will never be cured of the terrible Need to Save disease. 

(Julie, help!)

Not my monkeys. Not my circus. 

Why does my brain know this, but my heart says otherwise?

Without going into details, a person I dearly care about, briefly, apparently, disowned me. Until I got a text pleading for help.

These are magic words to me. Save me. I jumped into action. Conducted research. Found leads. Worried. Fretted. Discussed. Aged, about a year, realizing that while I could help, I couldn’t solve the problem. Because it’s not my life. It’s that person’s reality. And until that person-–or any of us for that matter—deconstructs the reason the problem exists and decides—once and for all—to subsequently and systematically take the necessary steps to get better, then—duh—nuthing’s going to change. I’ve been dealing with this person’s vicious cycle of hope and promise, self-loathing, and regret, for decades. No pill, no giant bank account, no form of escapism, can fix the problem. The only cure is staring deep into the mirror and doing The Work.

Every. Single. Day. 

This recent crisis is predictable. Lose a pound. Gain two. Let it go. Take it back. Wise one day, porcupine mess the next.

Stay the course. Eat healthy. Think healthy. Even though it looks like it’s not working, it’s working. Don’t give up. 

Tests. Tests. Everything’s a test. As a teacher I hated giving tests and as a student I hated them even more. But these Life Tests are the pits.

When I go on my marvelous camping travels and hang out in Nature, everything seems so clear, so in control, so basic. I’m happy. At peace. And then I return and fall back into The Frenzy of Others. Everyone has a problem, a need.

My go-to response: Abandon self-care for others’ care, yearn to escape, return to a place where I’m surrounded by those who ask nothing of me other than for me to be me. The lightness of being. That’s what I crave.

For 24 hours, I tossed and turned, furrow-browed fretted, contacted experts; how can I solve the problem? I even spoke to Carlos, one of the maintenance wizards here at the Portofino, who noticed my worried faced and remarked, “My friend, you look like you’ve had a hard day.” 

 “I’m trying to help a friend,” I explain.

“Give it to Jesus,” he said. “That’s what He wants us to do.” 

“You’re right,” I said. I forgot to pray.

I got back into the apartment and did just that. I sat on the balcony, closed my eyes, and asked for help.

The next afternoon, after spending the morning researching and forwarding possible leads to the person-in-need, I received a text explaining that the situation had changed for the better; an apartment, at long last, has been secured and may be available as early as this Friday. Thanks for your love and concern. I’ll be in touch.

Just like that. Wow. 

The tension in my neck began to ease. Thank you, I said, closing my eyes.

Grateful for the turn of events, I decided to jump in the pool—my chapel by the sea—and swim and swim and swim until my spinning brain stopped spinning.

During lap 15, I remembered Carlos’ kind eyes and departing words: “We only have a finite time on Earth. Be careful how you use it, my friend.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I love to end with a they lived happier ever after conclusion. Usually, I wait for the “lesson” to come to me as I write. But this time, this time, I realized that I’m not such a good driver of life. I get side-tracked by billboards, bad-for-my-health road snacks.

I wish I could say that I’ll never again allow myself to be consumed by other people’s drama, but that would be a lie. Shiny objects distract me from my real work: Growth. 

I could block calls, texts, wait a week to respond. But running away, hiding out in a dumpster, is chicken. No scam, no double-speak, no avoidance, can outwit fate. Eventually, like Saul Goodman discovered, and The Clash sang about, I can try to fight the Law, but in the end, the Law’s gonna win.

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