Recently I’ve been intrigued by a friend’s interaction with her purse. Yes, her purse. She has referred to it as an albatross around her neck and has been in the process of cleaning out this “heavy” bag. As a curious companion, I couldn't resist posing these questions to her:
How would it feel to go about your business unencumbered?
Why do you keep schlepping it around?
What do you gain by holding onto this heavy "albatross"?
Since my curiosity often peaks when something inside me is stirring, it was no surprise that today's Abbey of the Arts Lenten reflection prompted me to look in the mirror and ask myself basically the same questions I had just offered my friend.
What do I schlep around that encumbers my journey? What can I relinquish today?
Answer: I want to shed my should’s. They are my “albatross” and feel oh so very heavy. Through journaling and self-reflection, I ended up exploring today’s should which sounds something like: I should take care of myself. Is this true? Absolutely! Taking care of ourselves is a great thing to which I’m wholeheartedly dedicated. So what's the problem? Regarding my personal response to self-care, I’ve discovered an interesting space where I balance precariously between finding true rest and moving into a restless or paralyzing, non-productive state. This seems a direct result of the resistance I feel when I hear the word SHOULD.
My tricky lizard (the part of our brains that thrives on fear) somehow can convince me that doing something "restful", like watching two or three episodes of Brothers & Sisters (instead of reading or sleeping) will leave me refreshed. By staying up late, however, I end up exhausted and with nothing to show for it. On the other hand, I resist a push-push-push mentality and the “should” factor of always being "productive". Nonetheless, I know I’m much happier when I’ve done some writing, cleaned a closet, gone for a walk or intentionally snuggled with Aslan. My sneaky lizard, however, can pull me away from the things I love in the name of self-care and what I should (or should not) be doing. Oh, tricky tricky lizard!
When I play with the statement: I should take care of myself, it feels heavy like an obligation (or an albatross). Should’s are extremely weighty!! Should’s take away the gift and joy of simply doing and being. When I entertain the place of should (e.g. I should be taking care of others; should be working; should be eating cardboard diet food instead of delicious chocolate), I get caught up in fear (lizard brain) which for me ultimately leads to resentment. I begin to lose my presence and joy with others, resist my work, and punish my body for holding me hostage.
I know that shedding the should’s leads to greater joy and balance in life. It’s something I experience on a regular basis. Now, if I can just convince that sneaky lizard to leave me alone perhaps I can enjoy this present moment. Perchance the albatross and lizard should make a play date? Hmmmm.
Today, I want to relinquish my should’s. Care to join me? I’d love to hear what should’s keep you feeling heavy and encumbered. What albatross is hanging around your neck? What is your lizard whispering in your ear?
© port orchard heron; aslan doing what he does best