In his column in the Asheville Citizen-Times yesterday, Roger Aiken wrote about a friend of his who was stricken with a brain aneurysm. He battled infections and the doctors thought he might not survive. He’s able to work now but the experience profoundly changed him.
Aiken’s wrote about a manager’s meeting they both recently attended. It was an intense meeting and everyone was stressed but when Aiken looked over at his friend he saw the most peaceful expression on his face. He mentioned this calmness to his friend who said. “These aren’t problems, these are small issues. I’ve seen problems. I can handle this.”
Aiken’s suggests what his friend might say if he had the chance. “Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff. Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around.” I want to remember these words because I do tend to “sweat the small stuff.”
It is a challenge for me though. The filters in my brain that monitor my emotions were injured so now I must monitor my emotions differently. I have learned the best way to handle my feelings is sometimes to simply get out of the situation and leave the feelings behind. This is easier said then done. Early after my injury, I would try and swallow my feelings but that didn’t work because they would often come out in other ways. I vividly remember getting angry when I lived in an apartment in Atlanta. I threw an apple against the wall. I did feel better but it wasn’t good for the apple or for the wall!
I also remember once here in Asheville I needed to figure out how to get somewhere the next day. I hate dealing with directions since my spatial orientation is so out of whack. I wanted my husband Michael to help me figure them out right then. He was working on a project and couldn’t stop. So what did I do? I slammed the door as I left the house to get the map out of the car. After rustling around trying to find the map and making a mess of the inside of the car, I slammed the car door and went back into the house. Just for good measure, I slammed the door again.
I rarely push past my limits now but it is not easy. I dislike leaving meetings or rehearsals -I had to leave a choir rehearsal on Saturday because my emotions were overtaking my sense of reason. However if I don’t leave I might throw something against a wall which will only make me look silly and won’t solve anything. It’s far better for me to take a few minutes and “rest my brain” so that I’m able to function in a responsible manner.