This profound thing happened this morning. You wouldn't know it to look at it though. Here I'll share.
For my visually impaired readers, I'll describe what you just heard. That was me, putting my electric toothbrush back on its charging stand, where when I did, it let out an audible little "beep beep" sound.
Why is this profound? I'm glad you asked.
First, some context. I live in a lovely house I rent, which is big, and kind of old. It has charm, and some quirks. One of those quirks is that the plug where I plug this toothbrush in happens to be on the same circuit as a plug in our garage, into which is plugged a big freezer. For some oddball reason, that same circuit is partially exposed to the elements through a crack in a lighting fixture for an outside light on our house.
The net effect of said exposure is that when it rains or snows that circuit shorts out. And our freezer goes on the fritz, leaving a puddle on the floor of the garage, and ruins what we have in it. It also makes it impossible for me to charge my toothbrush or run my water-pik.
When this happens, one of us quickly moves things from the freezer out in the garage to the kitchen, and we wait for the circuit to dry out so we can flip the circuit breaker and resume life as normal.
We've lived here two years now, and it's taken most of that time to figure this out. We also just got the landlord to seal up that crack, so maybe it won't happen anymore. Maybe.
That's relevant to my moment of enlightenment I want to share with you.
My day job has been very draining for me lately. I've really been considering my options around it. And at the same time, I've been hard at work on my patreon, which is a time-consuming and expensive side project, given the costs for art, narration help, software and related services. And while THAT's all been going on, I've also been working on a software business. It's exhausting, and can feel overwhelming at times.
This morning, I'm listening to a podcast, Risk's Tough Love episode. The second story in the episode, For the Love of Charlie really, really gets to me. I'm going to warn you now, if you're the sort of person who emotionally invests in a story, when you listen to this one, it's going to get you too.
It's about David, his husband Jack, and their dog, Charlie. David loves Charlie, and has many reasons to do so. The story he tells gives the context of that love.
In the story, Charlie gets very sick and dies. David processes his grief.
What does this have to do with my beeping toothbrush? Kind of everything.
The other day it rained down like crazy, putting the circuit out of commission. I've been waiting for days for the circuit to dry out, for my sister-in-law to be able to reset the breaker (which is downstairs in her apartment), for the landlord to fix the house so it won't happen again.
So for days now I've been brushing my teeth, waiting for the batteries to run out on this thing so I will have to move it, and charge it elsewhere. I had sort of subconsciously bought into this foregone conclusion that it would die on me before any good change happened. I've also been letting other things on my mind weigh me down. Political things, job things, project-writing-software-things, all sorts of things.
For lack of a better term, for the past several days I guess I've been doombrushing. During this morning's doom brush I finish listening to that sad, yet ultimately satisfying and comforting story.
One profound thing that David said in the story was how in the height of his mourning he lamented how stupid he felt being so racked about a dog to someone. The guy told him to cut that out, that he had just lost a pet too (a bird), and how all love and pain matters, and doesn't need comparison or validation by anyone.
I nodded. Fuck, yes.
I've been telling people for years now that pain is intimate. It's impossible to understand someone else's pain. It's human to want to compare your own pain to someone else's, to give it context.
But you can't really.
Some days I wake up, pop out of bed ready to just attack the day. I'll do all these many things, give them all time and energy and drive, and go go go. Other days, I don't. I drag myself through the day, feeling like I'm phoning it in on every goddamn thing. There's this tempting lure to fall into a pall about it. I hear this chorus of ugly voices sing to me.
"This isn't going anywhere", "I'll never finish this.", or "None of this even matters." are some of their hits.
You know the thing about mindful practice is, it is a practice. You have to just fucking do it. It's hard. It's work. Sometimes it isn't fun. Often, really. And you don't do it to find peace. If you do, you'll never ever get there. You do it to be present, to feel what's right in front of you, and move with it.
So my ugly voice chorus was singing their faces off to me last night, and some this morning. Then I put on Risk, brushed my teeth, and when I was done, put my brush back on its stand.
Just like you heard in my video up there. And all that doom I had been carrying around, all that expectation and judgment and harshness just left. It felt good.