This week has got me thinking about battles, both personal, and on a much grander scale. We all face personal struggles now and again, but it does seem at the moment that the problems we are facing as a human race far outweigh the internal struggles of any individual. I do however believe that the answer to coping with the former lies in learning to deal with the latter. So here’s the lowdown on a few of the battles I have faced this week.
I had to contend with my usual PMDD struggle this week. I won’t go into much detail, as I’ve written extensively on this matter before. Suffice to say that it reached crisis point, but the crisis never got the better of me. I just had to acknowledge when it was time to go and lie in a darkened room, and act accordingly. After the storm had passed, I was so grateful to be feeling better and able to be fully available for my children. I made extra effort to make sure we had fun. Moreover, I am happy to report that however badly PMDD has affected me, I have never recently suffered from suicidal feelings.
Verdict: Battle won but the war continues.
2. Personal Struggles
Some people in my personal sphere were trying to cause me problems this week. The reasons for this and what they did is irrelevant. I only wanted to note that at the start of the week, due to my PMDD being at its peak of nastiness, they almost got the better of me. However, once I started feeling better, I was able to see that their problems were exactly that: their problems, not mine. All I needed to do was examine the reason that their problems were affecting me personally. And the reason was mainly that my defences were down due to PMDD.
Verdict: Battle won and strategy for future battles firmly in place (don’t take things personally).
After a ten-day Christmas break, we returned to the homeschool timetable on Tuesday. The first day was awful as I was too ill to emerge from my darkened room for long stretches of time, but I had the sense to realise this was the time to let things go. I figured I’d catch up when I felt better. And sure enough, by the end of Thursday we were up to date. To my friends in the UK who have just entered a new lockdown, that would be my advice: learn to recognise when you need a break, and take one. The consequences of not doing so could be infinitely worse.
Verdict: Battle won. Go with the homeschooling flow and you will stay afloat!
Even though I described this as an ‘inspiration‘ rather than a ‘resolution,’ I have set myself the challenge of Tweeting one micro-poem per day for the whole of this year. I started out thinking ‘what have I done?’ as I realised micro-poetry was perhaps ‘not my thing,’ but after a few days’ practice, I think I started to get the hang of it.
Verdict: The battle continues…
5. Saving the planet
More accurately, I suppose I mean ‘saving the natural environment.’ I think the planet will do just fine without us. I watched David Attenborough’s ‘A Life on Our Planet’ (Netflix) this week, and realised that although I talk the talk (regularly writing poems on the theme of the climate crisis for Earthweal) I could be walking the walk a whole lot better. I need to make changes in the way I live my life so that I know I’m doing my absolute best to counteract the damage we as a species are doing to our natural environment. I’ve ordered ‘There is no Planet B‘ and ‘How Bad Are Bananas?‘ and look forward to reading these. In the meantime I try to shop in a more ethical and sustainable manner.
Verdict: this battle is way too big for me to fight alone, but I have a duty to my children, and the rest of life on earth, to do my part.
6. Political Events
My native UK has now fully Brexited the EU, and I have lost my right to work and travel freely in Europe, which is worrying for me as an expat. Add to that the scenes we witnessed in the US Congress this week, and it looks as though the world is going mad, urged on by the still-raging pandemic and the impending climate catastrophe. Nothing for it but to put it into words and let it be.
Verdict: this battle is far from over, but we all have a responsibility to speak out against tyranny.
7. Letting Go
With all of the above to factor into the equation, it’s no wonder that my mind is feeling a little overloaded. I try to ‘let go’ at least once a day by practicing meditation. But I think I need to get a lot better at this. I need to keep these issues in their right boxes, so they don’t get the better of me. And I need to take time to detach from everything that hooks my attention, including social media and even writing this blog.
Verdict: I have a long way to go in winning this battle, but at least I have the necessary tools to fight it.
An endless fight
You may wonder why on earth I am telling you all of this. To illustrate the point I am trying to make, I will end with a quote which I learned from a friend some time ago. It’s by the Argentinian poet and writer Alejandra Pizarnik. The original quote is in Spanish:
Hay que luchar todos los días, como Sísifo. Esto es lo que no comprendo. Que la vida contiene días, muchos días, y nada se conquista definitivamente. Por todo hay que luchar siempre y siempre. Hasta por lo que ya tenemos y creemos seguro. No hay treguas. No hay la paz. (Pizarnik. Diarios. 29 de agosto de 1952)
Here’s an approximate translation; though it loses some of the original’s power it should convey the same idea:
One must fight every day, like Sisyphus. That’s what I don’t understand. That life contains so many days, and nothing is definitively conquered. For everything we must fight, ever and always. Including that which we already have and believe to be secure. There are no truces. Nor is there any peace.
Although I agree with the first part, I disagree with the conclusion. Even in the midst of all this madness, we can still declare a truce with, and in this way find peace within, ourselves. If everyone could find internal peace, I’m sure there would be less external struggle.
P.S. There are no updates from the Mythical Kingdom of Lockdownia this week, as the Queen is resting her wearied mind. I did, however, receive a rather wonderful review of the series from Holly of El and Hols Blog Book Club. Do take a look if you’re interested: Holly has picked up on things I didn’t even realise when I was writing the series, so I was very grateful for her insight.