Pain: An unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity
as a consequence of injury, disease, or emotional suffering or distress.
A rather amazing realization is beginning to make itself known: how negatively staying in a job I did not enjoy effected me. I loved the people I worked with and that now appears clearly as the reason I kept doing it. Well, that and the fact that I did know what else to do. Making a choice to leave a profession of decades is a bit like climbing a tall, difficult to scale mountain: difficult to prepare for and even more difficult to do.
With my work responsibility lightening up before retirement I find myself reviewing the previous few months. The almost startling discovery is how much less depression has effected me once I made the choice to hang it up. It’s easy to understand why from my current vantage point: I do not have to be concerned about the performance of the business, the profitability of the next quarter or what our competitors might do. Doing such things had been a part of my life for so long they had become habitually normal (but in reality is anything but normal).
Only in giving up the emotional suffering and distress that came with being a responsible manager of a large business have I begun to realize the madness I lived in for so long. It has been said there are four primary ways my body has to deal with pain: sleep, forgetting, madness and death. Many times sleep came with difficulty due to my business worries. Forgetting was not an option and obviously I am still alive, which left madness for me to escape into from time to time. And my brand of madness was depression.
Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need.
First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind’s way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.
Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door.
Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.
Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told. From “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss
Right now life feels so much lighter than it ever has in my adult life. Allowing me to be accountable only for myself is eye-opening. There are those I care about who I’ll help without hesitation, but I am not responsible for them. It feels like half the weight of the world has been taken from my shoulders and I have not had a bout of depression in months. So this is what taking care of one’s self feels like. I like it and am grateful to be exactly where I am!
I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was.
If you know this, you can
begin again, with pure joy
in the uprooting.