Just Sitting Here Stewing in Weed, Farts, and Panic

We limped toward the finish line of the cleanse then gorged ourselves like the hedonists we are for the weekend. One thing of note: once you start putting bad things in your body after it’s relatively clean, the farts are ruthless, unceasing, and horrible-smelling. I walked into our house the other day and announced that it smelled like “weed and farts” in the house. I guess when you combine no drinking and mountains of kale, the end result is weed and farts. 

Overall, I’m glad we did it. I lost a little weight, but also learned to pay attention to my body when I eat certain foods. My feet felt a little better by the end of two weeks. I wasn’t pain free, but the pain had definitely eased a bit. So now I can be more focused and try and narrow it down: is it lack of booze? Wheat? Sugar? Dairy? I’ve gone booze-free for a month a few times since the foot pain started, and that didn’t seem to make the pain less, though maybe I’m just wishful thinking because the idea of never drinking again strikes terror in my heart. 

Enough diet talk. 

This Buddha is struggling these days, y’all. I’m wrestling with a problem right now that I’m trying to approach with calm and reason. The life coaching has really helped me want to see my entire life in a different way. By this I mean that I want to not react to my life in ways that have become deeply ingrained in me. I don’t always want my reaction to be quick and impulsive, which is my habit. I want to have the power to stop and assess a situation first and ask myself “Why did you have that immediate reaction? And does that reaction serve your cause?” My coach always reminds me: “You are always, constantly living in choice. You can’t control what happens, but you can control how youreact to it.” I’ve always believed how we act in times of true crisis defines who we are as a human being at our very core. And somewhere in the last 10 years, I’ve become this person who reacts poorly to external situations. I wanna change that shit. Life is how we react. Imma trademark that shit and start a cult based on that philosophy. And I’d like to start thinking about my reactions in the moment, as I’m having them, so that I can choose how to respond. It’s the power part of my “I am powerful” chant of my daily mantra. 

One thing I’ve noticed is that it sure is easy to feel like you’re on some sort of plane of higher peace when everything in your life is running smoothly. Right? You’re all “Smell me! I have achieved fucking INNER PEACE motherfuckers! I am in the Zen Zone!” (Also trademarking.) It’s in those moments of difficulty that we have a tendency to revert back to our natural state, and our bad habits rear their ugly heads quicker than you can say “I’ll kick your ass!” So now I find myself struggling against my natural tendencies toward freaking out. I immediately go into Chicken Little mode and start reacting as such. It’s retarded and useless for me to do that. It only adds negativity to what may already be a bad situation. 

My problem is financial. I know, money, of course. What do we all worry about? Fucking money. But see, the thing is, I’ve done a pretty good job this past decade or so making sure I didn’t have to fret about money. I moved to California with $10,000 credit card debt. First, I joined a debt consolidation service and paid that shit off in six years. Since then, I have been adamant about not ever living off credit. If I can’t pay for it with my bank card, then I’m not buying it. I learned some modicum of self-control. Who knew? And second, one of my BFFs from Texas became a financial advisor and basically held a gun to my head and said “You WILL start putting money into a 401K.” And oh how my 28-year-old self fought him. “I don’t exercise! I eat like shit! I drink and do drugs! I smoke! I don’t need to save for my fucking future! I’m one mega burger away from a coronary! I could get hit by a bus tomorrow! Fuck you! I want that money now!” 

And ya know what? A dozen or so years later, when I wanted to buy a house, I had a downpayment sitting right there waiting for me, all because he had the foresight that I didn’t. 

So I’d made it, right? I had a house, plenty of money still left in my 401K, and no debt. My credit score was above 800. I’d made myself comfortable and secure. I’d built my little cocoon of financial security which, as it turned out, was more and more important to me the older I got. The idea of digging through my couch to find enough coin to buy five hush puppies at Long John Silver’s was anathema to me. 

And then I married someone who wanted to own her own business. And she did a good job of repeatedly asking me over the years that this was in the making, “Are you sure you’re okay with this?” And I always said yes. Of course, right? And also, this dream seemed to be taking forever, so it’s not like I had to really think about what owning a small business meant. And it’s not like I had any concept of what it would really be like. You don’t sit there and think about the nitty gritty details when it’s something that’s so far away. Except that now we’re in the middle of that very thing, waiting for a large chunk of money to drop from the bank, and I sure hope they get on with it because I’m the only one bringing any money to the house, and last pay period I had so little billable work that by the time my health insurance, 401K loan repayment, and normal 401K was pulled out of my check, there were three measly figures left in it, and that ain’t paying my mortgage. 

So here’s my struggle: when things like this happen, I immediately plunge my mind into the future. “Fuck! We can’t pay our bills, our house will be repossessed, we’ll end up living with my mom, we will eat through all of my 401K and spend our golden years living in a trailer in suburban Tempe.” Or worse: “Great, now we own a small business. This is how it’s going to be each and every goddamned month for the rest of my life.”

So here I am, already convincing myself that the absolute worst-case scenario will surely come to pass. I do this all the fucking time, y’all. I build the worst-case outcome in my head, all the while getting more and more furious at my wife for putting us in this precarious financial position until I pick some stupid-ass fight with her so that eventually I can tell her that she’s ruining our lives. I know. It’s a joy to be married to me at times. 

And here’s my struggle: I know living in the moment is truly the way to go. Staying in the moment makes you intensely aware of your life. You are in the middle of your life, living the shit out of it. And why worry about shit that may or may not come to pass, right? Why get your colon in a twist for shit that may not even happen? Then you’ve wasted that present moment. Except that homey’s gotta pay that mortgage, mmmmKAY? I’d love to be all OM about this shit, but being OM sure ain’t putting money in the bank. 

So that’s the big question, right? How to stay in the moment of your life while being pragmatic enough to make sure your future doesn’t go up in smoke? It’s a fine line to walk, and it’s my current struggle. And I keep trying to remind myself of one of Buddha’s main teachings, which is to face adversity head on. Humans have a tendency to grab for that burger, that scotch, that cigarette, that remote when things aren’t going well, and they rather not deal with their lives. We look for anything to distract us during these challenging moments rather than sitting with uncertainty and discomfort. But we can learn from that discomfort—those moments have something to teach us too. And we may not be able to figure out what the lesson is ASAP, which is also frustrating to our Western brains, but somewhere, sometime, you will learn the lesson if you pay close enough attention. 

I’m also reminded, in moments of my life where I seem to be poised to freak out at any second, that I have many things for which to be grateful. Sometimes thinking about all the things I have when I seem on the verge of a full-on panic calms me down and helps to put things into perspective. This morning I posted on Facebook that the first thing I saw when I stepped off my front porch this morning was two crows fighting over a dead rat and a woman stopping her car to lean out and hurl all over our street. I was understandably grumpy about this, fearing it portended a shitty week, and my friend Roger said “On the bright side, you’re already having a better day than the rat or that lady.” Fuck yeah, motherfucker. Nice reminder that there is ALWAYS a bright side. 

And lastly, I’m reminded that once you’ve been depressed and come out of it, you’re not necessarily in the free and clear. It’s not something that just goes away like chicken pox. It’s more like Hep C, where there’s always the potential for it to yank you down with its vicious undertow, and you have to be vigilant. If you start seeing signs that you’re sliding into the Slough of Despond, you have to recognize the signs and head that shit off at the pass. And sometimes it will work, and sometimes it won’t. But there is always something to be gained in the attempt.