As a middle aged female of the Homo sapien species (subspecies: basic), I quite enjoy baths.
Sam, alternatively, quite enjoys asking me if I’d like him to draw me a bath, then chuckling as he literally draws one using a marker on the whiteboard in our office.
And all of us ought to quite enjoy saying “quite enjoy” while feeling rather posh and British. But I digress.
Based on years and years of experience as a bath taker, I can confidently make this statement: in order to have a good bath, you must have a drain stopper. Baths simply do not work if there’s nothing to keep the water from going straight down the drain.
But here’s a statement I’m a little less confident making: I think humans may work the same way as baths.
The same way that filling a bath doesn’t work if the water is going down the drain as quickly as it’s pouring in, I’m coming to believe that perpetually filling your cup without first taking care of the major leaks doesn’t work.
The reason for my lack of confidence in the statement? I don’t want it to be true.
Filling our cups is so much easier than fixing our leaks. And, when you’re as middle aged and tired as most of us, easy sounds so much better than hard. (At this point, it feels safe to admit that I’m technically not middle aged. According to Google, I’m 15 years short of the actual starting point, which begins at age 45. But they say age is a state of mind and man oh man am I feeling middle aged.)
Filling our cups is pleasant. We get to do things like take baths, go to yoga, read books, spend time with interesting people, eat nourishing food and stubbornly insist that no one look at us or talk to us because we’re having some GD introvert time and can’t you see that you’re interfering with me filling my cup???
Fixing our leaks? Way less pleasant. We have to do things like drag our middle aged carcasses to therapy, have hard conversations and sit in a lot of discomfort while we try to figure out why we feel so depleted, then even more discomfort while we make necessary changes.
The Eat Pray Love exception: if you’re in a position to do really interesting things to fix your leaks, it can be even more enjoyable than filling your cup. But, since most of us aren’t in that position (heavy sigh), it doesn’t apply. If you are, however, in that position, please, for the love of all that is sacred, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.
And why am I mulling this over? Because I’m resisting the awareness that I have to do some fixing of leaks when I would much rather continue to focus on filling my cup.
I’m coming to terms with the fact that I can spend twelve hours a week in yoga class, hit a recovery meeting every weekday, take baths, go to acupuncture, get dinner with people I enjoy, fill my cup with every trick in my arsenal…and still struggle to drag my half-dead corpse out of bed each morning because I’m filled with dread about the coming day.
The water I’m pouring in isn’t staying put; it goes right down the drain. So the solution isn’t to frantically pour more in, it’s to get to leak fixin’.
And I will. I’m in a fortunate position: I know where my leak is. This particular one is work related. I’m out of alignment work-wise and the resulting stress is draining my cup faster than I can fill it.
Knowing where the leak is, in my experience, is half the battle.
The second half, and the part that I haven’t worked up the courage for yet, is actually taking action. Speaking up. Making the necessary changes. Setting boundaries so the changes stick.
But I’ll get there. Mostly because I’ve been open about what I’m struggling with and the people in my life have set strict boundaries with me: make the changes or you’re dead to us. Ok, maybe not that strict. But my therapist has alluded to firing me if I don’t make changes and I’ll almost certainly be kicked out of my book club if I don’t report positive action.
So I’ll do it. And life will get better. Then another leak will pop up and I’ll resist fixing it until it becomes painful enough that I have to, and so on and so forth.
Probably, the cycle will be the same for most of you. Except my friend Ina, who actually seems capable of living life without suffering, but I have to assume she’s an alien.
Fortunately, for the rest of us, there are baths. So, here’s to them. And to filling cups. And fixing leaks. And maybe, just maybe, treating this human experience as if it were something to regard with curiosity, something both interesting and enlightening and, often, even pretty darn rewarding.