01 May 2013

There is No Normal

I have a dear friend in the travails of a divorce.  Sometimes he calls me up to vent, and sometimes he calls me up in the hopes of just getting a break from the rollercoaster ride he's on.  The other day, he mentioned that he was doing his best to get back to normal.  His sleep was off, since he would lie awake at night ruminating on what the soon-to-be-ex had just said or done.  Because his sleep was off, his exercise schedule was off.  Because his exercise schedule was off, he was feeling more tired at work and would find ways to nap.  You get the picture.

My first thought was to assure him that things would eventually return to normal, that he would soon enough (a couple years, maybe, but soon enough) find that he could take the by-then-ex's words and actions in stride, etc.  I soon thought better of it, though, because there's a simple truth that is being shown to him quite clearly now, a simple truth which is everywhere operative, even when we don't perceive it: there is no normal.

There is no normal.  Of course we know that on some level.  Everything is in a state of flux, conditions are perpetually changing, everything responding to, reacting to, acting in concert with, arising in conjunction with, everything else.  And, of course, we often wish that just weren't so, that we could hold on to something for a while longer, that the target would just stay put for a few minutes, that our game plan might be given half a shot at succeeding.  And so, thus it is that we tread the gerbil wheel of dukkha, working up a sweat, going absolutely nowhere.

So I suggested he not fight it.  When he was tired, he should nap and not worry about whether he worked out that day.  When he was lying awake in the middle of the night, he should just know that this is what is means to be getting divorced.  When he had a good night's sleep, he shouldn't read any trends into it, but just enjoy a day well-rested.  I said it was just like sitting: some days you're focused, some days you're not, some days you have pain, some days you don't.

He got it, and he old me he was appreciative of that reminder.  I just need to remind myself from time to time! 

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