Mental health and the pothole

How mental health works –

I saw this pothole.

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It was on my route every day to work. I decided to fill it with rocks from my walk. I can only carry a few at a time (in a plastic grocery bag). So I will gather rocks and fill it little by little every time I go for a walk.

It took a week to get to the point from where I saw the problem, figured out the solution, and started to commit to it. It is a slow process, but that is how it works.

A little later –

It has been days since I have last worked on this. I have left myself a note on the dining room table and a large rock at the end of my driveway to remind me that I need to keep working on this task.

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It doesn’t matter that I haven’t done any more work in several days. It only matters that I continue the work. While this may look mostly complete, it is not. It is shallow. I need to add more to it. I have found a place at the end of the road where they have recently repaved so I am not taking rocks from anybody’s driveway. But to get these rocks requires that I walk all the way to the bottom of the hill and then carry the rocks, small bag by small bag, up to the top of the hill.

This too is mental health.

Do what you can with what you have, even if it is small. Something is better than nothing.  Keep going.

Also, rains will come and wash some of this away. Cars will drive over it and knock some of the rocks out. I will need to check it every now and then to make sure that it is whole and add more to it.

That too is part of mental health.

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Days later….I found a small (palm-sized) box to scoop the rocks into.

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It can’t be a big box because I have to carry it. So I walked down to the bottom of the hill to gather the rocks and then I looked up. Here’s the view looking up the hill.

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I can’t see the top from here. But I know it’s there. The trick is to just keep on walking towards the goal even if you can’t see it.

When I get to the top I see that cars have driven over my filled-in pothole, kicking out some of the rocks.

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So some of my work has gone away. This is not a “do it and walk away” project. This requires diligence.
People may try to take away from your happiness intentionally or otherwise. But all that you have done doesn’t go away. That was a lot of exercise just putting those rocks there. That is not erased. And I got a lot of encouragement from starting a project and persisting in it.

But then sometimes you have to admit that the task is bigger than you are equipped or trained to handle.  The rocks I put there were now scattered on the road.  The road isn’t a smooth surface for walking anymore.

So yesterday (7/26/18) I contacted a professional (the city government) – to fill in the pothole.

This too is mental health.

They fixed it on Friday, 7/27/18

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Hidden pictures

You know those picture books where you’re supposed to find a hidden picture? There may be an elephant or a rabbit or even a cartoon character hidden within the picture. You know that you’re supposed to spend some time really looking deeply into this picture to see what is hidden there for you. Otherwise you’d pass right over it after just a glance.

What if life is like that? What if everything is a hidden picture and we’re supposed to slow down and look very carefully?

I like to think of that with God. I like to think that God is hidden within everything and that if we just look really hard will see God hiding in plain sight right front of us. Just like with those pictures. The elephant or the rabbit or the cartoon character was always there. We didn’t have to uncover anything. We just had to slow down and take the time to look, and the only reason we knew to do that was because of the title of the picture. It was there all along.

Try this with everything. Try looking for the hidden – this hidden beauty in everything. I promise that you will see amazing things.

The dessert

Remember the Pink Floyd song “The Wall”?   There is a lyric in it that is really meaningful for Holy Week: “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!”

In some Christian denominations, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are just days of the week. Nothing special happens.  In others, they are holy days of deep reflection and fasting.  They are dark days right before the biggest celebration of the Christian year – Easter.  Within those denominations are people who don’t make time to go to Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services, and I feel they are shortchanging themselves.

So many people want to skip over the bad and go straight to the good. But if you don’t go through the bad, then the good doesn’t have the same meaning.  They want their pudding, but they don’t want to eat the meat.

The “meat” is Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  They are hard to chew, and even harder to digest.  They are difficult.  They open us up and break us down.  They take us along with Jesus into the pain and despair of that time, that time of loss, of betrayal, of abandonment.  They take us along with the disciples into that time of fear and confusion.

The “pudding” is Easter – it is sweet and easy to eat.  It is a day of joy, of promises fulfilled, of knowing that God is supreme.

But you have to go through the darkness to appreciate the light.

Privet

This is privet.  It is a woody plant.  In certain situations it is an invasive weed.

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Yet when planted intentionally and carefully cultivated, it is a hedge, a living wall.

The same thing can be “good” or “bad” depending on where it is, and how much of it is there.

Too much water is just as bad as too little. Too much water in the wrong place can be devastating.

A hedge can be low –

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…or high.  It can keep people out…

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…or let them in.

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It can even be shaped into a maze, where you can let people in, but they have to find their own way out. (Hint – pick a side, left or right, and follow that exclusively.)

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What would be at the center of your maze?

Would you make your privet into a wall to keep people out?

How high would you let it grow?

How long are you willing to wait for that?  It can take a decade to make an impenetrable.

Will people notice that you are growing a barrier, or will it be a surprise to them?

Will they step over it in the meantime?

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(All pictures are from the internet. Used for illustrative purposes.)

 

 

Fall is coming

It is good to slow down and watch the seasons change right before your eyes.  Ideally, I’d take this picture every day at the same time, but my lunch schedule doesn’t permit it.  So noon and 2 it will be.

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tree12pm101916 Noon, Wednesday 10/19/16

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2 pm, Thursday 10/20/16, after a storm

And then I run into a dilemma – I’m off this next week.  But if I don’t take a photo of this every day, I’ll miss it. This isn’t as forgiving as the “Tuesday Buffet” series I did.

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2 pm, Friday 10/21/16

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2pm, Sunday 10/23/16

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2 pm, Monday 10/24/16

It doesn’t seem like it is changing very fast.  So do I need to take a picture every day?  But – if I don’t try, I won’t be able to go back and fill in that gap.  However – art must serve the artist, not the other way around.  If this isn’t fun to me, but work, then it defeats the purpose.

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2 pm, Wednesday 10/26/16

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12pm Saturday 10/29/16

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12 pm Monday 10/31/16

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2pm Tuesday 11/1/16

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12pm Wednesday 11/02/16

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12pm Saturday 11/05/16

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12 pm Monday 11/07/16

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12pm Wednesday 11/09/16

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2pm Thursday 11/10/16

Off four days, did not come up here to take pictures.

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2 pm Tuesday 11/15/16

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12pm Wednesday 11/16/16

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2pm Thursday 11/17/16

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12 pm Saturday 11/19/16

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2 pm Tuesday 11/22/16

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12 pm Wednesday 11/23/16

A rainy and windy day.  I drove here rather than walk so I didn’t get stuck outside in a storm.

And then it was Thanksgiving break, so I missed 4 days.  I almost skipped Monday as well because I was off to tutor for the second time this school year.  But a lot has happened, so I had to.

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12 Monday 11/28/16

We had a big storm with 50MPH winds on Monday night. Leaves are everywhere and finally there is the smell of late autumn – wet leaves decaying.

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2pm Tuesday 11/29/16

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12pm Wednesday 11/30/16

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2pm Thursday 12/01/16

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12pm Saturday 12/03/16

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12pm Monday 12/05/16

Since you can barely see any more leaves on it, I’ve decided to post this. Perhaps I’ll do a Winter, Spring, and Summer series too.

Possessed by drugs

If you get caught with drugs, you are charged with possession. But I believe it would be more accurate to say that you should be diagnosed with possession. You are possessed.

You don’t do drugs. Drugs do you. They act upon you quietly and insidiously. They end up taking over your life. They don’t enhance it – they take away from it.

Perhaps if we saw drug use as possession we would be able to actually treat it for a change. We would no longer see it as a lack of willpower but as a dangerous force that takes up residence inside you and makes you do things that you wouldn’t normally do.

It is important to understand that this doesn’t start off as a passive action. You, sober, make the first move. You, sober, are the one who first starts using drugs. They don’t have a hold of you at that point. So you have control at the beginning.

This is the same as with possession.  You have to allow that demon into your soul for it to harm you.  Once you do, you are in big trouble.  Just like with drugs, you’re in over your head very fast.

Poem – healing in darkness

Consider Noah and Jonah and Jesus.
At one point, each was separated
from the rest of the world.
Through their time away
hidden they were able
to heal and bring salvation.

Also Joseph,
he was in prison for many years
but that put him in the right place
to be able to rescue the entire Jewish people
from certain extinction.

There is something for us
about these stories of people
retreating from the world
in order to save the world.
They are enclosed
in quiet dark places
they are like seeds
waiting for the right time
for bringing new life.

Remember when you are in
those dark times.
You are not being buried.
You’re being planted.

Everything starts in darkness.
It is not an end.
It is a transition
time to change
a time of stilling yourself
for something new to come.
Go into those times mindfully
and with rejoicing.