“You need to know the strength of the ox cart, and not overload it.”
Ajahn Chah

Teddy was awake all night.


All night.

I watched every one of those hours pass.

So when 7.30 rolled around and it was time to get up, rouse the troops, help those who couldn’t find pants and socks, get the porridge bubbling, the lunchboxes emptied, cleaned and filled, bread toasted and baby goop prepared and shovelled into an ever-moving target, I was destroyed.

No. I wasn’t.

Curse you victim consciousness! πŸ™‚

I am no longer able to make those statements.

In the very recent past, I would have pulled myself out of bed with a whole raft of grumblings, complaints, injustices and dissatisfactions pushing my shoulders towards the floor. You know the sort of thing: “This is so unfair. Why didn’t he let me sleep just two consecutive hours? I can’t face doing breakfast. I’m exhausted. It’s so unfair. This is going to kill me…”

Indeed, learned response almost had me there this morning. But I can’t do it any more. Having read Lynne Forrest‘s Guiding Principles for Life Beyond Victim Consciousness and learned of Byron Katie’s formula for turning your life on its head in The Work, statements such as “I am destroyed” don’t work any more. I’m tired. Sure. Very. It’s been three nights. And it’s okay to be tired. What isn’t okay is to become a victim of my tiredness; to be curt with Jem, to be short and moody with my boys. Victim consciousness, it seems, takes your victimhood and imposes it on those around you. “I am exhausted and unhappy about it,” it says “so I’m going to make sure everyone else suffers, too.”

It’s terribly easy to fall back into the trap of victimhood, to feel sorry for yourself and bemoan your lot, but it helps absolutely nothing. And I say this without a shred of judgment – no evaluation of myself or of anyone else who falls into the trap. It’s a symptom of our society today, after all. It is a simple statement of fact. If I succumb to being a victim of my life, and project that victimhood onto those around me, not only am I deeply unhappy, but I drag everyone who comes into contact with me into that low energy forcefield.

Days like today are the most dangerous: tiredness can fog the thinking. We tend to act ‘on autopilot’ when tired, and old patterns of thinking and behaviour are all too easily re-entered. So how do we deal with the difficult days? Because some days just are more difficult than others, for whatever reason. It’s okay to have problems, it’s human to have problems, but it’s the way we deal with them that dictates our entire world. We’ve all heard the term ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ (and already I’m ducking out of the way of the barrage of things about to be thrown at me) but, pure and simple, it’s true. If your perspective is essentially one of positivity, health and growth, then that will be your experience of your immediate environment right now. If your perspective is one of negativity, depression and defeat… today will suck. The quote at the top of this page is pertinent to this very topic: know your limitations. If you are tired, then today is not the day to become a slave to your to-do list. Pare it down to the bare essentials, the minimum. Anything non-essential can simply wait.

My meditation yesterday took the form of a very long, very hot bath (midday no less – shock horror!) with an inspiring book. It was the second consecutive night of very little sleep and I knew I was good for nothing much. My priority, at such times, is of course to keep it together for my family, so while Teddy was asleep and everyone else at their educational establishments, I took the opportunity to shore myself up for the after-school onslaught. I emerged sparkling, shiny and ready for anything. Actually, and I’m not exaggerating, it was probably the most blissfully happy and at-ease-with-the-world I’ve ever felt. Bertie’s boisterousness barely touched me, his brothers’ various demands and need for attention were met without a hitch. Indeed, such was the benefit of a little self-nurture, that I even had the energy to bake a banana cake, bath the youngest three and nitcomb two of them (my efforts were rewarded with not a nit – hallelujah!)

As for our supper…

… Jem cooked πŸ™‚


2 responses to “Ox-Carts…

  • Morvah

    Brilliant! Good post Alice and your positive mood’s rubbing off on me. God I’m tired too – this house settling seems eternal and I’m hacked off with it now. Every time I start making progress the ‘far too friendly’ electrician (landlord’s mate) comes back and creates another layer of flippin’ dust all over the kitchen, not to mention his redneck attitudes and having to pick his hands off me, Grrr! Smiling I am though because you and I both know about Pluto et al (he has Moon/Pluto square Taurus sun) and he doesn’t, but might soon!! Love ya, hope Teddy’s OK and you get some sleep soon. x

    • erisian

      I think he’s teething again. He had teeth by four months – my memory is pretty appalling at the best of times (for which I credit my Capricorn Moon), but I’m fairly certain that’s quite early! At nine months now, he has eight teeth and I reckon it’s more of the little blighters shoving their way through. There are, of course, other significators, but they’re too yucky to go into here πŸ˜‰
      Sorry to hear about your over-friendly sparky – hope he’s close to getting you all set up, though…? We’ve been here a little over a year, and are almost properly moved in now…!
      Isn’t life a hoot? πŸ™‚
      Lots of love your way. xxx

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