Have you ever had someone offer that old platitude, “When life gives you lemons – make lemonade?”
The thing about platitudes is that they offer more in the way of comfort than actual insight. They’re quick soothers, more like signposts than directions.
Does that mean we should consider this well-meaning but not necessarily helpful input useless? Maybe it depends on what we need; sometimes comfort and gentle reassurance is just the thing to bring a challenge down from the pinnacle of imossibility to something we can scale suceessfully.
I used to be good at platitudes, giving ‘advice’, without considering whether it was actually wanted or needed. I wanted to be seen as helpful, and get the approval that would come from that. I was offering platitudes for my own gratification, and not truly for the benefit of the person dealing with trouble.
Since I began practicing mindfulness, I’ve shichanged both the way I engage others when they’re facing challenges in their lives, and also the way I deal with adversity when it finds me.
It’s got my address, these last couple of weeks. My laptop, not yet two years old, started getting capricious about accepting a charge. It seems to be a problem with my Lenovos, so I did what’s always worked before, and ordered new power adapter cords, expecting that to solve my problem.
Until the night it stopped taking a charge, and wouldn’t boot up, even though I had left the battery with a charge. That’s when I knew I had a bigger problem.
The new adapters didn’t solve it. My son, the Tech Boy, read up on the Lenovo forums, and attempted to perform a fix. No dice. So I need to have my laptop repaired, or, if that’s not feasible, get back what’s on my hard drive, and replace it.
Summer is the leanest financial season for our family, and it may be several weeks before we can afford to do either of those.
Ahh, reality. Life’s Lemons.
Lemons are far more sour than sweet, and squeezing one doesn’t make lemonade, only lemon juice….icing it and putting it in a pretty picture isn’t going to turn it into a refreshing beverage.
I need more than that…and that’s where mindfulness comes in.
I went through the stages of grief, in a milder way….I was numb, for a few hours. I couldn’t quite believe that this had happened to me. Then there was anger. Why did this have to happen to me, and why now? Why not a few months ago, while the laptop was still under warranty? Or a few months from now, when I’m not in the middle of quite so much, and when our budget’s bounced back from the summer ebb, and I’d have financial resources available to sweeten those lemons?
Then, the bargaining began…what if…if…?
But there really wasn’t a ‘what if’ – I’d already bought adapters, and let my son have a go at it. I was stymied – and so I came at last to acceptance…the understanding that these are my circumstances for now, and I have to deal with them as they are.
That was the final ingredient. It allowed me to figure out how to adapt to the situation as-is, and move forward from here.
I remembered the little elderly Toughbook that’s been outgrown and nearly abandoned. It’s really not designed for creative pursuits, and it was SLLLLLOOOOOWWWW. It doesn’t have a battery, so it’s not as portable as it could be. But it’s a computer and it’s functioning where mine isn’t. I figured I could make it do at least some of what I needed…even if that was only getting the kids’ homeschool paperwork finished by the due date.
I spent a good chunk of that first evening defragmenting the hard drive, then deleting programs I knew no one would need. I decided that I would leave this machine better than I found it, so that other family members can use it, when I’ve finished.
Fortunately, nearly all of my work was backed up on the cloud . My next project was to start downloading files as I wanted to work with them….and learning what I can and can’t do with this machine.
It’s been about ten days. I’m able to do most of what I want to do – maybe not quickly or conveniently, but effectively. I’ve re-evaluated and adapted my goals to accommodate my current reality, which has lowered my stress. I’ve become more flexible, and shifted some of my focus to other goals – ones that aren’t computer-dependent, and which often get pushed aside when I’m focused on writing.
There are moments of frustration – the tartness of those lemons. But there’s also the sweetness of added time with my beloveds, and the cooling refreshment of allowing things to flow as they are – the water than makes sugar and lemon juice into something we can sip and savor. There’s the pleasing clank of the learning that goes with this type of challenge – the sound of growth.
I’ll be thrilled to get my laptop back, so that I can work quickly and easily again. In the meantime, though, I’m grateful for this chance to practice the mindful making of Adversity Lemonade.
Have you had a mindful experience with life’s lemons? I’d love to hear about it!
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