Last week I shared some thoughts about what I’m learning through Shauna Niequist’s new book Bread & Wine and some of my own journey in learning about hospitality and cooking. Today I want to share another bit of the book that has been challenging me.
“I tend to think that when everything is going well I have the margin to do hard things, to make good choices- to read instead of watch TV, to eat well instead of eat poorly to engage in deep conversation instead of chatter about other people. It’s the making of those harder, better choices right while everything’s a mess that makes the mess a little more manageable. I wanted nachos upon nachos last night, like a wheelbarrow full. But this morning I would have had to add a sense of failure to my already bruised spirits. I’m not saying I woke up feeling all better. But I do know I could have made it so much worse, that I could have added self-loathing to my tiredness, and that wouldn’t have made it easier to bear. I’m realising this after what seems like a lifetime of saying to myself, “Well, you can’t be expected to do something hard on a day like this, can you?” I did expect more from myself, and I did do something hard, and I’m thankful.”
I’ve kept thinking this passage over since I first read the book a week or two ago. It is the kind of idea which in some ways I wish I could find a reason to disagree with because that would be easier. But I think she is indeed onto something that while hard, is true and helpful. I often try to convince myself that after making it through a hard situation/day/week that I deserve to be and do less than I would in my better moments. It seems to be a common problem.
Lots of writers and speakers say that often when they decide to write or speak about a topic that they will inevitably get opportunities to learn about it first hand. That has held true when working on a post about this idea. I need to exercise more so recently started getting up early to exercise. The week I started ended up being a hard, disappointing week in other areas of life. Staying in bed (or going back) to hide from the world was a very tempting proposition, but when I did it I felt guilty and lazy. But instead, most days I thought about Shauna’s advice and got on with it. The days I got up and exercised didn’t feel great. I started to wonder if what I’ve been told about exercise giving you endorphins which make you happy was true. But knowing that I’d successfully done something hard already made the rest of the day a bit easier to bear. It made it a bit easier to exercise ordinary courage in other ways. It made me feel like I was making progress on something, even as other things felt like they were slipping backwards. I’m glad I did the hard thing.