“How’s your summer going?”
A variation of this question was posed to me three times, in quick succession, one afternoon very recently. I had not yet left for the summer and was working steadily to finish all the tasks left to do before I could begin my break.
Nursing a deep resentment for still being at work while most colleagues were on the golf course, at their cottage or otherwise relaxing, my reaction to this question each time was to launch into what tasks I still had yet to do and a litany of reasons why it was taking so long for me to complete those tasks, this year in particular.
I saw a similar glazed-over look that was a cross between boredom and disinterest in the eyes of each person as I spoke to them. If we had still been children, one of them surely would have rubbed their index finger and their thumb together in front of my face declaring it was the world’s smallest violin playing and that it was playing just for me.
If it had just been this one day, I could chalk it up to simply having a bad day but it was clear to me that over the past few months Moaning Myrtle was becoming a default persona so I did a little experiment to see how this would play out long term if nothing changed.
I’m 85 years old and I’m walking with purpose to the Saturday morning farmer’s market pulling my empty two-wheeled cart behind me. A young woman who lives on my street greets me kindly as I rush by her with my jaw set, my brow furrowed and focused on my very important business that will surely involve bartering the best price for Bartlett pears. As I pass a shopkeeper sweeping the walk in front of his store, he looks up, stops sweeping, smiles at me and asks how I’m doing on this fine morning? So I tell him how much I have to do, how I have to find time to get train tickets for next month’s visit to my son and then there’s that closet I have to get cleaned out and figure out how to the get the contents over to the thrift store. I am also sure to tell him that I didn’t get much sleep last night because the neighbours had guests over for a barbecue and they stayed until the ungodly hour of 11 pm. As I ramble on, the shopkeeper gets the all-too-familiar look in his eyes. It is the same look I’ve seen in the eyes of my colleagues, friends and family for longer than I care to remember.
Not a pretty picture. And certainly not the future I want. For me or anyone near me.
Now the work is to look behind the repeated choice to complain and find out what underlying beliefs are informing Moaning Myrtle’s rants. What are my beliefs about hard work, about what I think I deserve and what attention I think I should get based on my perceived competence and productivity?
And based on clarity of beliefs and tweaking any outdated or unhelpful ones, what will the new scripts be when I’m asked how I’m doing?
Since I am now on my summer break, I’ll have to get to that work after I go for a walk or a bike ride, have a cup of coffee on my porch, take a nap and read a book. Moaning Myrtle’s voice is fading as she has been sent packing on a break of her own.
By the way, my summer is starting out to be the nourishing break I needed, thank you very much for asking!