By finding that balance between work and my personal life, everything feels like it is coming together for me. It took 38 years, but I feel more in control of my life than I have ever before.
— 38 – Don’t Let Them Use You
Taking control of one’s life is rather difficult when life decides to throw everything it possibly can at you in a short amount of time as a challenge. The past year has been one of the more challenging ones for me on many fronts. And yet, through it all, I remain like that leaf, blowing around in the breeze, settling down on a railing, and catching the rain drops quietly.
In working with ourselves, cleaning up begins by telling the truth. We have to shed any hesitation about being honest with ourselves because it might be unpleasant. If you feel bad when you come home because you had a hard day at the office, you can tell the truth about that: you feel bad. Then you don’t have to try to shake off your pain by throwing it around your living room. Instead, you can start to relax; you can be genuine at home. You can take a shower and put on fresh clothes and take some refreshment. You can change your shoes, go outside, and walk in your garden. Then, you might feel better. In fact, when you get close to the truth, you can tell the truth and feel great.
One of the more influential books I have read this past year has been Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, by Chogyam Trungpa. This passage has stuck with me because it has summed up this past year for me fairly well. Telling ourselves the truth is difficult; expressing it is even more difficult. Acting on the truth is the most difficult, but that comes later.
Trungpa writing about truth is in a similar vein to the stoic belief about the obstacle is the way. Discovering and confirming the truth is the way forward in life, it isn’t an obstacle to be avoided nor ignored. The last line in the quote is one I relate to a lot: telling the truth to yourself or a close friend can feel liberating. It is an understanding of the issue, and getting the thoughts that are running circles in your head a way out.
When I wrote last year’s birthday post, I was questioning whether property management was the right path forward for me. I had mentioned several problems that had happened that, when combined together, were rather demoralizing for me. Financially, it was a struggle with the work and I wondered whether there was any long-term value in continuing on. At the start of this year, a major shift happened at work. Property management became more financially rewarding which allowed me to focus more on the question of what other value does property management bring me besides money?
It brought me back to the reasons why I decided to pursue property management in the first place: there are a lot of bad landlords out there. Mind you, there are a lot of bad tenants out there (especially in Kelowna) so I was left thinking about how can I help the bad landlords out with good tenants, and help the good landlords with bad tenants?
The answer to that question is through my level of empathy and understanding towards people. It’s a difficult truth to fully accept because we live in a world where everyone is out for their best interest (in most cases) and only admire the work people do with or for others when it is extraordinary in effort (saving people from an accident) or over a long length of time (volunteering for 20+ years in organizations.) Property management is never going to be seen as a social good the same way my parents’ careers have been in education and social work, so why continue down this path?
I think the answer to that question can be found in Trungpa’s explanation of the Great Eastern Sun:
In the vision of the Great Eastern Sun, no human being is a lost cause. We don’t feel that we have to put a lid on anyone or anything. We are always willing to give things a chance to flower.
There are going to be bad landlords, and bad tenants, but everyone is still human. Everyone is still going to need a place to put their head at night. It’s going to be through my empathy towards people that I’m going to be able to ultimately help them. The more I look past my own needs in what is being asked of me, the more rewarding property management will become for me, and likely more successful in the long run.
Will there be days of frustration? Of course, but as Trungpa suggests, if I tell myself the truth after those longer days, the more I will be able to fully relax and enjoy the position. In order to succeed with doing that, I will have to rely on the Stoic ideals of facing those problems head on. Explicitly express the truth so I can act upon it and not bury it deeper inside me to ignore.
Until this point, I have only discussed how the truth seeking applies to work, but it can be extended into my personal life as well. Last year, I expressed frustration with online dating; this year, I have been almost completely off the dating sites. I haven’t met anyone new in person dating-wise this year, and don’t have a strong desire to either. That has been the acceptance of a hard truth that I have been thinking about for awhile: I’m more comfortable being alone than being with someone else.
It exhausts me just thinking about finding the energy to get out and meet someone right now. I have more energy to go out when I know the person who’s inviting me out, but repeating the same stories, interests, and asking the same questions can wear someone out. I don’t want to commit to being single for the next year, but I will commit to staying off online dating sites and pursuing others as long as I possibly can. If something is meant to happen, it will happen.
Otherwise, this past year has been realizing that I can and should do better in other areas of my life. I couldn’t get out hiking as much as I wanted to, partially due to the heavy smoke in the valley this summer, but have been working out more regularly than I was last year. I’ve gotten into a better habit of reading more often, more books and literary magazines than online reading. And I have tried to get myself out the door as much as possible for walks, exploring the area, and finding any reason I can to just get outside as much as possible.
It’s a year that has flown by and I have done everything I possibly can to try and slow things down. The latter half of the year has been definitely going better for me than the first half of the year in that regard. Being fully in control is always going to be difficult with how quickly life has been changing for me and my daughter.
All I can do is be honest with myself with what is happening, and do better at controlling what I can control. Be the leaf on the railing and not fight against the nature of being the leaf- I will turn 40 next year, so let’s make the most of this coming year.
It hasn’t been out too long this year, but this song is so good. Takes me back in time to the Dawson City Music Festival when I saw them live, back in 2009:
According to iTunes, this was one of my most listened to songs (likely when writing):