Are you sick to death of an important relationship, your weight, your inertia on a project or the pigsty you call an office?
Whatever it is with which you’re fed up (for me, it was the pigsty), consider wallowing in your fed-upness before reacting prematurely.
The term “fed up” comes from the barn yard.
Imagine cows or pigs being force-fed to make them fat and meaty for market. They are fed until they are full and then fed a little bit more to get the best price before slaughter. They’re trapped in their stall with ready access to the trough, no longer free to graze in the meadow or root around for tasty morsels in the pen.
That’s how it feels to be fed up. Overfull. Trapped. Slaughter looming. Being fed up is having had more than enough of something, whatever it is. So when you’re fed up, you’re understandably tempted to quit or get away from or otherwise take rash action with the something.
Don’t do that quite yet.
How about doing nothing?
Control is an illusion. We itty bitty human beings have control of nothing. Oh, sure you can choose to eat this or that, but really, we’re all standing at the trough of life, dining on what’s in front of us.
Should you quit or wait until you’re fired? Same result, different timing. I don’t get to choose whether I get wrinkles. I only get to choose whether I can afford the wrinkle cream and laser treatments to stave them off (temporarily). My brother, the smoker? He died in a car accident.
Stuff happens. Inevitably.
Everything in this world is impermanent. Except our souls. I believe our souls are eternal. But everything else will eventually dissolve, break, end or disappear. And it probably won’t happen on our timetable.
So to think we can somehow control anything is dubious at best.
I’m reading a fascinating book. Have I mentioned it already? Yeah, it’s that good. In “A New Earth,” author Eckhart Tolle says, “sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
Maybe your suffering is necessary. Instead of trying to get rid of it, consider trying to roll with it and quit trying to predict what will happen. As Tolle might say, “The more expectations you have of how [your] life should unfold, the more you are in your mind instead of being present for [it].”
Maybe whatever it is with which you’re fed up is a necessary experience, a crucial step in a much bigger process. From “A New Earth”:
You differentiate between events that are “good for me” and things that are “bad.” This is a fragmented perception of the wholeness of life in which everything is interconnected, in which every event has its necessary place and function within the totality. The totality, however, is more than the surface appearance of things, more than the sum total of its parts, more than whatever your life or the world contains.
When you’re fed up, that phase of doing nothing, rolling with it and accepting the greater wisdom of the interconnected universe helps prevent reaction and informs action. At some point, you’ll know what to do.
I am reminded of some advice from Cheryl Lightle, one of the co-founders of Creative Memories, which declared bankruptcy a couple of months ago and is in the midst of a reorganization some might describe as chaotic. Lightle retired a decade ago after 15 years of epic success, and I’ll let someone else opine on whether the company’s current woes can be found in the abandonment of some of guiding principles followed by Lightle and other top execs in the company during its infancy.
In her book, “Creative Memories: The 10 Timeless Principles Behind the Company that Pioneered the Scrapbooking Industry,” Lightle counsels, “Don’t knee jerk”:
Change is hard. Our immediate reaction when faced with change is to take action. I say stop and hold tight.
Was my complete and total lack of willingness to address my messy office the past couple of weeks somehow interconnected with the universe? Perhaps. I cannot say for sure. But I wallowed in it for a while. Was change hard? Yes, cleaning takes effort (at least for me). Today, I took action (not reaction) and found a home for every file, photo album, manuscript draft, unsold product, outdated handout and book cluttering the floor of my office. For some items, the home was nearby (the bookcase), and for others, their destination was the garbage can in the garage (why I was holding on to catalogs from 2004 is beyond me). I cleared enough space to vacuum! Ah, never has such a lowly household machine been put such a higher purpose.
I’m no longer fed up. I’m admiring my space.