One of my favorite self-care treats is fresh fruit. People who know me well will even joke about how I have been known to hide my favorite fruits when they were in short supply. The trick with fresh fruit is that word, “fresh.” That means that the fruit I enjoy changes from season to season. There is something wonderful about that. I never take my favorite fruits for granted, because I only have them for a limited time. And when I have my “positive lens” on (my clients are quite familiar with that one), I am great at reminding myself that the short window for each fruit makes me treasure it more.
But the flip side of that seasonality hits me right about now. The weather is cooling off. The air is crisp and the leaves are crunchy. It’s the perfect weather for apples and acorn squash. And I love that. But… But sometimes I lose track of everything good about this moment by focusing on what I don’t have. Sometimes, I let the joy of right now get lost in what happened later. Sometimes, in the middle of fall, I just want a sweet, juicy slice of watermelon.
Wanting What We Don’t Have
I think that we all get caught up sometimes in wanting what we don’t have. And sometimes the things that we want are much bigger than watermelon. Let me explore that a little bit more. Everyone experiences pain, and that pain can become incredibly overwhelming. When we’re overwhelmed, it’s almost reflexive to want to escape. If you’re single, feeling isolated & alone, being in a relationship looks like watermelon. If you are dealing with demanding children or a difficult partner, and it feels like every moment your life is closing in, then having a single night alone looks like watermelon. If you’re someone who’s driven to succeed, who feels as though your life is controlled by details, then being carefree for a while looks like watermelon. If you’re someone whose wide-open schedule has grown to feel chaotic and out of control, then living by a clear schedule looks like watermelon.
Please understand that each of the situations I’ve described above is legitimately painful. If you are in any of those situations, you’re probably hurting. You may feel overwhelmed. You’re absolutely allowed to experience and express those feelings. And, if it helps you to cope, you’re allowed to have escape fantasies about how fresh and free and delightful other situations look. That’s a normal response–I know I’ve done it plenty of times.
Appreciating What We Have
I think it’s important to be aware though that sometimes, those escape fantasies rob you of your ability to find the good in your current situation. And that ability is critical to finding solid footing during difficult times. When you can find some good, even if it is small at first, exactly as things are right now, then you create opportunities to recharge. As you recharge, you can gain the energy to make necessary changes, or to hang on through difficulty, or to celebrate what is already here–even in this difficult moment.
Sometimes, while we’re longing for watermelon, we miss out on the joy of apples. Apples and watermelon are so distinctly different, in color, taste, and shape. Each of them is amazing–in season. But apples in summer often taste mealy. And watermelon in fall is pale and nearly tasteless. I know that there is a weight of cliche behind the idea of being grateful for your present moment. That weight is there for a reason. Practicing deliberate gratitude, even in times of pain and struggle, is a fantastic way to gain your footing.
So, my challenge this week is to step back and look at your life right this minute. Are you missing the apples while you long for watermelon? What can you do to ground yourself in right this minute? Please feel free to share.Photo Credit: Watermelon by moreno0101 via Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Apples by Muffet via Creative Commons License