And when it all seems to add up--as it always seems to do--it's really easy to wallow in it, to get bogged down by it, to bring yourselves to the same low level as people you have absolutely no respect for.
It's funny, when I start to feel totally overwhelmed by the garbage that seems to me like unspeakably heavy lead weights attached to my legs while I'm swimming in the ocean, it always occurs to me to remember that I have the power to make a choice.
Do I want to be part of the problem? Is it my desire to keep on trying to swim, held back and stuck in one place by those blocks of lead that are tied to me? Is there any point, really?
It's much easier to be part of the solution, to figure out a way to cut the ropes that have tied the weights to me in the first place, to recognize that the blocks of lead will still be there, will always be trying to wrap their way around me again ... but that I do not have to let it happen.
And so tonight, I'm taking a deep breath.
I cannot change, understand on any sort of rational level, or try to help (a mindset that always ends up backfiring in my face), no matter how hard I try, someone who is so mentally ill that the only person that matters to himself is ... well, himself.
I cannot change people in positions of power that are completely blind to reality. All I can do is the best I can and hope that these people either open their minds a little bit or are replaced by more qualified and competent individuals.
I have no power over the life dramas that add up--things like dogs barfing between the cracks of the hardwood floor, head lice, dead car batteries, abscessed teeth, mail that gets lost, cell phone cases that break, not being able to access work e-mail from home, writer's block, losing a book I'm really into when I have two chapters left, friends that disappear unexplained from your life, and so on and so forth.
And so sometimes, you just have to stop, do a quick self-reflection, and ask, "Am I part of the problem?"
Usually, no matter how much you want to think otherwise, the answer is yes, either because of clumsiness or insensitivity or irresponsibility or impulsivity or whatever.
So then I have to put on my big girl panties and strive to instead be part of the solution.
This isn't always possible. In fact, sometimes you are going to get metaphorically screwed, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.
The three big things that are wearing me down, I do not believe that I am part of the problem, no matter how many different angles I am looking at them.
I honestly don't see how I can be part of any solution, which makes me sad and full of regret, but there is nothing I can do. I mean, when you can say with a 100% clear conscience that you have tried everything in your power, you have to just do the best you can and have hope that things will change for the better.
They always do eventually.
But I refuse to swim around with those lead weights tied around me anymore. I have to harden my heart, which is so anti-me it's not even funny, but it's the only way I can be free.
It's the only way I can possibly be part of the solution instead of possibly perpetuating the problems.
I believe in a higher power, and I believe in karma. I live my life doing the best I can for other people, and I am able to look in a mirror with a clear conscience. I have no ulterior motives for any of my actions that are intended to hurt other people, and I know in my heart that I am a good person.
Somehow I know that the people at the root of my current conundrums can't say that about themselves.
And with that realization, I think I'll be able to sleep tonight :-)