I need a good reason to get out of bed. A very good reason. I love my bed in the morning so I lay there thinking about one of two things. Either I think about today or I think about yesterday.
Yesterday bogs me down, today motivates me. Some people have devotions. That’s too much work for me – it’s bed. Don’t mess with sleep. Sleep is worship. “Hey, I’m not sleeping, I worshiping…”
Back to the point, I need purpose. It may be my dog Belle looking at me wondering, “Shouldn’t we be running on the beach?” Or it may be my cell phone needing to be turned off after the 15th wake up jingle. It may be coffee with the guys.
Every week I get together with a few friends. I call it “Coffee is for Closers.” We share about our jobs and our families. As I look over our first year I realize we talk a lot about loss. The loss may be parents, siblings, children, friends, and co-workers. We also talk a lot about raising children. Sometimes I think we may be dealing with another kind of loss; the loss of childhood, and the loss of being the parent of a child.
We talk about transitions. Transitions are risky, they expose our vulnerabilities. Sometimes they don’t work. Sometimes it looks like failure. Movement is messy.
A story is told of two Samurai warriors from opposing clans. They meet on a road in ancient Japan. Both stand facing each other with swords drawn, neither move. In time it starts to rain and still, neither move. They are within striking distance but motionless they stand. Their arms grow weary but they remain fixed, eyes and posture never moving. Not a flinch, rarely a blink.
“Why didn’t they move? Why didn’t one attack?”
Ahh, grasshopper, they knew that if one moved, he would expose himself. If one moved, he would be vulnerable. If one moved, he could be slaughtered.
“But they weren’t getting anywhere. If one moved, he could be victorious!”
True, but they were surviving. We are all pretty basic creatures. Sure, we have higher-order thinking. Yes, we have a conscience. True, we have a soul. But within our brain is a primitive system whose goal is singular; the goal is survival. Even when we know an alternative would be better, we continually do the same thing over and over because it works. Sort of. In the recesses of our minds, we know it doesn’t work well, but we know we will survive and that’s reinforcing.
Sounds like the definition of insanity, right? Einstein is mis-credited with, “ Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
For me, I like staying up late at night almost as much as I like staying in bed. Every night I tell myself, “Tomorrow I’m getting up as soon as my alarm goes off, I mean it.” And somehow it doesn’t happen because every night I stay up finding out what the correct spelling of Samurai is or how many touch downs Randal Cunningham scored in his second year in the NFL. Somehow it works. I go to bed late, I get up when I have to. It works but I know there is something better.
At Coffee is for Closers, we talk about fun stuff and tough stuff. It gives us the courage and the encouragement to try something different. We fight the losses. They scare us because we don’t know what they bring. We are inspired to be better.
Sometimes losses bring out the stranger in us. We lay in bed in a whirlwind of frustration, loss, hostility, and bitterness. Sometimes we lose our purpose. We don’t want to move. Maybe we think we can’t. Sometimes we hear the person next to us feeling the same thing and we reach out for them. Together we see it getting lighter, but we get up one at a time.
This week marks one year since Coffee is for Closers began. I started it to offer some informal mentorship to men caught up in the throes of family and work. But I now know is how much they have mentored me in the throes of life.
What I now know is that I was that Samurai warrior, rusting in the rain. First; I had to take a chance. Second; I had to move. Third; I found purpose.
I hope you find your people. I hope you find your “Coffee is for Closers.”
Oh, and I found out “8.” Randall Cunningham scored eight touchdowns in his second season.
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. Look forward to his upcoming posts, quiz, and book, “When Sunday Smiled.” Visit his website at AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.