What shall I do?

Big Sur

I’m feeling profoundly sorry for myself, this evening. Lonely and lost and adrift.

But I’m being ridiculous. And tired. I realize that, and I have the good sense not to succumb to my despair.

Heck, I don’t have to stay stuck in my difficult experiences. I can choose to have whatever experience I want.

I can choose to live like I’m at the beach.

Yes, that sounds good. That’s what I’ll do — live like I’m at the beach.

I must admit, I’ve been fantasizing about ditching it all and moving to Hawai’i and living on the beach there. I’ve got relatives in the Honolulu area, and since their kids are all out and off in the world, they’d have room for me. Or, at least they’d let me use their shower. ‘Cause I’d rather live on the beach.

There’s always California, too. Someplace with lots of sand and waves and surfer life really appeals to me, these days, in the midst of all my hyper-responsibility.

What’s with the responsibility, anyway? How did I get to be grown up? Sometimes, it just sucks.

But back to how I want to live… I don’t want to live like I’m burdened by all this intense responsibility. I want to live like I’m whiling away my days on a beach, without a care in the world. And I can achieve that mindset myself, without needing to relocate (and divest of all my earthly possessions).

If I just live as though the things in my life aren’t weighing me down, and I treat my everyday experience like the discovery it is… then it doesn’t really much matter that I’m not camped out on a sandy stretch of open-air.

That’s what I’ll do – live like I live on the beach.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

8 thoughts on “What shall I do?”

  1. It’s said that moves contribute heavily to the stress load… I’d take that into consideration when weighing the benefits of the long-range escape. Nearby, short term escapes can be good for finding perspective. Feeling alone and sorry for yourself … That sounds so sad. The time of the paradigm shift in a relationship is truly a crisis. It is. Forgive yourself, it’s normal, even if terrifying…


  2. Oh, yes… the added stress… I’m actually not planning to make any moves anytime soon. I just need to catch up on my sleep and have more fun – on purpose. Somehow, sleep solves a ton of issues with me. Fun, too…

    Thanks for writing.


  3. BB –
    I am always stuck by two facets of human nature which are intertwined –

    1. We believe that others have ‘normal’ lives and that normal is something that can be achieved, is desirable and can be verified. We think that other homes do not have mind blowing fights, financial strife, mental health issues, addictions, major failures, troubled and problematic children, difficult family relationships and never procrastinate or have disarray . We think that others have great jobs, great sex, lasting and endless unconditional love, deep personal satisfaction, a lot of fun, a sense of balance, warm nurturing friendships, are organized, effective, patient and are able to achieve their dreams and function at high levels in all areas of their lives.

    2. We believe that happiness is a goal, an endpoint that gets achieved. If I do x,y and z I will (FINALLY) learn to be happy. We believe the absence of sadness or pain or misery means that we should therefore be happy. We believe that happiness is the default state and we corrupt it, but if we remove our obstacles (which are of course under our free will) we will, be –de facto – happy. We believe that we can maintain happiness always if we do the ‘right’ things and have the ‘right’ attitude. We believe that happiness is the reward for virtue and that virtuous people are, therefore, happy people – and vica versa. We believe that if we are doing something wrong we will not be happy and if we are not happy we must be doing something wrong.

    Both of these human belief processes are completely faulty.


  4. Some additional great myths we live by….(feel free to add your own)

    If we want it and work hard for it we will achieve it. Wanting to be financial successful, physically fit and healthy, having a great marriage etc is all within our reach if we just put in the effort and time.

    Change can occur quickly if we really work at it. We can lose weight, improve our brain functioning, repair our relationships, get strong, etc. today – well, okay – maybe in two days.

    There will never be set backs once if we are on the right path.

    Once we achieve something we never have to work at it again. If we fall in love and get married we will always be in love. If we have a good job we will never worry about employment. If we are thin we will never be fat. If we are healthy we will never be sick.

    Once we have self realization we will never deceive ourselves again.

    Achieving our goals will make us happy.


  5. Ha – well, yes, I suppose part of the magic of being human is finding out, time and again, how flawed our beliefs can be.

    Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be wretched, every time we find out. Sometimes, if we take ourselves less seriously than we’d prefer, we can have a good laugh in the process.


  6. m –

    You know, after giving some thought to this, I have to say I suspect I’m a bit more optimistic than you. Certainly, there will be setbacks, and there are disappointments, and there are hard lessons. But so what? When we attain the things we desire, we have every right to enjoy them for as long as they last. I’m sure plenty of folks understand that the pleasures and successes of life tend to be somewhat short-lived. Then again, I’m sure there are lots who don’t. But that shouldn’t stop us from pursuing them in the belief that we can indeed attain lasting improvement and good.

    Good is good, no matter how long it lasts, and we have every right to enjoy it while it does.


  7. BB –
    Hmmm – well my intent was not to be pessimistic – though I have been feeling a little edgy today and so perhaps it came through. Actually, by being REALISTIC, I was intending to be positive. What I mean by that is that we hold up such incredibly high expectations for ourselves, expectations that are not valid except in magazine and the media – and then, when we have struggles in our own lives, we create a sense of despair, of being screw-ups, of being failures, imperfect, damaged etc. – when in truth we are just like the rest of the world. Recognizing that all couples have struggles, that many people don’t achieve just because they want to, or even because they work hard means that we do things because we want to do them, because we believe they are the right things to do and not necessarily because we are rewarded. Most people don’t commit crimes because they fear being caught – I hope that I don’t commit crimes because I believe they are wrong. Doing the things that are true to you EVEN in the face of the reality that they do not guarantee anything is very powerful – and very freeing.
    Similarly I don’t believe that happiness is a goal, if anything it’s a by-product of being true to yourself. But there are plenty of ‘quality’ moments in life that are not ‘happy’ – and not sad or angry either.
    It is true that I do not believe in justice – divine or otherwise. It is why I struggle with the concept of God as well. I think the most troubled people in the world however are the ones who do not acknowledge their loss, their fear, their sadness, their grief. “Negative’ experience is part of life, is normal, is okay.
    Life is messy, dirty, backwards, juicy, rich, cold, lush, black, red, pure, and a thousand other things (a million).
    Recognizing that good is impermanent gives us two gifts:
    1. Bad is also impermanent
    2. The awareness to appreciate good all the more.
    As Pema Chodron says

    ‘If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. ‘


  8. m –

    I think I’m getting what you mean (tho’ it’s been a long week, so I could be off)… That whole acceptance of suffering “thing” right? I have to say, in many ways, I do agree with you. There’s something tremendously freeing about giving up on the pressure to be 100% good/perfect/right all the time. Allowing oneself to be imperfect and mistaken and messed up (without being stuck there for all eternity) is like giving yourself a free pass — of course, you don’t always pass go and you don’t always collect your $200, but you still get to skip past the jail and have another shot at a go-round.

    One of my chief strategies in things that really matter a lot to me (and I’m giving away one of my secrets here) is to set my expectations really, really low. I mean, low enough that I’m not at all surprised by disaster. Okay, granted, it’s not the most optimistic point of view, but I’m never disappointed that way. And I’m quite pleasantly surprised, when things work out.

    I think dealing with the TBI stuff for so long has conditioned me to expect crap to hit the fan out of nowhere. Now the challenge for me is to learn to not expect it automatically — to be open to the possibility, but also to be open to the possibility that everything might NOT go to hell in a handbag.

    Still, there is something quite freeing about just accepting the fact that sh*t happens all the time, and a lot of that time it happens to me. It gives me a chance to brace for impact.

    Only thing is, the impact doesn’t always come… yet, I’m braced anyway. Perhaps this is one of the root causes of my stiff-as-a-board back that the chiro was bemoaning yesterday? Or it could be the falls I’ve had over the years. Who can say?

    On a final note, one of my big goals in life is to become indifferent to fluctuations that could count as “good” or “bad” — to see them as just “what is” and not get into assigning all sorts of judgment to them. The days that I can look at something that happens and be totally neutral are the good ones. No matter what happens, you always have something to work with.



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