I Have A Problem

Kirk Boys

          I recently began trying to practice Mindfulness.  I’m taking a class.  If you don’t know, Mindfulness is the art of living life in the moment, the here and now so to speak.  That involves forgetting the past and not fretting about the future and I have to admit that I am not so good at that.  Apparently, I have a lot to mull over.

          People ask, “Why would you do something like that?”

          I tell them, “I am trying to become a better, healthier, happier person.”  

          The question is how does staring at a ladybug crawl across a leaf or meditating on the shape of a cloud or taking the time to really enjoy a cup of coffee make me a better, happier, healthier person?  Living in the moment takes “me-time” and that seems sort of selfish if you want to know the truth.  If I were a good person I wouldn’t be in my own head, I would be trying to help other people’s heads.  When I say others, I mean people who are struggling: so, your poor people, your sick people, your immigrants, your homeless, your mentally ill, your Evangelicals. 

          I was thinking the other day that to be a better person, I should be volunteering more, but even that has its downside.  You can come across as self-righteous.  That doesn’t make me a better person.  Maybe the answer is to donate money.  Writing a check is my go-to against feeling guilty, but writing a check is a cop-out, everybody knows that.  

          You know how they say, “You can’t help someone else if you can’t help yourself.”  It’s the type of thing you’d hear from a counselor or a psychiatrist to make you feel better about being selfish.  They might even give you a prescription for some medication that would help you to not feel anything.     

          It’s all too confusing.  What should I be doing to be a happier, healthier and better person.  If I made a list it might make me less anxious and I could really get into that cup of coffee or watch that cloud form.  

          I feel guilty about my white privilege.  I blame my parents for most everything since they’ve both passed on and can’t defend themselves.  In addition, I’ve gained a few pounds and I should be working out more and watching what I eat more closely, not too much salt, fat or corn syrup.  There’s a chance I could be gluten intolerant, but I have no way of knowing since I haven’t had a physical in some time.  I’ll just research it on Web MD.

          Then there’s my drinking.  My wife says, “You need to cut back.”  She tells me, “You might have a drinking problem.”   And that could be the reason I don’t like what I see in the mirror after my shower no matter how much I suck in my gut or flex my muscle.  Which reminds me I should be putting sunscreen on before I go out in the sun as skin cancer is everywhere.  People are catching it like crazy.

          On the spiritual front I haven’t gone to church since Easter and even then we left mass early to make it to brunch on time.  I guess I need to put that on the To-Do list along with the five grandkids whom I’m told aren’t getting enough of my time.  My daughter said just the other day, “Dad you need to spend more time with the kids.” 

          I need to take the dog for a walk every day.  Not to mention there’s plenty to get done around the house, dusting, windows and weeding in the yard and speaking of the house, it’s time my wife and I sell and move into the city and buy an electric car.  My wife said just the other day, “Why are we living in the suburbs.  We don’t have any kids in school or little league or dance class.  We don’t belong in the suburbs anymore our kids are grown and gone.  We should be in the city closer to real bookstores and independent movie houses and gourmet restaurants and poetry readings.  We need to live somewhere we can walk to things before we can’t walk anymore.”   

          And I said to her, “I like that Home Depot is so close and Costco and Fred Meyer and Red Robin and MacDonald’s and Burger King are all just a short drive away.  What if I park at the far end of the lot and just walk more?”

          And she says to me, “You’ve got a problem.”  

          I should also be getting involved in politics, doorbelling and organizing and such.  That deserves my time too.  Which brings me to sleep.  I need more sleep. “You’re sleep deprived” my wife says.  

          “It takes me one second to fall asleep,” I tell her.  I’m very proud of that statistic.  

          “That’s a problem,” she says.  “You should determine if you have Sleep 

Apnea.”  It’s as bad as skin cancer.  People are catching it like crazy too.  

          It’s a good thing I’m retired.

          My tennis game is crumbling.  I used to be really good, but now I need lessons and practice time but my knees ache.  There is also the matter of making some new friendships, especially if I plan on living past 70.  Friendship extends life, I read that somewhere.  I spend too much time on my phone and watching golf on TV and I need to work on my flexibility which means signing up for a yoga class I guess. 

          It’s a lot to consider.  

          “It needs to happen,” my wife tells me.

          I have too much on my plate to worry about moments or ladybugs or the way the wind rustles the leaves or shadows dance on a sunny day or how my body feels when I take a breath.  I need to help other people to feel good about myself.  I wish there was a pill for all of that because I’m burning time just thinking about all the stuff I need to do.

          Or, maybe I should forget about all that stuff and watch a ladybug, see how it handles itself.  Maybe I’d learn something.  

Kirk Boys is a writer living outside Seattle with his wife and a tiny Mexican dog. His essays have appeared in Gravel Magazine, The Chaos Journal, Bio-Stories and will be reappearing in Bio-stories shortly. His works of fiction can be found in Storie #57/58, Per Contra and Thrice Fiction amongst others. He was a finalist in Glimmer Train New Writers contest and has a certificate in Literary Fiction from the University of Washington. He is a member of Richard Hugo House.