This week I have been feeling sorry for myself. I know I shouldn’t, but as I write this I am lying in bed with a touch of flu and I have run out of coffee and my wife and daughter (understandably) have gone out, so I have nobody to complain to. Sorry, dear readers, it falls to you to listen to my whining instead.
"I am cultivating the habit of being grateful"
Of course these reasons are not the real ones that lead me to whimper in such a pathetic fashion. A moment of analysis tells me that my malaise is largely mental and down to a couple of things;
Firstly, a business project has not been going well. Indeed it looks as if we will not launch the product and so all the money, energy, enthusiasm and excitement which had been invested in it is turned to ashes. The charred corners of a great idea smouldering.
Secondly, I have not run for the best part of eight months. My knee continues to give me problems and four doctors seem to disagree on what should be done. Whilst I am able to walk for a reasonable distance, it has undoubtedly limited my goals in this year of transformation. Running has been a tonic for me in times of stress and mental suffering.
And so it is easy for me to lie here in a stuffy, dimly-lit bedroom feeling sorry for myself.
But I dislike self-pity, I really, really hate it. And I think it is because deep down I know it is a fault I have always had in abundance. And one I have battled to eradicate in my own make-up for as long as I remember. But, like smoking and other dependencies, it is always there. Lurking. Self pity is always willing to prop you up like a crutch. Even when you are spent, self-pity always seems to have enough energy to enable you to spend time reflecting, reeling, recriminating, when you might be doing something positive. Self-pity is easy. Self-pity is shameful. It stops you drawing the curtains to reveal a spectacularly sunny day.
Two or three years ago, in my current state, I would probably have become depressed for a while. Had a few more beers, dreamed of changing my job or my entire life, looked out of the window longingly, gone quiet. Until some unforeseen event would slowly pull me out of the trough and drag me towards a metaphorical peak.
Today things are different. I am cultivating the habit of being grateful. And this, I have found out, is the greatest enemy of self-pity. To list all that I am grateful for here would perhaps be over the top but high on the list of those things has been my rediscovery of my love of the outdoors. The health benefits go well beyond physical conditioning.
To say that the peaks are no longer metaphorical but actual would be to ignore the fact that I live in the flatness of Cambridgeshire. But then again, like my adopted county, I am also on a kind of plateau, which is eminently preferable to the roller-coaster of mental turmoil I have endured in the past.
So, it is with gratitude that I shall haul myself out of bed. It is with gratitude that I shall welcome my family when they get back. It is with gratitude that I shall mow the lawn. It is with gratitude that I shall watch the cricket. It is with gratitude that I shall make a pasta. It is with gratitude that I shall walk across a field and dip my toes in a river.
Of course… I may also take a Lemsip. But I shall be grateful.