Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cursed? Or Just Cursing? Quirky Thoughts About Finding Hope During Times of Trial

The way my life has been going lately, it's easy to see how people in ancient times could believe in things like curses and evil spirits tormenting them and causing their bad luck.

What do I mean by that?

Well, let's put it this way: There are many, many things in my daily life that work perfectly, day after day, and never give a moment's problem. The 13-year-old television still works. The toaster oven always toasts. The microwave, despite being 12 years old, always microwaves. So it's not as if EVERYTHING in the world breaks down all the time.

But what is the most important focus of my life right now? My farm. And what are the most important, absolutely crucial tools I need to use on a daily basis to keep this place running and try to earn enough money to not go bankrupt? (1) A digital camera, (2) a pickup truck, (3) a cell phone, (4)a computer, (5) a home phone and internet connection, and (6) email.

EVERY SINGLE ONE of these items that I own is currently broken, malfunctioning, or has done so in the past few months. It's enough to make me tear out my hair!

(1) I already complained about my digital camera yesterday, so I won't go into that again.

(2) My pickup truck has a mysterious ailment that we've tried to have repaired a dozen times, but nothing ever works in the long run. So now it sits, unable to start, leaving us unable to haul hay or building supplies for farm improvements. When we get a little more cash on hand, we'll try again to have it repaired, but I've lost confidence that anything will ever truly fix the problem.

(3) My cell phone has been almost worthless for 6 months now. That one is partly my fault. I accidentally dropped it in the horse water trough, and then forgot it in my jeans pocket and ran it through the washing machine. Of course it died! We spent $130 to buy a new one. A week later, I was out training a horse, it started to rain, and before I could get back to the house, the brand new cell phone in my pocket again got wet and again died. Only the power button and the speed dial buttons still work, so I can't receive calls or check messages, and the only calls I can make are to people who were already programmed into my speed dial (Ken and my sister). We haven't been able to afford another $130 for a new phone, much less one of the more expensive waterproof ones that I clearly need! So we're waiting another couple of months until our phone plan qualifies me to get a new phone for the cheaper "sign up" rates.

(4) My computer died a few months ago. My husband fixed it, but it broke again shortly thereafter. After weeks of it being out of service, Ken finally got it fixed again. By that time, I'd gotten all my work transferred to Ken's computer, which I'm still using, while Ken uses his laptop in the living room. Someday I'm going to have to do the complicated task of organizing all my files and transferring them all BACK to my computer, but my office is FREEZING in the winter, so for now I'm using Ken's office for as long as he lets me, even though it's inconvenient.

(5) Our home phone and internet connection has been okay lately, but several months ago, it got broken three times in a row. Why? Because out of the whole 26 acre farm that the sheep could be roaming around on, one of them decided that the very best place to stand every day was in the 3 feet of space right up next to the house near where the phone and DSL wires attach. Although these wires are stapled to the side of the building with very little slack, three times, the sheep managed to insert his horns under the wires and rip them down. Try explaining that to the phone company repair person! We've since put up a barrier to keep the sheep away from the spot, and Ken has figured out how to fix the wires himself if it becomes necessary again.

(6) Lately, I've been having sporadic, but serious, email problems. Everything looks fine on my end, but as time goes on, I find out from more and more people that some of my messages are never getting through to them. Many are getting shunted to the people's spam folders (even though I am on that person's "accepted" list), and many are just never showing up at all in ANY folder.

So I send long, detailed answers to people inquiring about horses for sale, only to find out a week later that they never received them. I have people inquiring about fleeces and other sheep products that complain I never answered their emails, when in fact I had never received any messages from them.

It's very frustrating and makes me really paranoid. If I answer a horse buyer inquiry and they don't respond, have they changed their mind and decided they're no longer interested? Or did they never get my answer? Or did they send me a reply that I never got? The wondering is driving me nuts!!!

So anyway, back to what I was saying about ancient cultures believing in curses and evil spirits:

Clearly, we all have hardships in our lives. And for some reason, those hardships and difficulties always seem to hit the aspects of our lives that are the most important to us, the things we focus the majority of our attention on.

To an ancient mind, uneducated by modern scientific thought, and unsullied by modern cynicism, would that not suggest some kind of malevolent intelligence, seeking the most effective way to cause harm?

And, in some roundabout way, might that not actually be a comforting thing to believe?

What I mean is, if all these difficulties are simply "The Way Things Are," then our only choice is to accept that life is hard and bad things happen when you can least afford trouble. There is no hope for relief from the troubles because that's just "The Way Things Are." It's depressing!

On the other hand, if instead you believe that malevolent pixies have infested your home and are tormenting you on purpose, then at least you have the entertainment of wondering what invisible pixies might look like, what their motivations might be, and how you might appease them.

In Ireland, farm wives used to leave out saucers of milk, honey, or whiskey on their doorsteps to feed the Fairy Folk, to keep on their good side and avoid being cursed or having mischievous tricks played on them.

Regardless of whether the pixies are real, just by wondering about them, you've engaged your imagination and had a brief respite from the drudgery of trying to overcome your latest batch of problems! Not only that, you can also indulge in the hope that if only you find the right way to appease the mischievous sprites, life could be easy and good again.

And that's the crux of the matter: When times are at their very hardest, sometimes the ONLY thing that you need to help you survive is the hope that things will eventually get better.

Here's another example:

A couple of weeks ago, when I was feeling very stricken and depressed about parting with my favorite horse, my sister sent me some homeopathic medicine intended to help cure grief and emotional upset. She said it had helped her, and she should know, since she's had plenty of cause for grief and upset in her life.

My husband, on the other hand, thinks that homeopathic medicine is a load of hooey. At the levels of dilution they claim, he says, there are not enough molecules in the bottle for even ONE molecule of the original medicine to still be in there. So how can it possibly work?

Me, I tend to stay open to both sides of the debate, and be willing to experiment to find what works for me, regardless of WHY or HOW it works. So I decided to try the homeopathic pills.

The directions said to take 4 tiny pills, 4 times a day until I felt better. My symptoms might intensify for a few days before they improved. I could take the pills for up to two weeks, if necessary.

Sure enough, for two days after I started taking the pills, I felt so sad that I would start crying at a moment's notice. I lost my appetite. I didn't want to do anything but lie down and sleep. But after another two days, I felt better. I was able to get on with my life.

Was it the pills? In a way, I think it was. But maybe not in the way you might think.

You see, regardless of what is IN those pills, they have another potent effect: They distract your mind briefly from your pain, and they give you hope that things will get better. Like I said before, sometimes that's all you need.

Four times a day, when I took those pills, my mind was able to stop dwelling on my sorrow long enough to think, "I wonder if these will work?" By the very act of wondering, my mind was admitting to the possibility that I would soon feel better. Which generates hope. Which, in itself, makes you feel better!

The directions warned that the feelings might intensify before improving. Letting my mind absorb that information gave me permission to mourn as much as I needed to, right away, rather than trying to hold it in. How better to heal from grief than to actually go through the mourning process?

Did the actual ingredients of the pills have any effect on my mood? I don't know. Do I feel better now than I did before I started taking them? Absolutely.

I'm a firm believer that there are many layers to how we interact with the world, both seen and unseen. Sometimes when things get really hard, if we're going to make it through, we have to find whatever methods we can that allow us tap into that undercurrent of hope that runs beneath it all.


FullCircleEquine said...

I wonder that so many times a day lately.
Hasnt been anything motorized or electronic(thank goodness) but health wise. sometimes I wonder if I am cursed.

I had a heart attack the beginning of Feb at the age of 37.
This past weekend my husband and I noticed our daughter was turning blue when she ran around, danced and played. So we are still trying to deal with MY heart health and what it means to our family and now we have an appt with a pediatric cardiologist for our 5 year old little girl. Who up til now has been the picture of health.

Other than that. I believe in spirits. I grew up in a haunted house. Live in a haunted house now and can not go into certain buildings or areas because of the amount of spirits present.

As far as the phone goes. You might want to look into Trac phone. Decent service. Cheap phones.Pay as you go.check and see if they have service in your area.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there Nancy. As the Buddhists say, everything changes. Bad times do give way to brighter times.

As for homeopathic remedies, I think there is something to the power of belief. Any medicine, whether homeopathic or pharmaceutical, will have a better chance of working if you believe they will help you. And maybe there is a physical actual reason, or maybe not. I have to believe the meds I'm taking are going to help. And maybe they will.

You might try talking to your pixies and getting them to let up on you. They might just listen.