I love introspection and self-reflection as much as the next person, if not more. In fact, last night at dinner I had a conversation with a guy who was also traveling for work about how it’s nice to travel in the area we were in because it leaves a lot of time for much-needed reflection. With limited radio stations (particularly when you don’t like country music) and pretty great scenery (though it’s better in the fall and spring), it’s easy to be alone with just your thoughts as you drive.
And you know what? I got tired of it.
Awhile back I gave Lindsay a stack of books to borrow (mostly self-help/memoir type books, which makes me chuckle since those are two genres my dad won’t read). A few months ago she made a comment that I still laugh about — one night she was looking for something to read, and after looking through the stack of my books, her only thought was “I can’t self-help myself tonight!” That’s exactly what I was experiencing.
I’d had enough quiet/reflection time, but I was also tired of scanning the radio only to hear the same songs from the two stations I liked. My rental car didn’t have satellite radio and I didn’t have time to pick up an audiobook from the library before leaving town. (Complain much, Liz?) Given the circumstances (not to mention my apparent attitude about the situation), I didn’t see my four-hour drive back home going well.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I texted the little to make sure a stop at Barnes and Noble was worth it to find an audiobook, which brings me to two quick side comments. One, audiobooks are crazy expensive. Seriously. The first audiobook I picked up was $40. Really?? Two, given that it’s my month of simplicity and deliberate spending, you know I was in a bind about needing a good distraction on the drive home (though thankfully I didn’t spend anywhere near the $40).
Also thankfully, I hit the jackpot with the audiobook I found. It was exactly what I needed — nothing self-help related, short chapters that kept me engaged and I literally laughed out loud a number of times (which I’m sure other drivers passing me enjoyed). It was perfect.
It also seemed rather serendipitous that one of the chapters mentioned balance when it comes to positivity, how people need to have crappy days. Normally I’m an optimistic, upbeat person who wants to change the world and all that good stuff. It’s actually what I strive for with a lot of my personal goals as well. But there are days when I’m not that person. In fact, I can be far from it. I get frustrated and angsty just like everyone else and there are days where I hate the world and should really just go back to bed. And that’s okay. It makes me (and probably those around me…) appreciate the positivity all the more.
Despite all the reflection time I had this week, that’s ultimately the takeaway I needed.
Lately I’ve been feeling like I need an attitude adjustment (I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it’s a term the family uses). It helps that the middle is experiencing a similar mood (you can definitely tell she’s my sister…) but what’s difficult is that on top of feeling frustrated with the world, it’s equally frustrating to not be able to shake that mood. Despite chats with the middle, finding blunt quotes (I found “You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and do something.” to be particularly helpful) and time to reflect during my travels, I couldn’t adjust my attitude.
Even now I can’t say I’m 100% upbeat, but I at least feel less annoyed about my inability to get out of a funk at the drop of a hat. The bad mood will pass, as it always does, and soon enough I’ll be back to having way too much energy and wanting to have inspirational chats with everyone (so perhaps it is a good thing that I’m not always peppy…). And to think it was the audiobook to prevent introspection that led to the a-ha! moment.