Prison Break!

<written Jan. 24/10>

Woke up feeling pretty much like the proverbial “bag of s-it” this morning. There’s kind of a lot of heavy emotional stuff going on in my life just now. Details not important.

I hauled myself out of bed more or less by the scruff of the neck & forced myself to get out for a walk.

I was pretty deep into negative thoughts as I set out. “Oh poor me,” “How could s/he?” Not to mention a large dollop of self-loathing. “Why am I such a LOSER?” That kind of thing…

I didn’t get more than a block before I saw a man walking his dog along Queen St. (I swear there are more dogs than people in this neighbourhood). I very deliberately avoided looking at either man or dog (normally I’d have smiled at the dog, at the very least), & the thought immediately sprang into my mind that I was choosing to remain miserable. Self-absorbed. Wallowing in misery.

It was immediately crystal-clear to me that this was a choice I was making.

“Hmmph,” I thought. “Fine. I choose to be miserable & wallow in self-pity & self-flagellation & self-loathing. Righty then!”

But on I walked, beside Lake Ontario, enjoying, in spite of myself, the waves, the trees, & all the darn dogs (& their people). Especially the little kids (what is not to like about youthful innocence & exuberance?? I mean…)

Pretty soon a few good thoughts came to me as regards how I might wrestle with the personal emotional storms I’m currently caught up in.

And then I thought, is it not so totally true that we are all prisoners of our own minds? And further, that this is a choice we make?

So, therefore, we can choose to “break out.” Figure out ways to navigate a little more fearlessly out of the messy emotional storms we all get caught up in, in this oh-so-human life we each lead.

Joanna Macy has pointed out in World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice & Ecological Renewal that “Choice is so important because it actually constitutes what it means to be a person.”

And also that all of humankind’s problems (& our individual ones) are mind-made. They are not real & immutable & rock-solid. They are really just ideas – thoughts & concepts inside our heads.

So, we simply have to make the choice to change what goes on inside our heads.

(Well, of course we can't make pollution go away just by changing our thoughts about it. But we can change our state of mind about things...)


I don't feel like a bag of s-it anymore. I feel “human” again (although of course being human does admittedly encompass a wide variety of moods).

I feel as though there are some possibilities open to me as regards these all-important relationships in my life – & that's a great relief, since, in my world, anyway, it’s really the relationships that are the whole darn deal.

So, I made a “prison break,” you might say, & stopped myself from feeling miserable. It didn’t take very long at all! :)


p.s. Eckhart Tolle & Byron Katie are quite brilliant (& down-to-earth practical) on the subject of how we each choose our thoughts & thus, can change them. I highly recommend Tolle’s book A New Earth & Katie’s Loving What Is Four questions that can change your life. Both these writers have been down inside the pits of deep depression themselves. They are writing about what they know, not some high-falutin’ intellectual exercise or airy-fairy spiritual mumbo-jumbo. They have been there

p.p.s. Paul Dudley White, a physician who lived from 1886-1973, said “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” I’m utterly convinced he was absolutely right. Walking is downright magical


‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” – Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose