A Moment to Stop

My mother used to say, with some regularity, “This too shall pass.” My siblings and I say it too. It’s a way of remembering the chaotic or frustrating times won’t last (rarely said during the good times although true then, too). This morning is the first I’ve had in over a week to sit quietly, stare out my window, and reconnect.

The willow has lost most of its leaves. A light breeze tickles the few remaining at the very top. Different birds from even two weeks ago flit through the yard. A squirrel dashes, busy. No sirens this morning. For the most part, it looks like a morning when nature also takes a break from the over-the-top energy of the past couple of weeks and rests. 

I thought, given my mother’s proclivity for memorized sayings from the Bible, that “this too shall pass” is a proverb from that same book. But here’s what reliable (mostly) Wikipedia says:

This too shall pass” … is a proverb indicating that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary. The phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets, and is often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by the simple words… Jewish folklore often describes Solomon as giving or receiving the phrase. The proverb and associated fable were popular in the first half of the 19th century, appearing in a collection of tales by the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and being employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became president.

So there you are. Not biblical at all. But useful none-the-less unless life becomes so over-the-top there’s no view of the light to passage.

In last night’s class, several of my students looked as though they’d been as blasted by the past two weeks as much any of the rest of us. One could barely keep his eyes open – he’d been out the week before and down sick; another is recovering from a car accident; another has a cold beginning; another missed class all together because of illness; another stayed home with her little sister while her mom was at the hospital with her brother’s appendix operation. This too shall pass.

It will, but in the meantime many are stressed beyond civility and peace of mind. It’s easier to say, “this too shall pass” when we don’t have a five-day-a-week stressful job and school and family. I have family, but they’re adults and self-sufficient; I have school, but that’s my work and I really like what I do. I expect there are many who read this and wish they had a morning at home to stare out the window.

I don’t have any easy answers. Life is pretty demanding these days, even with a lighter schedule. How do we manage the stress and frustration and plain old tiredness? Yes, this time will pass, eventually, but how to manage it in the meantime? I suppose if a king can be humbled by the words, they may also remind the rest of us to drop our shoulders from our ears.  

I’d appreciate any comments that offer good ideas to one and all.

In the meantime, I’ve added a couple of links to other sites asking the same questions.

Work / Life Balance? It doesn’t!

Misconceptions about work-related stress