Rough draft of a presentation. Imagine a powerpoint with great pictures as you read.
Your lawnmower engine is a lot like life
Both are complicated and the more you know about it, and take care of it, the better it runs. The less you know, the more trouble you have.
There’s a couple of things I’ve been trying to understand my whole life. For starters, how things work? I’ve taken lots of technical courses. After High School I took courses in and out of college in auto mechanics, sewing, woodworking, graphics and small engine repair. The other thing I’ve been trying to understand is what makes people tick? And more specifically why are some people happier than others and some people are not happy at all and then once in a while you bump into someone who is just completely accepting and happy and joyful seemingly most of the time.
I was one of those who was fairly unhappy most of the time. I armored up and tried to put on a happy face. Sometimes, due to a new challenge or opportunity, I was filled with hope but it was temporary.
So if you ask me to explain in a short presentation how a lawn mower engine works, and everything a person needs to do to make sure it runs well, with the least amount of wear and tear, I would cringe. That’s not enough time. There is no easy quick answer. The best I can do is maybe give you an outline of what I do that works for me.
And after the presentation, you’ll go home and forget most of what I said. That’s okay. You will remember that at one point it made sense and you knew there was a way to figure it out. There are plenty of books, videos and people to give you more information but only if you are inspired to seek them out. Some will decide that you don’t have what it takes to figure it out. You’ll get someone else to do it for you. And some of you will say screw it, I’m just going to run this thing til it doesn’t run no more.
Life is like that too. Except, in life, we only get one engine on that mowing deck, and when it is done, IT IS DONE.
Doesn’t it make sense to do whatever we can to learn the maintenance required to keep our lives running at maximum efficiency, with the least amount of emotional garbage clogging up the intake and exhaust valves of our heart? Do we understand the acronym, GIGO? Garbage in and garbage out! Not just food but what we consume with our mind and our senses, what we choose to see and hear? Entertainment, books, church and political parties included.
Where is the manual for living a wholehearted life anyway? I’ve been looking for it for a long time.
Despite our attempts to live well, we sometimes neglect one area or another, and the sludge of emotional pain and hurt builds up inside until we are about to blow a gasket. Like putting black tape over the “low oil” or “engine needs maintenance light”, we can disregard the warning signs and choose to numb out instead. We do something to take the edge off, to feel good, or at least numb the pain; food, drugs, shopping, gambling, and more is readily available to most grown ups.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? What do kids do if they haven’t yet acquired the emotional awareness, the self worth; the perseverance and the resilience to deal with the emotional setbacks and disappointments in life? Many of our kids see only limited choices. Escape. Numb out. Armor up. Get tough. . Fight or flight, act out or isolate. Numb out. Video games and food. And then, adolescence. When the need for belonging is overwhelming, and if their community is not up to the task, it is no wonder drugs and promiscuity become appealing. What the hell. Who cares anyway. After all, if it feels good, do it.
Maybe, if we gave our kids an idea of how things work, how to do proper maintenance, where to go for help, we’d have a lot less broken lawnmowers in the landfill and fewer broken hearts in the world.
And one more short one.
Doctor, doctor, give me the news.
When you think about it, there are a lot of similarities between emotional pain and physical pain. With physical pain there’s a reason. With emotional pain, there is a reason. With physical pain you can go to a doctor, and get some ideas of what’s causing the pain. They can do one of two things: fix the problem or he can give you some painkillers. If it is a broken bone sticking out of flesh, the painkillers won’t fix the problem but make the pain more tolerable for a while. Painkillers will make it so you can’t feel. And in fact you won’t be able to feel a lot of things. It might make you sleepy and inhibit your ability to function. Or with some more time and energy, the good doctor fixes the problem, resents the bone, and over time, you heal. You will never be exactly the way you were before, but for the most part, you are on the mend and over time, you can return to most if not all of your activities.
My emotional pain also is there for a reason. If it is minor, I can try to self-diagnose and self medicate. If I have a splinter, I can try to fix it and pull it out. If it is too deep, and I can’t get a hold on it, I might put some antiseptic/anesthetic on it. For a while I won’t feel it so much. It will fester, become infected. When the pain gets so bad, I might then call a professional. And they’ll fix the problem, not just treat the symptoms. It is removed, expunged or discharged in some form or fashion. There might still be some residual pain but at least I’m on the path to healing.
Thoughts and feedback are welcome.