Okay, that’s not really how the song goes. The song is actually “It’s a Heartache” by Bonnie Tyler. But, as people do, I misinterpreted the lyrics decades ago and my version of them is still what I hear when the song plays.
It’s one of what I call the “Poor Me” genre of songs. In fact, on the same tape from my childhood was another song called “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” by Linda Ronstadt (I heard that one as Poor, Poor Pimple Me, but that’s another story.)
A time-honored genre…after all, how many climactic opera arias discuss the character’s contentment and happy thoughts about the future? How many blues songs rhapsodize about how the singer’s wife is faithful and his dog is doing fine?
In music, a little “he/she/the world done me wrong” is fine. But in my brain, it’s a deadly weapon. Self-pity and resentment are potentially as lethal as a bullet, and that metaphorical gun is pointed at my temple lately.
I feel sorry for myself because I’m choosing (not being forced) to abstain from food and drugs, and it’s very hard right now. I feel sorry for myself because of my family’s money problems and the challenge of keeping up with home/campus schooling for my daughter. I feel sorry for myself because the holidays are coming and they bring me shame and stress instead of fun.
Poor me. Poor, poor pimple me.
At a time like this I try to engage gratitude to combat the self-pity. I think I’m trying too hard, though–I’m using gratitude like a cudgel, attempting to whack my mind into a better path with it. I’m lecturing myself about all I have to be grateful for instead of letting the grace flow and wash away my resentful thoughts.
I don’t need to conquer self-pity to be a better person; that’s just frosting. I’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough: I have to move away from self-pity and toward grace if I want to keep breathing. It’s that simple. A bad attitude will kill me. Dead.
With that said, let’s go back to the hard egg. Besides being an amusing misheard lyric, it’s actually a kind of cool metaphor. Instead of a heartache, we have a hard egg. Maybe I didn’t want a hard egg. Maybe I wanted my egg over easy. But that’s not what I got. The egg I got is hard.
If I’m in a self-pitying mood, I could sit there in the restaurant and complain to the server that they got it wrong. I could demand a replacement egg, and throw a tantrum when I hear that it’s the last egg they have.
Maybe I’d realize I’m being immature. So I could sit there and stare at the egg, telling myself that I should be grateful to have an egg at all. I’d lecture myself about all the people who don’t have any eggs, and work on convincing myself that the egg will taste just fine, and even if it tastes bad I shouldn’t complain.
I think that’s the stage I am in now.
But what do I do, there in that restaurant booth, if I really have gratitude and acceptance? If I’ve resolved my resistance, if my gratitude flows instead of being cudgeled along?
That’s right. I eat the fucking egg.
I shut up and eat the damn thing. And save myself time, energy and stress. I eat it, eat this egg that will never exist again, and I take in that precious, irreplaceable protein and vitamins.
In the end, participating in this messy life of mine will be a lot less stressful than agonizing about it. Being willing to live, fully, in my present situation will let me see and appreciate what’s good in it.
Well. Glad we got that figured out. Now I just have to deal with the whole easier-said-than-done business…with congealed yolk to guide my spirit.