Friday Fodder – Rigidity

Once upon a time…

Brain Log – Day 1

Greyson Wesley Parker III ran his fingers lightly over the glossy chestnut coffee table checking for dust. Rubbing his fingertips together, he satisfactorily concluded the table was dust free. Cataloging in his brain under D for dust, F for free, and T for table, he smiled. Knowledge and neatness were two things Greyson always prided himself on. The doctors had diagnosed him with OCD a few years earlier, but he considered himself ‘high-functioning’, and who didn’t love a safe and spotless abode?

Scritch-scratch. A sound drew Greyson away from his thoughts. Scritch-scratch. Greyson went rigid and stood perfectly still. A thought burst into his mind, “Did I lock the doors?” There was no noise for a few tense minutes and his muscles slackened slowly. Suddenly, it came again Scritch-scratch. The scraping sound seemed to be coming from the front door. Without a sound, Greyson crept forward, quietly making sure the door was locked and then peered out through the peephole. Strangely, there was no one there and everything appeared normal. At first, he was confused. Snuffle-sniff. Greyson leaped backward, almost falling over when a sound came from under the door. Snuffle-sniff. Scratch-scritch.

Thoughts raced, “What if it’s a rabid animal? What if it’s a teenager? What if it’s a door-to-door salesperson?” He shuddered, not knowing which of those three would be worse. Greyson had always preferred books to people. The clean print and square edges are easily cataloged and filed, nice and neat. Gathering himself and taking a deep breath, Greyson decided to open the door a fraction to take a peek out of the crevice. There, sitting on the doorstep was a dirty white collarless mutt. “It’s just a dog? It’s just a dog!” Feeling a little sheepish, Greyson opened the door a little wider to get a better look.

Seizing its opportunity, the dog launched itself forward and pushed its way into the house. Greyson was so taken by surprise that he instinctively fell back against the wall. The dog padded forward as if he owned the place, turned around twice, and plopped himself down on a nearby navy rug. Greyson felt a mild surge of panic. Filing this intrusion under B for bad, and D for dog, he stood helplessly watching the creature lick his chops and then sniff at a pile of books nearby.

Greyson blurted out “Don’t touch those! Or… or… I’ll call animal control!” The dog perked up his folded ears, cocked his head to one side, and stared at the anxious man in front of him as if to say, “why are you in my home?”

Greyson felt rather displeased. After several minutes of standing there, staring at the dog, he considered “Perhaps if I let him stay – just for tonight – then he will leave in the morning. It was getting dark after all.” It occurred to Greyson that his reasoning was flawed, but it was also apparent that he had no other options. He would never touch that filthy fur in order to shove the dog out, and Greyson didn’t even own a phone because everyone knows that phones often carry more germs than toilet seats. So, he reluctantly surrendered to the fact that this dirty dog would be staying the night. He would wash the rug in the morning.

Brain Log – Day 2

Greyson was just out of his third shower, having spent almost three hours cleaning up the disaster the dog made overnight. So many precious books were knocked over and a few had regrettably been chewed a bit. He was sure they now had unimaginable germs crawling all over them. As for the dog, no matter what Greyson did, he wouldn’t leave. Greyson managed to lure him out into the backyard with a slice of salami so he could clean and organise his proven living system. On a roll, he grabbed some shampoo and a scrubbing brush and strutted out to the yard. The dog perked up his ears and wagged his tail. Using a rope to tie a makeshift leash while trying his absolute best not to touch him too much, and after many failed attempts, Greyson finally managed to get the rope around the scruffy neck.

Tying the rope tightly to a small tree and pouring a sizeable amount of shampoo on his back, Greyson grabbed the hose and began to scour the pup thoroughly. He scrubbed and scrubbed until the water ran crystal clear from his back. The dog’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates and Greyson thought triumphantly. “That’s what you get for messing up my system!” He filed it under C for clean and T for triumph. Unfortunately, the dog exacted his revenge as soon as the hose was turned off, showering Greyson in a spray of water droplets as he shook. “Ah! No! No stop!” Even though his brain was screaming, “so many canine germs!” he couldn’t help but chuckle as he headed in for shower number four.

Brain Log – Day 3

Greyson realised that if the dog was going to stay for much longer, he couldn’t simply keep feeding him lunch meat from the fridge. He managed to figure out how to order some generic dog food on his computer. He proudly filed it under D for dog and F for food. Greyson almost never used the computer, only ever to order his own food. He didn’t want the dog to starve though. He wouldn’t wish that on any animal, even this scruffy little mutt.

Greyson pondered how the dog had been mostly well-behaved. Every time he went to chew on one of his precious books, Greyson sprayed him with a water spray bottle. He learned rather swiftly that touching the books was a no-go. Now that the dog was suitably clean, Greyson even ventured to tentatively pat him. He wasn’t exceptionally soft, but at least he was clean. He would sit by Greyson as he read and gaze up with big brown eyes, head resting on his leg. Then he would follow Greyson around while he cleaned and polished – tail wagging ferociously. Greyson had no experience with pets. All he had ever learned about animals came from the books he had read. Besides, he wasn’t Greyson’s pet. He is just an animal Greyson was currently responsible for – that’s all. After all, Greyson had a perfect system for living and organising his life and a fury beast is in no way part of that system. Distantly, a quiet part of Greyson’s mind wondered if he could be integrated.

Brain Log – Week 1

Greyson swore he wouldn’t keep him, but seeing as he wouldn’t leave, he needed a name. So, his name is now Archimedes. Reluctantly, Greyson had to admit he was actually enjoying his presence. Archimedes is now filed in Greyson’s brain under P for pet. He did have to move some books out of the way and alter the system slightly, but it seemed to be a win-win. He also bought Archimedes some toys to prevent him from chewing things up. It was more difficult to keep the apartment spotless but luckily, Archimedes did not shed much. Greyson thought about buying a leash and taking him out for walks but he wasn’t sure if he was quite ready for that… maybe someday soon. Archimedes really was a good dog and Greyson had to admit how much safer and happier he felt. He also realised something unexpected from Archimedes. Greyson thought he could learn everything there ever was to know from books, but he now understood that the one thing he could not learn was love.

“By being rigid, you become temporary;

by being flexible, you become permanent!”

 

― Mehmet Murat ildan

Moral of the Story:

Our values are our compass; they help guide us toward who and what truly matters. When we’re out of touch with our values, our behaviour is more likely to go astray from our highest and happiest path. By maintaining a solid connection to our values, we can always check in to see whether or not our behaviour is aligned with what is meaningful. When we are psychologically wounded from childhood abandonment, neglect, or abuse, it can cause us to grow up with significant shame, insecurity, distrust, and the unconscious need to control other people and situations. Excessive rigidity can be seen as a desperate attempt to make an unpredictable world safe from confusion, doubt, and pain. Excessive rules pull people away from the natural flow of life. Being on the right side of a rule is no substitute for vitality in any relationship.

Those who are controlling and inflexible often find themselves frustrated or anxious because the rest of the world doesn’t live by their rules and expectations. Just because you want to eat only red foods or arrive at the airport three hours early doesn’t mean that anyone else wants to. It’s important to find a balance between structure and spontaneity. Structure allows for a framework, choices, and some flexibility, but rigidity means you follow the rules — or else. Flexibility means seeing things from different perspectives, tolerating ambiguity, taking risks, and learning from mistakes. Flexibility leads to openness, more opportunities, less depression and anxiety. Try a new food, sport, type of movie, perfume, anything new today! Get your brain used to doing things differently. If you have social anxiety and are worried about being judged by others, be honest about the worst thing that could happen: You might feel uncomfortable for a bit, but taking a risk will grow you by opening you up to new experiences.

“Love that refutes growth is not love.”

― Abhijit Naskar

Affirmation: I am safe enough to be flexible in my mind.

I release all fears and now trust in the process of life. I know that life is for me. I love and approve of myself and I am free to speak up for myself. Every day I stretch my comfort zone by doing one thing differently. I accept change in others as a positive sign. All details take care of themselves. Only right action is taking place in my life. I release the old and welcme the new. I am strong, courageous and worthy of all good things. It is with flexibility and ease that I see all sides of an issue. There are endless ways of doing things and seeing things. I am safe. I am brave enough to ask for what I want. Change is a necessity, and I am happy I make it happen. I release any rigid thinking and follow the flow as it leads me closer and closer to the person I wish to become. I am grateful for all the changes in my life, as they have led me to this moment and made me who I am. I release the restrictions of my comfort zone and open to new possibilities and experiences.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

― Albert Einstein

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