Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pressing Your Restart Button

Last night, Ryan and I went camping with friends on Lake Travis, near Austin. It was Ryan’s birthday and we planned on celebrating with swimming, beer, and grilled food. I was looking forward to getting out of the city, but found once I got there that it was hard to relax, especially around a group of people. It took several hours, and a few beers, before my mind-frame began to shift and I settled into my surroundings and our activities. I felt restless, like I wanted to be by myself and reconnect somehow; press my "restart button", so to speak. But this trip was something we had all been planning and I knew these opportunities didn’t come along too often, so I wanted to make sure to enjoy my time with friends, and be present and enthusiastic about celebrating my husband’s birthday.

I tend to be a fairly out-going and friendly person, so when I am in a quiet, pensive mood, people notice and often ask if I am OK. This question can often make me feel defensive, as if I need to explain why I am in an “alternative” mood from the norm. It takes a lot of inner patience in these situations not to draw even more attention to my mood and answer, “Yes, I’m fine, OK?!?!” This response isn’t going to make me feel better (or the person who asked the question), so I find it more worthwhile to focus on my breath and ease through these inquiries with a smile. I know I’ll get out of my funk sooner or later and finding ways to make a smooth transition out of a bad mood can often prevent regret for my snappy comments or reactions later. I fared pretty well yesterday, and eventually was greatly enjoying being away from the city and with friends by the lake (see photo below).

This morning, when I awoke from my hazy sleeping bag fluff, I felt even more present as we spent the morning drinking coffee and chatting peacefully. I greatly enjoy mornings in general, but at this point, after a full day of camping, I felt that my restart button had been sufficiently pressed. I think of my days as a middle-schooler, playing Nintendo and enjoying the satisfaction of pressing the restart button and watching a fudged-up game disappear and a new chance presented as the game begins again. I find many simple ways each day to press my own restart button, but sometimes an overnight trip to the woods is a reminder of how long it can take to feel “restarted”. It can take several weeks of vacation in many cases to feel sufficiently refreshed. But no matter how long it takes, it is important to pay attention to the various moods we go through during these periods of rejuvenation, good or bad. Not every moment of a vacation or playtime is going to be perfect. The bad moods or moments are just as important as the good and can make the experience even more real and special once you resurface into a good-feeling phase. The goal is to be patient with oneself through the good and the bad, for this is the balance of life (the yin and yang). In what ways do you press your restart button?

The birthday boy gets ready for some fun (and beer) in the sun

You can probably tell that my mood had lifted by this point!


Karl said...

Pressing the restart button can be harder during bad moods, but taking the time to stay with it and not feel rushed to get the good feelings back is worth all the effort. I like how you compared pressing the restart button on the Nintendo. I was once an addict of the great games of our generation and every time that stupid machine froze and I had to pull the cartridge out and blow on it reminds me of my overflowing emotions; but there was always this excitement of getting that game to start back up and having another chance to defeat the last boss.

Life always has a new moment to enjoy and starting with a fresh perspective (restart button) helps me appreciate the bad moments because the good moments just wouldn't feel quite as good.

Anonymous said...

It's true: goombas, koopa troopas, bloopers, cheep cheeps, spinies, buzzy beetles, Bullet Bill, the Hammer Brothers, Bowser, and all the other Super Mario villains are no match for the reset button-- poor little buggers.

Likewise-- funk (the mood type, not the music or the smell) is no match for the reset button either. And, depending on your day, you may just need to press it more than once. But if that's the case... maybe its time for a day off from work, camping, swimming and sunning.

Personally-- my current reset function is a mind-driven operation gadgeted by a concious effort to prevent funk overloading. This function consists of multiple operations, such as making frequent trips to the funk dump (a walk around the block, a piece of paper to write upon, a guitar to strum, etc), or substituting funk (the mood) for some of the good stuff (funk in the music)-- and getting down just a little with a twist and a shimmy-shimmy shake, even if it is just a 30-second jig in the living room in front of the dog.

I also create a time during the day where I just sit and watch the birds, feel the breeze, warm in the sun, watch an insect on a blade of grass, or just think thoughts other than work. This is my personal preventative medicine to combat becoming a funkaholic.

I think funk disorder is readily present and contagious in our society. I live in a small town and people get road ragish when there are ten cars at the stoplight. How silly-- Mind over matter: Just smile and wave.

Keeping the availability of a reset button in mind may very well help prevent outbursts of "Bite me," "Leave me alone" and other spoilish emotional conjectures.

Live. Love. Learn.

hallie said...

I was always the kid who REFUSED to push restart. In my mind, blowing in the game box until I was blue in the face and getting pissed off were sure fire ways to make everything better. "Zelda... you a-hole!" I would yell. In the end- I would let go of my game (damn I just found the key and now I can't save my game) and push the ole button.

Turns out that I am still the same old stubborn Taurus and often wait until I am stark raving pissed or stressed out (luckily not often) to reset.

... then again, do I reset... or does time? Hiding out in my little apartment and staying clear of anyone I may offend or hurt works great too (cookie dough acts as an even better catalyst).