Sometimes I try to imagine how great and easy life must be when you’re a calm and cool-headed person. I, on the other hand, always have something bubbling and boiling inside me, something churning and gurgling, threatening to explode! It’s what makes me run around at recess, get frustrated when I can’t study, climb where I’m not allowed. It really makes everything in my life difficult! A long time ago, I decided this “someone” was small and disheveled, very mean and nasty, and lives where my stomach is. Sometimes I can hear him growling in there. My mom and I named this monster of mine—Ziza.
When I was little, Ziza loved to throw tantrums. He was nervous and a scaredy-cat. He was afraid of the dark, afraid of getting vaccinated, afraid of having a cavity filled, and my mom and I often had to calm Ziza and try to persuade him. Of course he was still scared, but I would go into the dentist’s office with him. I wasn’t scared at all, so Ziza pretended he wasn’t either, so he wouldn’t embarrass himself. All my life, I’d been certain this Ziza was a secret one that only Mom and I knew about and that there weren’t any others out there. But then I got my hands on Lucy Irving’s Exercise Your Demons: A Mindful Journal [most recent English edition: Sterling, 2020. ISBN 9781454936350].
The book feels like a textbook—it describes different kinds of “demons,” like my Ziza, who can live inside of us: laziness, jealousy, greed. There are thirty in all. Each is described in detail with a portrait to match, showing the demon in all its glory. (These look a lot like Wanted ads.) The characteristics and symptoms in the book will help you easily identify your demon. You could have a whole gang! But the book will give you tips on how to best deal with them. There’s a lot of different advice, but it’s all quite do-able.
Perhaps I’ll start with the “social media demon.” I get a lot of flak from Mom about my smartphone use. I can’t tear myself away from it. I swear I’m only going to look at something for a bit, but then I get carried away… And that happens every time.
So, first step: I have to calculate how much time I spend on the phone. Yeah...I thought it would be a certain number of minutes a day, but in the end it came out to a huge number of hours every week! Turns out Mom is right. This “demon” is stealing a big chunk of my precious life. I’m also greedy and I feel bad giving him so much of my personal time. Onto step two!
Katerina Omelnitskaya, 12
Translated from the Russian by Alisa Cherkasova
Book cover image: sterlingpublishing.com
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