Here’s a Memorial Day weekend reminder that now is not the time to be thanking veteran’s for their service. This is an opportunity, for all of us, veteran’s too, to honor the fallen. The brothers and sisters in arms who did not come home. Who gave everything. This is our time to bow our heads and reflect on the horror of war. Just saying. It’s not about the living.

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This matters to me. It probably matters to a lot of veterans. We know the price paid to serve, sure; we also know the price that was not exacted from us. We came home with our lives ahead of us. We may be human wreckage – that’s a thing for some – we may be filled with internal torment you just don’t see – also a thing, some of us struggle with for many years – and for many of us, part of that lasting pain is the loss of so many. We lost people we loved, and served with side-by-side, and we lost esteemed professional colleagues, and we lost legends that had gone before us. We lost role models, and wing men. We lost “that guy”. We lost people we never met, and people we knew very well. We lost leaders, and comrades.

Most of us, most of the time, believed we were fighting for a righteous cause. We’re carefully indoctrinated to think so. Some of us knew better or understood things differently. A small few of us knew a very special painful truth; you don’t understand the price we pay, and you don’t understand how carefully we are remade to serve a purpose. You don’t understand, really, that we always knew some of us would never come home. You don’t understand that we served every day knowing that that someone could be… us. You don’t understand that many of us never quite leave it behind. Because you can’t. It’s not your experience.

Please don’t burden veteran’s with your thanksย  today. This is our day to remember. To grieve. To acknowledge that we came home. To regret that others didn’t. This, too, is our day to stare fiercely into the eyes of those in power with a challenge – you show me this was in fact worth the price. Prove it. Prove it or go fuck yourself – and bring our brothers and sisters home. This is our honor, this is our Memorial. I’d frankly very much like to stop adding new bodies to the body count. I say the price for your glory is too high.

I’m taking the weekend off. This is a time to reflect on what matters most, and what is the value of a human life. โค

Hell, not only is this not about “perfect” – it’s not even about “better than you” (and I’m not). I’m walking my own path. I’m made of human. You’re made of human, too. We can help each other out, do better in a shared effort, as a community of humans, or… not. I’m going to do better than I did, generally, every day ahead of me that I can. It’s an effort of will, and requires awareness. I’m not perfect. Being fully made of human, I’m not sure I can even know the form of “perfection”, or aspire to whatever that may be – but I can “better myself”. You can, too, if that’s your choice. The way I see it, if we care to make it so, it can be a shared process among connected individuals, in our families, communities, schools, and tribes. “A social contract”, if you will. Oh hey – that’s already a thing. We already make those agreements as a culture, every day, from the Constitution, to our traffic laws.

We can do better. So… Let’s do that.

Where can we begin? Wheaton’s Lawย (“don’t be a dick”) is a good starting point, I rely on it heavily, and I do my best to comply with it until it feels almost like a law of nature, more than a suggested rule of personal best behavior.

Another extraordinary improvement, generally, for me, has been learning consideration. That’s a harder one. I see so little of it around me day-to-day, I’ve begun to wonder if it amounts to “advanced adulting”. It means what it says; consider your words, your actions, your thinking, your intention, your purpose – give all the things due consideration. Consideration is the opposite of both thoughtlessness and callousness, and is an extension (and increase in depth, perhaps) of courtesy, politeness, and “manners”, but without the rigid rule-setting. “Manners” sort of require that you have an understanding of what to do in a given situation, you see, and consideration more easily allows one to roll with changes and remain well-mannered, even in circumstances you have no experience with.

Words have meaning.

If you’re laughing when you tell people you’re “a dick” and proceeding to humorously treat people poorly, you’ve probably missed on both Wheaton’s Law and consideration. You may want to take another look at that; is this who you truly hope to be?

If you’re a white person, and you still think saying “the N word” is amusing, or acceptable in any way, at any time, for any white person… yeah, you may want to check yourself. You’ve definitely failed on both Wheaton’s Law, and consideration. You may have overlooked that what you think about that word is not the salient point,ย at all.

If you’re a male human being, and you are still treating women as property and denying them agency and humanity (dude, seriously? it’s 2018), yep, you know where I’m going with this – you could do better. It’s neither compliant with Wheaton’s Law, nor is it considerate. Actually – it may well be the rotten core at the heart of our cultural apple.

How is it we’re all still working so hard to build good lives, as good people, and managing to fail to be good people so often? When do we change that? When do we each embrace a desire to become the human beings we truly want to be? I think it’s in the mirror, personally. I know that when I am focused outward on what you could do to change, I am not thinking so clearly about what I want to do to change. It’s not that it’s an either/or thing, but… it’s pretty easy to stop doing the work, and if my effort and attention are on your behavior, it’s probably not on mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is a disturbing, rather sad, trend line.

…I do look up once in a while, and see what the world is up to. I’m occasionally taken by surprise to hear a man I hold in high esteem say something vile and heinously insensitive to, or about, women. Gross. I’m shocked into speechlessness that quickly becomes pity and disappointment when I hear white people using “the N word” as though they don’t understand how incredibly disrespectful and insensitive that is, and how much hurt that word contains. I’m puzzled when I observe seemingly good friends treating each other really really badly – causing actual emotional damage to each other, and then forcing themselves to laugh it off in a way that highlights the mutual discomfort. What the fuck, folks? Do better. Just.Do.Better. It’s not hard.

Here are some easy steps to doing better as a human being – trust me, this works:

  1. Consider your day yesterday, and any awkward moments, uncomfortable moments, and moments when you said/did something you didn’t feel really good/comfortable about.
  2. Don’t do that any more.

Wow. Change is easy! Wait, you don’t like the steps to be so personal, or self-critical? Okay, okay, I can work with that too:

  1. Consider a moment when you recently had to set a clear boundary or express one more firmly with an associate, friend, family member, or stranger.
  2. Don’t do that thing you pushed back on, yourself, going forward, to any other human beings.
  3. Respect their boundaries, too, when they set them with you.

So easy! Still too personal? (Hey, I get it, it’s “not always your fault”, sure…)

  1. Read something online.
  2. React to that thing in an unpleasant way in which you find yourself silently objecting to the reported language/activity/behavior.
  3. Don’t do that thing, use that language, or model that behavior, yourself.
  4. Indefinitely.
  5. Set boundaries about it with others, don’t be complicit in poor behavior.
  6. Keep practicing.

Change isn’t hard. It’s a choice. There are verbs involved. Perfection isn’t a thing. Practice is required. We’ve all got to begin again. And again. Our results will vary. We become what we practice – good and bad. When we work on it together, we get ahead faster. Funny how that works.

Are you ready to begin again? I know I am. I’ve got work to do, to become the woman I most want to be.

I was pretty crabby and cross with the world all day yesterday. I felt drained. Frustrated. Fed-the-fuck-up. Just generally not in a great mood. As I left the office, I allowed myself to be more explicitly aware of my state of being, and it occurred to me that just maybe I was about to get into my car, in that state of irritation, and head into commuter traffic less than ideally level-headed. This seemed, in the moment, a pretty shitty trick to play on unsuspecting other humans… What if we’d all had sort of a shitty day? Well, damn…. That didn’t sound good.

I started the car, and gave that some thought. I reminded myself that we’re probably, mostly, all of us doing our best moment-to-moment, more or less. All of us human. What if we really did all leave work feeling cross and frustrated, get in our cars, and head for home in dense commuter traffic? What would I want from my fellow commuters? What did I want from myself?

I pulled out of the parking lot feeling more than usually aware that we are each having our own experience. More willing to assume positive intent. More sensitive to the basic humanity of each of those other drivers.

The commute took the same amount of time as it usually does. There were just as many unskilled drivers showing just as much poor judgement. The same amount of risk appeared to be involved. All the same terrible moments of congestion at particular intersections existed. The experience was much improved, though, and I felt personally less frustrated. I got home feeling calm, contented, and actually somewhat less cross than I might ordinarily. Win!

Only… my shitty mood surged back into life once I was in the house. I was dealing with my own bullshit. (Aren’t we all?) I took a deep breath. I spent some time meditating. I enjoyed a leisurely shower. I made a bite of dinner and a lovely cup of tea. I took the medication I needed. Basic self-care stuff.ย  I still felt on edge and somewhat aggravated, for no obvious reason. It happens. I knew it would eventually pass.

I took a moment on the deck, in the evening sunshine.

Self-care matters. It’s not always “easy” to take that time for ourselves, but so worth it – and so important! You matter. Take time for the care you need. ๐Ÿ™‚

I enjoyed the fading sunlight awhile, filling up my experience with the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves of the Big Leaf Maples beyond the deck.

What you need for you is something you decide for yourself. Definitely don’t take someone else’s word for that. Try things. Practice practices. You are your own cartographer. If that didn’t work, try this. Eventually, you find your way. Life’s menu is vast – don’t just order the cheeseburger every time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Seriously. Today, don’t be evil. How hard can that actually be? I know, I know, you want what you want, you feel right about what you’re right about, and you earnestly want your due – and some damned recognition for your efforts, or your good qualities, or… Is that not it? You aren’t driven by your ego, and a need to have that ego fed? What is it, then? What are you angry enough about to treat that other human being so badly? I mean, seriously… today? Don’t be evil. Avoid explicit deliberate rudeness and inconsiderate behavior. Yep. Those things are petty, I get it, but still… evil.

Maybe don’t be mean, too. Or cruel. Or callous. Or harsh with your words in the moment. Crap, this list is getting long…

Don’t be hostile with people – you may not fully understand what they are going through. Oh. They don’t know what you’re going through, either? Well, sure, I get that… So… You tell, them, right? And get the help you need? Those seem like practical steps. Evil is impractical.

Life and love and community really don’t have to be a zero sum game, you know? Sure, I get that globally there are finite total resources of any given type, but… it seems fairly obvious there’s actually enough to “go around”, if we focus on, say, sufficiency… instead of hoarding. We’re not limited to primitive thinking, these days. We don’t have to yield to an urge to gather and store vast supplies of [ _____ ] to keep all to ourselves. Hoarding vast reserves of … whatever, doesn’t make you look “rich” (well, maybe it does but), it does make you look greedy. Greed is ugly. It’s also evil. Don’t be evil.

While we’re talking about “resources”, let’s spell this out for the folks in the back; sex isn’t one of those. Say it again with me slowly, sex, the physical act of intimate communion, isn’t a resourceย to be parceled out “fairly” – and no one owes you any. At all. Doesn’t matter how cute/hot you are. Doesn’t matter how physically perfect or emotionally supportive you are. Doesn’t matter if you are a “nice guy” either. There is no debt or obligation that requires anyone to have sex with anyone else. Period. Done. Why are we still talking about this? Because women are still getting injured and even killed because of some dumb ass and his hurt feelings about “not getting any”. Women are people. Actual human beings with their own agency and decision-making. Sex is delicious and fun and exciting and nurturing – and no one owes you any. Sex is something people may or may not choose to do, at all, with anyone, and hey – if they choose to have a lot of it often, and none with you, still totally acceptable. Stop hurting people cuz your mad, bruh; it’s dumb. Embarrassingly stupid. You totally will not get laid after that kind of stupid shit. Ever. Besides, trying to force others around you to bend to your will with actual force? Seriously? What kind of evil bullshit is that? (It is the very most evil kind of evil, actually, just saying; from the boardroom to the bedroom, that’s evil.) Don’t be evil.

For what it’s worth, it took me a really long time to “get it”, myself, on that sex thing. I could not fathom how it wasn’t at some point “my turn” to finally get all the sex I wanted. I mean… hell, it sure seemed like anyone who wanted any could take it from me. When would it be “my turn”? This is the sort of twisted up stupid shit that develops in people’s heads when you rob them of agency; they don’t understand agency. Or consent. Or boundaries. Please definitely respect the agency of your children. Teach them consent – and respect it when not offered to you as a parent, for fuck’s sake. Teach them to set and manage expectations, and boundaries, and to respect their own – and then also respect those boundaries yourself. Yeah, I know, they’re kids. You’re a parent. You own their world, right? No, hell no you don’t – and you know you don’t. Don’t be a petty dictator in your own family. Don’t be evil.

Evil comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. Sometimes, possibly, in your actual shape and size. Don’t be evil. Check in with the person in the mirror once in a while. Are you actually the person you most want to be? Are you rationalizing shitty behavior and trying to “win” on terms that more reasonably could be call “cheating” than “playing the game”? Are you mistreating people, and seeking to justify it “because…”? Are you drawing a line through humanity and putting the “animals” on one side, while you quite conveniently and smugly stand on the other? Have you confused wealth and profit with being a decent human being? All that shit’s pretty evil. Petty bullshit? Petty evil. Still evil. Do better. Don’t be evil.

Just try it out todayย  – use a detestable public figure as your ruler, and do better than that. It won’t be difficult at all. Tomorrow, make your goal someone who is a better human being than that. Eventually, over time, possibly, you may find that the person you measure yourself against each day, the person you wish to use as an example to build a better you, will be the you of yesterday. ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, you could start there – but you probably don’t notice those moments of petty evil and tiresome bullshit, or you’ve grown to believe your excuses. So… calibrate the good within you, on your own terms, and today don’t be evil.

Yes, you are. Sometimes. You totally are. Maybe only once in a great while. If you are human, reading this, in the world of 2018, you’re probably evil – at least some tiny little bit. It’s in the compromises you make. The rules you don’t apply to you. The moments of taking an advantage for yourself at the specific expense of others. The moments when you stand silent while someone else gets hurt. The choice to turn your back on another human being. The choice to make your experience a zero sum game. We all do it. That thing you personally feel just a tiny bit smug about – examine that more closely. Is it also an opportunity to look down on someone else? Yeah. There it is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We become what we practice. Don’t be evil.

Do better. Today, you can begin again. โค

Well, Monday comes around too soon after a busy weekend. The down-and-back to visit with friends and with my Traveling Partner was… interesting. Worth doing. Strange. In some moments just flat-out weird as the evening developed.ย  Good party. Good weekend. Weird vibe.

Mental illness doesn’t play nicely – with its victims, or with their loved ones. Let’s note that this is a true thing, and then set that aside.

I never actually slept on Saturday night. It was a huge effort for my Traveling Partner and I to get even an hour together to chill and hang out. It wasn’t the party that kept him busy, it was the on-again-off-again intensifying spiral of OPD generated by his other partner’s mental health challenges more often than not, but also just real-life hosting-a-party crap that comes up over a weekend (“hey, is there more water?”, “hey, I cut myself – where are the band aids?”, “hey, where can I park?”, “hey, what’s the wi-fi password?”, “hey, is the party in the house,too, or just outside?”). We finally got a few minutes together to cuddle, to catch up, to talk… in seconds he was fast asleep in my arms. I haven’t spent such a lovely night in a long while, meditating, relaxed, content, cuddled up with my Traveling Partner for a couple hours. I couldn’t sleep. I knew there would be that risk when I went down; I don’t feel physically (or emotionally) safe in that location now,so… No sleep. Still, huge improvement for me, inasmuch as I also didn’t continue to feel anxious once I got there, and the hours of the night passed gently in each other’s arms.

I dozed off once (so close). I woke to a knock on the door. I got up very carefully so as not to wake my partner, stumbled through putting my pants on, and went to see if there was something urgent that needed attention (the medical bag was with us). Nope. I went back to bed. Some little while later, we were wakened with more conviction; a neighbor had started a burn on their property in the very early just-at-daybreak time of morning. The party people, in various stages of intoxication, could see the fire…but couldn’t puzzle out whether it was a legitimate hazard, or not, at that distance. (It was unfathomable that people might actually wake up at such an hour and do actual work or life things. LOL) Farm folks are often up quite early, doing actual work. My Traveling Partner takes a look, says something reassuring. We go back to bed. He’s out like a light in minutes. I doze for a few minutes myself, wake again, and get up and dress for the morning; it was time for coffee, for breakfast, and time to hit the road. “No sleep at all” would mean a narrow window of opportunity to safely make the drive home before fatigue set in.

The drive back was pretty uneventful, and generally efficient and pleasant. I got home in a timely fashion, and messaged my Traveling Partner and concerned friends that I was safely home. I didn’t hear anything back for many hours (because… drama). I am okay with having made such a short trip down and back under the circumstances, and enormously pleased with how I feel today. (Untouched by OPD, and largely unaffected by the mental health issues of a metamour I am easily able to maintain adequate distance from). I am okay right now. I was okay Saturday. It was a good weekend, generally. My self-care was on point. ๐Ÿ˜€

There was an interesting moment, conversationally, during the party. Worth taking another look at, but maybe not this morning; it’s not relevant, specifically, to this topic, right here. ๐Ÿ™‚ This morning? I’m getting ready for a new work week; it’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜€

Where will the journey take me? What obstacles are in my path? Are they actually obstacles – or do I just need the gate code?