Archives for the month of: March, 2015
Do I see what I see through honest eyes, or is it filtered through my experience, and my own limited awareness and understanding?

Do I see what I see through honest eyes, or is it filtered through my experience, and my own limited awareness and understanding?

I woke this morning to the sound of an audible ‘click’. I often do, but don’t know what the sound is caused by. Perhaps a door elsewhere, or the timer on my aquarium, or some other commonplace occurrence that I simply haven’t placed or clearly identified – because I am asleep when I hear it. This particular morning, when I woke, my emotional world careened around within myself in an almost dizzying way; residual emotions from dreams colliding with in-the-moment reactions to sensations and awaking, leftover random moments of emotion from earlier hours – or days – left piled up in the unswept corners of my consciousness, stirred together, mixed and shaken, as I wake up. It is far too easy to take this bit of ’emotional seasickness’ personally, first thing in the morning, and more than one otherwise lovely morning has been wrecked by emotions that got the best of me – even though I had no idea why I actually felt the way I did.

This morning I am playing a quiet game of ‘being my own best friend’ and sipping my coffee and hanging out with me, unconcerned that my emotions feel unsettled, uninterested in exploring them further, and choosing instead to relax with me for a while, and enjoy some of the very cool things about this woman who I am.

I find myself thinking about a very fancy camera I had once had – long before the age of the digital camera, and back when analog film drove the decisions about how many pictures I could reasonably afford to take, and to get interesting effects, or special shots, I lugged around a camera bag full of filters and lenses. It’s an interesting metaphor. Even in our thinking, we use ‘filters’ and ‘lenses’ to sort through what we see, and to determine how we understand it. More than once I’ve messed with my own head, and caused myself a lot of needless suffering, because my perspective (a filter, right?) or awareness (a lens?) were not well-suited to the experience of the moment.

I don’t really know where it takes this metaphor, but when I take pictures these days, they are most often available light shots, free of effects or ‘fun’ filters; I want most to capture the quality of light – of life – in a moment, just as it is. This, I find, is also a very nice way to treat my own heart – although less simple, once I have stepped from metaphor to action, sometimes. This morning the time taken to get my balance, and my bearings, and secure emotional footing before rushing off to face the day seems like a nice way to start a new day.

Today is a good day to view things through a different filter, and through a cleaner lens. Today is a good day to enjoy who I already am, in this moment right now, and see where the day takes me. Today is a good day for love and lovers – and a bigger picture.

I’ve been ‘homesick’ for a long time, decades, actually. It’s not exactly ‘homesick’ as in missing some place I once was, or still call home… it’s homesick for a specific sense of ‘home’ that I’ve experienced only rarely. I have moments when I feel this particular feeling of ‘home’, and it fills me up and nourishes my soul in a way I don’t have quite the right words for. I don’t yearn for it continuously, or seek it with any regular method or pace. The feeling comes and goes. When the homesick feeling arrives it feels as if it were there in the background, already. When it dissipates I am relieved, and continue on as if it never were, and I go on enjoying the moments that feel like home.

I sometimes feel a sense of being at home when I am sitting quietly, watching the fish in my aquarium.

I sometimes feel a sense of being at home when I am sitting quietly, watching the fish in my aquarium.

During my lunch walk I considered thoughts of ‘home’ and what ‘feels like home’ to me, as an individual. I walked, smiling, feeling the fresh spring breezes tickle my skin with the fringe of over-grown bangs I chronically tuck behind my ears. I felt the sun warm my face, and enjoy the way it glows through the new spring leaves along my way. My way. That feels like home, too. I stopped to swing on the swings in the park for a few minutes before walking on.

Is being at home a feeling I take with me?

Simple pleasures feel like home...

Simple pleasures feel like home…

Is being at home something one practices?

There's more than one perspective on 'home'...

There’s more than one perspective on ‘home’…

Do we ‘find our way home’, or do we ‘build the home of our dreams’?

Life's curriculum wrapped in spring breezes and blue skies - I'm okay with that.

Life’s curriculum wrapped in spring breezes and blue skies – I’m okay with that.

Is home ‘where the heart is’? What does that actually mean? An interesting thought to finish the evening; a meditation on home and heart.

Today is just about finished, here. Where will tomorrow take me? What will I learn? Will I wake and find the day as gentle and amenable to growth as I have found the evening? Tonight I close my eyes, smiling, wishing the world well, and hoping everyone gets home safely.

Moments lack permanence.

Moments lack permanence.

Today is unlike any other day, because it is uniquely always ‘now’; it is today. Yesterday is among so many other past days.  They queue up in an orderly fashion, following rules of time and the passage of time; yesterday has become memory, lacking in substance. Tomorrow, too, is without substance, stretching infinitely ahead with the rest of future events, lacking even the ‘reality’ of memory, of having once been… Tomorrow is only a thought of things to come, and perhaps a bit of planning built on what isn’t yet happening at all, and may not, ever.

Really, we’ve only got ‘now’, ‘today’, to work with in any practical way. We can apologize for past events – there’s a lot of that going on, day-to-day, among well-meaning people. We can make promises or plans for the future – some of us crave more of that than others. Some of us see-saw between past hurts and a future more distant from those. Some of us balance delicately between past joys and a future that feels more uncertain. Perhaps we all do some of both?

I find it easy to look past today without intending to. The outcome is generally that I have less ability to affect my future willfully, and less perspective on a past I can’t change.

Today tends always to have the potential for action, for change, for the moment to bring will and choice together with a verb or two…neither yesterday nor tomorrow afford us that chance. I guess the puzzle is how best to learn from all those yesterdays, to plan a tomorrow in which I thrive – and to do so in a way that provides me an opportunity to take action today to bring me closer to where I most want to be…but to also do so without striving, or attachment.

Life’s lessons about attachment, specifically, are brutally difficult – at least for me, at least today. Oh, there are easy moments of clear vision and contentment, confident that the path ahead of me is paved, mapped, and free of obstacles. That, too, is an illusion. It is as illusory as the more difficult moments when it feels like I am wading knee deep in chaos and damage, in the darkness, with my eyes closed, banging my shins and stubbing my toes on a real life that is only to happy to keep moving the fucking furniture around or changing the rules.

This too will pass. Change, unavoidably, is. What will become of me? Whatever I make of me. And what of love? Well…love will attend to its own affairs if I attend skillfully to mine. Love, too, simply is. The challenge there is holding love’s flame within, trusting that the heart’s pilot light can’t really be blown out so easily. A friend recently wrote some beautiful words about love I am still finding relevant in this moment.

Today is a good day for perspective. Today is a good day to practice good practices, and good processes, and to trust incremental change over time. Today is a good day to take care of my heart with the same tenderness I would give to anyone else. Change is. Change always is – and it is always ‘today’. Today I’ll make the most of that.

This morning biscuits are a metaphor. I haven’t made any, I’m just thinking about them. Fresh hot homemade biscuits right from the oven on a lazy spring Sunday morning, served with sweet cream butter, homemade fruit preserves of some kind or another – or several – maybe some lemon curd, and Devonshire cream – and plenty of coffee, or tea, sounds like just about the perfect morning munch, or lovely bite of brunch a bit later, or excellent accompaniment to a good lunch salad… I’m just saying; I like biscuits. (American biscuits… so… scones.)

Home made scones.

Home made scones.

How are biscuits a metaphor? Simply that there is nothing fancy about a biscuit, even the recipe itself is easy. Flour, shortening, liquid, mixed in the correct ratio, spooned onto a pan if you’re not up for rolling and cutting, and then baked – but the results are extraordinary when the ingredients are in the correct ratio, the steps followed in order, and the progress of the baking attended to mindfully.

Sometimes we take what is easy and make it harder. I’m not sure why, but I know I do, and have, and likely will again in the future.

I’ve got stacks of cookbooks, and a lot of biscuit recipes. Some of the recipes start things off by taking those simple ingredients and directing me toward very complicated steps. Some of the recipes are a simple tweak of the basic concept, but result in something very different at the end.

A biscuit done well can be the foundation of something amazing - like a grown up take on a breakfast 'ice cream sandwich'.

A biscuit done well can be the foundation of something amazing – like a grown up take on a breakfast ‘ice cream sandwich’.

The poorest pantry likely has the ingredients for biscuits; flour of some kind, water or milk, some sort of shortening, a leavening ingredient. Biscuits can be made simply, or with far fancier ingredients – they’re still biscuits, and the sort of thing that tends to be very available. Affordable luxury? A small investment in effort, a commitment to a good recipe, and having simple staple ingredients on hand can result in luxury, comfort, and contentment in the hardest times.

Everyone has tough times. In the toughest times, I’ve still been able to make biscuits. I’m trying to say something… about life, about love, about hard times…about the simple basics that we can get by on, when we make the choice to do so. Still choices, still verbs involved – but the list of ingredients may be quite simple indeed. (Check your pantry – are you well stocked on emotional staples?)

Today is a good day to do well on what is at hand. Today is a good day to follow a good recipe. Today is a good day to enjoy the simple pleasures that I know I can count on. Today is a good day to change my world.

I am okay right now. Easy or hard doesn’t matter in this moment.

It's a journey.

It’s a journey.

I’ve spent the day on my own. It’s not what I needed for myself, but my needs are not the only needs worthy of consideration. It’s not as if I don’t want more time for my own agenda, and I took the day as an opportunity, convenient to enjoying some things that aren’t always so easy to fit into the day-to-day routine. I traveled across town to a favorite shop, and contemplated other fish, other aquariums, and made pleasant conversation with the people there.

A quiet place to sit, in the back, becomes another moment of stillness and contemplation.

A quiet place to sit, in the back, becomes another moment of stillness and contemplation.

I walked the 4 miles from the shop, across the river, across the downtown area, and enjoyed the sites along the way. “Walking it off” is another good practice for me; the longer and farther I walk, the calmer and more regular my breathing becomes, and I gain perspective, and my thinking shifts toward increased compassion, empathy, even – sometimes – real wisdom. That’s a lovely feeling.

Open eyes, open mind, and engaged in simple presence in the moment, a worthy choice any day.

Open eyes, open mind, and engaged in simple presence in the moment, a worthy choice any day.

Sitting quietly, just breathing, I spent much of the afternoon and evening meditating. I have a lovely view for the purpose; my aquarium sits in front of my favorite place to sit while I meditate. Is it the aquarium itself that makes the location so pleasant? It could be that, it could be that this is the place I associate with calm, and safety, and stillness just generally, in my every day life. It’s been a good day for stillness. In truth, in every practical respect it has simply been a good day. Emotions foul the waters of calm perspective and loving joy, now and then, a harsh reality of shared living among other humans. We are each having our own experience, and quite rightly the experience we are each having, ourselves, is the one upon which we are most focused, and the one of which we are most aware. Our own pain hurts worse than any other. That can really mess with a good connection.

Emotion and reason; it's a complicated balance.

Emotion and reason; it’s a complicated balance.

There’s always love, though, and words about love, and the inspiration that words about love can provide…and the soul-healing reminder that love is.

I meditate, and meditate more. I don’t worry that it isn’t ‘fancy’ or that it isn’t following some specific guided meditation of some sort; I am awake, aware, and breathing. I am here. Now. I am okay.

They live, each moment what it is, safe in their private world.

They live, each moment what it is, safe in their private world.

I breathe, and become still and calm. Fish swim.

I often wonder at the content of their consciousness; they are aware of me.

I often wonder at the content of their consciousness; they are aware of me.

I breathe, and let the stillness fill me, and wrap me in contentment. Life doesn’t have any requirement to be more perfect than it is. There is value in ‘learning to swim’ the powerful tides of heartfelt emotion, and to float on the currents of change, buoyant even in stormy weather.

What I see has so much to do with what I look for.

What I see has so much to do with what I look for.

It’s a still and quiet evening, and rather different than I had expected it might be, from the vantage point of days before; hanging on to expectations creates discontent and struggle, where none need be. I breathe. I let it go. If ‘enough’ truly is enough, then this moment is complete, just as it is. I am safe. It is a quiet still moment. I live. I love. I am loved in return.

I need space, too, and time for stillness.

I need space, too, and time for stillness.

I am okay right now. It’s enough.