Archives for the month of: June, 2016

…To escape myself, and I walked another mile to be alone with my thoughts, and I walked a mile after that to achieve a goal. Along the way I discovered, again, that my baggage goes with me on every journey I take, that my thoughts have no substance that I don’t give them myself, and that goals are chosen – often rather randomly (and sometimes achieving them fails to satisfy). ๐Ÿ™‚

The thought of a goal, of a  destination, is no more real than any other thought.

The thought of a goal, of a destination, is no more real than any other thought.

I was excited to read that there is now a public transportation option to reach Multnomah Falls – how cool is that?! I was also fairly earnestly needing some time away in the trees… The opportunity seemed a good fit, and I took it.

The map is not the world. The fantasy is not the reality.

The map is not the world. The fantasy is not the reality.

It was a crowded trip over on a shuttle bus just filled to bursting with corporate douchebags on vacation. What is it that makes people just keep talking louder in a noisy place, thereby increasing the volume and density of the wall of noise? What makes videos on cell phones more interesting than beautiful mountain scenery? What makes aย firm, over-confident, absolutely-no-risk-of-error tone of voice so often associated with colossal bores and aggravating asshats? lol By the time the shuttle pulled into the parking lot, I knew a great deal more about many of my traveling companions than I cared to, and was already bored with the movies some of them are purportedly making. lol (And, for what’s it’s worth, Dude, although I didn’t say so in-real-time, it’s really just not actually any of your business what her career choices are, or what they are ‘about’, and I sure wish you could have stopped yourself dissecting them because I’m pretty sure the woman you were insulting ‘behind her back’ was the one sitting close enough to hear you, based on her silent, visibly evident fury as you spoke.) Have I bitched enough about the shuttle ride? I could also take a moment to mention how awesomely convenient it was, and how pleasant and skilled the drivers were. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hey, Everyone - look at this! lol

Hey, Everyone – look at this! lol

I’d forgotten that the ‘real’ reason I rarely travel to these trails is less about distance or convenience, and more about crowding. As with any popular landmark or location, Multnomah Falls is crowded. Really crowded. In spite of the rain that poured continuously from the moment the shuttle pulled away, this water fall is so popular that dense crowds line even the narrow rocky trail beyond the first walk-up view-point, and the bridge above it, too. Even at the top of the falls, a slippery, rainy, steep mile high or so, the crowds were…crowding. It was a first-rate opportunity to see how well (or poorly) our society works together… some parents gently/firmly cautioning their kids to stay on the trail (as also directed by signage), others completely disregarding their feral offspring darting here and there between moving adults, on and off the trails, over and around barriers, walking the tops of walls, running, jumping, shouting… Yeah, I didn’t find it a particularly pleasant hike. I struggled to find balance, peace, stillness – the trees themselves seemed impatient with the noise. And it rained. It rained hard enough, continuously enough, that not only did I need the rain gear I inevitably stuff into my pack, but also hard enough that my camera wasn’t very useful.

In spite of aggravation all around, there is still beauty.

In spite of aggravation all around, there is still beauty.

I found myself relying heavily on practices for managing stress. Finding any quietย spot was a challenge.

There is time for beauty - I only have to take the time I need to enjoy it.

There is time for beauty – I only have to take the time I need to enjoy it.

With the rain falling, it was difficult to make the best use of my camera, and I found that to be one actually okay thing about the day’s hike; I was there every moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

So many people looking at the same thing, taking the same pictures...

So many people looking at the same thing, taking the same pictures…

By far the best pictures from yesterday’s hike were all the many pictures I simply couldn’t take because of the rain; they are the memories of the moments, and the day, and at least for now they are as clear and sharp as any photograph. “Wow” sights that would be difficult to photograph (for me)… bits of jovial conversation among strangers on a rainy crowded trail… the smell of wildflowers… laughter… and a couple good miles toward my fitness goals, all worth experiencing, no camera required.

I headed home much sooner than I might have, had the location been quiet, comfortable, and less (much less) crowded. The shuttle back was quieter; most people riding it clearly were not the sort to spend many miles on their feet, and there was a lot of napping going on. I enjoyed the quiet, and the scenery.

One last picture.

One last picture…my favorite of the day, taken by mistake while I fussed with the camera to take a different picture altogether – that didn’t turn out. There’s a metaphor in there, somewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚

The rain continued to fall… until I stepped off the light rail, close to home.

It was an unsatisfying hike, as hikes go. It was a peculiar day, spent crowded together with strangers – when I had been seeking solitude and peace. How very strange to make the choices I did. I sip my coffee and consider it further; it seems clear I could have anticipated all the details that were uncomfortable, and could easily have chosen differently. What was I thinking? It’s not a matter of discontent – and I’m not actually ‘bitching’, more… curious. It was an interesting adventure – and I realize as I consider the day in the context of living life that it has more value that I thought to give it, initially; I now know how easily I can reach those more distant gorge trails – and that’s pretty sweet. Just beyond the crowds? The wilderness. ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually, steps add up to miles, miles add up to distance, and distance traveled eventually becomes a lifetime of experience. I still have to take all the steps, do the verbs, practice the practices… and some days it rains. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s morning. I’ve already gotten sucked into reading the news and found myself being baited into reacting to this or that with, of course, outrage. The media stokes the reactive side of our nature, because in reactions are ratings – and consumer spending. It’s that simple. I let it go, again.

I found myself baited into outrage via Facebook a short time later. I let it go. Again. It’s too early to tilt at windmills. I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee. I pull myself free, and make a point to sign off. It’s a good day for a digital detox. I’ve no desire to let my devices dictate my day, or my experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, sure. This.

Well, sure. This.

Twice more I find myself pulled into emotional reactions that aren’t really anything to do with me, directly; I am reacting to the outrage machinery on which the media relies so heavily. I let it go. Again. And then again. I sign out of more stuff. I sip my coffee and redirect my attention to my own experience, right now – this one, here – and take note of a couple things I’d like to get done today, for me. It’s a short list, and I smile at it, wondering if today might be the sort of day that nothing on the list gets done… I’ve no interest in being pinged on by the world, frankly, and our messy tedious ongoing social issues are commonly of a sort that are willfully chosen, inflicted on all by a few, and entirely easily resolvable – if we chose to do so as a body politic. That seems unlikely to happen today. Perhaps instead of fussing over all that, I simple get started with the weekend…maybe head to the trees for the day, and put some miles on my hiking boots?

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I take some minutes to consider forest trails…

Date night was called off last night, due to my traveling partner potentially being contagious; his Other is sick. I definitely don’t want to get sick while I am likely to do interviews. It made sense to change our plans. I enjoyed a quiet evening, and got a good night’s rest. Both are experiences I enjoy.ย I miss my traveling partner. I smile thinking of him, looking forward to the next time we’re together.

Where

Where will life’s journey take me?

Yesterday I was in a lot of pain. Today less so. The reduction in pain makes everything seem easier. Yesterday I couldn’t bend low to empty the dishwasher. Small things. I feel eager to hit the trail, this morning and realize that I’ve made my decision about the day, without being aware that I had; I’m already distracted from writing, from making my list, from drinking my coffee – even distracted from the outrage engine working tirelessly to get my attention on The Next Terrible Thing. I’m plotting my journey, staring intently at a map unfolded in my lap… keyboard, blog post, world…all but forgotten.

It's a good day to walk on.

It’s a good day to walk on.

I think today I’ll head for the trees. ๐Ÿ™‚

I woke in pain this morning, to a chilly gray rainy day. Yesterday’s sunshine is a memory. Today, pain takes a firm determined step forward; I am often in a lot of pain on the rainy days I love so much. It’s an arthritis thing, I suppose. Still, it’s a lovely morning so far in spite of that, and I sip my coffee and make my list contentedly. I look at my list and realize I’ve jotted down a task I’m unlikely to be physically able to do today…I cross it off. Tomorrow, maybe.

Yesterday's sunshine...no more real now than any other memory unless I savor it and make it my own.

Yesterday’s sunshine – a lovely memory.

It’s early, still. Meditation, yoga, a walk, and a shower – the morning is well underway. My physical pain distracts me. I pull my mind back to other things – things that matter more to me; it’s ‘date night’ with my traveling partner. Our time together is so genuinely at ease, so deeply connected and passionate, so emotionally supportive, so playful… I’m still awed by this amazing love we share. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s worth pausing often to appreciate it, especially with impermanence being what it is, and change being a thing. I don’t know what obstacles may exist on the path ahead, or what twists life may sneak into future of love. I am learning to enjoy what is, without wailing over what isn’t – or taking every damned thing so personally that I am unable to understand that we are each having our own experience. Incremental change – incremental progress. ๐Ÿ™‚ I keep practicing.

We choose our path, but sometimes the way ahead is not obvious until conditions are right.

We choose our path, but sometimes the way ahead is not obvious until conditions are right.

There’s plenty to practice, isn’t there? Life is rich with complexity, full of stress, and so busy it all seems to happen so fast – too fast, sometimes. Yesterday morning, I could feel how very precariously poised I was, between a full on meltdown, and something different from that. I was uncertain I would be able to maintain emotional balance, perspective, and contentment in the face of the numerous stressors piling up, and the growing feeling of being overwhelmed somehow. I took the day, and I took care of myself. Meditation. A walk in the sunshine. More time meditating. Time spent in the garden among green living things. Some time enjoying coffee in the sunshine on the patio. Meditation. Healthy nutritious meals made from whole fresh ingredients. Adequate sleep. Mediation. Comfortable clothes. An orderly environment. Appropriately timed medication. I spent the day being purposefully kind to myself, and as much as possible taking action, rather than reacting. By mid-afternoon, I felt reliably, sustainably content, comfortable in my body, safe with my thoughts, and secure physically and emotionally. ๐Ÿ™‚ My results vary – it could have gone quite differently, and I was prepared that it might.

There's more than one path, more than one way, more than one choice; there are a lot of verbs involved.

There’s more than one path, more than one way, more than one choice; there are a lot of verbs involved.

So here I am today. Today seems nice so far… the pain is not relevant to that, and it may not be an impediment to enjoying the day in relative comfort. Even here there’s a balance to be found, the balance between distracting myself from hurting, and being sufficiently aware of it to take appropriate measures at regular intervals: moving around, taking those effective pain relief measures available to me, taking ‘yoga breaks’… It’s easy to get mired in the sensation of pain and overlook that it would ease if I got up and did something else for a few minutes. ๐Ÿ™‚

I keep practicing.

I keep practicing.

Even my heart is at ease today. That was not so much the case yesterday. Ah, but it isn’t yesterday now, is it? I begin again. Today is a good day to take care of me. Today is a good day to enjoy the things about life that I find most enjoyable – and maybe find some new things to enjoy as well. Today I begin again – again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today might be too much, I feel it already. Rare these days, so the feelings really stand out – ย helpful, more than aggravating, and I could use more of it. I can’t put my finger on something specific right now, or be certain things will go sideways at some point, but the potential for it exists as a distinct recognizable set of physical sensations that add up to an experience I recognize. It’s been a difficult day or two, and although I’ve adulted through it with considerable skill, generally, I’m quite human and there’s simply the possibility – leaning toward likelihood – that today it may all catch up with me. Can I make use of this awareness to treat myself well and gently, still get the day done, and perhaps dodge a meltdown, too? I guess I’ll find out as the day unfolds.

Well, sure. This.

Well, sure. This.

“Too much” is sometimes a thing to deal with. It’s not any more real than a lot of what I find myself mired in. “Too much” often reflects an unhealthy attachment to an outcome, or expectations that are unreasonable, or assumptions that are incorrect, piling up with circumstances that don’t bear that sort of emotional weight well. It’s that way today. A date with an acquaintanceย becameย a disappointment. The new job felt like a certainty, but fell through. A routine visit to a doctor becomes a referral to a specialist to rule out cancer – first. Disappointment adds to insecurity, which adds to worry, which adds to fear, which slowly becomes a soup of darker emotions, and a high risk of an emotional moment…or two…or some sort of meltdown. All very real. All very human. I could cash in my ticket for “a good cry” – haven’t done that, yet. As is so often said, it would probably do me good to just let go…once I can. Making a clear distinction between ‘balance’ (and treating myself well) and ‘repression’ (just sort of squashing everything down into a manageable presentation that seems appropriate to others) has huge value; hiding from my hurts doesn’t really work for me. “The way out is through” is real and meaningful today.

I have my ‘to do list’ for the day. I have events on my calendar. Purpose. A plan. I’ve also got this fragile vessel of flesh and bone to tend, and that’s rather non-negotiable for general wellness. I reconsider my list, move some things around, ensure that I keep a compassionate eye on myself today. I decide to trust my judgement – who knows me better than I do? – a meltdown today, you say? I think I have an opening on my calendar for that… if I must. lol Maybe later? Sometime after lunch? (Maybe not – that would be quite nice.) Either way, it won’t be necessary or useful to take it personally; I’m here for me.

Storms pass.

Storms pass.

Looking my concerns in the face eases them somewhat, at least for now. I sip my coffee, and start going down the list of things to do today. Today is a good day to be, and to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s morning. A Tuesday. The day is planned, and I’ll shower, dress, and head out shortly. The dawn was slow and gray, the sky heavy with fat rolling clouds, streaked with light as the sun attempts to break through here and there. My traveling partner sleeps in the other room. I am content and filled with joy, a pleasant start to the day.

A neighbor’s cat patrols the edge of the tall meadow grass just beyond the lawn. There’s generally one cat or another doing so at this time of morning. Red-wing blackbirds and jays mock them from the nearby trees, and as stealthy as the cats seem to be, I’ve never seen one of them catch anything. I’m okay with that – they’re clearly well-fed. ๐Ÿ™‚

I sip my coffee, and think about the day to come. There’s paperwork to gather, and I check my list to ensure I don’t miss a detail. Today is a good one for rolling with changes, taking things as they come, and living the moment I am in – it doesn’t hurt to prepare for it. ๐Ÿ™‚