This morning I woke too early, with a headache, and feeling uncomfortable and irritated. It’s a practical thing; I was awakened by the not-distant-enough whine of an idling freight train. It happens now and then. It is both intensely unpleasant, and utterly out of my control. It is also not a sound I sleep through easily… so… up at 3 am.

It’s almost 5 now. Though the whine persists, my anger and annoyance dissipated with practice(s): yoga, meditation (with ear plugs in, honestly), some quite housekeeping, a hot shower… and now, I hear the engine beginning to accelerate, slowly, and pull away. Finally. Culturally, and this is my opinion, we put (and allow) far too much emphasis on industry at the expense of quality of life. Noise pollution is a symptom. I wonder how many other people were wakened by the whine of the train this morning, maybe even not aware of what woke them, or why they woke with a headache this morning. How many bad moods in how many workplaces will it generate? I’m still a little cross about the noise; it’s hard enough to sleep well without that added to the mix.

a change of perspective

A change of perspective is needed.

I take a deep breath, and another, and have a sip of my coffee. I think about putting down roots. I think about my traveling partner. I think about the seasons, and upcoming holidays. For a moment, I even think about work. I let my thoughts pass through my consciousness without commentary or criticism; they are only thoughts. I have another sip of my coffee. I think about how fortunate I am, generally, and delight myself as some recent emotional highlights, beautiful memories, surface, are savored, and make way for the next recollection.

Simple moments of calm joy have value, too.

Simple moments of calm joy have value, too.

It was once a challenging practice to pause to appreciate, and to linger over, pleasant memories. Now it is a commonplace thing that I take time to enjoy regularly, and often find myself enjoying many delightful moments quite fully, in the moment themselves, without reservation or worry. A worthy practice, built over time, has become part of who I am. Although that was one desired outcome, it wasn’t initially something I felt I could count on. Incremental change over time is a thing; we become what we practice.

Where does your path lead?

Where does your path lead?

We become what we practice. Think that over for a moment… We become what we practice. Similarly, we tend to embrace as true just about anything we hear repeated a lot. So… if we hear and read hate, a lot, and we practice being hateful and angry, a lot… who do we become? Hateful angry people? Seems likely. Just saying; we can choose differently, and practice other things. It is literally that easy (and also that challenging).

What are you practicing? In your relationships – how do you treat your loved ones? Those behaviors are practiced. Out in the world, how do you treat others? More practiced behavior. When you interact through media, what communication habits are you practicing? When you filter events through your personalized world-view, more practiced behavior (and thinking) comes into play. What are you practicing? What settings do you tolerate in your ‘auto pilot’? Do you snap at people in the morning? Are you quick to anger? Prone to making assumptions? Attached to outcomes? Defensive or resentful? Dismissive, mocking, hurtful or mean? There isn’t much about how we behave (and how we think) that doesn’t at some point stem from things we practice, and in many cases practice quite willfully… It seems to me, this opens the door to a profound opportunity; we can choose differently, practice other things, become the person we most want to be.  This isn’t new thinking for me; I think about it a lot.

We become what we practice. We can change by choosing our practices differently.

I look back on the woman in the mirror with a certain amount of internal discomfort; although she has changed a lot over the years, we are one, and I still have to own some very unpleasant shit that I have said, and done. That’s part of the journey, too, sorting out the bullshit, recognizing and being accountable for poor decision-making, bad behavior, mistreating people, and making amends where I am able to do so… and where I can’t “make it right” in any practical way, making a sincere apology, remorseful, contrite, and honest about the damage done, and going forward practicing better practices.

Gracious sincere apology for wronging another is one of the most difficult practices, requiring a heightened level of awareness of another’s suffering, and compassion set to maximum. The more I grow as a human being, and the more I become the woman I most want to be, the more I am also aware of how human I am, and how much I have hurt others. Uncomfortable indeed, and certainly it sometimes warrants a sincere apology.

Here’s another day, and another journey. Today is a good day to treat myself, and others, truly well. Today is a good day to be considerate, and a good day to listen deeply. Today is a good day to be kind, compassionate, and gracious. If something goes sideways, and I miss the mark on any of those things, it’s also a good day to apologize and put things right.