Archives for the month of: August, 2019

These days I seem wholly contented more often than not. Days sometimes slip by, without noticing I have not written a word, and life feels generally very pleasant within the limited context of my own experience. (Admittedly, when I look beyond that limited lifetime, I see so much struggle, so much pain, and so much unpleasantness, it is hard not to avert my gaze.) Even this lovely life filled with balance and quiet joy holds opportunities to improve, to love more skillfully than I do, to take care of myself more skillfully that I yet know how, and to be of greater service to hearth, and home, and community. Growth gets more complicated, it seems, the more contented I am. πŸ™‚

My gear is packed, with the exception of the clothes I’ll be wearing, and a handful of things that I put through the wash yesterday, and an Rx that I’ll drop in my bag after I take it before bed tonight. I’ll leave for the office tomorrow morning, and head to the camp site after work. I was more ready than I realized, and there were few purchases to make; even my stores of camping food were in good supply and had been kept reliably well-thought out to support a trip to the trees without major shopping (they double as “emergency supplies” between camping trips, creating an ongoing incentive to keep them well-stocked all year).

I’m excited to be out in the woods, camping among the trees, listening to birdsong and breezes. I’m looking forward to uncomfortable hours of self-reflection, meditation, and study. I’m looking forward to thoughtful sketches of small flowers, and reading books I haven’t started yet. I’m looking forward to shameless napping in the heat of the afternoon, lulled to sleep by the buzzing of various insects. I’m looking forward to moments of insecurity, fearfulness, and doubt, and feelings of uncertainty, and inadequacy, and the feelings that follow all of those, when I master them in those moments, and feel my sense of ease and assurance return. I’m eager to sit down “face to face” with the woman in the mirror, and have a chat (figuratively speaking); I find camping exceedingly useful for brushing away the distractions, and really getting focused on the things I need to face, and deal with. I could be a better human being than I am right now, this morning – this journey (and practice) is a way to get there. πŸ™‚

I am also just… tired. Cognitively fatigued. Weekends, however chill and relaxing, aren’t quite enough at this point to get me the deep cognitive, emotional, and intellectual, rest that I need so badly. Nearly every moment, of most any day, is filled from start to end with interactions, and human voices, and this, that, or the other thing pinging on my consciousness. I need a break from all of that, long enough to get properly rested, in order to really grow and benefit from all that I am exposed to, and all that I have learned. πŸ™‚ My ‘brain buffer” is full. Sleep isn’t enough to clear it. I’m sometimes cross with frustration that results from nothing more than feeling persistently distracted and overloaded. “Too much”.

So, tomorrow… well, from the perspective of write here, I guess today. Tomorrow I’ll be finishing loading the car (it’s mostly already loaded), and double-checking that I have coffee, my bee sting kit, and any medication I may need, and adequate cash for picking up a bundle of firewood from the camp hosts up the road. 4 nights out. 4 days. Long enough to really appreciate the luxuries life routinely makes available (through not having them) and long enough to have to push past personal demons queuing up for attention, and to have to kick aside any “baggage” in my way, on a path of self-reflection, re-calibration, and rest. πŸ™‚

I expect to return with pictures of flowers, sunsets, blue skies, paths ahead of me, and moments. I expect to return with a clear heart and sense of purpose. Expectations can be huge buzzkills in real life, so I sip my coffee, smile, and let those go. πŸ™‚ It’s enough to be here, ready to go there, and to let that be what it is, when the time comes. πŸ™‚ For now? It’s just a Monday morning, over coffee, and it’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Sipping coffee, planning for camping, and feeling contented; it’s a pleasant start to the morning. πŸ™‚ I’m excited about my camping trip – and it’s almost here! Next week. Whether I write or not, I’ve no idea, I do know there’s no cell signal available through much of that large beautiful hike-able acreage. Just… none. If my recollection is correct, there’s a hint of a bit of a signal now and then, but only at this one particular spot, and it’s a trek of a couple miles (uphill) to reach it, and it’s not reliable…so… I most likely won’t be posting during that time, regardless whether or not I do write. πŸ™‚

Honestly… lots of past posts to explore, and it’s not as if I’m truly writing wholly original content, is it, since I generally write the same things, most days… drinking coffee… breathing… good self-care… choices, verbs, practicing practices, and beginning again… right? πŸ˜‰ Don’t let yourself down on my account; I’ll be right back. πŸ˜€

There are paths yet to be explored – where will yours take you?

I’m eager for the break in routine, and for the days and nights among the trees. I’m eager to hear bird song, and not traffic, and the loud peeps and chirps and calls of chipmunks and squirrels, instead of the conversation of commuters and random human beings out in the world. I’m eager to read the weather, the actual weather, instead of the news. πŸ™‚

I remind myself not to forget coffee!

I have a list of gear I need to either double-check that I do still have it, or pick it up before I go. I keep adding things to it, and crossing things off. I enjoy camping much more when I am prepared…and I also enjoy traveling light, and without excessive weight or baggage dragging me down. I’ve got a list that makes sense. It’s an observation that doesn’t last long when the next question hits me…

…What if it rains?

I laugh so hard I snort coffee, which is less than pleasant, but now I’m giggling; I literally haven’t made any specific effort to plan for any sort of significant rain. It’s August. Why would it rain? Only… it may, and it could, and it’s been known to happen, and… it’s in the forecast. lol So…?

Like a lot of life’s circumstances, preparedness makes an easier journey, for sure. Also like life, and circumstances, it’s not particularly easy to be prepared for all of everything that could be part of my experience than I might want to… while also traveling light, and keeping baggage to a minimum. The more I am inclined to carry, the more verbs (and effort) will be involved in the journey, itself, and the more there will be to manage, deal with, juggle, find space for, when I arrive at my destination. There are choices to be made. Some circumstances are best accepted, than prepared for in advance in any notable way. (I’m not actually saying rainfall is one of those, I mean… it’s possible to shove rain gear into my backpack without adding a ton of weight to my gear!)

Don’t let a little rain stop you. πŸ™‚

Anyway. Rain is a thing that happens, even in August. I’m giggling because I enjoy the rain… but… I also dislike being soaked to the skin, catching a chill, and miserable because all my gear is soaked. lol There are definitely choices to make, and planning is a useful tool for making them. I give some thought to the rain, and my list, and make some adjustments to also account for chilly nights, and dewy cold mornings. Will I be warm enough? Cool enough? Dry enough? Will I have coffee for the mornings? Will I want paper books, or digital books? Don’t forget to bring a towel! What about tea? Broth? It’s nice to have something hot to sip on that isn’t loaded with caffeine – or sugar. What about sleep…? Do I want my cot, or an inflatable something or other? (I already know I don’t much feel like sleeping directly on the ground, on a thin sleeping mat; I’ll be out there for 4 nights.)

Everything I take on this journey, I’ll have to carry, myself.Β That’s a hell of a metaphor, right there.

I look at the time. Yeah. Already. I smile, and finish my coffee, and put aside my list. Same path, different day. I smile, and grab my keys, and my backpack, and get ready to begin again. πŸ˜€

I woke early. I could have slept more, but waking so close to when my alarm goes off and then going back to sleep nearly always finds me struggling to escape sleep when the alarm finally does go off, and I sometimes then struggle for the better part of the day with feeling groggy and disconnected. It’s a less than ideal experience, so… I got up.

In the kitchen, when I approached the counter to make my morning coffee, I noticed there was already a mug there, with the pour over filter still sitting atop the mug, with used grounds in it. I carefully lifted it from the mug and found a full, untouched, long-cold, cup of coffee sitting there. For me? Well… probably not by intention, but… there it is. πŸ™‚ A convenient circumstance. Coffee for me, quiet for my sleeping Traveling Partner. I don’t at all mind that it is a room temperature-not-quite-cold cup of coffee. It is well-made, and satisfying. I say a silent thank you to my partner for his effort, and his lost interest in this tasty and convenient coffee.

I noodle around on the internet awhile, without clear words for the thoughts in my head, this morning. I poke around camping supply websites; my first camping trip of the summer, this year, is next week. I take a second look at my packing list. I look at maps, rather pointlessly; it is too early to spend this much time on such a distant view of such familiar trails. lol I’m not exactly wasting time, but I’m not using it skillfully, or productively. I tackle a couple of errands; things that need to go into the mail today, an “old-fashioned” seeming task now, that once felt very routine.

I avoid the news, this morning, because frankly, it just isn’t good. The quantity of hate, of racism, of misogyny, of violence… it’s just too much. I’m not exactly averting my eyes from it, I just prefer not to make it part of every moment of my limited leisure time. I’m fairly disappointed by humanity pretty quickly, if I spend too much time reading the news. Besides, there really are positive things going on… in my own life, if not plentifully in the world. Finding those positives matters so very much!

I sip my cold coffee and consider the positives…

I’ve been slowly and steadily losing weight since the beginning of the year, and the dietary and fitness changes I’ve been making (and maintaining) are also making me feel generally in better health. πŸ™‚

Having my partner move back in with me is pretty fun. I enjoy his company, his humor, his affection – and he helps out a bunch. Having a proper partnership between mutually supportive adults kicks ass, and life feels less lonely. πŸ™‚

I’ve been enjoying getting back out onto local trails, exploring, enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and bird and bunny sightings. πŸ™‚

I enjoy my work, and no longer feel as though 100% of the time I spend on “gainful employment” is also wholly wasted life time. πŸ™‚

My emotional and mental wellness seems pretty good these days. πŸ˜€ That’s huge. It took a long fucking time to get here – the effort was well worth it.

I mean… short list, on a work morning, and I’m grateful to have so much to appreciate in life. Seriously better to focus on the positives this morning than to dive into news articles highlighting human violence and suffering. I don’t need help to recognize the magnitude of the problem; the weight of it pulls on me, every moment. :-\ We gotta do something about that… (vote).

…Well… coffee’s gone. πŸ™‚ Time to get a new day started properly… I suppose I’ll begin again. πŸ˜‰

A few years ago, a much younger version of me was heading home from work, it was late, a hot evening, and… the train seemed to be late. The later it got, the more anxious and agitated I was becoming. There was already so little time. The more stressed out I became, the more bothered I was by even the slightest restless movement of other aggravated commuters – and the longer we waited, the more of us there were. Frustrated clueless conversation reached me from various pairings of “been waiting” and “just got here” commuters; that was making me angry, too. “Just stand still and wait!” I snarled quietly under my breath. In fact… I had, at one point, gotten to the “teeth-grinding and sub-vocalization” level of stress and pure, distilled frustration. I wanted to rip my damned heart out of my chest to stop the pounding.

…I just wanted to go home. That’s all.

Yesterday morning, on the way in to the office, I observed that there was a rail interruption for construction, and a shuttle-bus detour provided, on my usual route to work. I didn’t think much about it. It did add some minutes to my commute, but at 5:30 am, that’s not exactly noteworthy – and there are no crowds, just stoic sleepy-eyed commuters quietly heading to work on auto-pilot.

After a very busy, very weird, day in the office, I headed for home quite a bit later than usual – or planned – and made my way to the train platform. I didn’t see anything much to be concerned with, and I wasn’t troubled by the awareness of that bit of construction… I mean… they were probably done? Or… maybe I forgot? It wasn’t on my mind, is what I’m saying, even after I saw the sign.

Oh. Huh. Well… I guess that’s a pretty big project.

Pre-occupied with my own thoughts, I got on the train, and promptly forgot about the construction. Some few minutes later, the train stops. I look around puzzled and realize I’m at the last stop; the detour. Time to grab a shuttle bus… wait… where are the buses? I see a lot of passengers milling around waiting. Hell, the transit company is giving away free shave ice to the passengers waiting in the heat (almost 90 degrees F, a bit more than 32 C). No shade anywhere. It’s hot, and people are cross about waiting. An absolute raging douchebag pushes past a substantial queue of passengers growling “where do we get on the shuttle? where do we get on the shuttle?” squeezing past people with strollers, elders on walkers, and women in burqa’s to get to the front of the line. So rude. I’m irked, but… I breathe, and let that go.

We wait, and wait longer. I see transit employees on walkie-talkies beefing about the delay with the buses. I can see that traffic patterns have been interrupted to accommodate shuttle buses, there are cones, barriers, and signs everywhere, and frustrated workers in oranges vests – and more walkie-talkies. A bus arrives, after a time, and we all crowd on it. Finally. It won’t be long now. I’m almost merry – I’m at least content. I’m heading home.

So… about that.

Quite a crowd, waiting for a train, on a very hot day.

I ease myself past groups of strangers. I notice that even considering the construction, it seems odd that the platform is so crowded. It looks like more than one train’s worth of passengers. I overhear someone complain that they have already been waiting 20 minutes. I keep walking, to the far end; it looks less crowded.

10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes later… no train. More shuttle buses have continued to arrive. There are easily 200+ people waiting on the platform, crowded together, fussy, irritable, frustrated with waiting, growing more and more impatient, and potential for conflict increases. Giving the matter some thought, I realize I will not even want to try to crowd onto the first train that eventually arrives… maybe take an Uber, or… a bus? I make my way to a shady spot at the edge of the park alongside the platform. I exchange expectation-setting messages with my Traveling Partner. I hit my vape a couple times. I drink some water.

Well…so… the traffic around the construction is such a snarl, and being peak rush hour on top of that, and Uber was going to cost me dearly (on this whole other unreasonable level), so that was out. The estimated time for the closest bus I could walk to that would take me more or less directly to where my car was parked was a bit of a walk, followed by a bit of a wait, and then quite a long ride… the train would be faster, when it got here… So. I waited.

The crowd was sufficiently large that getting them in one shot from eye level was difficult.

More people accumulated on the platform, until it was clearly no longer safe for more, and they spilled onto the track that was not in service, and on into the edge of the park, where I was seated in the shade, at the edge of the piled up human stress-puppets, all waiting for the train. Still no train.

By the time the next train arrived, there were easily 300 commuters waiting for it. Trust me, they don’t hold that many. No way I was going to take that train. Maybe not the one after it, either. I watch people push on, crowding each other. I sat back, away from all that, having a vape, and watching the afternoon sunshine slowly turning golden as the sun began to sink lower in the sky. That train left so crammed with human beings, they were literally pressed against the doors and standing two abreast in the aisles as it pulled away. No thank you. The next train looked much the same, but as it left, there was actually room on the platform to stand and wait for the next, which came in just 5 minutes.

(As it turned out later, in addition to the construction snarl, a transit employee confirmed that there was the additional hassle of someone having thrown a shopping cart in front of a moving train, further east on the westbound line, resulting in the transit company having to remove that train from service, and clear the track – and backing up trains rather a lot, creating the fairly horrible delay I’d found myself caught up in.)

I got on the train, no pushing, no snarling, no frustration, and took a seat. All the seats ended up full, and a handful of folks standing – that’s what the train generally looks like in the evening, as I head home. People were a bit more tense and aggravated than usual, and there was a crying baby (the shrieking “I’m fucking pissed and you just don’t get it” crying of a confused, discontented, uncomfortable, too hot in the summertime, baby who has no will to be consoled). At one point, the entire train had to be stopped over … drama and bullshit. Tempers flared over priority seating for disabled passengers; a seated disabled woman with a child in a stroller refused to yield her seat to a woman insisting she was “more disabled”, rail-thin, appearing intoxicated, pushing a wheeled shopping basket. All hell broke loose when rail-thin woman touched the seated woman’s baby, as if to move the child out of her way. People were yelling. I was more than a little surprised it didn’t break out into a proper brawl. Other passengers got involved. Eventually the driver call-button was pushed. That’s when the train was stopped, and held, at the platform, while the driver intervened. The rail-thin woman was ejected from the train by the driver, firmly, although he did point out (and truthfully) that another train followed closely behind his. We continued our journey. The baby commenced to crying again.

At each stop, a few more passengers disembarked. It got quieter. The train reached my station, and I got in my car, and went home (by way of the grocery store, for salad ingredients for a dinner that we didn’t have, because it was late, and we were neither of us very hungry). I enjoyed a pleasant evening with my partner.

So… simple. So… easy. No freak out? Nope. No tantrum? Nope. No snarling at other people impatiently because… “omg, what the fuck??” Nope. I was pretty chill the whole time – in spite of the heat. (lol) It’s summertime, and that means construction, and construction delays, and… well… I don’t know. I’m fine. It wasn’t a big deal.

Who is this woman I have become over time? She’s pretty patient about construction delays, cranky passengers on crowded trains, shrieking babies, and douchebags who line-jump crowds on hot days. I like that about me… I sip my coffee and wonder when I became this woman, and what did I practice that got me here? Did the meditation get me here? The reflection and perspective-seeking? The savoring small pleasant moments and building emotional resilience over time? The creation of, and existence within, a calm and generally contented environment at home? I’m not perfect; I’m surprised. I fully expect that some time in the future I’ll lose my shit over something dumb (I have priors)… but… last night? Last night wasn’t that time. πŸ˜€

This morning? Pretty nice morning. My coffee is just okay, but it’s still coffee, and I’m grateful. I load up the dishwasher, and set it for a delayed start to avoid waking my partner (who I think I already woke with my bumbling around half-awake after the alarm jerked me from dreams of love and contentment). I consider the commute ahead of me. Maybe I’ll drive in. LOL I smile to myself; a good start to the day. I look at the clock… definitely time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I slept decently well, and more or less through the night. My coffee is delicious, mild, and the mug comfortingly warm in my hands. I make a point to let go of a small, fairly petty, moment of resentment that attempts to develop; I changed the grinder settings for the coffee grinder at my partner’s suggestion, and my coffee this morning is better. I wasn’t resenting his suggestion, only the lack of understanding that I hadn’t set the grinder as it was with any deliberate intention; it had gotten jostled, and since then I haven’t gotten the settings quite as I like them. I’m pleased with the current settings. The resentment is irrelevant, and lingers only because there was no moment of explicit understanding to satisfy them, when I spoke up. It’s silly to hold on to that, and not at all helpful. πŸ™‚

It was a good weekend. Short. Well, the same length as usual, but feels short. It was a weekend well-spent. I got good rest. I enjoyed a couple great trail walks. I enjoyed the company of my Traveling Partner. It was pleasant.

I woke in a weird place. Maybe it was my dreams? I just feel vaguely… out of step, or as if there is “something going on” that I’m not actually noticing. I know from experience that it doesn’t do to invest time and emotion into such things; they are often illusions, and where they are not wholly imagined, they will be revealed or sort themselves out, in due time. So… I let that go too.

I think about the honeysuckle blooming along the trail I walked this weekend; it reminded me of childhood and “back home”.

I take a breath, exhale slowly, relax, and sip my coffee. I repeat this a handful of times, until I find myself feeling strangely silly; the inclusion of the coffee makes me giggle, although, for me, it is quite common on a Monday morning. The weather report forecasts a very hot day. I’m grateful for air conditioning – although, and this is true, I’m also grateful for blue skies, and sunny days. πŸ˜€ Gratitude to spare.

The vague unsettled feeling I woke with begins to dissipate.

It’s another work week, and already time to begin again. πŸ™‚