Archives for the month of: April, 2020

Sometimes it is a thing; we are creatures of emotion and reason. Just like that sentence, emotion generally arrives to the party first. Reason shows up later. I’m super grumpy today. I don’t have any sort of reason for that, it’s simply how I am feeling, at this moment (and for several hours worth of moments since shortly after my work day began). There is nothing specifically “wrong”. I’m just… grumpy. Correction. I feel grumpy. I feel cross. I feel irritable. I feel prone to taking things personally. I feel “out of sorts” and generally aggravated. I feel impatient. These are how I am feeling.

…Still, they’re just feelings

Emotions are funny things. We can argue the factual basis of a subject. We can disagree with each other regarding our understanding of circumstances, and our recollections of details; we are each having our own experience. We’re not seeing the world from identical perspectives. We can’t actually argue against an emotion, though. Those are our own. Not subject to disagreement. Period. I feel grumpy. No one actually gets to tell me that’s “incorrect” as an emotional experience. (People may try, but as arguments go, an argument against someone’s emotional experience is rife with thought-errors, fallacies, and a peculiar assumption of entitlement, inasmuch as it presupposes that other person’s emotional experience is somehow superior or has more substance or value.) I’m mostly not even letting my grumpiness “be a thing”, generally, but it is still there in the background.

…I would have been camping next week. All week. Out under the trees. No other people. Only my own agenda. Quietly sitting. Hiking. Cooking out under the sky. Sipping coffee in the morning chill. Watching the leaves unfold, and the spring flowers bobbing and swaying in the spring breezes. Content, relaxed, and face-to-face with the woman in the mirror for a few days of solitude. Pandemic life being what it is, the location where I would have been camping closed, and canceled all pending reservations, some weeks ago. So, not going is not a surprise. Hell, I’m not unhappy to have the opportunity to still enjoy a couple of those days off, in the good company of my Traveling Partner…but…

Today, right now, for no obvious reason, I feel exceedingly put out by every tiny inconvenience. I feel prone toward anger, over shit I’m not generally angry about. I really “want to rest” – but I’m not talking about physically resting this meat puppet. I need cognitive rest. I need time with myself.

It may be awhile, for all of us, before we get some needs easily met. For some folks, solitude is hard to come by right now. For others, what’s hard to come by is community. Whether we call time spent alone “solitude” or “loneliness” is largely a matter of perspective. The emotions involved belong to each of us as individuals. I sigh and alternate between sips of cold coffee left from this morning, and fizzy water that has gone flat. I don’t care for – or about – either one. It’s almost reflexive, as if I am seeking to satisfy a craving, but doing so quite incorrectly for the craving that it is. So… now what?

Eventually the emotional weather will shift, and “this too shall pass”. I could take the mood, and the moment, very personally, blowing it way out of proportion, catastrophizing it, creating monsters out of miniatures. Or… I could let this shit go. Again.

…And then again, if necessary. And again after that. Yep, again once more if I have to. Maybe another time after that. Just keeping putting it down, letting it go, and beginning again. No reason to vilify the emotions themselves; they are not the bad guy here. Far more valuable to look them over tenderly, honestly, and with as much self-compassion as I know how to practice. Then try again if I miss that mark. There is no limit on the new beginnings I can offer myself.

So… I do.

My Traveling Partner comes in for a moment, and glances at the page in front of me. “I’m sorry you’re grumpy.” He says it tenderly. Kindly. Honestly. This, too, is a moment. A pretty nice one, actually. He gets back to what he was doing. I get back to what I am doing, while taking some time for me – to savor this moment. Far too easy to become mired in my less pleasant ones, even though the lovely ones are so much more worthy of my attention. Human primates and their negativity bias. I shake my head, smiling at myself. So human.

…It helps to take a moment, for myself. Some quiet. Some solitude. A moment to begin again.


It’s early. Some yoga. Some exercise. Some coffee. The day begins slowly. I watch a video that illustrates human failures; it doesn’t matter which one. Humans being human. Humans pointing out failures. Humans reacting badly to having failures pointed out. Fail sauce just everywhere. So human. This coffee is good. I pause a moment and ponder good coffee vs dreadful coffee, and how often the only obvious difference in getting one or the other is a matter of human effort, and the success or failure of that effort. Humans being human, sometimes the coffee is… not good, at all. 🙂

Yesterday was a strange day. I mean, pretty normal in most respects, until a hastily, carelessly, place canister of fuel (for camping) dropped from a high shelf and whacked my Traveling Partner in the head. His day was disrupted, just as my work day was ending. There was definitely some bleeding involved, and our evening was spent nursing each other’s individual discomfort (he was injured, and the stress and anxiety of his injury resulted in an unexpected wholly unnecessary headache of migraine proportions for me), and we spent our shared time hanging out quietly. Pretty sure we had something for dinner… I don’t recall what. It wasn’t an important detail. What is important is how well we cared for each other. That really matters.

I woke ahead of the alarm, listening to my partner’s breathing for a few minutes before I got up, feeling safe and loved. That matters, too. It’s a nice way to begin a new day… although I could so easily just go back to sleep, this morning. I yawn, and laugh quietly.

Another day begins. I’ll be delighted for it to be utterly routine in all respects, no excitement required or sought. lol It’s still so early… I finish this coffee, and consider making another. It already feels like time to begin again.

Yesterday was sort of hard. Weirdly so. A bit as if I had sand in my consciousness; I felt sort of “rubbed raw”, cognitively. Uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Aggravating. Those words describe my experience, and also describe my sense of myself, pretty much all day. It wasn’t fun, and more than frustrating; there was not any clear reason to feel the way I did. My outlook for much of the day was “just don’t”. I felt a little aggressive, a little prone toward anger, and getting past, through, or around it was the entire day’s challenge.

…Eventually, it “worked itself out”. Sometime past the end of the work day, I “got my head right”, and enjoyed a pleasant, quiet evening with my Traveling Partner. I sip my coffee, this morning, and silently acknowledge the difficulties the day had presented. Then, I let all that go. It was yesterday. New day ahead of me. I woke early, but this coffee is good, and this room is more tidy than yesterday. Comfortable. A bit chilly, and I’m okay with that. It’s not an unpleasant feeling. Another day, another chance to begin again.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Time spent on meditation feels well-spent.

I look over my “to do list”, and also review the “done” list that sits below it on my desktop as a “sticky note”. “Celebrate the Achievements!”, it says at the top. I’ve gotten a lot of little stuff done, and a handful of bigger projects are completed or in progress. Productive. 🙂 I allow myself a moment to feel pleased about that. I catch myself yawning, and glance at the time. Time passes so quickly, sometimes. The work day ahead is already about to begin…

I finish my first cup of coffee, ready to begin again. 🙂 Tomorrow? Already behind me. Today? Still ahead. It’s a good moment for beginnings.

My first coffee is almost gone, and what’s left is almost cold. Another work week begins. Another Monday unfolds ahead of me. Life in the time of pandemic remains fairly constrained, and a little surreal, sometimes. It is what it is. Is it helping? Probably.

Fish swim in the aquariums. Over the weekend, my Traveling Partner added the skimmer I ordered to my 29 gallon peaceful community tank. I watched fish swim. Friday afternoon, the remaining new inhabitants of my shrimp tank arrived, were acclimated, and got to move in to their new home. I got some tidying up tasks handled. We spent happy hours talking over computer builds, and re-organizing this-or-that to improve our quality of life. It was a nice weekend. No drama. Good company. 🙂

Improving my meditation practice has been paying off in improved emotional resilience and reduced reactivity. Win. 😀 Getting more exercise has been improving my general fitness (and wellness), which is an exciting quality of life improvement, itself. So far so good, right? 🙂

Yeah, that’s it. Nothing to complain about, really. That, itself, points to a favorite practice; savoring the good moments. I know, it can be super satisfying in some way to linger over painful moments, challenges, petty aggravations – a bit like scratching a mosquito bite. It’s hard to leave it alone. It doesn’t really do any good, though, to scratch at it, dig at it, pick at it – and doing so causes real damage. So… as comparisons go, it’s so accurate it’s not a metaphor anymore. When we invest, emotionally, our time and attention and focus on some painful moment, or challenge, or bit of irritation or inconvenience, it gets bigger and more important in our thinking. It becomes a larger part of our implicit experience and the very nature of our character can be influenced by such things over time.

“We become what we practice” – spend enough time angry about shit, and anger becomes who we are, generally, and over time it will seem that there are many more things “to be angry about”. Letting shit go, letting small shit stay small, and refraining from taking things personally, over time, results in changes in “who we are”, too. It’s a choice. What experiences do you make time for? What emotional states do you linger in? What are you focused on, in life?

I don’t know that changes to my experience are the true drivers of the changes to how I experience my life, as much as changes to what I make a point of focusing on, and spending time with, emotionally. I do know things are far better than they were in 2013. I also know that if I were in a state of despair, right now, and someone told me “it’ll only take 7 years to change how you feel about life!” I might not have been sufficiently encouraged to make the changes I needed, then, to make… hard to say. There’s been a lot of work involved. Study. Practicing of practices. Self-reflection. More study. More practice… and repeat. Again.

…Here’s the thing, though; it’s worked wonderfully well. It’s been a profoundly successful journey. It is a journey still in progress, and one which I embrace with real enthusiasm. So much has changed…

…Every new beginning has lead me here. Each step along the way has had value. My results have varied. It has been necessary to growth through some uncomfortable experiences. So worth it. I smile, finish my coffee, and glance at the time… Already time to begin again. 🙂

…Where does your journey start? Are you ready to begin?

I’m currently playing Portal. It’s not a new game. I’m likely the wrong person to ask whether it is a “hard” game. It hasn’t been especially frustrating, which I had worried about before I started. I’m enjoying the experience of playing it, which feels good. I admit, I’m currently stuck on a level, but honestly, I’m okay with that. I’ll get it figured out. 🙂 I keep at it. Nothing screams “restart” like being stuck on a particular challenge in a video game. Good news; life works this way, too. Stuck? Start over. Begin again. Take another approach. Try again. Give it a rest and come back to it later. 🙂

The worrying about the challenge was a bigger challenge that the challenge itself. There’s a lesson in that. lol

Video games are another rich source of living metaphors, for me. I enjoy that, too.

Fish swim in the “big” aquarium (size being very relative; it’s only 30 gallons). Shrimp scuttle about in their smaller aquatic habitat. My betta slowly recovers from recently jumping out of the aquarium; it’ll be weeks before he’s “well”, I suspect, but he’s doing okay. I hand feed him each day. He seems to welcome that. The world beyond these walls continues to make its way around the sun. The world continues to figure itself out in this time of pandemic. People continue to both disappoint me mightily, and also to impress me beyond expectations with their humanity, compassion, and will to do more/better. Life at home is still a puzzling mix of “how is this any different at all?” and “wtf – why this? why now?” My partner and I enjoy the opportunity to share experiences, projects, conversation, and to explore topics of shared interest more deeply. We help each other. We’re both in acceptably good health, enduring little more than routine middle-age-y sorts of concerns. We’ve got a lot to be grateful for.

I slept in this morning. My coffee is good. Yoga in the morning as the sun began to rise. It felt good to move and to stretch. Later today, I have an errand to run out in the world. I no longer look forward to such things, I just prepare myself, and get them done, and quickly return home. Meditation felt joyful and effortless this morning; the world seemed to be sleeping, and all was quiet. The news is too bleak and weird, lately, to bother with on a pleasant Sunday morning. Instead I sit down to write, and end up sipping coffee and watching fish swim for some while, instead. I’m okay with that.

…In general, “in real life”, I’m okay, generally. 😉 I hope you are, too.

I look around my studio… there’s much to do, to achieve the state of order I feel most comfortable within. My eye falls on my “to do list”… I add a couple things. I sip my coffee. I think about the day ahead, and find my mind wandering. I breathe deeply. Exhale. Relax. I pull myself back to this moment – it’s a lovely one, worth enjoying. There is no need at all to complicate it beyond what it is, right now. I glance at the aquarium next to my computer tower. I know what I’m going for, with this day; “calm waters”. A “steady state” of contentment and ease. No “waves”. No “strong current”. Just this moment, right now, and a state of gentle, slow, flow. 🙂 Achievable. With practice.

I smile into my empty coffee mug. It’s time to begin again.