Archives for category: Anxiety

I made the mistake of reading the news headlines this morning. I was fortunate, I think, that they were in general so disappointing (I mean, seriously reducing my fondness for humanity, the longer I scrolled), that I didn’t bother to read more than one or two articles. Fucking hell. Maybe save the news bullshit for after the coffee next time?

Better than “news”.

It was less that the news itself was specifically “good” or “bad”, and more that… omg… human beings are such unreserved colossal dicks to each other! Cruel. Petty. Irritable. Self-righteous. Territorial. Deceitful. This morning’s news feed amounted to a serious disappointment – in humanity. Just, overall. Fuck.

Day-to-day squirrels observably treat each other better than human beings treat each other.

Do better, humanity, for fucks’ sake, please just do better. We’re killing each other, destroying the planet we live on, sowing discord instead of feeding the world, fomenting war, elevating gossip, undermining science, promoting lies as truth, and just generally being fucking dickbags all the damned time. We can do better.

…I can do better. This is my own fault every bit as much as it is yours. We each have a share in this mess, however small you may think your share is… you’ve still got a piece of this madness. Fix your fucking mess. I’ll work on fixing mine. If we could each be convinced to heal our racist/sexist/ageist/able-ist/xenophobic bullshit tendency to divide our world into in-groups and out-groups, and vile us vs. them foolishness… we might actually build a world fit to live in. I’m so exhausted from being astonished and outraged. I’m so bored and frustrated with being angry about it.

I can still do better. The verbs pile up, don’t they? The Big 5 are a good fit here: Respect, Reciprocity, Consideration, Compassion, and Openness. Yeah, those are practices, and grammar notwithstanding, manage to be substantially very verb-y. What I’m saying is we’re making choices to be what we are, each of us, every day, all of us, all the time.

…And it’s time to begin again. Do better.

 

I’m thinking about the way social media tends to give us each the impression we know all there is to know about what’s going on around us, and with the people we know, or observe from afar, as though eavesdropping a conversation in a restaurant booth behind us holds any potential to give us context and depth of understanding of the unseen faces having that conversation. It’s a misleading sense of the world, at best, and at worst… we participate in lying to ourselves, and dumbing down the world. Frustrating to attempt to have a deep conversation with a human being heavily invested in the world-via-tweet or yeah, even Instagram – my last remaining social media account. lol

…At this point, I’ve unfollowed every “influencer” (I hadn’t followed many, to begin with, because I don’t know them), and anyone who re-shares spammy bullshit, or advertising, or memes. I have limited my feed to direct relationships with people I actually know “irl”. No exceptions. It’s not about them. It’s about me; I don’t want to build shadows of relationships with distant entities who hold no potential to be “real” in my experience. I may not always like every one of the people around me… but I like them all 100% more than I hold any affection for a twitter account. LOL I mean, seriously? An ever-loving-fuck-ton of celebrities don’t even “manage” their own social media. They hire people to take care of that “workload” for them. They definitely don’t “care” about me – or you. They care about their brand. 😉

I can’t save anyone else from the impersonal science fiction abyss of dystopian disconnection. Sorry. You’ll need to crawl out on your own, if you can. It’s not actually hard, exactly, but it does require your will, and honest intent. So… verbs are involved. Choices. Practice. I kept Instagram, at least for now, simply because I enjoy sharing my photos with my actual friends, and enjoy seeing theirs. Innocent. Authentic. Rather unworldly, inasmuch as I guess I think that’s something I can have… Maybe it isn’t? I sip my coffee and wonder about that. Instagram remains a profit-generating social media platform on which I am not the consumer… I’m the product. Yick. I may need to rethink even this. lol

Snail mail, anyone?

I have been writing letters lately – a bit like the “elderly aunt” I seem to be becoming, slowly, over time. Hell, I’m okay with that. 🙂 I write a lot of email. I receive far less, but it’s not likely that a handful of emails and letters can provide a societal course correction in any detectable way. In my own experience, though, it’s quite a lovely relief from the fuss and bother, and anxiety, of a life in which every possible moment is “connected” via social media. That’s not really being connected at all, as it turns out. We’re all just shouting our opinions at each other, and sharing the ones that agree with our position, hoping to be rewarded with attention, with likes, with clicks, with a boost in personal status, or a large collection of “friends” or followers. How is that not toxic as fuck? lol

There is much less bullshit and drama in a life that is mostly pretty starved of social media. 🙂 Maybe take it for a test drive? If you were born in any year after about 1980, chances are good most of your life has been tangled up in the digital world. Take care of yourself if you do a really serious digital detox; you may be surprised to discover how actually dependent on it you are. Social media has some very drug-like qualities, and you may even be an addict. Be kind to yourself. Be patient.

I laugh for a minute. Quitting wasn’t anything like easy, and the world is just… yeah. My bank uses hashtags on their social media posts. Some of the merchants I do business with have specials that are only presented using digital coupons. Some of the artists and craftsman whose work I favor have contests that require “liking”, “subscribing” and sharing of social media items. It’s everywhere. I still walked away, because I’d rather live very authentically in the real world, such as it is, rather than become a (cognitively) fat shapeless media-fed caterpillar… without at least knowing what I will become, later on. (Pretty sure it won’t be a lovely butterfly of emotional wellness… just saying.) 😉

I finish my coffee. My thoughts continue to rattle around in my consciousness. I’ll spend time on my meditation cushion this morning, making a point to let all of this go, before I begin again, here, alive, awake, and aware, a solitary human being living in the world. ❤

A rose in my garden. You can’t smell it from a picture, or feel its silky petals – that’s only available in the world. 😉

Yesterday, along with my morning coffee and some hang out time with my Traveling Partner, I was relaxing and found myself appreciating how easy life feels, and how far I’ve come… Lovely feelings for what they are, but of course, these too are transitory parts of the experience of life. Later in the day, I got a healthy reminder; the damage has been done.

Sometimes it’s sunny in the garden of my heart, sometimes it rains. Roses can bloom, rain or shine.

No kidding. It’s possibly not about where I am in life now (rarely is, really), and when I find myself faced with a moment of struggle, a challenge, a bit of emotional bad weather, I sometime forget in that moment, that a lot of this chaos and damage was built so long ago that the “schematics have been lost”. I don’t easily understand why, sometimes, old hurts surface, or why shitty programming is still a thing, ever. It is what it is. I don’t lay down and die over it – that seems excessive. Still. I have moments when I feel hurt, or confused, or struggle with learned helplessness in a great relationship – over shit that damaged me decades ago, in shitty relationships. That’s just real.

…Some of the damage we sustain in the course of a lifetime is quite permanent. I know, I know, hardly the usual message of positivity, but hear me out here; that’s still okay. We become what we practice. It’s nearly always improvable. It’s not that I can’t heal – I know incremental improvement takes time. When I’m feeling really fine, and quite excellent, comfortable in my skin – and in my relationships – that is 100% when I am least watchful for life’s next lesson. There definitely is always a next lesson. lol

An otherwise lovely moment went sideways for me in a moment of learned helplessness colliding with my brain injury. I dithered. I stalled. I literally could not act upon an otherwise routine bit of circumstance. Embarrassing and a tad scary for me. Frustrating and probably hurtful for my Traveling Partner, taken by surprise by my absolute failure to “use my words” or affirmatively respond to this particular situation in any effective way. We let it go, with effort, both realizing it likely wasn’t something I could have done anything about, just then. It felt exceedingly awkward. The rest of the evening passed, for me, somewhat laboriously; I felt self-conscious, raw, insecure, and that I had failed to successfully adult in any legitimate way.

This morning, I let it go, again. It’s a new day. An entirely fresh start. A new beginning. That really matters this morning. I grab that opportunity with both hands, and hold on, then laugh at myself… because this, too, will pass. lol I sip my coffee, breathe deeply, and practice non-attachment, however unskillfully… lots of things take practice. 🙂

My coffee is delicious this morning, for those values of deliciousness to which coffee drinkers refer, when we suggest our coffee is delicious, obviously; it may still taste terrible for the non-coffee-drinker. lol It’s hot, though, and well-brewed, with care, and I am enjoying it. The weekend is already over. A new work week already exists as the immediate future. The weekend was lovely; time spent with friends, time spent with each other, savoring existence.

At some point, the phone rang (more common now, than when we had social media). First mine; an unidentified number from Mauritania. Since I don’t know anyone there, or do business with any companies there, I dismissed the call without answering it; walking away from drama, inconvenience, or unpleasantness, that I recognize, is pretty easy. I do it all the time. 🙂 The second ring was a friend, the phone was my partner’s, and the call was to bring up other drama, somewhere else, based on shit-talking other people, and those other people being people prone to talking shit, and this friend being the unfortunate recipient of shit-having-been-talked, he reached out to share the experience, and the shit he had heard. Unexpected OPD. Other People’s Drama is bad enough, but yeah, it’s even less pleasant and more, sort of, well… “sticky” when OPD becomes “personal”. It’s hard not to get emotionally invested when feeling attacked. It’s hard to “let that shit go” and remain mindful that even when it feels so personal, it really isn’t, at all. People talking shit are generally pretty well mired in their own chaos and damage, drowning in their own bullshit, and using the “theater of distraction” to pass the time in hell. It’s not about me.

I shrug that shit off, and walk on. It does make it easier to tell who my friends are, there’s that. lol 🙂

It was a small, tiny, and insignificant moment out of a delightful weekend. I’m glad we let it go and moved on with what matters most. 🙂

Now there’s the work week ahead, and I find myself, for just a moment, getting wrapped up in some other flavor or version of drama – office politics. I chuckle and let that go, too. There is no value or purpose in letting those details become the focus of my work (neither the tasks themselves, nor the characteristics of the days). Letting that go isn’t so hard; I focus on the questions, not the certainty of my answers. Disagreements, in theory, are not personal; we’re all working toward the same goals. I take that as a given, and practice assuming positive intent, and in doing so, all my relationships improve.

…It does take some practice. We become what we practice. I finish my coffee, notice the time, and begin again. 🙂

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” (a damned lie from childhood; some of that shit stings for a lifetime)

“That’s just semantics.” (A corporate management professional who should know better)

“I didn’t mean it that way!” (Nearly everyone, at some point)

Words and meaning – they do matter, don’t they? It’s how we get our point across (short of frustrated sobbing, or shouting, at which point no one hears the meaning over the volume of emotion).

“Use your words.” (A thing generally said parent to child, and potentially far more useful that a lot of other advice about words one could hear)

The point here is clear; gentle honesty, authentic civility, being “real” without willful offense, being truthful – and also accurate – seem wise and purposeful, constructive, ways to use language, on the “word delivery” side of things. I’m not saying people seem intent on wise use of their words, I’m just calling out the potential. We’re human primates; it is not unusual to see the worst of our nature. (I make this observation on an Easter Sunday, after reading new reports of police shootings in the US, and suicide bombings in Sri Lanka; we’re the scariest and most dangerous of all the primates, no doubt about it. 100% “most likely to destroy their own world.”)

I’m also contemplating the listener’s obligations in the face of some torrent of untruthful or hurtful bullshit, delivered in the form of words (spoken or in print, bullshit is bullshit). Clear, explicit communication is useful stuff; we sometimes allow a personal agenda of some kind (or fearfulness, or baggage) to nudge us away from truth, accuracy, consideration, necessity, kindness, and wisdom. Capable of spewing some heinous vile nonsense, we often also seem rather unprepared to deal with receiving it. What then? What to do when the world piles on, and we suffer the weight and the pain of it, feeling unable to defend ourselves, feeling compelled to try?

I’m not sure I have the best advice on that one; my tendency (and my practice) is to detect drama (or bullshit) and, if possible, walk away from all that. I attempt to avoid having drama-prone, hostile-seeming, or trolling-inclined associates join my social circle in the first place. I attempt to defuse discussions headed toward drama, explicitly, gentle, firmly, and without argument; I’m not interested in loosing the wild dogs of emotion in conversations that are ideally handled less passionately. I’m not interested in being provoked.

The world we live in can be exceedingly provocative, in all the worst ways. I mean, seriously? We’ve built a world in which people feel entitled to make their point by blowing up explosives in crowded places, taking innocent lives by way of gunfire, or using torture. How does any of that not provoke decent people (of all backgrounds and ideologies) into wanting to fight back, to insist on change, to reject the thinking that appears to be at the source of the violence? It’s a strange paradox, though; if we become the fighter, and take to the battlefield, we are immediately at grave risk of becoming that thing we so despise. I don’t have answers this morning… I’m just sipping my coffee, and noticing we have so many better ways to express ourselves, than by way of guns and bombs.

We could each do better. We can all begin again.