Archives for category: Free Will

I woke with a silent groan, about half an hour before my alarm would have gone off. Stiff neck. Headache. Aching back. Well… shit. I do some yoga. Shower. More yoga. Some stretches I learned in physical therapy. Coffee. Now I’m sitting here feeling completely fantastic managing to pull myself together sufficiently to go to work. This morning life feels very much the journey through the darkness without a map that it is; and this path is not paved. lol

…Well… It could be worse, right? I’ve got heat, power, and indoor plumbing. Potable drinking water (as far as I know). A secure home. This cup of coffee. A partner who loves me. It’s a good life, in spite of the aches and pains. I sit sipping my coffee, focused on my generally good quality of life, and take it in. I savor the feeling of being loved. I savor the feeling of warmth when the heat comes on. I savor the sense of safety. I take time to appreciate that I’m not out in the rain on a cold night. I consider the merry little Giftmas tree in the living room. I feel the sensation of the smile on my face. As practices go, I can’t beat gratitude, and presence, for an early morning boost. Maybe I even hurt less, although it’s tough to say for sure; it definitely is of less consequence that I am in pain. πŸ™‚

Being 100% real, it’s not “effortless” to lift myself up. It’s not automatic to feel grateful or appreciative in some difficult moment. It’s not “easy” to take a step back from conflict or frustration, to be a better version of this woman I most want to be. It’s not “my nature” to be reliably gentle, tender, kind, and considerate. I work at all of it. I practice. I make changes. I reflect on the outcomes of my actions, and my words. I give a lot of wholehearted apologies; I make a lot of mistakes. No map. This journey through the darkness across an uneven, unpaved, metaphor, offers some major opportunities for growth. Nothing about that is comfortable, or easy.

Every morning, and a lot of other moments, too, I begin again. I start all over – new day, new opportunities. Failure isn’t terrifying, it’s merely part of a growth process. (Saying that doesn’t make it less difficult in the moment.)

I keep sipping my coffee, trying to wake up fully. Another short night. I woke up around 3:00 a.m., and went back to sleep for an hour (sort of). I haven’t managed even 6 hours in any given night, once again, in days. (It would no doubt be helpful to get to bed at an hour early enough for that to be possible, in the first place.) I set a reminder on my wearable, and hope to get to bed “on time” tonight. I rub the sleep out of my eyes, still trying to wake up.

…And already it’s time to begin again.

You know that experience where disappointment, frustration, and anger, collide, and the result is a bit of a tantrum, a lashing out, maybe saying “too much”, with too much ferocity? You know the one; the burning of bridges, the severing of connections? That moment when disappointment hits so hard it feels necessary to hit back (metaphorically, I mean)? Yeah… don’t do that. (Also, don’t do violence. Just… yeah, don’t. Not okay.)

I know, it sound super easy to say. Emotions get to the party ahead of our rational minds, generally. Once we’ve lashed out, said a thing, made a messy bit of drama that will need clean up later, it can seem to have been necessary, “reasonable” (it’s definitely not that) – even “paybacks” may sound satisfying. “Fuck them!”

Here’s the thing, though. We’re all human. Most of us perceive ourselves to be “the good guy” in our own narrative, at least. If asked, people seem generally willing to stake a claim to being in a state of “doing their best”, moment-to-moment. It’s very subjective. If, though, everyone around us is as well-intentioned as we believe ourselves to be, is lashing out when disappointed actually an appropriate reaction to that person or circumstance? (If you are not “well-intentioned”, that’s a very different concern, for another day.)

I recognize that life “isn’t fair”, and that most of the time there’s no “save” at the last minute, no “we brought you back as our wild card performer!” moment to salvage our experience if we’ve been disappointed. (Sometimes there is, though, so… maybe don’t talk yourself out of that potential with a lot of cranky bullshit.) I’m thinking about it this morning, not because it’s properly relevant to this moment, but it may be to some other, in the future, so… sipping coffee, thinking thoughts. Certainly, after the fact, it’s usually pretty clear that throwing a fucking fit over some small disappointment is less than ideal for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that the most obvious result is that we look like a reactive, emotionally immature, jackass (at least until we’ve finished whatever rationalization we’re prone to working so hard at, at that point we’re likely to be blinded by our own fiction). lol Not a great look.

Giftmas is coming. Gifts under trees… dinners out with friends or family… holiday events… it’s easy to forget to cherish these rare moments, to make them the best moments of our lives (and yes, even in spite of conflict, and stress). It’s super easy to lose our shit in a moment of holiday stress. We’re making memories every moment, though; what do we want to remember of our life? To be remembered for? The stress? The conflict? We become what we practice. Being a petty jerk about an imperfect gift creates a memory, becomes a practice. How much better to give generously, and receive graciously? To be kind? To show compassion? To laugh with a joyous heart? There are verbs involved, and choices, and yes – your actual will. It is actually possible to choose – and build – joy. I recommend it as a practice. πŸ˜€

Let go of the stress. Lead with gratitude. Be merry by choice when you can. Appreciate each moment; the joyous ones are as lovely as butterflies, the ones that are less joyous are extraordinary opportunities to grow, to learn, and to become that person you most want to be. Sure, walk away from drama, definitely do that, and also connect with others more deeply, more authentically. It is a powerful season for change. It’s a real shot at life-changing forward momentum. Your call. Your choice. Your practices.

Give yourself an amazing gift this year; better practices. πŸ™‚ It’s not always “easy”, and “practice” certainly implies effort, and likely an occasional actual failure. The journey is so worth all that. Are you the person you most want to be, standing where you are, right now? What will you do about that, today, right now?

It’s already time to begin again. I finish my coffee, and smile. No headache this morning; it’s a good beginning. πŸ˜€

 

My sleep was restless and interrupted, and I had very few dreams. The dreams I had were hard on me, mostly nightmares filled with mocking laughter, and a feeling of being emptied, gutted, and vacated, and left at the curb for trash pick up day. I woke as if to a strange noise, but the house was dark and quiet. I tried, unenthusiastically, to return to sleep without success. I got up and started making coffee. My Traveling Partner got up, and I made coffee for him, too, then retreated to my studio to write and to weep. No idea where the tears are coming from. My nightmares? Anyway – I’m not fit company just yet, so I am considerately avoiding humanity and taking care of myself until this bullshit passes.

Yes, “bullshit”. It’s okay to refuse to yield ground to my demons. It’s okay to refuse to be overcome by my personal baggage. I’m not mistreating my heart, hear, I’m just not going to allow a visit to The Nightmare City to wreck my day, but getting there is a journey of its own, and one that I find easier to make alone, generally. I’m less likely to take myself too seriously.Β  πŸ˜‰

So, I’m sipping my coffee and trying to write without allowing a syntax error, missing word, over-looked opposite, or spelling mistake to slip past unnoticed. It requires my whole attention this morning. My mind is still shattered and distracted by the content of my dreams. It’ll pass, and in the meantime? I won’t be taking my nightmares personally.

I sip my coffee frustrated that I’m closing in on 57 and still chasing lasting relief from the chaos and damage. I’ll just point it out; when we hurt people the damage done can really last a literal life time. Do people “let it go” and “get over it”? Sure – for some values of letting go, for some values of getting over it. The damage is done. If we break a leg, and have it properly cared for, and it heals nicely, and we have full use of it restored… did that do anything at all to remove the experience of having broken it? Of going through that healing process? Of dealing with the pain? Nope. All that is still a real thing. So it also is with emotional hurts, and really any sort of trauma at all. From simple inconsiderate rudeness or petty cruelty, to massive trauma resulting in hospitalization and everything that is traumatic or hurtful, however large or small. Once we do the damage, the damage is done. Fix what you can, for sure. Be accountable for your words and your actions, most definitely. Don’t be under the impression that accountability, contrition, or making amends does anything at all to change the fact that the damage was done. :-\

…Hang on though… I’m not saying, either, that it is a necessary (or good) thing to destroy oneself with guilt or regret, either. Be your own best friend. Be open to failures, and accepting that you’ve done damage, do what you can do to make amends, to offer a sincere apologize (no excuses, no reservations, wholly authentic) – then let it go and hopefully move on in life without being so careless, or inconsiderate, or hurtful, or callous, or foolish, or whatever it was that caused the damage you’ve done to another person! …Because, yeah, sooner or later you are going to cause some damage. 😦 For real, though; no one is immune to hurting another person. It’s actually pretty hard not to, sometimes. We’re fairly fragile creatures, particularly from an emotional perspective. Complicated. We learn most from our mistakes, but there are some mistakes we really don’t want (or need) to make…

…Well, shit. I guess I’m learning stuff? Damn, I fucking hope so. :-\ In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just begin again. It’s a lovely morning for meditation, and a great day to spend restoring order to chaos. πŸ™‚

 

It’s been a strange week, in some respects. I’m sitting here with my morning coffee, mulling over the strange sights I have seen, standing in front of the office, taking an occasional break from working. I see a lot of things. Our building is immediately opposite a large hotel, and surrounded by restaurants, banks, businesses, public gathering places, and transit stops. There’s a lot to see, is what I’m saying. Homeless people. Busy people. Angry people. People who are lost. People who are pre-occupied. People who are exceedingly well-dressed. People who are dressed, well, as though they are in Portland (it’s pretty casual here). People with ear buds in their ears, talking to unseen others over wireless connections mingle with schizophrenic people; it’s not always possible to tell which are which simply by the conversations.

…It’s a city. There are a lot of people. Human experience is vast and varied. I see a lot of things passing by, as I stand quietly enjoying the theater of humanity existing. Too often, I find myself wondering how long this will last…? Humanity, I mean. We’re doing a pretty poor job of thriving, as a species, it seems.

Yesterday, I walked past a man laying on the pavement, flat on his back, head lolled back and somewhat downwardly, past the curb, sort of (but not quite) into the street. Nothing about it looked comfortable on a freezing morning. He was not wearing a coat, or wrapped in a blanket, or covered up at all, really. He did not appear to be “sleeping” so much as unconscious. People passed by, glancing down, walking past. He was in front of a Starbucks. Some time later, he was gone.

Later, I was startled to see a man run screaming and yelling from inside the hotel across the street. Not a guest, obviously, from his clothing; a homeless man, perhaps, unkempt, and pants literally around his knees as he ran, hobbled, up the street and away from security, who chased him half-heartedly. I heard later, from the doorman of the building I work in, that the running, screaming, man, had been defecating in the actual lobby of the hotel.

I saw a well-dressed woman, obviously a professional woman of some sort, well-groomed, and precise, talking on her phone outside the building. She was sort of fixed to the spot where she stood. Face tense. Jaw clenched. Trying to “hold it together”, until her emotions broke like waves against the stillness of her face, and she began cursing and weeping at the person on the other end of the call. In an instant, she was as human as anyone. In an instant, people began to avoid her physical space, and turn their faces away from her suffering.

I saw a younger woman on a bus stop bench, rocking and crying, making her misery quite public, while she stayed somehow still very private, herself. People simply walked past.

Misery is pretty common in a city. Maybe everywhere. I used to be immersed in it, myself. I have cried in public, unable to hide “the shame of my emotions” at a time when I found them shameful, but too far gone in the experience to care about it anymore. I have run screaming, angry, or hurt, or frightened. I have had tense public phone calls that would have been better handled privately, personally, and face to face. I have laid still, sick or injured, immobilized by my circumstances in some other part of my life, stalled by the chaos and damage.

…Fucking hell, I am so glad I stand where I do, today. It’s been a bit of a journey getting here. I don’t take my current good fortune for granted; it could happen to anyone. Frankly, any of it could. It’s oneΒ  of the fundamentals of our humanity; in spite of the wealth of variety in the human experience, misery is both plentiful, and tediously similar, no matter the circumstances. And any one of us could be “stuck there”, at any time. No kidding. If you aren’t miserable, right now, take a minute to really feel how good it is to feel a bit better than that. πŸ™‚ Celebrate getting to this better place, or celebrate having never had to experience real suffering (if you are that fortunate, thus far in life) – it’s worth a moment of recognition and appreciation.

The fact that Thanksgiving is behind us, already, is not sufficient reason to turn my back on gratitude. Gratitude is lovely all year long.

I arrived home last night, after a somewhat trying commute, and there was my Traveling Partner, relaxing, waiting for me. The house is spotless, aside from my studio, and I’m committed to tackling that this coming weekend. Moving things around improved how comfortable things are, and somehow I’m not completely disrupted. It’s pleasant. I am enjoying the changes we made, together. I take a moment to sip my coffee, and feel grateful for all of this, too.

Reading the news, or observing the passing theatrics of human misery standing on a city sidewalk, it’s easy to forget the joys in life. They’re worth experiencing. They are even worth wallowing in, if you’ve got enough joy to do so. πŸ™‚ It’s okay to enjoy life’s pleasures – I try to avoid being a dick about it, though, and refuse to avert my eyes from human suffering. I’m not sure what to do about it, sometimes. (A lot of times.) I think, probably, we could do more, better, to alleviate a great deal of suffering in the world… probably harder to do that, if I’m not willing to be aware that it exists. I think about an X who tried to “buy her way into heaven”, unsuccessfully, of course; heaven is not for sale. We build heaven with our actions (there are a lot of verbs involved), our compassion, our concern, our authentic resolve to change the world – did I mention action? Yeah… this planet isn’t going to take better care of itself. We’ve got work to do.

Don’t like what you see around you? The answer isn’t in turning away from the problems. What are you going to do, to change the world? Check the time. It’s already time to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee and listening to some “deep house” music, and thinking about change. I’m smiling, and enjoying the steady low thump of the beat, and looking around my messier-than-usual studio; signs of change. My smile deepens to a grin, and I think about the lovely evening my Traveling Partner and I shared, and how strange it is that the joy of the evening was the shared experience of embracing change. πŸ™‚

…It was sort of spontaneous. I’m not sure whose suggestion it was, really, a change of arrangements, furnishing, spaces, things could be moved… from here… to there… I’m not usually especially open to such things (no reason to resist the admission, I have real issues with my environment being “disrupted”, and have had some fairly childish tantrums over something being “in the wrong place”).Β  There we were… the idea out in the open, and it didn’t feel scary or unsettling or disruptive at all; it just made obvious sense. I’m pretty sure it was not my idea, but on hearing it, I was almost immediately taken with the common sense of it, the improvement in flow of daily life, the efficiency, and yes – order – to be gained. We went from idea to “let’s do this thing” in actual seconds. We were off our asses and actually making change happen within minutes. There’s more to do, but we’ve gotten well-started on the thing, and, yeah, I really like it.

…I slept better. Weird, because the rearrangement of objects and placement within the household did not have anything whatsoever to do with the bed, bedding, or nighttime qualities of the room in which we sleep (it was mostly about closets and bathrooms). lol I definitely did sleep very well last night. πŸ˜€ Related? Unrelated? Doesn’t matter. I enjoyed the positive experience of change, and the changes we made result in our shared space feeling even more like “us” and quite a bit less like “my place and my partner is moving in”. Feels really good, honestly, and more… coherent. More orderly.

I’m feeling pleased and comfortable and contented; a very positive reaction to change. I don’t always feel this way about such things. I take time to savor it. I’m honestly so tickled, I also try a different perfume today. lol I’m possibly less pleased with that outcome, but admittedly; change can be hard for me. It’s a small step forward to be open to novelty, even on a small detail like fragrance. It’s a small step that needs to be taken again and again, to preserve “neuroplasticity“. Good stuff there. A way forward. A way through. It’s one of the foundations of “beginning again” and practicing practices for making the long journey from trauma to being the person I most want to be. πŸ™‚

I glance at the time. Finish my coffee. Today is my Traveling Partner’s birthday (certainly one human life I am eager to celebrate!) – and it’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€