Archives for category: Frustration

This morning, before I quite realized what I’d done, I’d gotten lost in my newsfeed within moments of sitting down to write. I didn’t write. Well, I did write – but I wasn’t writing in a rational, purposeful, helpful way that supports me as a human, or shares something of value. I was mad. I was… posting replies. Oh my.

Once I noticed I was putting myself at risk of an angry screed, I pushed my chair back, sat fully upright, and took a couple deep deep cleansing breaths, and let myself relax. I held on to the awareness of that moment, breaking free of the tantalizing sticky trap of opinion, pulling myself free of the outrage machinery. (There is so much to be outraged about this days, no lie, that’s real.) Differences of opinion so easily become anger. We each feel so certain we are “right“, and that if only we could share the nuances of our personal perspective, everyone else would get it, too! While that may be true, now and then, it mostly just isn’t, at all. We are each having our own experience. It’s not actually fully share-able.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a “relativist“. While I do recognize that context, culture, and variations in human understanding and experience can change the truth of a proposition, I also understand the nature of reality to have unchanging elements (that I may or may not be fully able to recognize or understand, myself). I think how we define the terms we use matters a great deal, and definitely affects our ability to have meaning dialogue, generally, every bit as much as “the nature of reality”. I have an ethical framework, as an individual, that suggests to me that some actions and choices are “wrong” – meaning, not consistent with my ethics, as an individual. So far so good. Where things get messy, and I think this is true for a great many of us, is when my own sense of “wrongness” pressures me from within to make a point of calling it out when I see others taking those actions, or making those choices. Do I really get to decide right vs wrong for anyone but me?

Yes.

…Also, no.

So… “yes”, in the limited sense that I’m utterly free to express my opinion on the matter. However, in doing so, I’m a wiser happier human if I can also remain aware that my opinion on such things is not likely to a) change anyone else’s opinion (or actions) or b) have any great persuasive weight in the world, generally, and also… c) it’s not for me to decide what everyone else will think or do. I’m just saying. I mean that – I’m literally merely, simply, only, and “just” saying words. Someone may hear my words and change. Someone else may hear my words and double-down out of pure resentment and fury, because in their view I am clearly wrong. Still someone else will disregard my words without ever hearing me out,. We are each having our own experience. I don’t really get to decide what anyone else understands right or wrong to be – but I am not required to respect, value, share, or appreciate their perspective, beyond hearing them out, and accepting their agency.

I don’t personally take any of this to be an expression of futility, or as a reason to “stand down” or “keep my opinion to myself”, because humanity’s culture has formed around our opinions and understanding of the world. Our shared ethical commitments become our shared understanding of right vs wrong, and ultimately informs entire communities, and whole nations, allowing society to enact change. We do need to share our individual sense of right vs. wrong with each other to help steer this cultural ship through the waters of change and growth over time. It’s the anger and outrage of social media specifically (before coffee) that is problematic; too much noise, not enough signal. So, I give myself a break, sip my coffee, and bring my moment closer to home. I have plenty to do to make change happen right here. I have work to do to be the woman I most want to be. That’s a project I have real influence over – every day. My example, as an individual, has meaning without extending my reach “to the world” by replying to all manner of media detritus in a reactive moment. Hell, I don’t even respect the opinions of 100% of every human; some are worth far more than others (this is likely true for you as well), and we each “rate” the value of another person’s opinion on different criteria!! (Totally true, too.) So… another good moment to practice non-attachment. lol

I finish my coffee and begin again.

Yesterday went by fast. Too fast. I ended the evening feeling a bit rushed, pressed for time, hurried through things, short on bandwidth… and a little stressed. You too? It’s a fairly common experience for adults I know – what about you?

Did you do anything about it? Do you know that you can?

I halted mid-rush, somewhere in between watering the container garden on the deck, feeding the fish in the aquarium, yoga, and a shower… I… just stopped. I paused for a moment in front of a painting that hangs in the hallway (in a space that’s really a bit dark for that one), and really looked at it, vaguely surprised to see it, as if unaware I’d hung it there in the first place. I took a minute. For breath, for life, for a moment – for me. There wasn’t really any reason to be rushing around like a mad woman. Is there shit to do? Yep. Am I the one that’s got to do it? Again – yes. Does everything have to be done with equal fervor right fucking now? Ahem. No. Not at all. Not even possible – and the attempt to make it so isn’t just silly, it is exhausting. It also tends to dial up the intensity on life’s background stress, quite a lot. So.

I stood quietly looking at this painting with new eyes. Giving myself over to really seeing it. I turned and looked at another. And yet another after that. When I moved on with things, it was a comfortable pace, and a relaxed approach to the evening – and to life.

I sip my coffee this morning thinking over that moment, and many that preceded it during the day, contrasting the hurried moments, the frantic moments, with the chill moments. Which are actually more productive, realistically? Which bring more joy? Can I have/do both? My own answer is a clear and unequivocal “yes” – but there is an effort of will involved in managing it. I find myself needing to pause, now and again, because over time the pace of life seems to accelerate rather unpleasantly.

We are mortal. That’s still a thing, even in the 21st century. We have yet to improve upon that, or fix it, or, really, limit it in any noteworthy way. So, given that this may be my one shot at living well, at living beautifully, at living life from a perspective of contentment and joy, it seems wholly worthwhile to figure out how not to be so damned rushed all the time. lol πŸ˜€ Still working the bugs out. A quick pause to reset is what I’ve got for now that I know is effective.

I begin the morning with coffee and music. I almost overlook writing, and valuing this time, pull myself out of the news – pausing for a moment to slow my thoughts and breathe deeply – and write (here I am!) for a few minutes. There isn’t time for everything – we have to choose. Choose wisely.

Time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I was pretty crabby and cross with the world all day yesterday. I felt drained. Frustrated. Fed-the-fuck-up. Just generally not in a great mood. As I left the office, I allowed myself to be more explicitly aware of my state of being, and it occurred to me that just maybe I was about to get into my car, in that state of irritation, and head into commuter traffic less than ideally level-headed. This seemed, in the moment, a pretty shitty trick to play on unsuspecting other humans… What if we’d all had sort of a shitty day? Well, damn…. That didn’t sound good.

I started the car, and gave that some thought. I reminded myself that we’re probably, mostly, all of us doing our best moment-to-moment, more or less. All of us human. What if we really did all leave work feeling cross and frustrated, get in our cars, and head for home in dense commuter traffic? What would I want from my fellow commuters? What did I want from myself?

I pulled out of the parking lot feeling more than usually aware that we are each having our own experience. More willing to assume positive intent. More sensitive to the basic humanity of each of those other drivers.

The commute took the same amount of time as it usually does. There were just as many unskilled drivers showing just as much poor judgement. The same amount of risk appeared to be involved. All the same terrible moments of congestion at particular intersections existed. The experience was much improved, though, and I felt personally less frustrated. I got home feeling calm, contented, and actually somewhat less cross than I might ordinarily. Win!

Only… my shitty mood surged back into life once I was in the house. I was dealing with my own bullshit. (Aren’t we all?) I took a deep breath. I spent some time meditating. I enjoyed a leisurely shower. I made a bite of dinner and a lovely cup of tea. I took the medication I needed. Basic self-care stuff.Β  I still felt on edge and somewhat aggravated, for no obvious reason. It happens. I knew it would eventually pass.

I took a moment on the deck, in the evening sunshine.

Self-care matters. It’s not always “easy” to take that time for ourselves, but so worth it – and so important! You matter. Take time for the care you need. πŸ™‚

I enjoyed the fading sunlight awhile, filling up my experience with the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves of the Big Leaf Maples beyond the deck.

What you need for you is something you decide for yourself. Definitely don’t take someone else’s word for that. Try things. Practice practices. You are your own cartographer. If that didn’t work, try this. Eventually, you find your way. Life’s menu is vast – don’t just order the cheeseburger every time. πŸ˜‰

 

Seriously. Today, don’t be evil. How hard can that actually be? I know, I know, you want what you want, you feel right about what you’re right about, and you earnestly want your due – and some damned recognition for your efforts, or your good qualities, or… Is that not it? You aren’t driven by your ego, and a need to have that ego fed? What is it, then? What are you angry enough about to treat that other human being so badly? I mean, seriously… today? Don’t be evil. Avoid explicit deliberate rudeness and inconsiderate behavior. Yep. Those things are petty, I get it, but still… evil.

Maybe don’t be mean, too. Or cruel. Or callous. Or harsh with your words in the moment. Crap, this list is getting long…

Don’t be hostile with people – you may not fully understand what they are going through. Oh. They don’t know what you’re going through, either? Well, sure, I get that… So… You tell, them, right? And get the help you need? Those seem like practical steps. Evil is impractical.

Life and love and community really don’t have to be a zero sum game, you know? Sure, I get that globally there are finite total resources of any given type, but… it seems fairly obvious there’s actually enough to “go around”, if we focus on, say, sufficiency… instead of hoarding. We’re not limited to primitive thinking, these days. We don’t have to yield to an urge to gather and store vast supplies of [ _____ ] to keep all to ourselves. Hoarding vast reserves of … whatever, doesn’t make you look “rich” (well, maybe it does but), it does make you look greedy. Greed is ugly. It’s also evil. Don’t be evil.

While we’re talking about “resources”, let’s spell this out for the folks in the back; sex isn’t one of those. Say it again with me slowly, sex, the physical act of intimate communion, isn’t a resourceΒ to be parceled out “fairly” – and no one owes you any. At all. Doesn’t matter how cute/hot you are. Doesn’t matter how physically perfect or emotionally supportive you are. Doesn’t matter if you are a “nice guy” either. There is no debt or obligation that requires anyone to have sex with anyone else. Period. Done. Why are we still talking about this? Because women are still getting injured and even killed because of some dumb ass and his hurt feelings about “not getting any”. Women are people. Actual human beings with their own agency and decision-making. Sex is delicious and fun and exciting and nurturing – and no one owes you any. Sex is something people may or may not choose to do, at all, with anyone, and hey – if they choose to have a lot of it often, and none with you, still totally acceptable. Stop hurting people cuz your mad, bruh; it’s dumb. Embarrassingly stupid. You totally will not get laid after that kind of stupid shit. Ever. Besides, trying to force others around you to bend to your will with actual force? Seriously? What kind of evil bullshit is that? (It is the very most evil kind of evil, actually, just saying; from the boardroom to the bedroom, that’s evil.) Don’t be evil.

For what it’s worth, it took me a really long time to “get it”, myself, on that sex thing. I could not fathom how it wasn’t at some point “my turn” to finally get all the sex I wanted. I mean… hell, it sure seemed like anyone who wanted any could take it from me. When would it be “my turn”? This is the sort of twisted up stupid shit that develops in people’s heads when you rob them of agency; they don’t understand agency. Or consent. Or boundaries. Please definitely respect the agency of your children. Teach them consent – and respect it when not offered to you as a parent, for fuck’s sake. Teach them to set and manage expectations, and boundaries, and to respect their own – and then also respect those boundaries yourself. Yeah, I know, they’re kids. You’re a parent. You own their world, right? No, hell no you don’t – and you know you don’t. Don’t be a petty dictator in your own family. Don’t be evil.

Evil comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. Sometimes, possibly, in your actual shape and size. Don’t be evil. Check in with the person in the mirror once in a while. Are you actually the person you most want to be? Are you rationalizing shitty behavior and trying to “win” on terms that more reasonably could be call “cheating” than “playing the game”? Are you mistreating people, and seeking to justify it “because…”? Are you drawing a line through humanity and putting the “animals” on one side, while you quite conveniently and smugly stand on the other? Have you confused wealth and profit with being a decent human being? All that shit’s pretty evil. Petty bullshit? Petty evil. Still evil. Do better. Don’t be evil.

Just try it out todayΒ  – use a detestable public figure as your ruler, and do better than that. It won’t be difficult at all. Tomorrow, make your goal someone who is a better human being than that. Eventually, over time, possibly, you may find that the person you measure yourself against each day, the person you wish to use as an example to build a better you, will be the you of yesterday. πŸ™‚ Of course, you could start there – but you probably don’t notice those moments of petty evil and tiresome bullshit, or you’ve grown to believe your excuses. So… calibrate the good within you, on your own terms, and today don’t be evil.

Yes, you are. Sometimes. You totally are. Maybe only once in a great while. If you are human, reading this, in the world of 2018, you’re probably evil – at least some tiny little bit. It’s in the compromises you make. The rules you don’t apply to you. The moments of taking an advantage for yourself at the specific expense of others. The moments when you stand silent while someone else gets hurt. The choice to turn your back on another human being. The choice to make your experience a zero sum game. We all do it. That thing you personally feel just a tiny bit smug about – examine that more closely. Is it also an opportunity to look down on someone else? Yeah. There it is. πŸ˜‰

We become what we practice. Don’t be evil.

Do better. Today, you can begin again. ❀