Archives for category: Logic & Reason

I remember my father often saying to me “do something, even if it’s wrong”. The admonition was with regard to decision-making paralysis – those moments when one becomes so overwhelmed by some detail, moment, or selection of options as to become utterly immobilized, and unable to act. The Army also emphasizes the value of fast decision-making in a crisis, and “taking the initiative”. I’m not saying these are not useful life skills to have, I’m just wondering how often my own fear of failing to act promptly (or answer a question immediately) may have a less than desirable outcome, that could potentially have been avoided if I had allowed myself a moment to think? I mean… I get it, it sometimes matters a great deal to act quickly and appropriately to circumstances (step out from under a falling rock? Good decision), but… I can think of some circumstances when acting quickly, without thinking things through a minute, may be a poor choice (step out from under that falling rock into oncoming traffic may be less likely to end well, as an example).

I found myself, over the weekend, struggling to find the right “pace” in some conversations – jumping in too soon, and missing some relevant point or talking over my partner, or thinking over a question for so long that it begins to appear I am not listening – and the result is a distinct loss of conversational “flow” and merriment. It’s a small detail – but one that matters. Timing. I started making a point of noticing what, specifically, was driving my anxiety in those moments (since these were all friendly conversations with my Traveling Partner, there was nothing that would reasonably provoke anxiety in them), and I started to notice how often I reacted anxiously to the fear of “not being fast enough” – with an answer, a decision, an action – not even the actual timing or timeliness, just the fear of not being fast enough. I have since started really paying attention to how “the need for speed” may be driving my anxiety in circumstances where being quick has little or no practical value, and even in some where being quick with a reply is actually problematic.

My partner even mentioned, one day last week, that the pace at which I was doing some routine household task seemed “frenetic”. How odd. Really?

…Human primates are weird…

…Breathe… Exhale… Relax…

I consider that I may “miss the point” by being too quick to reply…

I consider that I may take a foolhardy action or jump to an erroneous conclusion by being too quick too act…

I consider how much less sweet one moment – any moment – may be if I “rush it along”…

…There seem to be a great many reasons to take my time, to really listen, to really consider my options before taking action, to think about the details, and yes, to take a moment to step back from the details to consider things in context, too…

I think about that chill, calm, experience of self (and life) that I enjoy most… there’s not a lot of rushing things through involved in that; it’s a more measured way, more considered – and considerate. One thing sure seems obvious…

I need to begin again.

The New Year is almost here. Time to turn the page on this plague-ridden year and begin anew*. I used to make a point of creating an event on my social media pages & apps, and inviting my contacts to join me in taking one hour out of the 24 available hours on 1/1 of the new year – for themselves. Time to be spent reflecting on the year past, considering the goals of the year ahead, and plotting what that path might look like – in a sense, crafting a map of sorts, of the way ahead. Some time spent on purposeful reflection. Some time spent on self, and self-care. I’ve found it a worthy moment to spend with myself, each year.

…I’m not on Facebook these days. I have, but don’t use, a Twitter account (the grotesque spectacle of how Twitter can be mis-used, provided to us over the past 4 years, has been a lesson – for me – in “fuck that dumb shit, who needs it?”). My Instagram account lingers on, primarily as a last “easy” means of staying in touch with some far away friends. I spend less than 15 minutes per day on it, and often go days without looking at it at all. (Lovely landscape pictures… chipmunks… kittens… the ads suck, and I don’t like the association with Facebook at all.) I’m not on Twitch, or Discord, or Parler, or Reddit, or… yeah, I learned an important lesson some time ago about the value of my time, and also? The likely real-world harms that result from “doom-scrolling” and obsessing over the funhouse picture of other lives that social media presents as “reality”. It wasn’t at all healthy for me, personally, so – like a lot of people – I cut way back. Waaaaaay back. I’m down to just the one (Instagram), and I’m constantly asking myself whether I get real value out of that one that justifies having any involvement whatsoever with social media, generally. lol

…Leaving social media complicates some things in the 21st Century, while it simplifies others. That’s just real. Still worth it.

You’re invited, too!

So… I invite you to take One Hour, this New Year’s holiday, and start the year off with a moment of your own time, wherever you are, wholly spent on giving thought to who you are today, who you most want to be, and how you can make that journey from here, now, to arrive at living life as the person you most want to be day-to-day. I’m not saying one hour gives you an easy path to that potentially quite distant goal – but surely most journeys are simplified by checking a map once in a while? One Hour is a bit like “taking down the directions” to a destination – potentially more like jotting those down on a cocktail napkin than like drafting a proper map, but you get my meaning, I’m sure. 🙂

Take One Hour. Go for a walk. Write in a journal (preferably your own… 😉 ). Are you a fan of “weighing the pros and cons”? Make a couple lists. Give real thought to real challenges. Ask yourself the hard questions that are on your mind – even if you don’t find immediate answers. If nothing else, take that One Hour, and be your own best friend for a little while.

…One Hour isn’t much, really, out of an entire day or week, month, or year, surely we each deserve that much and more from ourselves? It’s a start. Another beginning. A stepping stone to a future. A personal practice that has remained a favorite of mine for the many years I’ve done it. Here’s hoping you make time for you on New Year’s Day, and that the year ahead finds you on the path to that best version of yourself that you see ahead. 🙂 Realistically? It’ll probably be a journey that takes far more than one hour. There will be challenges. Changes. Choices. You’ll have to practice some things. Maybe do some things very differently than you had.

Your results will surely vary. Fortunately – however many times you feel you have failed, you can begin again.

New path, new perspective.

*I have to admit that although in a great many respects 2020 was quite terrible as years go, in other respects – many, actually – it was also (for me) quite a good year, too. I have mixed feelings about that, but it would be at odds with the woman I most want to be to fail to acknowledge that some events of 2020 have left a lasting positive mark on me. My relationship with my Traveling Partner has deepened considerably. We bought a home together. Improved our quality of life in a number of ways. I’ve got a good job. We live in a pleasant community. It’s hard to fuss about how shitty pandemic life is when we are so fortunate… just saying; linguistic shortcuts are sometimes at the expense of nuance and details that matter. 🙂

The cycle of holidays and seasons continues. I woke hoping to catch a glimpse of the Morning Star this morning (or, perhaps, this evening)… but no, it’s the Pacific Northwest, and the morning is cloudy, wet, and gray. No stars this morning. 🙂

Winter Solstice at home, 2020, the year of pandemic.

Yesterday’s flood waters have already receded. The morning is balmy and feels strangely mild after a day of chill winds and pounding rain. It’s the Winter Solstice (and, I hope, a merry one for you). I am smiling and eager, sipping my second coffee. I’ve planned a day’s painting, a way of celebrating, of meditating, of committing this day to memory. It’s special; I’m here, at home. 🙂

My Traveling Partner gave me some amazing gifts for Yule, and I opened them yesterday evening at his request; new paint, new brushes – and my lasting joy in this partnership reinforced, yet again, by his consideration. 🙂 I’m feeling very loved. I’m eager to get to work on new canvases, in this new studio.

I think a point I am making is that dates on calendars come and go. What lingers is the joy we take from the precious moments we share – when we allow those to be the details central to our thinking, and our recollections. (I mean… there are other choices.) What we commit to memory, and those details we regularly revisit, become the defining details of who we find ourselves to be, and how we see life, generally. Joy is not exclusive to any particular holiday – or any particular moment. I try to find my joy everywhere I can.

…This morning I am spectacularly joyful, on the order of an excited child…

I smile and sip my coffee. The euphoria of this one moment will fade. Perhaps even the rich cherished memory of it will also fade, with time. Hell, with the passage of time I may forget which particular gifting holiday resulted in my having these exquisite brushes. I have this moment, here, now, though, and I have this joy to cherish. It’s enough. 🙂

The morning sunshine breaks through the clouds. Perhaps a sunny day ahead? This studio has very good light on sunny days… I think it’s already time to begin again. 🙂

Merry Solstice, Humans. Here’s hoping we each find such joy as will sustain us through our darkest times, and my best and fondest wishes that we don’t need to use it that way, at all. 🙂

Here it is. Did you vote? Did you vote for a world we can all thrive in? (Was that even possible, from your perspective?) I guess we all watch it unfold now… all the things: the greed, the lies, the grandstanding, the finger-pointing, the temper tantrums, the speeches, the media coverage… What is there to say about any (or all) of that – that hasn’t been said more skillfully, elsewhere? I got nothing.

Here’s this.

Fingers crossed that we’re a calmer, more reasonable, more considerate nation when this is over. If not? Well… I guess we begin again.

Sipping coffee between housework tasks. It’s a rather ordinary sunny, chilly, autumn Sunday. I hear my Traveling Partner working on a project in his woodshop. Lovely day. I mean… lovely day right here. Your results, based on a quick look at this morning’s news headlines, may vary.

It’s a beautiful day to make good choices, and to be that person we most want to be.

…What a mess we’ve made… I mean… as a nation, a society… a species. Just saying. We could do better.

So… the U.S. election is in progress. “Election Day” is just a couple days away. I hope you are not imagining any great ease in national tension based on some particular outcome…? It’s unfortunate that we’ve allowed our political discourse to degrade to false dichotomies and ad hominem attacks. Growing and maintaining a society built on equality, rights, and freedoms shared by all requires a more subtle understanding than that, it would seem. We have, by that measure, failed entirely. It’s sad to observe the increasing racial tensions in so many cities, and hate-filled rhetoric becoming so commonplace, everywhere.

Full disclosure? I’m neither a republican nor a democrat. Nope, not “green party” or libertarian, either. (Nor communist, socialist, fascist, or other organized party affiliation of any brand.) I’ve still got a stake in how things turn out; I’m American. I live here. I shop here. I work here. I earn here. I invest here. I hike and camp here. I enjoy the local roads and infrastructure here. I vote here. This particular election season I voted as early as I could. I think our method of voting is fairly horrible, and doesn’t have much potential for any outcome other than degrading into a two-party system (or system in which only two parties have a legitimate chance at a win). Our government is implicitly institutionally racist – it’s also implicitly and institutionally sexist, and extremely so. I dislike both those things. I vote specifically against those conditions, and I look for opportunities to do so.

Feeling down about the election this year? I encourage you to (re)watch South Park season 8, episode 8, “Douche and Turd”. Definitely. If you’re looking for something more… hopeful… I recommend CGP Gray (on YouTude) episodes from his Politics in the Animal Kingdom work. There are better ways available to us. We’d only have to decide to do differently.

…Honestly, I don’t understand why we have not yet embraced – fully embraced, for real – direct democracy. Legitimate actual democracy. We certainly have the technology to build a secure system for online voting, already. (Do you doubt that is true? I direct your attention to the various online banks and similar systems, as well as your basic banking ATM. Also… the NSA. We don’t lack adequate encryption methods for secure online voting. That’s one challenge we don’t face at this point in time.) We already know the electoral college has nothing whatsoever to do with a democratic election, and is an artifact of another time. (I sound like I am on the edge of ranting. My apologies. You don’t need that from me, of all people. I’m simply continue to be astonished at the lengths parties will seem to go to, in order to restrict people from being able to vote at all. It rather undermines the very concept of democracy.) That’s what sours me most on “this great nation”, I think, we call ourselves a democracy, but we don’t actually mean it “for real”. We very much prefer that our democracy return only results that we personally favor, however harmful or distasteful to the majority. 😦

Please at least just fucking vote, okay? Not a joke vote. Not a “protest vote”. Really vote. Maybe it “doesn’t matter” to you in any way you acknowledge – but it matters to the lives, the literal lives, of so many other people… please? Vote. And… just saying… if you’re going to vote at all, why not also make your choices based on outcomes that will truly serve the largest number of Americans in the best possible ways? All Americans. Even the ones you don’t like, personally. 🙂 Instead of focusing on an assortment of party platforms that were chosen to serve those in power (or the special interests they have obligated themselves to), just put your vote on what will serve Americans – all Americans – the best possible way, resulting in the best possible quality of life for every one of us – and not at the expense of other Americans, or even other nations. It’s not a zero sum game. It’s not a fucking pie. It’s time we all changed our thinking to get better results for the survival of humankind. It’s not about the money.

It’s time to begin again. Let’s start with what we’re voting for.