Archives for category: Logic & Reason

I am sipping coffee on a Sunday. Good coffee. Pleasant Sunday. I am reflecting on what makes some moments “special” and others so seemingly “ordinary” and wondering if there is really any difference outside my own subjective impression of each moment.

I recently went to the seashore for “a bit of a break” and some “me time” away. I walked the beaches and nature trails. I took pictures. A lot of pictures. Many of those were pictures of entirely ordinary birds standing or walking along the beach, or parking lot, or some strip of not-quite-lawn. Why did I bother? They weren’t special or fancy birds… just gulls, crows, jays, and little brown birds of a variety of sorts. What’s so special about those birds? Nothing, right? It was getting the picture at all that was special (to me) – taking pictures of birds is hard. lol

A dandy gull strolling along in a parking lot. He was aware of me, and unconcerned, just walking along.

Were the moments themselves particularly “special”? I don’t actually recall them as unusual moments in any way, aside from being part of this particular beach trip. If I were to glance quickly at one of the many hundreds of beach photos I’ve taken over the years, I’m not sure I could easily identify one trip from another. They illustrate a more general experience of “going to the coast” and “being at the seashore”. Special inasmuch as it is not the routine day-to-day experience of life…but often very similar to each other (if for no other reason that I am always me when I go do these things, and generally I am doing them with similar motivation and goals in mind).

This crow was not interested in being photographed and quickly walked away when it noticed my gaze.

In a certain sense, isn’t every moment “special”, in that there is a predictably finite number of them for any one of us? We don’t even have the advantage of knowing in advance how many there will be – only that they will eventually just run out, often unexpectedly.

Even for little brown birds on mellow summer days; moments are finite and limited.

It seems far more likely that all moments are special than to assume no moments are special – it’s easy enough to identify one or two special moments (just look for lingering significance or fond memories!), which immediately debunks the proposition that “no moments are special”. So… moments are special in a quantity somewhere between “some” and “all”. Tough to know going into a particular moment how special it may prove to be, even immediately afterward. Some moments are so spectacular it’s probably obvious that those will become lasting fond memories for someone (or recollections of profound tragedy – “special” isn’t always “good”, right?).

Thoughtful? Distracted? Just having a moment?

This last beach trip was special, for sure. I was out on the coast giving my Traveling Partner room to work on complicated CNC build details without me being underfoot, or becoming a distraction. That’s not what was special about it (for me), although it is always wonderful to know I am missed when I am away. What made it special was the combination of finding new awesome locations to take pictures, new trails to wander, and also – that’s where I was when I got the call from my new employer with their offer, and knew that I would be returning to work soon.

I got the news sitting in my car, parked, watching the waves roll in, just after getting off the phone with my partner, after receiving an automated rejection email sent in error. lol

When I was mired in the worst of my bullshit, baggage, chaos and damage, I often felt as if “nothing is special”. That feeling (and experience) has a name, anhedonia. Life feels gray, meaningless, and very much as though nothing matters and no effort will change that lack of meaning. It’s grim. It’s bland. It’s very hard to pull oneself out of that pit. I had it wrong. I mean, obviously (anhedonia is an experience of disordered thinking/feeling). It’s just that I’m sort of blown away by how wrong I’d gotten it (as a result of poor mental health) – because it’s apparent now that the truth is so much closer to “everything is special” (even to the point of potentially numbing us to the “specialness of the ordinary”).

I smile and finish my coffee. I’m happy to be where I am these days. I delighted with the pictures I’ve been getting of birds. I’m okay with the birds themselves being entirely ordinary. Most things are. Moments, too. I’m done with insisting that anything “special” also be entirely out of the ordinary – that seems, now, to be a needlessly high bar to set for what is special to me. Sure – love is special, and very much out of the ordinary… but a great cup of coffee, a picture of a bird that turns out well, or a gentle relaxed Sunday morning are all pretty ordinary experiences – and also comfortably special. I’m good with enjoying the specialness of the ordinary, and embracing contentment and joy.

It’s time to begin again.

What a fucked up mess this moment is. I mean, it could be worse. Really, I’m fine. I’m just… an emotional pile of shit. Chaos and damaged piled high, this morning. I didn’t see it coming. So often, on days when I yield to unexpected fortuitous happiness, joy, or profoundly good moods, I don’t see the twist that sends it spiraling off course equally unexpectedly (and with a whole fuck-ton more baggage, resentment, and disappointment … in the moment, in myself, and yeah, even with the entire fucking world).

Um… no, I don’t have any helpful suggestions for these sorts of trying moments. I suppose, besides being utterly human, they are also probably more commonplace than any one of us damaged fucked up little chaos primates would like them to be. Fuck my bullshit – and fuck yours too. Sorry. I mean… I hope you’re having a good day (legit). Right now, I’m not, and I’m still seething, and stuck on the edge of tears. It’s not “necessary”. It’s not even “rational”. (It’s definitely not “rational” – these are emotions, for fucks sake.) “Wait it out.” That’s a suggestion; these things pass. “Breathe” is another helpful-ish sort of suggestion. I mean… that one is sometimes like telling a hysterical person to “calm down”, though; it’s correct and useful for what it is, but who the hell wants to hear that shit in the moment?? Nope. Me either.

So…yeah. Fucked up moments are a thing in our human experiences. Sometimes our hysterics, tantrums, or blow-ups make sense for scale, urgency, or magnitude of our hurt… other times not so much. I can only point out that refraining from taking action in the heat of the moment, and ideally even mustering some self-restraint with regard to what we might choose to say out loud, makes a lot of fucking sense – but it won’t end the moment (or our hurt) any sooner. Just reduces the mess there is to clean up afterward.

Around here? Nothing damaged, nothing broken, no one injured, no violence occurs… it’s just sad and frustrating and disappointing and aggravating (and did I say sad?) when tempers flair, or feelings get hurt. My head aches from the stress, and from crying. My Traveling Partner has gone a long way toward soothing hurts and trying to heal the moment; he’s pretty good like that. I am less skilled at that sort of thing, and I’m a bit “stuck” right now. Nope, no advice to offer from the perspective of “in it” right now – only perspective. It’ll pass. I know that with certainty. Emotional weather, just a squall. The climate around here is exceptionally pleasant. Weather still happens. (It’s a metaphor.) It’s a bit of an endurance test, and I know I can pass.

…I’ve just got to begin again…

…Sometimes that isn’t easy.

I tend to think of “challenges” as negative, and to think of “being overwhelmed” as a byproduct of generally negative emotional experiences or circumstances. You, too? It’s a misleading oversimplification, though, isn’t it? I think for a minute about the experience of an “overexcited” or “overstimulated” exhausted toddler, well-past the point that can be supported by their as-yet-undeveloped emotional resilience, frustrated over some “nothing” moment (when viewed externally, as an observer), dissolving into tears or tantrums. Doesn’t matter that the day behind them was excited, fun-filled, positive, rewarding, engaging, or adventurous – they’re tired, they’re done, and it’s finally all just “too much”. They yield to their emotions. I’m 59 years old and it still happens in my experience of life, too. Hard to be irked about it, it’s just a thing. Part of the human experience. I’m sure it serves – or once served – some clear purpose for human primates. Maybe a warning to slow down and let my brain catch up on all the newness and excitement?

Things have been exciting around here. I’ve been helping my Traveling Partner get his business started. Very exciting. His business – our future. It’s a big deal. There are new tools and machines to learn. New processes to master. New skills to pick up. There are other skills to refine and improve. There are tasks yet to be completed – I know we each have our own focus, and our own “to do list”. It’s his business, but I’m 100% about supporting that endeavor with him; we’re a team. A partnership. All of that is exciting and positive – not a single legitimate “down side”, other than the other positives piling up that simply require some effort (mostly in the form of cognitive work, learning some new software, and a couple of really cool tools that I’m excited about artistically, for my own creative endeavors). Still, there is so much new stuff coming at me day-to-day right now, there’s been no time to write. I mean, that’s what it has felt like. I’m sure I could have made other choices, but I’m not ashamed to be making a point to choose supporting my partner’s developing business.

My brain is tired. I have been mostly sleeping pretty well, but kind of a lot. I go to bed pretty early. I sleep as late as circumstances permit. My list of shit to get done exploded over the past couple weeks. I feel chronically behind on just about everything. Hike with my new camera? It rains too hard to go, or too hard to take the camera out into the weather. I feel held back by that and frustrated. I’m eager to get out into the garden. Some days I just haven’t got the strength to do the work. Other days the rain keeps me in. Build a website for my partner’s business? Unfamiliar interface and new software to learn. I feel a bit stalled, but not terribly frustrated; I at least expected to face a learning curve. More to learn. There’s the laser cutter, the Cricut, the pen tablet… so much to learn. Gardening, too. I’m no master gardener. I just sort of get by doing my best. I’d like to do better. I’d like to feed us from our garden.

If I just stack everything up or put it on a list, it does sort of start freaking me out. I feel so behind on “everything”. I had terrible nightmares last night that I had invested so much of my time and attention into all the new stuff to learn, do, try… that my friends all just sort of… slipped away. I was just starting to achieve mastery of “everything”, and turned to share this with my Traveling Partner… and… he wasn’t there. Gone. Just… gone. I looked out my window and society appeared to have crumbled. There were few people, and all strangers to me. I looked at my hands, in my dream, and they were withered with age and effort, and I was feeble and weak. All my “new knowledge” and skills were already … out of date. Useless. I woke feeling sad and lonely, and it persisted for some minutes after waking.

Nightmares are unpleasant. They have a visceral quality that lingers. They are crafted directly from our emotions and feel somehow inescapable. They’re still only dreams.

The thing is, there’s more good here than struggle. It’s just… a lot to take in. Yesterday I harvested lovely peas and Swiss chard and radishes from the garden, and dinner included that bounty. It was delicious. Spending hours with my Traveling Partner designing, building, making, learning – those are happy hours, well-spent in each other’s good company. Learning new skills? Great for keeping youthful well-being and perspective. Every detail taken individually is pretty fucking splendid. I sip my coffee and reflect on that. On the splendor. Feels pretty good. I feel fortunate, and even “blessed”. It’s a good place to be. That “to do list” doesn’t need to drive my experience. It’s just a wee map. Tells me where the turn up ahead is to be, and where to go next. Useful.

Today a friend will come around to visit. There’s been so little of that with the pandemic. I’ve missed the companionship of my friends. Losing touch with so many feels uncomfortable. I tell myself I could do better to stay in touch… which is a lot of pressure to put on one human. We’re all in that place. We could each do more, better, somehow. It can quickly snowball into a spiral of frustration and dismay. I sip my coffee figuring I won’t do that today. Small bites of life are enough to taste it. 🙂 Today, a little housekeeping in the morning. A little hanging out in the afternoon. An evening spent wrapped in love with my Traveling Partner, steadfast and true, best friend, lover, spouse, business partner… I am fortunate indeed.

A glance at the clock tells me it is already time to begin again. 🙂

I’m still “work in progress” as a human primate. I’m aware of that. Lots of character – lots of “character flaws”. Sharp as hell… dumb as fuck. Filled with good intentions, infused with vision, sparked by inspiration, and eager to exert my will to create the life I most want to live… mostly. I’m also capable of unreasonable anger, making incorrect assumptions and poor decisions, and sometimes barely have the will to lift my hand to take a drink of water when I’m thirsty.

Sometimes I get wrapped up in a moment, and without realizing I’ve done so, I get lost in someone else’s emotional experience, vacillating between wanting to “solve the problem” and wanting to be emotionally supported – over an experience that isn’t even my own. I forget that I’m a separate person, and put effort into “centering myself” and my experience, and completely lose any comprehension that someone else has actually come to me for support. Not particularly helpful, and definitely unpleasant for that other person, who probably feels not only unsupported, but also regretful that they ever brought whatever it was to me in the first place.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

Today my Traveling Partner came to me, frustrated, angry with a project going wrong, dealing with the challenge of the day. I managed – I think – to listen. To be available and present. To hear him out without trying to solve the problem (he did not ask me to solve the problem, just to listen). My only assertion, beyond sufficient response to ensure he knew I was listening (in spite of the busy workday just over my shoulder), was to acknowledge his obvious frustration, and to share that I was sorry I did not have some immediate solution I could offer (at all). He thanked me for listening. He went on with his day.

This was, for me, still a very deeply emotional experience – but it wasn’t mine. It was his. The intensity of the emotions I was feeling? A mixture of his emotions being shared, and my PTSD shrieking in my consciousness that intense negative emotion from a male partner is dangerous – “fix it, fix it NOW, or get out! Get away! Danger!” Today, I pushed my fearful consciousness into the background long enough to really listen and be there for my aggravated partner. I stayed present and engaged, in spite of his obvious emotion. It was hard. This is one of the most difficult things I ever have to do, even when my partner’s emotions have nothing to do with me or something I’ve done/not done – in spite of requiring only as much physical effort as it takes to not run away. (It surprises me how much physical effort that does take, though.)

I got back to work when he walked away. My mind still struggles to let it go and really move on. There’s this “sensation in my spine” that tickles my awareness with a lingering sense of urgency and restlessness. I know these things will pass. I keep “wanting to help” – in spite of my absolute lack of potential do so in this particular circumstance. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I sit with the awareness that my desire to help is most definitely built on a foundation of terror; my PTSD reminds me of all the things that could follow, leftovers from another life and a very different relationship. Another breath. This is not that life. Not that relationship. I hear music in the other room, and the sounds of my Traveling Partner working.

Men have emotional lives. Men need to talk about their feelings (just as anyone else might need to do). It’s okay to listen – really listen. Be there. In the abstract, I know this, and it is “so obvious”. In the moment I’m actually called upon to be there, listening, it’s still sometimes quite terrifying. I sip my tea – made for me with such love, earlier this morning, by this human being who puts so much heart into listening when I need to talk. I’ve got a lot to learn about love, and I’m not surprised that there are so many opportunities to practice. This tea is pretty sweet, and I am pleased to “do more/better”, this time, even though it feels a bit as if I’ve done nothing much at all. I see the progress. I let myself sit with that awhile, reflecting on the moment over this nice cup of tea. Soon enough, it’ll be time to begin again.

…I wonder how things are going now? I will fearlessly check on things when I take my next break…

My neck and back hurt. I did my physical therapy “magic moves”, with limited benefit. I catch myself “pulling on” my neck, even knowing that is not helpful. Background stress drives physical pain, much the same way physical pain makes me more vulnerable to background stress. Yep. It’s a cycle. How best to break that cycle? Choose the most appropriate practice(s) and do that(those) thing(s). “Simple!” (It isn’t.)

Trigger Warner for Snowflakes: discussion of gun control.

I’ll go home early today. I’m fortunate to have a job, a role, and a boss, with room for empathy and compassion. A lot of folks are suffering emotionally this week. Maybe everyone. Another school shooting. Another round of back and forth bullshit over gun ownership vs violence, and the regulations we may need to reduce the latter as a consequence of the former. I have my own thoughts on that. You’ve got yours. Honestly, I’m not opposed to civilian ownership of firearms generally…but… I also think that there are individuals that likely ought not fucking have firearms within easy reach! (Um…duh.) My thoughts? Maybe overly simple…

  1. To own a firearm, I think a person should be required to have specific training on the use and safety practices of each individual type of firearm they wish to own. No exemptions. Pass a fucking test. (There don’t seem to be many objections to the requirement to pass a test to drive a vehicle… just saying.)
  2. To own a firearm, I think a person should be required to be licensed for that firearm in their state – and I think the training requirement and knowledge test isn’t enough; get a mental health “physical”, and demonstrate that you are rationally and emotionally fit to have that weapon. (People routinely have to pass a physical exam to get a commercial driver’s license, or a psychological screening to work in some environments – how is this any different?)
  3. To own a firearm, I think a person should have to carry specific insurance against the chance that their firearm is misused, used in a crime, or accidentally injures someone. (Again, own a car? You’ve got insurance. Own a home? You’ve got insurance. Own a business? I bet you’ve also got insurance.)
  4. One last detail – I don’t think “open carry” is appropriate everywhere, and should be explicitly prohibited for civilians. I think “concealed carry” should be heavily restricted. If your firearm is a “home defense” weapon, keep it at home. If it is a hunting or sporting firearm, keep it secured until you go hunting, or lock it up at the gun club where you do your target shooting.

I’m just saying, I see a huge difference between responsible gun ownership and every ass clown with an agenda having “a right” to have a gun. I don’t understand why any potentially responsible gun owner would object to 1. getting training and passing a test, 2. passing a mental health screening to ensure emotional fitness and ability to assess risks, 3. having insurance to protect themselves financially against any potential bad outcome associated with their firearm, or 4. not carrying their firearm in places where firearms ought not be. What am I missing?

Oh. I know. I know what I’m missing; it’s a misleading question. What I am “missing” is that there are quite a few angry or emotionally wounded individuals who know they are, who want a gun knowing they are potentially at risk of using it inappropriately – or even explicitly intending to – who do not want their “rights” restricted. There are a lot of other folks who just don’t even want to have to deal with the question “should I really have a gun?”, because they have doubts. My next question is – why would we ever let those people make the decisions regarding access to firearms, for everyone?

Too often I read the news, and someone says “obtained the gun legally”, followed somewhere by “could not have predicted…”, when, actually, it’s often far too predictable, because that eventual killer started out as angry, violent at home (or known to have expressed violent ideations on some forum or another), and struggling with their overall emotional wellness. Yes, we fucking could have known – someone probably did know. Maybe someone even reported the individual to law enforcement because they did know, and were concerned, and tried to do the right thing? How horrific is that? To have the solution within such easy reach… and just let it happen all over again?

Maybe get the fuck up out of women’s reproductive decision-making for one fucking legislative season and work on something that really does need (and have) a solution?

Wow. It feels good to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading. Please write and phone your legislators. Ask them to stop being dishonest assholes about this issue and develop some realistic, responsible gun ownership laws. This is not a partisan issue; I promise you none of the slaughtered children were Republicans or Democrats.