Archives for category: pain

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.

Tuesday it was Kate Spade. This morning, I read that Anthony Bourdain has also taken his own life. I pause for a moment to consider the engaging chef whose books and television shows entertained and educated me. I enjoyed his wit. The headline “Anthony Bourdain Has Died” didn’t prepare me for the further information regarding his suicide. There’s a certain different ache in my soul when I read of suicide…

…I know what despair feels like.

Well, shit. It’s a scary, seriously frightening and frustrating world these days. I get feeling overwhelmed by despair. Some days it is hard not to. We will see, for days to come, articles about suicide help lines, and some analyses of what drives people to take their own lives. There will be salacious gossip about the lives of the fallen. Someone will share a recent article about the high rate of senior or veteran suicides. Most of the people who read those will shake their heads, and turn away, unaware someone dear to them is on the brink of making that major “life” decision.

Connect with your loved ones, your friends, associates, and coworkers. Be sure to mention that they matter to you in an authentic way, and be real about it. It’s not about hyperbole and fake compliments, and it isn’t necessary to use superlatives. Easier to straight up give voice to that thing they do that you enjoy, or count on, or appreciate, or wish you did as well – or, fucking hell, just have lunch, or coffee – make time. Be present. Don’t rush those connected social moments; they are what matter most in our days. There’s no knowing when someone may choose to check out, and while you may not be able to change their mind about it, you can, at least, enjoy who they are while they are here.

On the other side of the equation, please consider sticking around awhile? If you’re considering a firm end to the chaos, and stress, and trauma, and struggle, and despair… please, just for a moment, consider that there may be other things you have yet to try. There may be practices that improve your experience, even if they don’t change the entire world, itself. Incremental change takes time – please give yourself some. Someone, I promise you, will miss you if you go.

I stayed. There are a lot of verbs involved, but it has been, very much, worth it to have stayed. I’ll go on with that, with staying around I mean, because things got better. Things continue to get better. I can’t promise that for you, but I can assure you that choosing change results in changes, so long as you do the verbs. 🙂 Your results may (will) vary, and the changes you choose in life may be somewhat askew from the changes you subsequently find unfolding around you, but change is. Despair isn’t particularly sustainable, it’s just annoyingly difficult to see through when we’re feeling it.

There’s one irksome thing about suicide that never fails to leave me feeling bereft and discontent; I don’t know why. No, I mean… I don’t know why. That’s what leaves me feeling so bereft and discontent. I’m not sure there’s any solid “why” to suicide. Surely, people have their reasons. Many leave a note behind, but often those are not public, and even when they are public, they leave so much left unexplained – as if I think there is, or should be, a reasonable explanation when despair overtakes someone. Despair is shitty enough to be its own reason.

One more time, I let the “why?” go, and pause for a moment to say good-bye to a fallen soul. I pause for regret. I pause to appreciate, to mourn, to find personal solace after a time. I pause to be aware I am, myself, okay right now… as though it could creep up on me, and take me by surprise, myself…

…Then I begin again.

Here’s a Memorial Day weekend reminder that now is not the time to be thanking veteran’s for their service. This is an opportunity, for all of us, veteran’s too, to honor the fallen. The brothers and sisters in arms who did not come home. Who gave everything. This is our time to bow our heads and reflect on the horror of war. Just saying. It’s not about the living.

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This matters to me. It probably matters to a lot of veterans. We know the price paid to serve, sure; we also know the price that was not exacted from us. We came home with our lives ahead of us. We may be human wreckage – that’s a thing for some – we may be filled with internal torment you just don’t see – also a thing, some of us struggle with for many years – and for many of us, part of that lasting pain is the loss of so many. We lost people we loved, and served with side-by-side, and we lost esteemed professional colleagues, and we lost legends that had gone before us. We lost role models, and wing men. We lost “that guy”. We lost people we never met, and people we knew very well. We lost leaders, and comrades.

Most of us, most of the time, believed we were fighting for a righteous cause. We’re carefully indoctrinated to think so. Some of us knew better or understood things differently. A small few of us knew a very special painful truth; you don’t understand the price we pay, and you don’t understand how carefully we are remade to serve a purpose. You don’t understand, really, that we always knew some of us would never come home. You don’t understand that we served every day knowing that that someone could be… us. You don’t understand that many of us never quite leave it behind. Because you can’t. It’s not your experience.

Please don’t burden veteran’s with your thanks  today. This is our day to remember. To grieve. To acknowledge that we came home. To regret that others didn’t. This, too, is our day to stare fiercely into the eyes of those in power with a challenge – you show me this was in fact worth the price. Prove it. Prove it or go fuck yourself – and bring our brothers and sisters home. This is our honor, this is our Memorial. I’d frankly very much like to stop adding new bodies to the body count. I say the price for your glory is too high.

I’m taking the weekend off. This is a time to reflect on what matters most, and what is the value of a human life. ❤

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 resource 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 today  – 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. 🙂 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. 😉

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

Do better. Today, you can begin again. ❤