Archives for category: Parables

I had recently noticed that something’s been digging in my container garden. I know the squirrels, who are regular visitors, are likely suspects; I’ve seen them bury acorns in those same containers, so perhaps they’ve also been digging them up? Seems a safe enough assumption. It’s still just an assumption. If I hang on to that assumption long enough, it becomes a belief. As a belief, it sits in my head guiding my expectations of things to come. I expect, eventually, to see a squirrel digging up acorns from those pots, naturally.

A succulent garden in a large pot, thoroughly dug up, peanut shells littering the ground, carelessly left behind by a visitor.

Funny thing about “reality”; it isn’t at all what we imagine, or assume, or expect it to be. It is what it is. (What it’s made of is a lofty topic for other days, and fancy experts, I can’t do it justice, here.) I happened to be relaxing with a cup of decaf, considering the afternoon ahead, and spotted movement on the deck out of the corner of my eye. Squirrels? Not quite squirrel like. And tiny. I turn slowly and watch carefully, waiting… waiting… waiting… My eyes adjust to the “pattern” of the container garden on the deck – there it is. A new visitor, or at least one I haven’t spotted before – a chipmunk. An actual chipmunk has come up onto the deck (which exists on the same level as the single level residence in which I make my home, but from the back of the house, would be “the second floor”, because the property slopes considerably). I sit and watch the chipmunk. The chipmunk darts here and there, behind pots, over pots, between pots, watching me. There is no opportunity to get my new camera, but my phone is at hand. I don’t reach for it right away, I just watch.

My chipmunk visitor pauses perched on a pot.

That’s when I spotted it, a snapshot of a reality I don’t generally see; the chipmunk is my digging visitor. My little visitor hopped up to the lip of first one pot, then another, and just dug like crazy, leaving pock-marked soil, divots, and craters behind. The chipmunk was digging up the peanuts the squirrels had recently buried and eating them, one by one. There’s even a chance it’s been happening right in front of me – the little chipmunk’s camouflage is very good. I sat and watched a good while longer, until my little visitor left.

Some movement startles the chipmunk, which grabs one last peanut and darts away.

I end up sitting quietly for some minutes, contemplating the ease with which I assumed the squirrels to be responsible for the “bad acts” of the wee chipmunks, who I hadn’t considered at all – because I didn’t know they would come up onto the deck in the first place, having never seen that behavior. I was limited by my lack of knowledge, and my reasoning was impaired by my assumptions. It’s worth thinking about. It’s worth getting all “meta” with that experience and recognizing the damage I potentially do to myself and to my relationships to allow unverified assumptions to become beliefs which inform my expectations and guide my decision-making. There’s something greater to understand in that, something that matters. I sip my coffee and stare into the rain.

I sigh contentedly. I don’t need more from this moment. This is enough.

 

I am taking a few minutes to relax and consider things. Consider the week that has just ended. Consider the weekend just about to begin. Consider this moment right here, and moments past that were entirely different. I am taking time to consider writing in the morning, versus writing in the evening, and which really works best for me – and I am considering whether there is any need for so much structure around what is (for me) such a natural thing? I am considering the contents of my pantry, which are depleted, and my fridge, which is almost empty; I’ve been sick, and there’s been no shopping done in more than a week. More than two.

I am distracted from my considerations by the smile on my face; I adult well enough to manage life without having to grocery shop for nearly two weeks. Nice. πŸ™‚ (To be fair, though, that’s mostly true because I’ve spent the last week sick, and disinclined toward much besides broth or soup or coffee or tea, and certainly I’m almost always well-stocked on all of those. lol)

Today at work I had two relatively special personal moments of… some kind. I’m not sure what to call either. I reached a point of feeling the crushing workload as, indeed, crushing – overwhelming, distracting, complex, unsatisfying, and even frightening; this was driving a lot of anxiety and I started to have a panic attack – in the office. Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckityfuck. Shit. Damn it. Okay okay – I managed a deep breath. I managed another. I managed to admit to myself that I hadn’t been practicing good self-care, and if nothing else, I really needed a break. No. Not a walking meeting. A break. No, no, not a moment to help someone else with another task. Stop that. A break. No. Damn it. Not an opportunity to vent about these frustrations (that are so transitory). A proper break, away from the work, just – a break.

So I took one.

I got up from my desk, moved to a more comfortable seat in a spot without any connectivity or active devices within reach. No one to talk to, with, or at. No issues. No questions. I took the 10 minutes I really needed. With me. No judgment. No criticism. Just a few moments of meditation, smack in the middle of the work day. It felt sooooooo good. When those few delicious quiet moments concluded, I wasn’t feeling panicked or anxious or unprepared or inadequate or even over-taxed. I was ready to work.

So I worked.

One of the things I went back to work with was a calm settled appreciation for the great team I work with. We support each other. There’s a lot of authenticity and caring. It was a crazy busy week – and it was good. I stopped working a couple times later, throughout the day, simply to briefly thank the colleagues who have helped so much. We count on each other. We can. It’s that kind of place, and I couldn’t help contrasting that with, of all things, the current federal administration. I felt a moment of poignant sorrow and understanding; can you imagine what working in that fog of hate, confusion, and chaos must be like for rational beings who mean well and want to serve America in a positive way? That would definitely be a job to leave. I find myself stalled for just a moment considering all those folks feeling trapped in jobs they very much want to leave.

I went home feeling profoundly grateful for the life I am living right now. That felt pretty good, even if I did arrive home in pain. Just arthritis, right? We age. We deal with pain – as it turns out feeling our bodies age isn’t especially comfortable. lol

Tonight it’s a gentle night of self-care. I need that. It’s also a night of packing, tidying up, and readying myself for another trip down to see my Traveling Partner (who’s the traveler now!? lol) – I miss him greatly and find myself eager, in spite of also feeling soooo fucking tired. I look forward to getting over that. In the mean time, I’ll make a list tonight, and tomorrow I’ll begin again. πŸ™‚

 

I’m sitting here in the chilly wee hours of morning, coughing my head off, chest aching with the useless force of it, head aching from the pressure of sinus congestion and coughing, wearing fuzzy slippers, sipping coffee. Just doing my best, right? It’s a work day, and some short time from now, I’ll shift gears, and do the working things between coughing fits. I’m working from home because, frankly, it would make me ill to have to work alongside someone coughing like this.Β  I can’t see inflicting it on coworkers. :-\

I sigh out loud in the chill of the room, sipping my almost-cold coffee. I’ve been writing here awhile, almost every day. A fair few actual real human beings who are not me have chosen to follow my writing (you may be one of them). Flattering – also a bit of a nail-biter for me, as it tends to suggest somewhere out there may be one or more humans who may “think I’m on to something”. I don’t know that I am. Maybe I am – but really I’m stumbling through adulthood like most everyone else is, making it up as I go, trying new practices, and practicing those that “work” – for me. Your results may vary.

Ask me for an opinion, and I’ll often have one ready. On rare occasions, some tattered shred of wisdom will remain in place long enough to suggest perhaps I don’t have sufficient knowledge of the topic to exert the effort to have an opinion at all, but as with so many human primates that circumstance is far rarer than ideal. My opinions, like most opinions, rest heavily on whatever limited knowledge and experience I may have myself, filled in with… made up nonsense. (Don’t even defend yourself on this, it is what it is.) We could all do better for ourselves and our world to be less attached to our damned opinions. lol

Don’t follow me. I’m just wandering around blazing my own trail through life’s wilderness, same as anyone. I’m not an expert, just a person. One person. One person with some life experience, and some opinions. What works for me may not work for you – we’re each walking our own hard mile, following our own (uncharted) path. Sure, sure, there are some shared basics, and if you find my opinions helpful as you contemplate your own decisions, I sure won’t take that from you… I’m just saying, don’t you know more about your experience than I do? Aren’t you the “expert” there? (And if you don’t feel that you are indeed the expert in your life, about your own experience, won’t it be easier for you to get there, than it would be for me?)

I think all I’m saying is that even on a shared journey between lovers, connected, intimate, even 24/7 – we are each having our own experience. My journey, built on my choices, may not be very similar to yours, even if we walk the same literal ground between our starting points and our finishes, and do so holding hands. Life has this quirky subjective thing going on for each of us, in which our perspective and understanding of the world we live in is informed by all manner of things, which taken in combination, become fairly unique to us as individuals – without regard to how very similar these things can also seem to be, from one person to another. I see it. I live it. I don’t necessarily “understand” it. I’m not your expert. πŸ™‚

Oh, I’m not going anywhere, it just occurs to me that some people really do need an “expert”, if only for a little while. Go get one! No shame in needing help, a support system, a consultation, a reality check – and omg, don’t go trying to get that reliably from people who may actually wholly love you. lol They aren’t your experts either. There is an implied agenda there, when human beings are emotionally invested in one another, just saying. Some things you’ll have to sort of work out onΒ  your own – and you may find “a way” that just isn’t shared by anyone else, or “doesn’t work” – except for you – and that’s entirely okay, too.

There’s a reason there are a ton of self-help books, and paid “experts” out there; we’re very fancy primates with so much variety that what works for one, may not work for any other. Wow. So fancy. Lots of folks sell blockbuster self-help books based on their way – the way they found that works for them, specifically, and may not actually work for anyone else at all. I write, almost daily, about what I am doing to heal and grow, and become more the woman I most want to be over time… and if any of that is useful for you, I am delighted, but… it’s what works for me, and your results may vary. You may have to find a new way, or a different way, or some other way – and you may have to practice quite a lot, even if it is the way that works for you.

I think about adaptive behaviors, and remember how urgently important it was to stay in the tire tracks of the vehicles ahead, when driving through a minefield. This behavior, a potentially life-saving behavior, is basically worthless back home, stateside, on a rainy day. I still find myself doing it, and then feeling real stress when I have to deviate from doing so to get to my destination; it’s not behavior that works in these circumstances. I point it out to underscore that what works for me (or for a particular circumstance) may not work for you (or a for a particular other circumstance). That’s just real; sooner or later we each have to look up from the tire tracks ahead, and instead of following, we have to make our own way. No kidding.

I look at the clock, as I finish my coffee. It’s already time to begin again. πŸ˜€

Weird day at work. I’m ready to move on from that.

What’s this really about? (It’s probably a metaphor)

I had a moment of aggravating conversation at one point during my day, with a relative stranger, and on a rather delicate topic – my weight. Yikes. How does a person approach someone they don’t know well at all, and with a rather mundane mixture of erroneous assumptions and internal narrative, come up with a good rationalization to open the door on the topic of weight and weight management with an irritable middle-aged fat chick on the bus?? Inquiring minds want to know, because frankly, I know me – and I would not attempt it. I must have grown some over the years. I politely listened to the litany of “have you tried”s, followed by what may very well be Amazon’s Top Ten Self-Help Books to Read in 2018, finished off with a hearty portion of “I had a friend who…”

<sigh>

  1. Mind your own business
  2. You don’t know me
  3. Damn, I’m so done with that conversation

I think what made it most distasteful (beyond the fact that I did not solicit an opinion on the subject, nor seek conversation with the individual), was the way off assumptions – beginning with the underlying assumption that all of the health concerns of someone who carries more weight than is aesthetically pleasing to another human being are therefore to do with the weight. Keep your fucking aesthetics to yourself, please. lol I’ve got my own – and trust me, I’m already hard enough on myself without additional bullshit and baggage offered up for free by a stranger who probably needs some therapy, themselves. Seriously. Damn. Move along.

There’s already a surplus of constant nagging and criticism in the world, generally. It’s not necessary, or in most cases at all helpful, to add to that steaming pile. Let it go. Don’t think a fat chick is attractive? Well, the next step is not a conversation starter like “you know, you’d be cute if…” or “I don’t mind older gals, but…” (yes, people say this shit actually out loud). If you don’t think a fat chick is attractive… walk the fuck on. It’s that simple. You don’t find someone hot? They aren’t obligated to meet that need for you, you have options in life, and suggesting they change for you needn’t be among those. You have no claim on their time or appearance, and it isn’t even a little bit appropriate to “make suggestions” for “doing something about it”. Just stop.

It got me thinking, though, on my way home, and specifically got me thinking about The Things That Work versus The Things That Do Not Work – and how subjective that is, and also how easily led we really are as creatures. Think about it; if you are content, comfortable, and healthy and someone markets thin-ness to you sufficiently repetitively with enough catchy slogans, you may quickly find yourself wondering “how to get rid of these extra pounds” (that you don’t have in the first place) in order to meet some ideal of beauty (that no one actually measures up to) or risk being a failure… in life… in work… in the bedroom. Yikes. Heavy. (lol, Yeah, I went there.) Self-help fads of all kinds are constantly pushed on us – but first, we’re made to feel inadequate and discontent, to soften us up and make us hungry to spend our money on that shiny new life being dangled out there… just out of reach. Some of that shit works… for someone. Some of it works for “many” people. Very little of it works for “most” people. I assure you, chances are, none of it works for everyone. It just doesn’t. Buuuuuut… find the thing that works for you, whatever that is, and stick with that… change happens. Just don’t get distracted by the slow rate of change, or the lack of real impact that change may (at least initially) have… because… oops! Back to square one as you (we, I, whatever) hop right back on the treadmill, cycling through self-help tips, tricks, and techniques that helped at least one other person at least once, but possibly not you, ever… Well that doesn’t sound at all productive. :-\ (I hate wasting my precious limited lifetime; I have already wasted so much.)

I end up there, too – well, I have. “Try. Fail. Begin again. Try something else. Fail. Begin again.” Over and over – forgetting that the most effective and efficient approach is to remember what works – then “Try. Fail. Begin that working thing precisely all over again and do that. Try. Fail. Begin again with that very thing that was just working until I failed myself, and do that.” This is a path to growth and change. It looks very like a darker stranger path, though, one that leads to a whole lot of endless bottomless nowhere, which is annoying because “Try. Fail. Do exactly what has never ever worked, and do it harder” over and over looks rather similar, but does not lead to change, or growth, only frustration and eventual madness. Knock that shit off. Also avoid the pitfalls of “Try. Fail. Flail wildly through all the try-able things without committing to anything or giving anything a chance to work. Begin again – but don’t give any one thing a second chance, and if something starts to work – sabotage that shit immediately” – personal experience suggests this is also not a winning strategy. lol Yep. Done those, too. Very human. My results, as a result, have varied – a lot.

I guess sorting through all the shit to try is a place to begin again. Sift out what hasn’t worked in a frank and honest way. Reflect on what has worked – and why it worked, if that is knowable. Repeat what works best – for you. Your results may vary. You are having your own experience. How is a writer (however self-help-ish-ly they write) hundreds of miles and many years removed from your experience actually going to know with any certainty what will work for you? I mean… better than you? Well…Β  maybe. Some stuff. Okay. I get you on that – me too. I do like data. I’ve worked hard to be as self-aware as I am, and still have a lot of work to do in that area. Adulting is fucking hard. But, once you’ve tried something, and are able to acknowledge based on experience whether it works for you or not… why repeat what doesn’t work? Seems very impractical. Although…

Some stuff just need practice. For some practices, the incremental changes over time are not recognizably easy to see. Fuck – that all just got a lot more complicated, didn’t it? Do you know yourself? Can you recognize what does work, in order to rule out what does not? Based on what data? Whose opinion? Who are you – and where do you want to get in life??

It begins so simply, so often; in practice, selected changes, desired, sought changes can be difficult. It’s the “in practice” portion of the experience that I find is the challenge… What am I practicing? Is it actually what works for me? Who decided that? If it wasn’t me – why would I trust that opinion over my own experience of myself? …And am I actually practicing?

Today, the needle moved on the scale (in the desired direction, I mean). Fucking finally. Tomorrow? Of course. I begin again. πŸ™‚

Here we are – the longest night of a year nearly over.

The day began with a frozen misty morning.

I’ll celebrate the long night, recognizing the slow – so slow – return of spring, somewhere in the distance of future dawns. I’ll meditate tonight, and even stay up late, possibly, since I won’t be using a timer or an alarm, only letting the moments become one with awareness, limitless, leisurely, unconcerned, unconfined. Another way of taking care of me, and an annual holiday (for me) honored over a life time.

It’s been a lovely slow day. I slept in. Enjoyed a great hike in the frosty morning air without getting a single good picture. Returned home to the warmth of gratitude and gas heat. Spent the day reading by the fire, sometimes looking up to see squirrel visitors at play. I’ve been needing this. No pressure. No agenda. No chores. A day of leisure, followed by… more leisure. I feel my shoulders relax at the thought of it, and a soft smile creeps over my face.

I miss my Traveling Partner for a moment – not unusual, I have a lot of those moments – and think ahead to a different future. I wonder what the future will be like, when it is the present? I don’t linger in that wistful wondering, though, not when this is such a lovely moment, right here, right now. πŸ™‚

Moments are built on choices. What are you choosing for your moment, right now? I hope it is quite delightful. πŸ™‚ (If it is a less than delightful moment, I hope that passes quickly and that the next is quite pleasant. What will you choose to make it so?)