Archives for category: Parables

You know that experience where disappointment, frustration, and anger, collide, and the result is a bit of a tantrum, a lashing out, maybe saying “too much”, with too much ferocity? You know the one; the burning of bridges, the severing of connections? That moment when disappointment hits so hard it feels necessary to hit back (metaphorically, I mean)? Yeah… don’t do that. (Also, don’t do violence. Just… yeah, don’t. Not okay.)

I know, it sound super easy to say. Emotions get to the party ahead of our rational minds, generally. Once we’ve lashed out, said a thing, made a messy bit of drama that will need clean up later, it can seem to have been necessary, “reasonable” (it’s definitely not that) – even “paybacks” may sound satisfying. “Fuck them!”

Here’s the thing, though. We’re all human. Most of us perceive ourselves to be “the good guy” in our own narrative, at least. If asked, people seem generally willing to stake a claim to being in a state of “doing their best”, moment-to-moment. It’s very subjective. If, though, everyone around us is as well-intentioned as we believe ourselves to be, is lashing out when disappointed actually an appropriate reaction to that person or circumstance? (If you are not “well-intentioned”, that’s a very different concern, for another day.)

I recognize that life “isn’t fair”, and that most of the time there’s no “save” at the last minute, no “we brought you back as our wild card performer!” moment to salvage our experience if we’ve been disappointed. (Sometimes there is, though, so… maybe don’t talk yourself out of that potential with a lot of cranky bullshit.) I’m thinking about it this morning, not because it’s properly relevant to this moment, but it may be to some other, in the future, so… sipping coffee, thinking thoughts. Certainly, after the fact, it’s usually pretty clear that throwing a fucking fit over some small disappointment is less than ideal for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that the most obvious result is that we look like a reactive, emotionally immature, jackass (at least until we’ve finished whatever rationalization we’re prone to working so hard at, at that point we’re likely to be blinded by our own fiction). lol Not a great look.

Giftmas is coming. Gifts under trees… dinners out with friends or family… holiday events… it’s easy to forget to cherish these rare moments, to make them the best moments of our lives (and yes, even in spite of conflict, and stress). It’s super easy to lose our shit in a moment of holiday stress. We’re making memories every moment, though; what do we want to remember of our life? To be remembered for? The stress? The conflict? We become what we practice. Being a petty jerk about an imperfect gift creates a memory, becomes a practice. How much better to give generously, and receive graciously? To be kind? To show compassion? To laugh with a joyous heart? There are verbs involved, and choices, and yes – your actual will. It is actually possible to choose – and build – joy. I recommend it as a practice. 😀

Let go of the stress. Lead with gratitude. Be merry by choice when you can. Appreciate each moment; the joyous ones are as lovely as butterflies, the ones that are less joyous are extraordinary opportunities to grow, to learn, and to become that person you most want to be. Sure, walk away from drama, definitely do that, and also connect with others more deeply, more authentically. It is a powerful season for change. It’s a real shot at life-changing forward momentum. Your call. Your choice. Your practices.

Give yourself an amazing gift this year; better practices. 🙂 It’s not always “easy”, and “practice” certainly implies effort, and likely an occasional actual failure. The journey is so worth all that. Are you the person you most want to be, standing where you are, right now? What will you do about that, today, right now?

It’s already time to begin again. I finish my coffee, and smile. No headache this morning; it’s a good beginning. 😀

 

I’m sipping my coffee on a Monday and turning over a metaphor in my head. I’ve been giving it thought all weekend, actually, well – if by “all weekend” I mean “since I started putting up the holiday tree”. 🙂

It began simply with the necessary (for me) task of untangling ornament hooks…

Like my thoughts, some things need to be untangled before they are really useful.

It’s really that simple metaphor that has me feeling thoughtful. I’ve had this same tangle of ornament hooks since… oh… for about 20 years. Here’s the thing, though; one year, I couldn’t find them. The only ones I could locate to purchase as a replacement that year were long hooks. (I use, generally, by preference, the short ones.) I turned up the others while decorating the tree – they were at the bottom of a fairly ordinary brown box. I combined the short hooks and long hooks, and put them all “conveniently” into a single small plastic container. Now, each year, I have to untangle ornament hooks before I can get started hanging ornaments. (If you suggest I simply toss these and buy new ones that are less tangled, I’ll point out , first, that some of my oldest ornaments have original hooks on them that are older than I am, which I have not discarded in spite of discoloration due to age, and also, this is a metaphor, so… perhaps the point was missed? 😉 )

Each year I carefully untangle and set free enough of the short hooks from the grasp of the long ones to decorate the tree. Each year I carefully put them all back into the container they share – even the long ones it was necessary to free from the tangled mass, in order to get to the short ones. Each year, I put them back in a more orderly state than I retrieved them in. Each year I open the container to find they are entirely tangled all together once more.

…There really is a metaphor here…

“What’s your point?”

It’s a good question, glad you asked. The point is, I think, that the content of my own thoughts can sometimes be fairly tangled up, with “long hooks” of ancient hurts, old baggage, new baggage, and a variety of expectations and assumptions, all sort of hooked into the “short hooks” of useful observations, clarity, real understanding, valuable perspective, and the present “here and now” sorts of things that create a well-lived life. The tangled mass can impede good communication, mess with my clarity of mind, and undermine my feeling of emotional well-being. It’s pretty important to sort things out, and untangle those long hooks to get to the useful short hooks, and really get on with living life.

It’s not that the long hooks are worthless; they’re hooks. They serve a function. I have some few ornaments that are most easily hung from those long hooks. Some of those are even quite beautiful – it’s just that nearly all the ornaments on my tree hang most pleasingly, easily, and conveniently from the short hooks. So, why the hell do I keep the long ones at all, though? I guess… as with the bullshit and baggage tangled in my thinking, and in my poorly processed lingering bits of baggage, I get started on that, and along the way I free up enough short hooks to meet my needs in the moment, and then just sort of … pack all the hooks back into their container… for… convenience.

Yeah. So. Giving that some thought has kept my mind occupied this weekend (a generally splendid holiday weekend). 🙂 There’s something to learn from this container of hooks. 😀

When I think over some of the repetitive things I say, (personal slogans, self-directed motivational battle-cries of various sorts, succinct aphorisms, that sort of thing) I’m aware that many have come and gone over the years – some healthy, some unhealthy, some… more than a bit misguided. One stands out for me, steadfast and true, like the sort of old and trusted friend that will tell hard truths; “begin again”. It’s not really about “do-overs”, you know; it’s about gathering the strength to just start something anew. It’s about first steps following hard falls, and taking an approach that skills require practice, and that there is value in an attempt, and yes, even in the failures. It’s about resolve. It’s about exerting a worthy effort, in the face of ennui, or a deep depression, or a lot of pain. It’s about insisting with myself that I live life, not just wait around to die.

…It’s definitely not about “easy”. There are so many verbs involved, so much will, and real (and repeated) effort. Isn’t that characteristic of living, generally?

It’s a Tuesday. An ordinary enough beginning to a new work day ahead. Meetings. Calls. Emails. Spreadsheets. Slide decks. Drafts of new processes. Improvements on old processes. The usual office-sorts of work things to do. I’ve done other jobs. Had other sorts of Tuesdays. I’ve been invested in a different quality of life than what I work for now, with varying degrees of success (this particular experience of life in these past handful of years has been by far most satisfying and emotionally healthy). I’ve been fortunate to explore other lives, other experiences of being human. New beginnings have long been required following the end of something else. 🙂

These days I don’t worry too much about failures; they are part of a learning and growth mindset. I embrace a new beginning and get after it. No, it’s not really that easy sometimes. I may get excited about shiny new boots, even eager to maintain that shine, and keep them lovely, but when the time comes, on a rainy Sunday evening, to set aside the next episode of some favored show, or put down my book, in order to shine those boots… that’s the hard bit. Taking the step. Doing the verbs. It’s not enough to “commit”, and – omg, I am so sorry to say these words – you can “manifest” shit 100% of all your days, and it’s still waaaay more likely that you will find yourself achieving whatever it is if you do the fucking verbs required for it. Yep. “Manifesting” your future is about as effective as daydreaming. 😉 Do the verbs. Make the effort. Or, an alternative, accept that your will isn’t up for the task at hand and let it go. Seriously. What do you really want, that you want enough to work for it?

I’m not saying it’s easy. Seriously not saying that at all. I sat around not shining those fucking boots all week, and then all day that Sunday, even in the face of my partner’s tender reminders that I said I wanted to shine my boots, and gently suggesting it as an activity when I may have seemed bored, and then again shortly before the evening ended; I wanted to wear them, shined, on Monday. lol Omg. I just… couldn’t didn’t. You know what else? Those fucking boots were not shining themselves. LOL My partner offered to do it for me… well, damn, that’s just kind of sad and a bit embarrassing for me. (He’s so sweet. He knew I wanted them to look great, and just cares that much.)

…So… I finally shined my boots. I was happy I did; they looked great. They even got noticed. Nice. 🙂 (Okay, okay, also a little vain. Small pleasure, though; I enjoyed the satisfaction of caring for something I like.)

There’s a lesson here somewhere. Not quite a parable, I guess… but maybe. No time for overthinking it, this morning, it’s already time to begin again. 😀

So, real life being what it is, with winter storms, and unpredictable changes in travel plans, and all of that sort of thing… my Traveling Partner did not make it home last night. :-\ Am I disappointed? I sure am. That’ll pass quickly, not because I am callous or insensitive, or don’t love deeply enough, it is, instead, because I have learned, mostly, not to become attached to an outcome that isn’t certain. Generally. Most of the time. I still expect him home “soon” – most likely today, sometime while I am at work. 🙂 It mattered more to know he was safe, somewhere, than to fixate on his planned arrival time.

This perspective is so much easier than getting all hung up on the details that can vary so much.

I imagine it would be tougher to be so chill about it, if I were the one stuck in some random city, waiting for another flight… I find myself wishing my Traveling Partner safe – and merry – travels, and hoping it isn’t unbearably tedious, frustrating, or unpleasant. Travel can be a lot of fun, but it is predictably less so, when all one wants is to go home.

Very little in life is predictable, really. Our results vary. We walk our own hard mile. We are each having our own experience. Our lives are built on what we make of all the chaos and uncertainty. It is our choices to act, to react, to refrain from action, that define us to the world…

I sip my coffee, contented, and grateful. My Traveling Partner is on his way home. I’ll see him when I see him. In the meantime, I’ll do what I do, and let the waiting be part of the background, instead of having it dominate my thoughts. (There really isn’t much I can do to speed things up, so why get spun over the details?) Instead, I let my thinking move on to other things… and rather consistent with the travel theme, I find myself wondering if my efforts here at home are “good enough”. The surge in anxiety reminds me I have baggage to unpack, myself, without even leaving home. lol I breathe, exhale, relax, and remind myself that the anxiety over “good enough” is a leftover from long ago, in a very different relationship, and it’s okay to let that go. Boom! A bag hits the floor – this one, though, is one I’ll let go of, over and over again, for the rest of my life (most likely). It’s heavy, and sturdily made, and this bit of baggage just keeps following me (so far). Still, recognizing it right away, and letting it go, again, is healthy progress. I’m content with that. Enough forward progress and we inevitably end up somewhere else. 😉

I had a moment of great delight yesterday, related to Veterans Day. My team at work asked for a moment of my time, and I said “sure” and then followed up some short time later, pointing out “This may not be a good time, I’m sort of cross at the moment, but I’ve got a few minutes, what’s on your mind?” My team grinned at me, and one of them said “It’s the best time!”, and another of them handed me a small gold bag, and an envelope.

“We’d hoped to get it to you Friday, but you weren’t in the office, and then Monday was the holiday…”

I opened the card – a Veterans Day card. What the hell? I’m still surprised. lol It was very… moving. Inside the bag? Very fancy chocolates from a local high end chocolatier (I rarely shop there, way out of my price range). “We wanted to do more than just say thanks…” they said, almost in unison. We all laughed together, and I’m still so… moved, by their appreciation. More palpable than a random thank you, it isn’t about the chocolate, as much as the sentiment (I probably won’t have more than 1 of those elegant chocolates; everything about them is a “restricted” food on my diet, and not ideal for my health lol). It was – and is – a heart-warming visceral expression of appreciation. Special.

How would the world improve if we could make every “thank you” we offer everyone truly visceral and “real” to them? How about if every time we apologize for hurting someone, they could really feel our regret, and that they matter to us? If we could successfully communicate that we are committed to making amends? If when we did our best to do so, it was something the injured person could really feel? How much more valuable would “thank you” and “I’m sorry” be then? (Actually, about as important as now – so maybe we should be putting more effort into it, already? 😉 )

Thoughts over coffee on a Wednesday. Today, I’ll work on more effective, meaningful, expressions of appreciation or regret. Effective and meaningful to the recipient, I mean. I guess that implies also being more effective and meaningful to me… “heartfelt made real”, somehow. It seems like a useful starting point with which to begin again. 🙂

…List of chores. Yep. It certainly is a huge… list. Fuck. Am I really expecting myself to get all of this done, today? On this knee? With this arthritis pain? 0_o It seems… unreasonable.

…It’s actually not that bad.

I look over my list again. Routine housekeeping, all of it. Regular, commonplace tasks that need to be done with fair frequency. The image doesn’t show that above “Hearth & Home” sits “Self-Care”, and below the list in the image are also “Errands”… I do like an orderly list. lol

I put self-care first on my list these days, because it needs to be; if I don’t take care of myself, who is going to get all this shit done?? I put errands last because it’s pretty easy for a “quick trip to the store” to become a hours long distraction from everything on the list that needs to be done. lol Some things on the list are daily chores, they get checked off each day, and put back on the list the next day (looking your way “do the dishes”!). Other things are weekly, still other things are “occasional”, seasonal, or “as needed”. It’s just a list though; making the list doesn’t imply getting it done. There are definitely verbs involved. 🙂

I consider each task on the list. I move them around so they are more or less in the order I think I’ll want to get them done. I’m playing with my list and drinking my morning coffee, and writing, while also chatting with my Traveling Partner, who is eager to come home. I’m eager for him to come home, too… and I’d love to welcome him home with my list of shit to do fully completed. What a welcoming place to come home to! I smile to myself, recalling what it feels like to come home to order, to a well-cared for living space, and to a calm, peaceful environment. No drama. No work bullshit. No dishes in the sink, or shit in disarray. Just… home. The thought renews my commitment and my motivation to get it all done. Yesterday was mine, for me. Today is for mindful service to hearth and home. 😀

…It’s already past 8:00 am. I’ve finished this cup of coffee, with one last swallow of now-cold brew (nothing at all like actual “cold brew”, I assure you lol). I’ve got this list, and this day, and it is very much looking like time to begin again. 😀

After the chores, perhaps a hot mug of cider on the deck, or meditation by the fire? Something to look forward to, but first – verbs.