Archives for category: Parables

I’m sipping my coffee and marveling, a little awestruck, but not in any pleasant way, really, at the quantity of posts, reposts, and shares in my feed that are seriously… emo. Like… bleak. Self-denigrating. Depressed. Blue. Despairing. So many of these are also coming from friends and associates I understand to be lovely people, from the perspective of my experience of them as individuals, in some cases gifted, warm-hearted, and thoroughly promising samples of what humanity is capable of, which… is weird. People who simultaneously appear to be on a journey of growth and improvement, and also appear to be mired in negative assumptions and self-loathing. That’s a lot to take over a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. (Personally, I’d rather not have to wade through all that suffering; I’d rather have brunch.)

I find myself wanting to answer each such post. To correct the thinking errors. To correct the mis-assumptions. To fact-check. To lift people up, by giving them tools to prevent themselves from drowning in their own bullshit. It’s not that easy, is it? A lot of people are ever so carefully crafting that experience. Building the narrative that supports it, with great care. Seeking emotional support and feedback from others who will nurture the suffering – instead of nurturing that human being who is their friend. Drama creeps in from the edges pretty quickly. I breathe. Let each one go. That is my own challenge; to refrain from reacting to each new outrageous self-deceit posted by a friend. Sometimes, attempting to correct these things only reinforces them by way of repetition and sharing. (See? We have learned something from social media!)

For fuck’s sake, people, try not to hate yourselves. Let go of hating each other, too. Try to assume positive intent. Oh, I know, you’ve been hurt – or soaked up the residual lessons resulting from the hurts your parents and community perceive, invent, or celebrate. (Quick aside for the white people in the room; no, this doesn’t get us off the hook for being aware of our privilege, or make it okay to shrug off generations of abuses delivered to others, or in any way defend the heinous institutions and practices that have held back our brothers and sisters of color. You’ll want to let that go, too – real wrongs definitely do need to be made right, and I am calling bullshit on racism, sexism, and xenophobia, just in general.) It’s time to let go of treating yourself like shit. That’s what I’m saying.

If nothing else, don’t be a dick. Not to yourself. Not to other people. Not – perhaps especially not – because you think it’s “just a joke”. When the humor comes at the expense of someone else’s injury, it’s not funny. If you’re laughing at other people’s pain, maybe spend some money on therapy instead? Sort that shit out. Why do I care? Because when we treat ourselves poorly, mock others for our amusement, and allow the world to strip away our humanity, we create a shitty experience for everyone involved. Why does it even have to be like that? Truth: it doesn’t. We can each choose differently.

My friends are all – each and every one – so special to me. I see your charm, your wit, your heart. I enjoy your merry laughter, your presence, and your forward momentum in life. I worry when you are in distress. I celebrate when you triumph over adversity. I celebrate your milestones. Your self-loathing? I’m betting neither of us really benefit from that. Maybe consider letting that go? You are so worthy. ❤

Really? You only need to begin again. Like, but a whole lot of times, probably, and yeah, it’s a slow transformation. It’s there for you, though. So am I.

It’s a journey with a lot of stairs to climb…

It’s come up a number of times as I transition out of this job, and certainly it has come up any number of times, an uncountable number of times, in life, generally; we don’t know what we don’t know. None of us do. I certainly don’t know what I don’t know. Demonstrably so. My colleagues don’t know what they don’t know. I can prove it.

I considered writing in detail about the painful professional reminders of this fairly predictable conundrum, but quickly tired of the mundanity of an experience I am living right now, and am also already so over. When we dismiss or diminish the hard-won experience and expertise of a friend or loved one (or colleague), we also undermine their interest in remaining emotionally invested in supporting our needs. That’s just real. Respect, consideration, listening to the answers to questions that are asked, taking time to be thoughtful and studious about information our experienced, expert, associates are willing to share with us, are great ways to demonstrate our appreciation, and to ensure their time is not wasted on us. Time is precious and limited.

Yes, it matters. We don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t. We literally can’t grasp the vastness of the information we just don’t have. Ideas we’ve never been exposed to. The potential negative consequences of the things we do not understand, or are not aware of. Showing consideration and respect for those among us who do know something more, and are willing to share that with us, is just an element of what could be called “common decency”.

Put down your opinion along with your ego for a moment, and be open to the idea that not only do you “not know everything” (easy enough to accept, generally), but also that there are others who do know more (a bit harder sometimes, perhaps). Our opinions don’t amount to knowledge. That can be so hard to accept. It’s still true. You want to be the expert? Gain the experience. Study. Gain the knowledge. Use it. Gain more experience. Fail some. Try things. Study more. Seek credentials where credentials are appropriate. Study more. Use that knowledge. Try more things. Ask new questions. Learn more things. See where this is going? You may have an opinion you feel strongly about, but unless your opinion is validated in some way, and proves to be quite correct, it has nothing whatsoever to do with “knowledge” and certainly nothing to do with expertise. Opinions, however firmly held, do not amount to facts – nor are they an assurance of understanding.

It’s okay not knowing. It predicts nothing about the future state of one’s knowledge or expertise; these are things that can be learned. We become what we practice. You want to be the expert? Gain some experience, seek knowledge. There are verbs involved. In the meantime, maybe get comfortable with the expertise of others. Ask them what they know. Listen when they tell you. Don’t assume that the appearance of ease is any indication that something is easy – maybe it is just well-practiced?

We can’t know what we don’t know – but we can pay attention, be open to learning, be willing to study. And we can begin again. 🙂

There are other voices than mine. There are other lived truths than the truth I live myself. There are other perspectives, other viewpoints, other angles from which to consider each very human moment. There are other tales to tell, told by other travelers. Each existing alongside all the others, their existence, itself, does nothing to diminish the truth of the others; these are narratives. Subjective experiences of being human, in all its wonder, glory, pain, and joy. I tell mine here, my way. 🙂

A friend posted on Facebook recently that she is undertaking her own healing journey, walking that hard mile, processing trauma, seeking healing, and that she had started a blog. She started a group, to post to, understanding that perhaps not everyone wants to share that journey with her. I appreciate the consideration. I respect the journey; I’ve been on my own such journey for a while now. I reflected back on that moment when I decided to start a journey, and a blog, and considered how that “went down”, and the reactions I’d gotten at that time, from friends and loved ones (a fairly discouraging mix of disinterest, distance, and patronizing comments, generally, and a couple folks sincerely interested in being supportive). I asked myself, explicitly, “how do I want to ‘be there’ for my friend, and her experience, right now?”

I provided a reply I hoped would be welcoming and supportive, and accepted the request to join her group. Why would I not? Reluctance to be triggered? I grant you; it’s a risk. (People in my life spend a lot of time opening up to me about trauma, as it is. I’ve survived it so far.) People need to feel heard. They need emotionally secure relationships in which to open up about what hurts them. Me, too. Can I “be there” to support that? Of course I can. It’s on me to set and manage my boundaries, if it gets to be too much, and even that is a way of being there for a friend or loved one, setting that powerful example that it is also okay to set boundaries, and showing what that looks like, in practice. Practice. Yeah – and also, because I, too, am entirely made of human, I need practice, myself. Practice at listening deeply. Practice at maintaining perspective on past trauma. Practice understanding that we each walk our own hard mile. Practice at “being there” for others. Practice, frankly, at being the woman I most want to be – in every interaction, every moment, on every day. Words are just words. It’s the verbs that make changes come to life. It’s what we practice that matters; we become what we practice.

This morning I read the first of her posts (that I’ve read). I savored her voice. The difference in her style of communication. I read from a place of non-judgmental acceptance, and non-attachment. Her tale is not my tale, however similar some details may seem; she is having her own experience. I listen with empathy, consideration, compassion. I listen deeply. I recognize her humanity, her unique experience. I acknowledge the human experience beyond the words. I nod quietly, more than once. “I know you,” I think to myself. Still, I also allow her her moment; we are individuals, with our own experiences, our own pain. We’re in very different places on our individual journeys. That doesn’t matter as much as “being there” – being present, aware, and compassionate – because although we are each having our own experiences, we’re also “all in this together”. I sip my coffee and contemplate the journey stretching ahead of her.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs. Begin again.

I woke up to snowfall this morning. That wasn’t much of a surprise, honestly; weather forecasting has gotten pretty good over the years, as data sets build in size over generations of meteorological expertise also accumulated. Even in weather forecasting, incremental improvements over time are a thing. 🙂

My first look at winter storm “Maya”, before dawn. 

Rather a lot of snow for this area. Rather peculiarly late in the year, being, already, mid-February. I sip my coffee, which turned out rather poorly for some reason, and consider Winter. I think of my Traveling Partner, who headed out yesterday, late in the afternoon, to head south for a gig, and to pick up more of his stuff to continue the moving home process (almost completed). I missed him, some, within minutes of his departure, but also enjoyed the quiet, after a very busy week of moving things in, moving things around, and getting caught up and settled in together in shared living space long-term. It was a pleasant and deeply connected week. I sit for some minutes, reflecting on love, loving, and being loved.

This morning, the world quieted by a blanket of snow, alone with my coffee, I miss him much more.

I had made brunch plans with a friend, for this morning…lol.

…Doesn’t look like I’m going to brunch. Thanks, no, I’m good here at home. lol

Oh, I know, this “isn’t that much snow”. It’s only 4 inches or so, and lots of places in this country that wouldn’t even slow folks down. I get it. People here aren’t used to it, and they drive exactly as though they aren’t used to it; they don’t have the right skills (or gear) for these conditions, making driving doubly hazardous. The communities, by and large, at least in this metro area, also don’t do shit to clear the snow and ice from the roads, they just let it sit there until it is gone, mostly… which… yeah. Wtf? lol I don’t know. Not my circus, not my monkeys. What I do know is that it was a wise choice to do the grocery shopping yesterday, and to bring my laptop home with me from the office, Thursday after work. I’m well-prepared, even if I am stuck here for days.

I over think a detail, and step through the house turning faucets to drip very slowly, hoping to prevent any pipes from freezing. I don’t need that headache, for sure, and it is quite cold. 🙂

Daybreak unfolds, and the sky lightens. I notice small birds here and there, and get up to put out bird seed, peanuts, and dry corn, for my furred and feathered neighbors. Within a handful of minutes, it looks like a forest-creature version of Hometown Buffet on my deck. I sit with my coffee awhile, delighted with their presence, and pleased with my forethought while I was shopping yesterday.

Minutes later, visitors still coming and going, lots of kinds of tracks in the fresh snow.

Winter comes when it comes. It’s like a lot of things in life that may take us by surprise. We can be prepared for so much. Sometimes, we won’t be. Planning helps with that. Being aware of conditions is also a step toward wisdom, generally. Being willing to “take care of” a future we can’t see, with our choices in the moment, can definitely have the potential to turn disaster to mere circumstance, of little consequence. It’s not easy, though; there’s no map. No clear timeline of all the shit that could go wrong in life. Things change – and change again. All of this also applies to great good fortune, and circumstances that are wholly positive, and also characterized by change and upheaval. What are you going to do about it? Prepare skillfully, or just take that wild ride hoping for the best?

Last summer I bought de-icer for the driveway, even though I didn’t know if I would need it. On February 1st, I noticed it there, and found myself amused, because it really seemed, just then, a complete waste of money. 8 days later, snow everywhere, I’m pretty appreciative to have it; I’m likely going to need it. Same with the winter-strength washer fluid I put in the car. The upgraded all-weather tires, replaced in October, too – all part of preparing for a winter that seemed not to come, after all… until last night. I’m just saying; look ahead in life, as far as you are able. Go ahead and make room in your experience (and your budget) to take steps that will ease you into positive outcomes. Why not?

Winter comes when it comes. This is a metaphor.

Even when I haven’t had the financial resources to put a lot of money into such planning ahead, the reality is that there are not only helpful other things one can do, it’s also helpful simply to prepare my mind for those potential events. I don’t mean to suggest endlessly agonizing over shit that hasn’t happened, but could, getting all hung up and anxious over the future, which doesn’t exist yet outside our thoughts. Not at all. I’m suggesting simply allowing yourself to consider things, evaluate their likelihood, and be mentally (and where possible, logistically) prepared for the most likely of those.

The pay off in taking care of myself, both right here and now, and also looking ahead to support my needs over time, is that, this morning I am sipping hot coffee, warm, dry, and comfortable, with a well-stocked pantry, plenty of books to read, and a day ahead of me to enjoy at leisure. (I’m suddenly feeling, also, alarmingly privileged to be so well-supported by my planning – but also by my circumstances; I am fortunate, and yeah, that does matter, too. I take time to quietly contemplate what I can do, from right here, to help others who may not be so well situated on a cold winter day, instead of sitting on my ass contentedly enjoying gas heat, and a snow day. It’s a small world, and a smaller community, and we’re all in this together.)

My coffee is gone. The birdseed has been picked clean from the deck. It is daylight, and I hear an occasional car brave the steep hill of the road I live on. A new day starts here. 🙂

 

Another Monday finished off, in due time. Hardly a routine work day, and I could have easily arrived home in a completely shitty mood, after spending the last half of my work day struggling not to snarl at people (it was that sort of day).

I didn’t. I made other choices, although, honestly, I’m sort of tired now, and… just a tad uncertain which choices had what result. lol Choices were made, however, and some were made differently. New perspective? Different perspective. Close enough.

I got home tired. I’m not even bitching; it wasn’t a particularly long day, and I still have some evening ahead of me to relax, read, write, and do some things to support my own wellness and quality of life. It feels good. It’s a small thing, but keeping some of my focus on my own needs really does make a huge difference, and when I don’t – however worthy the reason, I eventually pay a price for it in a reduction in quality of life, health, emotional resilience, or some moment of aggravation blown out of proportion.

I sat down to write and found this:

…Has it been 6 years?

Funny thing, though… I mean… I write like I breathe (which is to say, reliably, most of the time, and without any particular effort or need to think about it, and fairly unavoidably; it’s part of my existence). How is 6 more years of writing actually an achievement? I nibble at my fairly nutritious dinner, and give that some thought.

6 years ago, I was walking a very different path.

6 years. 6 years of living life. Now that’s an achievement. 6 years of learning to love truly well. 6 years of sharing my heart and my moments with my Traveling Partner. Hell of an achievement right there; love takes some major verbs, done well. 6 years of forgiving myself. 6 years of forgiving others. 6 years of laughing at my own dumb jokes. 6 years spent doing more than crying. 6 years of hiking, camping, and pouring over maps of trails yet to be walked. Those are pretty cool achievements. 6 years of work I can be proud of. 6 years of lasting friendships, and new friends. Definitely some achievements in there. 6 years of more daydreams than nightmares – that’s a big achievement, most particularly because it has continued to improve over time. 🙂 6 years of practicing practices, sharing tales from a journey through a wilderness of chaos and damage, traveling in the twilight of evening light… and somehow, it seems a stroll through a sunny meadow much of the time, in year 6. That’s an achievement I don’t even know how to measure. Feels good.

So… yeah… I guess the tl;dr is “I registered on WordPress.com 6 years ago”. This may not be “happily ever after”… but it is pretty nice, generally. 🙂 I chose to make a change. That was an achievement. I’ve just kept making changes, and when I falter, I begin again. That’s an achievement. Thanks, WordPress.com, you’ve been a hell of a platform for change. 🙂

Still walking my path, paved with verbs and new beginnings, illuminated with love.