Archives for category: The Art of Being

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.

The morning begins gently. I’m packed. I check in with my Traveling Partner. I’ll be making the drive later today…

My thoughts get caught up in all the things that are not “now”, so quickly. I catch myself stressed about the drive, about the budget, about circumstances, about the news, about the world, about the fate of humanity… next thing I know, I’m not even enjoying my coffee. Shit.

I hit a mental restart button and begin again. Other thoughts. Other intentions. I have a glass of water. I do some yoga. I meditate. I remember something I meant to pack, get up, get it, pack it… and somehow I’m once again already living “later today”, instead of “now”. Well, crap.

I hit a mental restart button and begin again. I water the container garden on the deck, in the pre-dawn chill of a lovely Spring morning. I fill the bird feeders. I make my bed. I feel and breathe and enjoy this moment, right here. I feel my smile spread through my whole body, and my shoulders slowly slip back down where they properly belong; I hadn’t noticed they’d crept toward my ears with the stress of “forward thinking”. I smile, wondering how it is that we are so easily distracted by moments that are not now… and find myself, yet again, living in moments that are “later today” – and even tomorrow, next week, next month, next year… and yesterday, last week, last month, “this year so far”…

I hit that mental restart button still again, and smile at the clear requirement to start over, many times. It’s as if living present in this moment requires… practice. lol Practicing awareness. Practicing breathing. Practicing letting go of attachments. Practicing refraining from “throwing that second dart”. Practicing being present building on so many other practices. There are still verbs involved. I still have to take the actions, myself. My results still vary…

…It’s all still quite worth it. My life has improved a lot since 2013. πŸ™‚ How many times have I taken that breath, and whispered to myself “okay, so… begin again”? I haven’t counted. “How many times…?” isn’t a question I need to answer; it has nothing to do with this moment, right now. πŸ˜‰

It’s time to begin again.

 

“I need to find balance.” I woke with the sound of the words in my head, as if snatched from my dream. I may have said them aloud, and thus woke myself a moment ahead of the alarm. The sensation of the thought was as though I were a playful youngster, standing over the fulcrum of a see-saw on a playground, applying pressure first to one leg, then to the other, as the motion of the thing shifted back and forth, fairly ceaselessly. I felt no particular frustration, nor did it seem surprising that balance was only a goal, and did not seem achievable in any final way. It seemed quite practical and real that balance continued to be something to seek, to strive for, to pursue gently, with greater or lesser success from moment-to-moment, always ahead of me, never quite secured. I woke feeling quite settled and content, nonetheless.

I sip my coffee this morning, cold by intention. I give a moment of thought to a friend’s recent fairly successfully book release; no surprise, it’s a good book. I think about a manuscript of my own, ready for publication, quietly waiting for me to find balance.

I think a bit about work; balance is of value there, too.

I see another new doctor, today. I am hoping for a step forward in basic healthcare. Feeling hopeful, I attempt to sort out my thoughts for the appointment, and become aware of the amount of baggage I’ve been carrying around labeled “fuck doctors, fuck health care, fuck this headache”. I give myself some patience, a moment to be heard, and put some of that down, so I can start fresh with a new doctor (again), and maybe find balance.

Thinking about my appointment gets me thinking about my health, generally, which I sometimes think is “pretty good”, and other times figure is likely killing me in the background, while I’m sitting around watching Rick & Morty re-runs. 0_o Grim, right? Yeah, I could do better. There are so many verbs involved!! Finding balance, proper balance, between effort and stillness, stymies me. I let myself think over my missteps, and also celebrate moments of solidly good choices and forward progress. Again, balance. πŸ™‚

My work shift will be later today, after my appointment. My routines are broken, and I am even planning to head down south to see my Traveling Partner, leaving from work, on a Friday afternoon. (What am I thinking??) I want to spend more time with him. Miss him dreadfully. Two nights. A day. Morning coffee, then home again to do the work thing another week. I peek at my calendar as the thought crosses my mind. Next weekend I’ve got a weekend at home to rest, and to catch up on things here, again. Balance. It really does seem to work like a teeter totter or a seesaw. (Are those actually different things, at all?) Well… I guess it is progress that I over-correct less often. πŸ˜‰

One thing, then another, back and forth, a little here, or a little more over there, finding balance. It’s time to begin again.

In video games new levels sometimes look really different. Handy. It’s less obvious with birthdays. Sure, sure, I’m “a whole year older”, but that work is behind me now, and 55 is basically all but one day entirely ahead of me. Everything looks entirely the same. πŸ™‚

Perspective on the day. A familiar view.

I had things planned that took me downtown in the morning. Those plans toppled like carefully arranged dominoes, but not soon enough to spare me the trip. lol My day was entirely spent indulging myself gently from there, gardening, reading, and generally delighted with the lovely day from moment-to-moment. I missed my Traveling Partner, and far more the person, himself, than the gift he’d sent (that he had alerted me would likely not arrive in time). (I do like presents, but missing him is not about material things.)

It was a lovely day in the garden.

My mail carrier surprised me by being early. Packages. πŸ˜€ A gift from a friend, and a wee package from my Traveling Partner; his gift arrived on the very day. I eagerly opened them both. Earrings and a book. The earrings are lovely heart-shaped peridot earrings that sparkle in the sunshine, and go very nicely with my mop of messy layers and waves of colorful hair. The book is how I ended up spending much of the delightful day reading, trying in part to puzzle out why this book? A birthday mystery. lol

I did not end up readingΒ this book, but this is the book I was gifted. πŸ˜€

I spent the day gently, enjoying my own company. Time well-spent. Facebook filled with birthday well-wishes over the course of the day. Each “happy birthday” made me smile, and take note of the good wishes of my friends in a bigger way. My Mom phoned. We talked for about half an hour, really taking time to catch up. It was a great start to a new year, a new level. By the end of the day, plans that had gone awry were no longer part of the experience, at all. πŸ™‚ I spent the day very present, in my own experience, with myself. It was quite lovely. I find myself wondering how best to incorporate that into every day, into every experience with myself…? I’m betting there are verbs involved. lol No doubt it will require practice. πŸ™‚ I’ll probably need to begin again… a bunch of times. I could probably get started on that now…

…”Now” is an excellent time for beginnings. πŸ™‚

Well…

…55, eh? Okay, let’s do that, then. Hardly avoidable without drastic, unpleasant measures, easier – far easier – to go with it.Β  πŸ™‚

My plans today are fairly loose, and more “about me” than not. Some self-indulgence, some chill time, some phone calls, a walk in the woods, lunch out, some pampering, all suffused with the additional luxury of this being a “work day” in the middle of the week, which I’ve taken off for no purpose but to enjoy this moment celebrating my survival.

Birthday Flowers

I’ve made it to Level 55, y’all!!! OMG!

I made an unfortunately shitty cup of coffee after my shower this morning. I’m drinking it anyway. The mug is warm in my hands, and I’m frankly grateful for the luxuries of potable water, an electric kettle, and very fresh, carefully roasted, whole bean coffee. I mean, seriously, bitching about a less-than-ideally-well-made cup of coffee would amount to nothing more than inconsiderate rudeness to the woman (me) who took the time (mine) and made the effort (also mine) to make it in the first place. lol I suppose I could have dumped it out and started over. It just wasn’t that big a deal this morning… and I think maybe I get extra experience points to also enjoy this moment, present and aware – even aware of the less than excellent cup of coffee. πŸ˜€

This is a day on which I’ll spend considerable time reflecting on the “XP” accumulated along life’s journey. I’ll contemplate Level 54, and wonder if I missed really cool “side missions” that could have benefited my personal growth later on. Did I overlook any fun Easter eggs? Have I failed to appreciate the profundity of one circumstance or another? I’ll look ahead in the game play, as much as I am able, and try to sort out Level 55 before I get going in earnest… What does the map look like? Where are the obvious hazards? Which “short cuts” waste time and resources, and are best avoided? Are there known strategies that work better than others? What are my resources, my limitations, my skills – what is my plan? In every life-level, there is some moment, or event, or “bad guy” to conquer (there’s a reason games are a great metaphor for living)… what form will it take? What will the important lessons turn out to be?

In the game of life, we don’t really get to repeat a level…but… it’s possible to half-ass a level so thoroughly that very little is gained (or even to “fail” it at great cost to ourselves), or find we’ve wasted our time such that we don’t really have any XP to show for it at all, and just sort of ooze over the finish line into the next level without much in the way of progress. We can’t really level up prematurely, either, but we can gain so much XP in a single level that the level becomes peculiarly, radically transformative. Sometimes we expect levels to have that kind of importance… 18… 21… 30… 40… and sometimes they don’t, in spite of our expectations (lookin’ your way, 40). 55? This isn’t a level people spend much time talking about… I wonder what surprises await me?

…55 doesn’t seem particularly noteworthy, aside from simply being here; as a much younger woman, I did not anticipate getting this far in the game. 55, from the perspective of 20, seemed “old” (in spite of being only 35 levels ahead of me)… now it just seems… well, not old, that’s for sure. I wonder where the day – and this level – will take me? So far, at approximately 2 hours of game play on this level (already)… it’s a level full of questions, and speculation, and it’s not very difficult (yet). LOL

There is this lovely day ahead of me, a blue sky overhead, birdsong, sunshine, and plans for lunch. It’s a good start. I guess I’m ready to press “Start” and begin again…