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The text this morning was to the point, although not as abrupt as I imply in the title of this post. I feel grateful that my sister is right there, with our Mother. For a moment, I imagine this stern, strong, witty woman who raised me, pushing her chair back from a crowded card table, folding a less than ideal hand, and heading into the kitchen to refresh drinks. That memory is of a lifetime ago, in a far away place, disconnected from my experience of “here” and “now”. Do I want her to “hear my voice”? “Non-responsive” doesn’t sound like she’s likely to register voices… we’ve spoken recently, and regularly – is it enough?

…We don’t have a “Book of the Dead”, in our culture… It’s a strange random thought, a forerunner to intense grief.

There are tears in my eyes. I resent them; it’s too soon. Life stretches ahead of me, while I reach my thoughts – and my heart – across great distance. Imagining her as I remember her best; in her late 30s, in her early 40s. Strong. Determined. No bullshit. Rapier wit. Iron will. I observe the characteristics in myself that I most likely got from her; my tenacious loyalty. My intellect. My commitment to being a good provider. My reluctance to walk away from a bad decision. My willingness to hide my emotions for far too long. My laugh. That same laugh that her Mother had, too. I hear Granny’s laugh in my recollection. I feel, for a moment, my Mother’s warmth – like summertime in my heart. I sip my coffee and celebrate this woman who made me.

…Grieving comes soon enough. It’s important to examine those cherished moments as treasures, with great delight, and excessive merriment, and not allow the tears to wash those away. They matter so much more than the tears ever could.

Life didn’t have a map – you did okay with that, Mom. No reason to expect death to be more difficult to master; in a sense, we prepare for it all our lives, don’t we? Striving, clinging – and learning to let go. Good fold, Mom. Safe travels.

You are part of me. My journey began with you.

I sit quietly with my coffee, remembering life with my Mom. My “origin story”. Some details are fuzzy, others crystal clear. Some moments remain painful to this day, others bring me immediate joy when I recall them. One thing is certain; she will not be forgotten. Tears later. Coffee now. I wish she were sitting here, sharing that with me, right now; I have so much to ask, and now there is no time… 

I woke up to the alarm. Showered quickly. Made my coffee.

…Something missing this morning… something… work, life, time, things, and stuff… what does this moment need? Momentum. Cue playlist. lol I haven’t felt like dancing in the morning for quite a while… this morning, the thought of the work ahead of me today and the hints of the day to come in the changing pre-dawn light slipping between the blinds in my studio mix together and create a moment that just begs for a soundtrack. One sec… I got this. LOL

…How many of those somewhat invisible middle-aged folks around us, and even our elders, are listening to something we might be surprised by, if we slowed down enough to be present and connect? Appearances are only that. Assumptions are a joy killer. Great shared moments are built on presence. 😀

My choices. My playlist. My coffee. My moment. 😉

Life is bigger than “mine”, though, isn’t it? That’s true, too. I smile in the face of 56. I sip coffee quietly before dawn. I am having my own experience – and we’re all in this together. I decide to “change the channel” on the morning, and restart, perhaps a different journey? I scroll a moment, and find just what I’m looking for… right here. Yeah… better. 🙂

…Slow down. 🙂

Hey there, Summer. I hear your footsteps approaching softly, sneaking up on the balmy dawn, just days before the Solstice. Roses blooming everywhere. It’s hard to consider the work day ahead, when the deck, the rose garden, and the sunrise are just over there… out of reach of this moment, and this cup of coffee. 🙂

The blue skies aren’t my doing; how I choose to face the day, is.

I sip my coffee. Breathe. Embrace this moment – and the moments ahead. I let go of the moments that are behind me. I remind myself to call my mother, later. I feel summer coming. I smile. The music keeps playing. One moment of many, this one as good as the next, generally. I notice it with a measure of astonishment; how far has this journey come? 6 years ago, even “contentment” was not a given – I was working my ass off to figure myself out, to find my way, to build a life that could, just maybe, for a moment, be worth living. Did I notice when I got here? I think it is more likely I struggled, fussed, and filled my days with the things I understood most, even then; the chaos and damage, the drama, the bullshit and baggage… and one thing I didn’t necessarily understand, but seemed to be doing something useful; all that practicing of practices. Meditation. No kidding, it really has made that much difference. A journey spanning a lifetime, and cover the distance between despair – crying every day, emotionally raw, unbalanced, disordered, and woeful – and this place, here; generally content, sometimes happy, rarely crying (so rare), easy. Man, I do love “easy”. 😀

I notice the time. I finish my coffee. I begin again. 🙂

 

It seems worth saying as simply as possible; if life is a journey, then perhaps our wrong turns show is more than our journey would otherwise reveal, and require only observation, consideration, and a course correction to put us back on the path that leads us to our destination?

Waiting for a train is faster than walking, but so few of the choices regarding the route are left for me to make…

Where does your path lead? Is it a destination in life you have specifically chosen? What is holding you back from the journey you most want to make?

Maybe it’s time to begin again?

It’s lovely to have a best friend, a devoted lover, a close social circle – someone to count on. No argument, it’s amazing to have all those things. Sometimes we don’t. We also don’t have to wither away and die of loneliness and heartbreak when we are alone. For real.

Treat yourself as well as you would treat your best friend, your devoted lover, your close social connections. Treat yourself with kindness. Patience. Affection. No kidding – be there for yourself, and become that person you can always count on. I so dislike pointing it out again; you have choices here. You can choose to be that best friend that you need, and become that person you can “always count on” – or you can choose some other path. Yep. There are verbs involved – and the uncomfortable matter of learning to trust yourself with your own heart. Learning to listen to yourself, deeply. Learning to hold yourself in high regard – that one can take a bit of work, if you’ve been crushing yourself with nastiness from within, for many years. It does take some practice to change the way we treat ourselves.

This practice is a bit tricky – self-indulgence doesn’t meet the need. Lavishly going beyond your means, also isn’t how it’s done, generally speaking. It’s a subtle thing, more about appreciating who you are right now, and supporting your endeavors to improve, and continue to become the person you legitimately most want to be. Already that person? Then this wee practice is probably already part of your experience.

This practice could be called “enjoy who you are” – I mean, that’s what I’m talking about. Be you. Appreciate your qualities. Embrace the best you have to offer the world, however humble. Become more of the best things you are, and grow some new great qualities over time. It’s that easy – it’s also that hard. I mean, what if a characteristic you yearn for is to be exquisitely good at math, or skilled at a number of languages? The study could take you quite a lot of time. Like a lot of New Year’s resolutions, and “fresh starts”, it’s easy to set the goal too high, too far, or too much, then frustrate yourself, and end up yielding to your frustration and giving up. “See? I knew I…” That’s both too easy, and too obvious a ploy. 🙂

Start here, now, today. Start where you are. Start with what you do enjoy about this human being that you are – even if it is so small and delicate as to be more a question than an observation. 🙂 It’s okay – you’re safe with you. You can trust you. Enjoy that enjoyable thing about you for a moment or two – seriously! Just enjoy you own presence in your experience. Sit with that awhile. In fact, do that every day; take a moment to enjoy you. Some little quality, or experience of living life, that you enjoy, can become the magic carpet that carries you into a lovely day. Follow it up with cutting yourself some slack when you make a mistake. Fix that shit, let it go, and move on.

Be kind to yourself. Also – be genuine and honest with yourself. (Not mean, just gently honest.) Take small steps toward large goals, and be considerate that journeys may require going some actual distance, and take some actual time.

Those people around you who like you? They know something worth knowing – how worthy you are. Those people around you who don’t like you? Hey, you’re an acquired taste, a being so entirely yourself that liking you isn’t for everyone. Could you be different or other than you are? Sure. Do you want to? I mean… if you don’t want to change, great – like yourself and let go of drama. On the other hand, sitting around pissing and moaning with self-loathing and self-contempt are not just huge buzzkills, socially, they also waste precious time that could be spent enjoying life. Choices. Verbs. Journeys. All for you. 🙂

It’s time to begin again.

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. 🙂