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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. 🙂

Someone else’s powerful poetry serves this moment up to me, this morning. (Thanks, David Bowie.)

Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for
And my time was runnin’ wild
A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
How the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Surfing the waves of joy and anxiety crashing over my consciousness this morning, celebrating change, reveling in agency, and…but… yeah, also having to manage the anxiety that comes with full throttle adulthood in real-time. Scary. Deliciously unpredictable. My sleep is disrupted, and I woke groggy from having too much to dream. I’m already walking that fine line between “enough coffee” and “what the fuck was I thinking having all that coffee?”

Choosing to make a job change (or career change, depending on how those words are defined, but either way, a change of employer) feels a bit strange and disorienting in this moment. It’s “the right move” for me right now, a good choice, based on sound decision-making (from the only perspective I have in this moment, which is… this perspective, now). Still, willfully acting on that perspective, taking full advantage of personal agency, and acting with clarity of purpose in the context of living the life I want to live, that supports my long-term needs and goals, still shakes me up a bit, and causes me considerable anxiety. Maybe it always will. The anxiety isn’t stopping me; this feels right. A good practice; don’t take my emotions as facts upon which decisions must be made.

…It’s still sort of nerve-wracking, now and then. Small stressors loom larger than they need to be. I find myself sort of “holding my own hand” now and then, and seeking out favored colleagues for moments of connection, sharing, and support. Taking time to acknowledge their importance and value to me before I leave really meets some needs, for me, and seems to for them as well. A good practice; connect with people. Authentically. Even, if I dare to use such words in the context of work, tenderly. With care. Consideration. Gratitude. Joy.

It’s a slow sort of celebration. There’ll be a few days between the one and the other, which I definitely need in order to ensure that I leave any baggage and old business behind, before I start on a new adventure. Another good practice; get my head right, let go of baggage.

I’m taking myself seriously – but not taking my bullshit personally. 🙂 Or, at the moment, anyone else’s. It feels pretty nice, overall. Each dawn brings a new beginning… some beginnings are bigger than others. Some are chosen with great care. Some are simply circumstances presenting opportunities. Some are all those things.

Grab your map, and let’s get going! This journey won’t complete itself. This hard mile won’t be walked without feet on the ground!

Ultimately, we each choose our own path…

Wait…what? No map?

A favorite trail was flooded. It was necessary to choose another way.

No map. Not really, no. There is no map besides the map we create ourselves as we take our journey through life. We get by on some advice, hopefully choosing wisely which advice to heed, because… it’s not all worth having. It’s a noisy din of bullshit, woo, and well-intended platitudes, ringing in our ears any time we seek help, and it remains up to us, broken, fragile, confused, angry, held back, frustrated, afraid… yeah, we’ve still got to sort out which advice becomes a next step, and which advice becomes… something other than that. lol

Every day I try to face some piece of who I am, something less than satisfying about the way I live my life, something that still frustrates me, or leaves me feeling diminished to allow it to continue – I make a point of working on that. Growth and change don’t generally spring forth as wholly satisfying solutions without a significant measure of discomfort, and yeah, sometimes loss. It can be quite painful to face the person in the mirror, yet again, over bullshit I thought I’d addressed quite satisfactorily, only to find that it’s still a challenge. So very human. It’s the “why” behind my attention turning to beginning again, to self-acceptance, to self-awareness, reflection, and iterations of incremental change over time, versus the “flip a switch” model of self-improvement, which I’ve found, myself, has limited utility; some stuff just doesn’t work that way, in practice….

…Because that’s what a lot of willful, desired, deliberate, chosen changes require; practice. I choose a direction. I take a step. I fall. I fail. I get up and renew my efforts (and my will). I begin again. The cycle repeats. Each iteration, with practice, new behavior (and it is about behavior, in this case) becomes somewhat easier, and more natural. We become what we practice. There is no need to “fake it until you make it”; I’ve found it quite sufficient to be authentic with my experience, and openly admit it when new behavior is uncomfortable, and I am frank when new behavior is part of a future experience of self that I am embracing (“sorry about any awkwardness!”). We’re all way to hung up on looking like we’ve already mastered this shit. We have not. 😀

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

Our own need to feel like “we’ve got this” sometimes prevents us from being open to change, to learning new ways, to feeling safe enough to admit our mistakes and embraces a radical departure from who we once were, to become someone we would much prefer to be. Harsh. Vulnerable is also sort of scary, sometimes.

I sip my coffee and think about a friend who has recently undertaken to address his problematic relationship with anger, and to improve upon the way he treats others, particularly in intimate relationships (actually, I have several friends, all taking this particular profound individual journey, as well as it being one of my own). I fret over his pain, and his despair. I silently consider how far I have come myself, and feel certain kinship, sympathy, and understanding. Different journey. Different lives. Still… a shared emotional experience; we all face anger at some point. Anger is a badass motherfucker of an emotion, easily weaponized, difficult to control skillfully, useful in some limited capacities, a burden in many other circumstances… Anger is a hard one. Anger is the Boss demon among the cohort of personal demons that many of us face.

Life isn’t all logic and reason; we are emotional beings. It only makes sense to invest time and study in such an important part of our experience.

Emotions are not our enemies. Even anger has its place and a purpose in our experience. It’s our behavior when we react with anger leading the way that becomes problematic, inappropriate, hurtful, or even criminal. The good news there? Behavior can be corrected through practicing different behavior. No kidding. Hell of a short cut to change right there. Think about that; the difference between healthy anger, and unhealthy anger is purely a matter of behavior while angry. Change the behavior. Commit to that change. Practice other behavior. Keep at it. Practice more. Over time, not only is the behavior changed – so is the thinking. No kidding. Sure, there are probably fancier approaches to making a change of this sort, but this one is within reach for literally anyone at all.

Still though… I’ll just say this… if your issues with anger result in you being actually violent, actually emotionally abusive, and/or actually explosive of temperament in a scary way for people (trust them when they tell you so, they are not kidding), please also consider getting some professional help. I love that you want to change. I encourage you to do so. I also recognize that this shit is difficult, and you may appreciate having some support (that in all reasonableness can’t be the responsibility of your friends, family, or loves). 🙂

Where you find yourself in life largely depends on the choices you make along the way.

My Traveling Partner sleeps in the other room. I am content, and warmed through and through by Love. It’s quite wonderful, and I am so grateful my journey has brought me here. Every prior long-term relationship of mine resulted, at some point, in actual violence against me – other than this one. This singular love, right here, has worked well on a foundation of mutual respect and consideration, and an understanding that raised voices are already an excessive transgression against self, and a violation of Love; anything further would be simply inexcusable. Having accepted non-violence, together, we’ve enjoyed our years together without inviting violence to our shared experience. I am pleased with my part in that, and grateful to my partner for the part he plays, as well. There are verbs involved. There are choices. We make choices every day to speak gently, to take a step back when we feel provoked, to acknowledge emotion without allowing emotion to call all the shots, to hear ourselves and to hear each other, and to respect each other’s experience without fusing with it… everyday work, everyday consideration, everyday respect. Loving each other, while also respecting (and valuing) each other’s agency. How love works (your results may vary). 🙂

Is love a journey or a destination? Or… is love a verb?

I love that paragraph. I feel well-loved, and unafraid in my home. There was definitely work getting here, and a measure of that work was ending relationships with lovers, partners, and friends, who were committed to violence, or unwilling to accept that their behavior, or words, could be received as violence, and unwilling to change their behavior. No point insisting, really; agency matters. I don’t have to insist on change – and I can’t “make” someone choose it. What I can do, and must, and have, is walk on from relationships in which my needs are not valued, or my agency not respected. I can walk on from violence, and choose another path. I can – and I have. 🙂

Not gonna lie… lots of verbs… lots of practice. Sometimes some major logistical losses. Worth the effort. Worth the choice to care for myself.

Are you ready to begin again? You are your own cartographer. It’s time to get started on a new map. 🙂

The map is not the world…but the journey may be the destination.