Archives for category: War and News of War

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” (a damned lie from childhood; some of that shit stings for a lifetime)

“That’s just semantics.” (A corporate management professional who should know better)

“I didn’t mean it that way!” (Nearly everyone, at some point)

Words and meaning – they do matter, don’t they? It’s how we get our point across (short of frustrated sobbing, or shouting, at which point no one hears the meaning over the volume of emotion).

“Use your words.” (A thing generally said parent to child, and potentially far more useful that a lot of other advice about words one could hear)

The point here is clear; gentle honesty, authentic civility, being “real” without willful offense, being truthful – and also accurate – seem wise and purposeful, constructive, ways to use language, on the “word delivery” side of things. I’m not saying people seem intent on wise use of their words, I’m just calling out the potential. We’re human primates; it is not unusual to see the worst of our nature. (I make this observation on an Easter Sunday, after reading new reports of police shootings in the US, and suicide bombings in Sri Lanka; we’re the scariest and most dangerous of all the primates, no doubt about it. 100% “most likely to destroy their own world.”)

I’m also contemplating the listener’s obligations in the face of some torrent of untruthful or hurtful bullshit, delivered in the form of words (spoken or in print, bullshit is bullshit). Clear, explicit communication is useful stuff; we sometimes allow a personal agenda of some kind (or fearfulness, or baggage) to nudge us away from truth, accuracy, consideration, necessity, kindness, and wisdom. Capable of spewing some heinous vile nonsense, we often also seem rather unprepared to deal with receiving it. What then? What to do when the world piles on, and we suffer the weight and the pain of it, feeling unable to defend ourselves, feeling compelled to try?

I’m not sure I have the best advice on that one; my tendency (and my practice) is to detect drama (or bullshit) and, if possible, walk away from all that. I attempt to avoid having drama-prone, hostile-seeming, or trolling-inclined associates join my social circle in the first place. I attempt to defuse discussions headed toward drama, explicitly, gentle, firmly, and without argument; I’m not interested in loosing the wild dogs of emotion in conversations that are ideally handled less passionately. I’m not interested in being provoked.

The world we live in can be exceedingly provocative, in all the worst ways. I mean, seriously? We’ve built a world in which people feel entitled to make their point by blowing up explosives in crowded places, taking innocent lives by way of gunfire, or using torture. How does any of that not provoke decent people (of all backgrounds and ideologies) into wanting to fight back, to insist on change, to reject the thinking that appears to be at the source of the violence? It’s a strange paradox, though; if we become the fighter, and take to the battlefield, we are immediately at grave risk of becoming that thing we so despise. I don’t have answers this morning… I’m just sipping my coffee, and noticing we have so many better ways to express ourselves, than by way of guns and bombs.

We could each do better. We can all begin again.

In December, 2015, shortly after I moved out from a shared living arrangement with my partners at the time (one of those being my “forever Love”, my Traveling Partner), I wrote the post below, which somehow I never published. No idea why now, seems a perfectly adequate bit of writing. Considering I would have likely been reluctant to cause drama for him with careless words, it may have been the concern that she might still be reading my blog had caused me a moment of doubt, some second thoughts, and into the Draft heap it went. Looking for a shortcut, or a way to jump start my thoughts, this morning, I found it, and read it with “new eyes”. 🙂

It Ain’t Me, Babe (December, 20th, 2015)

I spent much of the day in the company of my traveling partner. We had a great time, generally speaking, although he arrived burdened by hurt, and the OPD [Other People’s Drama] of his other, rather difficult, relationship. My place is a drama-free zone, and I welcomed him in with open arms when I opened the door on his unexpected knock. We watched cartoons – appropriate for a Sunday morning, I think – drank coffee, shared laughs, and lingered long in the warmth of cherished company. Lunch came and went. Eventually, when the gloom of evening suggested it might make an appearance some time soon, my partner went on ‘home’ – that physical space where he is currently sleeping at night.

I spent time contemplating things he said, the emotional content of his experience, and his distress. I thought back on moving here to Number 27 in May, and the heavy burden weighing me down thinking so much of what we were all going through was some how ‘my fault’ – that my chaos and damage ‘is too much’ for any relationship to endure. I put myself through a lot over it. Perspective being what it is, so much of that, then, didn’t actually have that much to do with me at all. It’s more obvious now. It’s a lot more obvious right now.

I continue practicing good practices, learning to love well, and incrementally over time I am becoming the woman I most want to be. It turns out, as things so often do, that I wasn’t ‘the bad guy’ in the complicated tangle of … yeah… all of that. And then some. I wasn’t ‘the guilty party’, or some sinister figure, I wasn’t even the charming antagonist of the tale, the one that you know is entirely wholly in the wrong but just so damned charming. I was – and am – just a person. A human being, subject to emotional volatility and misjudgment, prone to taking things personally and hurt feelings, and able to leap to tall conclusions with no data at all – all very true. Looking back on that living arrangement then, from the perspective of ‘right now’ – yeah. That? That wasn’t about me at all, not even a little bit. We were each having our own experience. We continue to do so, now.

It’s hard to watch human beings struggle, even from a distance, and especially when it’s someone dear. Like a commuter stuck in traffic worsened by an accident up ahead, I am torn between compassionate concern for the injured and my own experience of being inconvenienced along my way; in this case, the drama seems precisely timed to interfere with a lovely joyful holiday in the company of my dear love. It’s pretty hard to avoid taking it personally – but I am stopped in my tracks immediately, being far more concerned about my partner’s safety and well-being; caring for the hearts of real people and treating each other well on life’s journey is more important than any perceived destination, or any planned outcome.

I take a moment to also observe that my partner’s stress today and the particulars of his difficult circumstances didn’t set off my PTSD – that’s a small handful of words to describe something of great personal importance. It’s actually a pretty big deal to sit here, concerned about my partner and a bit worried, but also able to have that experience without being torn apart by my emotions, or so overwhelmed I can’t function or make use of reason. Neither agitated nor immobilized, I am simply aware. Incremental change over time is a thing. 🙂

I take some deep breaths, and make some time to let it all go for a while to meditate. I am okay right now. That matters. I am so much more able to provide a partner with the emotional support needed, when I am taking good care of myself… And there’s one thing I don’t know right now; I don’t know what comes next on this complicated journey, or how much of my strength will be needed on a moment’s notice. I’m ready with what I’ve got. It’s no small thing; it’s enough.

I’m feeling pretty fortunate this morning, and definitely wrapped in enduring love. It isn’t always the easy choice to walk away from a bad situation – for anyone. We cling to what we know. We cling to our illusion of Love, fearful that it may be all there really is. We cling to a promise in the face of our awareness of how human we are, ourselves. We cling to the thinnest hope – because the unknown, the real, and the unscripted outcomes of our own free will can be terrifyingly uncertain, and omg we do love certainty so very much. lol

I have 3 “X’s” – relationships so wrong for me, that there was actual danger to my life, health, safety, and emotional well-being. I am grateful that I walked away from each one, with as little damage as I did choose to endure. I phrase it that way because I did indeed make choices. Each subsequent poor relationship appeared promising at some point… each one also boasted huge red flags and “warning signs” that were more like full sized air raid sirens placed as ear muffs. I chose to look at the promises and ignore the klaxons, which is sort of odd, considering our minds are generally wired to avoid threats and danger, when recognized. It took me awhile to realize I needed to walk away.

“It wasn’t all bad…” my memory attempts to reflect on the best times in those relationships. Of course it wasn’t “all bad” – that’s why it was difficult. Nonetheless, 5 minutes of good times don’t balance the scales when what is on the other side are broken bones, a broken mind, or a broken heart. Just saying. One apology after another doesn’t change the behavior that created the need to make the apology.

I sip my coffee, considering all of it; a river of life and choices, a walking path, a journey that stretches behind me – I have come so far! The path leads ahead, too, and I don’t know what is beyond the next bend. Another challenge, surely. I hear my Traveling Partner’s soft breathing in the other room. We share space easily, and speak of contentment and joy together. It’s a nice life. It’s very early, now. I am awake, writing, drinking coffee, and he sleeps. We have our own ways, and don’t mind that about each other; where our hours and presence overlap, we exist in shared time and space. Where we wander from each other, we do what we do, and return home to share a traveler’s tales, and make merry. I silently wish him well in our safe haven, our wee corner of the world, and I wish him pleasant dreams of being ever wrapped in Love. I smile, sip my coffee feeling safe, and content.

Another day begins, and with it, I also begin again. 🙂

“You’re not alone in this,” I whispered to myself when I woke a tad ahead of the alarm. Startled out of sleeping by a sensation of choking. Of being choked. That invisible hand wasn’t “real” – outside my nightmares. I made coffee. My coffee is good. Meditation calmed me quickly; there was a time it would have taken longer, and required more attempts. Progress.

…I sometimes find I need a… score. A theme song. A soundtrack. This morning I stride across a metaphysical battlefield, Monster Slayer, Demon Killer, just a general Wednesday-morning-got-a-job-to-do, bad ass. A theme song would be good here… something… Oh. This works nicely. Stand down, monsters, you have no power over me. Not today. 🙂

At this point, it’s an ordinary Wednesday morning. 😀

No kidding, though, giving my personal inner demons a face, and a way to constructively face them “outside myself” has been a helpful way to get a grip on some of my challenges in life. I’ve far fewer “inner demons” to deal with these days. (Maybe they don’t like the music I play? 😉 )

Every demon – every day – a new battle, a new battlefield. Still, as demons go, fighting the ones that are built purely on my subjective experience of life, and live entirely within my own head, are surely the easiest ones to slay with music? lol I enjoy the practice of imagining myself at my strongest, my most capable, of savoring my successes, of bringing my strengths into my self-awareness when I am feeling attacked from within. This morning, my inner bad ass has her combat boots on. “You ready, Battle?” I ask myself. The answer? “Fuck yeah. I got this!”

I’m ready to begin again.

It’s a question worth asking, I think. It’s at least worth reflecting upon it, asking it of yourself, and perhaps even being prepared that this could eventually be a thing you have to wrap your head around; what if you had to completely start over – with nothing?

Where you would begin in life, if you had to begin again on an entirely different level? What if you lost everything, even losing your “way”, your sense of place in the world, your job, your home, your standing in the community? How to start over…? Where to begin…? What matters most?

What matters most?

If you’ve “lost everything”, it’s likely you still have something precious to count on… this moment. Here. Now. Maybe some choices? If you’ve already lost everything, you’ve also lost reasons to turn away from choices that could take you somewhere really new… that’s something. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, by itself, just the freedom to choose. Choose anything. To start from nothing and rebuild doesn’t sound at all pleasant, but once we’re on the other side of that “rip off the band-aid” moment of loss, isn’t it, potentially, all forward momentum?

For fuck’s sake, though, grieve if you’re hurting! Don’t mistake loss – and the emotions that it evokes – for anything more permanent than any other emotional experience, but do give yourself – and take – the time you need to heal and be okay! Impermanence is one thing, but please, oh please, don’t treat yourself harshly when you’re hurting. Feel your feelings. Be the best friend you may not feel you have, right now. Treat yourself with the consideration you’d give anyone else who is hurting. There’s no magic happy pill (no, really really there isn’t). Maybe it’ll be slow going to pull yourself out of whatever you are mired in right now… but you can.

Where would you begin, if it were you? A cup of coffee and a good book? A few minutes on a meditation cushion, a lovely view, the sound of breezes through tree tops? A few hours playing video games? A walk alone through a beautiful forest? I don’t know where you’d begin again… that one’s on you. I’ve gone without more than a few times. I lost a lot in life, and rebuilt a time or two; it’s why I refer to my lives in the plural, and reference “past lifetimes” – it really feels that way. lol I’m here, now, though, and I’m okay. Choices.

Yeah, but… circumstances, too. Don’t forget about the circumstances, right? Unavoidable, undebatable, immutable circumstances. Well, shit…

…Nah, I’m going to argue that one. Not gonna let that go. It’s an excuse to fail. Circumstances are circumstances; you still choose your adventure, still decide who you are as a human being, and you still have choices – how to act, how to react, what to say, how to treat people, how to treat yourself, where to go in life… all choices. Are you going to get handed some tiles in this game? Yep. It’s true. Starting points. From there; choices.

Choose wisely.

There’s much suffering in the world (and in my feeds), and I don’t much want to call it out, but some of it appears to be based on… choices. You can choose so much of your experience, and yes, even the suffering. Why choose to suffer?

We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

Damn, look at the time! It’s time to begin again. That’s a choice. ❤

My legs ache. I am contentedly fatigued from the effort of the weekend. Joyous effort. Heartfelt effort. Connected effort. The effort we make in life really matters; it’s how we get results. Well… I mean, sure, there’s “luck” of course. Good fortune puts a lot of folks on the path to one win or another, or general success in life, but let’s not kid ourselves about that; there’s a lot of effort that often isn’t seen, or shared. People – lots of people – go about the doing of things, often unnoticed by passers-by.

Sooner or later, however longingly I dream of hiking a particular trail, there’s no progress on making that a reality until boots hit the ground.

Start somewhere.

What’s your dream? Are you working on it?

What’s on your horizon? You are your own cartographer on this journey.

If you’re not working on your dream, realistically, how do you expect to achieve it? Pure intention? Casual assumption that gritting your teeth and firmly “manifesting” it will get you there? “The Universe” looking out for you… why? Someone’s going to hand it to you? Because you’re a great person? Seriously? So, I’m here with a short cut for you – and almost surefire not quite guaranteed path to success (your results will vary); make an effort. No kidding. Sucks, I know, right? Effort?? Like… actual work?

Are the obstacles you face truly as immediate and non-negotiable as you imagine them to be?

Our results are often closely correlated to the effort we make to attain them.

Whose advice are you taking? Sometimes the commandments we perceive as written in stone aren’t so permanent at all.

To put it in more practical terms…how many NFL players just happened to be spotted casually throwing a football around at some point in their life, having never played the game, and just happen to be so fucking fantastic that they are offered a deal on the spot? How many drivers are stopped at an intersection during their commute and offered an opportunity to compete in Formula One racing? One-time karaoke singers invited to perform at The Met? Let’s count carefully now…

…0. Probably. (I didn’t actually look all those scenarios up – if you find an example, I’d love the link to the narrative.)

The point is, if you want to be a professional football player, you’ll probably want to learn to play the game (as a starting point), and hey – maybe get really good at it. Most things work this way. You have to begin somewhere. Practice the thing. Become skilled. Go on to mastering the thing, or becoming in some fashion accomplished. Verbs. Effort. Action. Daydreaming doesn’t put pen to paper, brush to canvas, or a ball into the air.

Wherever it leads, the path we choose in life isn’t going to walk itself.

Hell, we don’t even get to rest on past glories for future successes; it is necessary to keep at it. Whatever it is. Effort. Fuck – I gotta say, that sounds like work. (It is.)

It isn’t always clear where a path leads, or how to reach a desired goal or destination in life. Sometimes talking about it helps.

I spent the weekend with my Traveling Partner. It was intensely connected and intimate, and we had deep conversations about things that feel important – emotional conversations that were not always easy, and could have wrecked a weekend, were we not the sort of partnership that thrives in an environment of authenticity and depth. I got in the car this morning, before dawn, to head back up the highway feeling refreshed, renewed, and filled with something more nuanced than inspiration, more powerful than motivation. I feel push-pulled back into a more verb-packed groove. I hope it lasts. (There will be verbs involved, and no doubt my results may vary.)

One more moment, one more opportunity, one more new beginning.

It’s a good day for a beginning. 🙂