Archives for category: Words

I may not write for a few days. There’s a lot going on in our flailing culture, right now, and I’d rather not provide a distraction. We all need to face this. We need to look America’s “original sin” of racism in the face and clean up the mess we’ve made.

I’ll resume writing, but for now, I am doing other things, and making room for long-silenced voices to be heard. Thank you for understanding. Please, definitely vote every time you get a chance, and definitely do your part to put decent human beings who value humanity and human life into office, instead of self-important already-wealthy liars and cheats whose sole intention is to enrich themselves at the expense of the nation. We can do better than we have, and we owe it to ourselves, our communities, and our future, to do so.

Short one this morning. One white voice taking notice of more black lives lost. It’s not okay, it’s not acceptable, and we can, as a nation and as a species, do better. Being white should not be an advantage in the 21st century, that it so obviously is, is something worth being aware of – and ashamed of. Certainly, it is something worth fixing. Black lives matter. They do. Lives of all colors “matter”,  but – the lives we need to be talking about right now are black lives. Brown lives. Lives of people of color. Because for some reason, we continue to tolerate a lesser standard of treatment for those lives. Less regard for their value. Less money in their paychecks. Less liberty under the same constitution that values constitutional freedoms so highly for white lives. It’s a bitter bill to swallow. Take your medicine anyway, white America. Heal this massive wound. (We can’t heal something we refuse to see…)

Racism is not a problem that needs to be corrected by people of color. It’s a problem white people need to fix. Go ahead, tell me you are not racist. Worse still, tell me there’s no problem. If that’s your position, please take time to educate yourself – there is a lot of evidence that tends to disagree with that position. White people need to be speaking out and taking a stand on this. We need to object when we see it. We need to correct the bullshit racism of our elders, of our family members, of (perhaps) even our friends. We need to raise our white voices, and carry them to the highest offices in the land, and demand reform. Real reform. Real change.

Be part of making the world truly a better place. “All lives” won’t matter, not really, until black lives really do matter – to white people.

I don’t really think I should have to say any of this. It’s too obvious, and change is too long overdue. I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation after so many years. Be part of making real change. Be the person you most want to be. Make room for your fellows, and for strangers, and yes also for people of color,  to also be the people they most want to be, under a flag that truly represents “liberty and justice for all”. We’re going to need some verbs, and a lot of new beginnings, and our results may vary as we learn new ways – but it does need to happen, and let’s be real, it’s white people that need to make that change. Yes, all white people. Use your voice, use your vote, use the power of your “all mighty dollar” – your choices are involved. Mine, too.  (How will you object, without becoming proof of the problem?)

It will take white choices and white voices to address the American sin of racism; we made this mess, and we need to clean it up.

Are you ready to change the world?

The sun is up. I slept in a bit. Sipping coffee, barefooted, on a weekend morning, late in the spring. It’s a lovely moment. I’ve got nothing to bitch about. Nothing nagging at my consciousness. No drama. No baggage (in this moment). No chaos. The morning is quiet. My mood is calm. My outlook on life is merry. I’m okay, right, in every sense of the word that matters. 🙂 My coffee tastes good. My roses have begun to bloom. My aquariums are thriving. The computer my Traveling Partner built for me while we share Life in the Time of Pandemic, together, is working beautifully – and by that, I mean it is both a wonderful upgrade in performance, and also a beautiful technological piece, aesthetically. I smile every time I sit down at my desk, feeling very loved. I feel content.

“Baby Love” blooming in a pot on the deck. 🙂

Let’s be super real on this notion of contentment and ease; I’ve worked years to get here, and there have been many verbs involved, and many tears shed, over time. My outlook matters more than material details. I could live this life, identical in all practical details, and be mired in misery. PTSD has that power. Healthy emotional wellness practices really matter that much.

No click bait here, no “secret practice your therapist doesn’t want you to know about” in an eye-catching thumbnail. I’m not about that. I’m just saying, perspective matters. How I treat myself matters. How I treat others, and how reciprocal those interactions are, matters. It’s been a long journey, and I’ve often felt I was stumbling haphazardly through the darkness, quite alone. I’ve known despair, and futility and frustration and sorrow and, yes, madness. I’m not alone in that – and that’s why I write. Reminders for me, and maybe, just maybe, a light in the seemingly endless darkness for someone else. Someone that I’ll likely never meet. There have been so many such souls on my journey… human beings on their own journey, helpful co-travelers, sometimes unrecognized until much later, because I simply wasn’t ready to hear what they were saying to me, then. We all walk our own hard mile. (You too.)

Life is pretty good these days, even in spite of the pandemic. It’s not about material success (I’m not wealthy), or finding one true love (I’m fortunate to enjoy a great relationship with someone I love very much, but in dark times love does not “cure” our sorrows, or ease the weight of our baggage). Life is pretty good these days because more of my choices take me in that direction, than choices which don’t. Verbs. Choices. Beginnings. Perspective. Sufficiency. These are only words, but the words represent concepts I’ve found key to making my way, a bit at a time, to a life that feels, generally, characterized by contentment, and joy.

I’ve put in many hours of therapy and study. Reading books isn’t enough; the ideas have to become changes in behavior and thinking. The epiphanies and “ah-ha moments” have to become new practices. Practices that work have to be sustained over time. There is a commitment to treating oneself well involved – this may be the biggest challenge (it has been for me).

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

I think I’m just saying… “you’ve got this!”. Unhappy with life? Choose change. Rethink your most basic assumptions. Re-examine your expectations of life, of people, of yourself. Try a new combination of real kindness and firm boundary-setting. Ask the hard questions. Consider all the options. Take care of yourself – because you matter to you. No reason to expect it to be easy, or that you’ll never cry again, or that “the world” will ever be “fair”. Be your own best friend – and your own best self, because you can make that choice from moment to moment, and when you fail (and you will, I promise you that), begin again. Just begin again. Don’t beat yourself up over your fundamental humanity – examine your errors with some emotional distance, gain understanding of yourself (and others) from your mistakes, learn, grow, and move on with increased perspective. Accept that you are human – then also accept that everyone else is, too. Make room in your thinking for what you can’t know, or don’t understand; there’s nearly always something new to learn. Check your assumptions.

There’s a lot of baggage to put down. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go of. It’s easier to give yourself closure than to seek it elsewhere. Don’t drink the poison. Tame your own barking dog. Consider your outlook on life, generally. Yes, it’s a lot of work, I know. It probably seems so much easier to get a prescription for some boldly advertised new drug. I’ve tried that, myself. It didn’t work reliably well for me, which is how I found myself at 50, filled with despair, trying one more therapist, one more time, unconvinced that life was worth living. A huge stack of books and a few years later, life looks (and feels) very different to me. I’ve made a lot of changes – to practices, jobs, relationships; I rebuilt basically my entire life (and lifestyle) to better support becoming the woman I most wanted to be, living a life of contentment and joy. Worth it. So worth it. (Not infallibly perfect – that’s not on life’s menu, right?)

So… what do you say? Are you ready to begin again?

Yesterday I found myself mired in an unexpectedly contentious moment with my Traveling Partner. Life in the Time of Pandemic takes its toll on us all, I suppose. Clear communication and skillful expectation and boundary setting are sometimes more challenging for me than I’d like. Living and loving well can be fraught with challenging circumstances. My results vary. I’m fortunate I can retreat to my studio and take a bit of time and distance to care for myself, and restore my sense of perspective, often through writing, sometimes through study or creative endeavors, sometimes meditation is enough. Yesterday evening was a bit strange in an unexpectedly helpful way; I used my words.

Wait though, I mean… I still retreated to my studio to take care of myself, emotionally, and sort myself out. It wasn’t about skillfully using my words live, real-time; I used them long ago, at some other point, and happened upon them on my way to opening a manuscript I am working on, expecting to spend some time writing. No kidding. I had written myself a note, at some point in the past. I happened upon it by chance (which sort of suggests I did a shitty job of putting it where I could easily find it, but this is not about that).

The note I wrote to myself has the title “What about when it feels like nothing really matters?“, which suggests I wrote it in a moment of despair, frustration, and futility, and great emotional pain. Out of curiosity, and feeling cross with myself, I opened it, and began reading;

So, okay. Right now is hard. Breathe. Sit upright. Breathe again. Let this painful, personal, very subjective moment, right here, this one, let it go. 

…Just… let it go. 

You’ve got this. Moments are brief. Temporary. Colored by emotion. Rationalized by a thin veneer of what feels like reason – and often isn’t that at all. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. 

Sometimes, and this may be unavoidable, you won’t feel heard. I’m telling you – from me to you (also me), that this is a thing and maybe always will be. Don’t join the queue of people who aren’t hearing you; listen. Give yourself that moment. Forgive yourself that instance of reactivity. Let that go, too. I’m not saying this is an easy thing, just that, with practice, and consideration, and presence, it is a thing that can be done. You can be heard by one human being who is literally “always there” as much as any one human being can be; yourself. So… do that. 

Start with a body scan. How does your body feel right now? Are you tired? Hungry? Cold? Hot? Thirsty? In pain? Be present and aware of your own physical experience. 

Assess your emotional experience. What are you feeling right now? Emotions and sensations are associated with words. They are not the words. They are experiences. Subjective. Tied to our personal dictionary. Informed by our personal understanding of the world – however flawed. Our perspective on our experience belongs to us – it’s yours. Fix it if it is broken. Accept it if it is an accurate reflection of your understanding of reality. Cut yourself some slack about being so human. 

Now, cut that other person some slack, too. They are every bit as human. Their emotional experience is every bit as valid – and also every bit as wholly subjective, and flawed. Doesn’t matter; it belongs to them. It is their context. Their narrative. Likes yours is for you. You won’t always find a match. Reach past that. Be compassionate. Be kind. Be understanding. Be those things for yourself, from your own perspective, and then also be that for them – aware that their perspective differs, and still able to embrace their humanity as fundamentally more important than this perceived difference. 

Rejection hurts. Conflict is uncomfortable. We want what we want, and often react to not getting that by lashing out in a hurtful way – which we are prone to justifying and rendering somehow righteous, by running that shit through our personal narrative, tidying it up, and making excuses for who we are. We’re not so right. We’re not all wrong. We can’t be “fixed” because we’re not, in fact, broken – we’re human. You are human. We each are. Seeking peace and nurturing, but finding demands, or rejection, or diminishment, or lost agency, or disappointment, or hurt feelings… all that sucks so very much – but it doesn’t have to define you, yourself. It’s just a moment. Let that shit go. 

Re-frame the experience. Assume positive intent (particularly if this “moment” develops within the context of a loving relationship). If you look again, with the certainty that all involved are authentically invested in the well-being of the individuals, and the relationships, does it still look the same? 

Shit sucks though. It’s unpleasant. It can feel overwhelming to feel so insignificant. To be unable to voice your experience in the face of the Other. Breathe anyway. Exhale in spite of it. Allow yourself to exert your agency by relaxing, and letting go of small shit. Specifically avoid lashing out. God damn, that can matter so much! Breathe. Listen. Exhale. Relax.

At the end of it, I was in a different place than when I began. It wasn’t so hard to reconnect, to begin again, to go past that moment and on to some other. The evening ended well. My perspective on the entire day changed. It was helpful. 🙂

Finding that right balance between joyful connected intimacy, and the frank realer-than-real truths of living life together 24/7, has its challenging moments. That’s okay, too. It’s an opportunity to do the work of growth and to explore more depth in this relationship. Nothing about that suggests a comfortable process. There doesn’t seem to be any ill-intention to it – just humans being human. We’re each having our own experience.

…Look at that… Already time to begin again.

I write. I have friends and associates who write. I read. I read less than I’d like, managing to read rather a lot, anyway. I don’t read as many books, as often, as I’d like to. I read more repeats of new articles I’ve already read than I would prefer.

…Did I mention I have friends who write? I’m not talking about unedited grammatically challenged stream-of-consciousness rants lacking factual basis, theme, or novel content. I have friends who write deeply, in a nuanced, fluent fashion. Friends who think deeply. Who consider life in the context of what they understand of the world. Thinkers. Artists. Creators. Scientists. Musicians. Actors. Librarians. Great content written by people I personally also consider to have great minds. So… why am I not reading more of that? How fucking rude. I know, for a fact, that several of them read my writing.

…Where is the reciprocity?

I frown and sip my coffee. I think about the accessibility of great writing, great conversation, and great thought. I think about the ways in which we are now drowning in more data than any one human being can consume or comprehend. Choices are needed. A method. A way to filter out the noise.

In the digital age, the great writing of friends and associates gets buried in my feed. Instead of being a conversation among friends, wits, and intellects, attempting to be “well-read” has become more like being seated in a crowded diner, than talking together intimately over coffee. The demands for my attention, likes, clicks, and views has some diner-like qualities, intensified and made surreal. Imagine the waiter coming around insisting that I review the menu, yet again, while touting various recipes as cures for this or that – every 5 sentences or so. Strangers interrupt the conversation because they think one of us looks like someone they know, but start a lengthy conversation about how mistaken they are – in spite of not knowing me or the person with who I am attempting to converse. Passersby might interject how they’ve overheard something “just like that” this one time… or something totally different, in spite of not being asked an opinion. Each attempt to connect and develop a deeper conversation is interrupted – by salespeople, by the demands of strangers, by peculiar marketing. Uninvited extras. Distractions. “Reminders”. Notifications. So much continuous “communication” that we don’t even talk about “reading the news” so much as “checking our feeds”. Obnoxious.

The density of incoming “information” is a distraction from the things I want most to be informed by. 😦 How to resolve that? I wonder about it as I sit over my coffee… writing. The thread of what is most important (to me) frays, breaks, is lost… How do I regain that thread?

I have a moment of clarity. (Nice start to the morning.) Unsubscribe from trivial bullshit, marketing, and things I don’t want to be bothered with. No guilt, no excuses – what matters most to me , matters most (in this instance). Then? Subscribe to the writings of the writers I most want to read, directly, such that those are things coming to my email inbox, instead of marketing bullshit from retailers I happened to have purchased something from, once. Wow. That seems too easy…

Read what matters most. Reconnect. Is it that easy to take back my time and consciousness? I guess I’ll find out…

It’s time to begin again. 🙂