I ran into a very senior colleague yesterday. She complimented my hair, the many blues and greens of which continue to change as they age. I make a point of commenting that this, in part, is the intent, and that planning the colors includes accounting for what the selections will look like as they age together, washing out over time, and fading in sunlight. She expresses interest and we continue to talk.

It’s no coincidence that I make my living in the realm of planning things and analyzing time utilization (fascinating stuff, time and how we use it); I feel more secure, personally, with a plan in place – for pretty nearly everything. Plans are, in a sense, the future potential of new routines. At least, I see an association between plans and routines… Something to think over more another time, perhaps. I make a joke about having no spontaneity at all, only plans, plans “B”, “C”, and back up plans, fallback plans, contingency plans, emergency plans – and a willingness to refrain from becoming attached to any outcome, which sometimes gives a loose appearance of spontaneity that can be misleading. She laughs, not understanding that the humorous tone is the only joke there; the rest is legitimately part of my experience. πŸ™‚

I love anticipation – hard to relish or savor that without some planning.

I love daydreaming – and it’s super easy for a day-dream to be gently nudged over into becoming the beginning of a plan.

I love the comfortable certainty and secure feeling of having a routine, which, when included in planning just feels oh-so-super comfortable and gives a sense that I am prepared for life.

Shit goes sideways anyway, of course. Plans are overturned so easily on a single decision, sometimes not even my own (often not my own). Rolling with changes is easier with additional alternate planning already available, and back up plans to those alternate plans, and contingency plans to those alternate plans – one never knows where chance may take the journey, but it’s easy to imagine a bunch of ways that it might, and plan for those. I like to feel prepared. lol I like to enjoy the company of far more spontaneous friends, and over a lifetime I have evolved a way of coping with change that involved more, rather than less, planning to account for the unintended consequences of life’s unexpected moments. I spend rather a lot of time thinking about the future. It took a while longer to learn not to become attached to a future (that does not yet exist), while still embracing all the many options (that may or may not ever be truly within reach).

I used to suffer a lot of despair and disappointment. Attachment to outcomes, expectations, and untested assumptions is a short path to heartache. Letting go of that attachment? It’s a race track to freedom.

This morning I am looking ahead only as far as the coming weekend. I have a plan. So far it is intact, and I am daydreaming joyfully about the weekend to come, to be spent in the good company of my Traveling Partner. πŸ˜€ We spent a long while on the phone last night, intimate connected conversation about our future. About my not-so-distant-I-hope retirement. About where we each live. About what we want of life. It was lovely. It felt like a date. When I got off the phone I sat quietly for a long while, just relaxing and savoring the feeling of being loved, and planning a future.

This morning I woke with a contented smile and a calm heart. My coffee is delicious. The world (at least this small piece of it over here) is quiet. I look around me at the many things to do, to change, to craft, even a few things yet to unpack (hey, it’s a process, it takes me time! lol). I won’t be doing any of that this weekend. I look ahead to the evenings between now and the weekend; I make a plan.

This is life. It is worth living. There is much to do. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I guess it does not “go without saying” that we can care for ourselves well, and also treat others well. There are certainly some moments in humanity’s “blooper reel” that highlight how easily we lose sight of that in practice; we can be well and also do good. Apparently Marriott’s slip and fall moment involved a passenger ship, and an opportunity to rescue human beings from an island after a hurricane devastated it, with another on the way. Instead of rescuing everyone they could, they rescued only their own hotel guests, and left with capacity for hundreds of other human beings, also in dire need of rescue. Go ahead. Google it. I’ll wait.

The justification for leaving human beings behind, stranded, without support, services, and in some cases without even shelter was… “policy”. Yep. Their hands were tied by “policy”. Β Their own policy. Let’s just admit right now that we all recognize what bullshit that is, most particular in times of humanitarian crisis. “Policies” are entirely arbitrary rules made up by people to account for most circumstances, and enforced through a filter of ordinary biases and willful exception-making (when it seems expedient). Using a “policy” to justify mistreating people isn’t okay. It is, in fact, cruel bullshit. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be one of the Marriott’s of the world. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t helpful, it isn’t kind, and it has no value to anyone outside the shareholder class, who (surprise!) may profit from it financially. Fuck that bullshit. Do better. Do good.

Take care of yourself. Definitely do this. Treat yourself well – and do it because you matter, too. I found it more challenging to learn to treat myself well than I expected to; I fought myself every step of the way. I didn’t understand that mistreating myself undermined my ability to treat others well, and also limited my compassion for others. It’s been an interesting journey with the woman in the mirror. We weren’t exactly friends 5 years ago. I put up with her bullshit. She put up with mine. We treated each other badly. Β It was a daily battle to get through all of my self-imposed obligations, responsibilities, tasks and chores, and… I had nothing left for me, and wasn’t doing much of value for anyone else, as it turned out. Awkward. I was just working hard at going through the motions. Life felt pretty empty, and chasing happiness wasn’t getting me any closer to it.

Let go of a few self-imposed “rules” and “policies”! Treat yourself and others truly well (shit, that sounds like a rule, or a policy, right there… lol). No guarantees that “happiness” will follow, although I find helping people fairly gratifying personally, maybe that isn’t you (yet). We become what we practice; if you practice treating people badly, you become a bad person. Just saying.

Too many of us Marriott our way through our lives. Managing clear boundaries becomes living by a set of restrictive rules used to exclude others from our experience pretty easily. Refusing to help because it is inconvenient, or may have some potential for personal risk, says a lot about how we feel about our fellow human being – and how we feel about ourselves. How tightly swaddled in your privilege are you? Do you know the names of the cleaning crew at your office? If you’re part of the cleaning crew at an office, is it comfortable to smile and make eye contact with “the suits”? When was the last time you reached across a social or economic chasm to say hello to another human being, without regard to what they can do for you? Are you making a practice of averting your eyes from the homeless? Do you turn your back on uncomfortable strangers riding public transit so you don’t feel the pain of not giving up your seat to someone who needs it more?

No one can do “everything” for everyone. Most of us have resources enough for our own needs, our families, perhaps if we are fortunate, for our extended families as well. I get it; it feels like there isn’t enough to go around. There is though – because small gestures matter, too. Ask people in distress if they are okay. That’s a good beginning. Then listen. That’s some great follow through. Maybe you can help. Maybe you can’t help. Sometimes people need a connection more than a solution. πŸ™‚ Sometimes though, you will have the solution, and the resources, and the time, and it’s all right there… don’t be Marriott.

Our choices can change the world. Isn’t it time to begin again?

I’m not telling you what to do, just suggesting that if you happen to notice you are being programmed, whether by “the media”, or an advertiser, or an authority figure, or a cultish workplace, or a religion, or a school, or really whatever is pinging on your consciousness with a specific agenda-driven outcome in mind that profits some entity that is not you… Change the channel. Seriously. Walk on. Move out of view, out of reach, out of range. Choose a different activity, a different focal point, another perspective.

I’m not really sure what else to say about this one. My consciousness is my own, right up until that point at which I hand it over to someone else. My will is involved here – so is my awareness. There are verbs involved in de-bunking the bunk, and revealing the many frauds perpetrated on our consciousness each day (often by precisely those agencies purporting to tell us the “truth”).

I try to choose what content I consume with the same care that I choose the food I eat, the water I drink, and the moments I share with others. It’s harder than it looks, sometimes. πŸ™‚

One commonplace example of what I am talking about is Facebook. How many times have you scrolled through the newsfeed multiple times without noticing most of the content is repeated, and also “sponsored”, rather than actual posts from chosen friends? Programming. Just saying. Maybe don’t choose that – or don’t choose it so often. Do you even have any clear idea who Facebook is programming you to be? We become what we practice. Repetition is learning. Who are we becoming? Why are we allowing it?

Something to think about. There’s only one you, until you become one of many cookie cutter people all stamped out from the limited content broadly shared (and filtered) by an agency you have no control over, and which does not reveal its method or goals to you. Then, you become copies of one another, all nodding along politely as you grouse about the same things, using the same language, sharing the same appropriately polarized dichotomies approved for use that year. Yuck. We have more to offer each other, ourselves, and the world.

Facebook isn’t “the bad guy”, they are merely providing a requested service to which we happily succumb. There are others. Lots of others. We choose those, too, and in choosing who we allow to program our consciousness, we have at least some small choice over what fills our consciousness… but we can be free even of that. It’s also a choice. I’m not even saying “give it all up”, though surely that’s one choice that holds great promise. I’m just saying, be aware, be awake, and choose. Make that choice your own.

I guess I’m sort of grumpy this morning. It’s early. The work day is ahead of me. I’m very human. πŸ™‚ My coffee is super yummy, and in general I am content. I smile at my crossness, recognizing that this morning words are from me, to… me. I need to stop looking at Facebook (or the news) first thing in the morning. Fuck those bitches. lol There are better things to do with mornings, and my cognitive liberty has great value to me, personally.

I take my coffee out to the deck, into the pre-dawn darkness. It’s a lovely morning to begin again. πŸ™‚ It’s a lovely morning to change my world. I have choices.

This is a story about coffee – sort of. πŸ˜‰

It’s a metaphor.

Small things sometimes stall me. I know I can, I have the experience, but lacking a clear recollection, I hesitate, stymied by nothing more than my lack of clear recollection. Hesitation becomes fear becomes inaction. It’s a thing. Today, it’s a thing about coffee. lol

At some point, living at #59 (my previous apartment), my Traveling Partner left some of his things with me, and one of those items was his espresso machine. Nice one. Too big for my space, so it was being stored in a closet. I have considerably more counter space in the kitchen, here in The House Where I Live (so much more delightful, it gets named instead of a number). I put the espresso machine on the counter, when I moved in, and have since sort of just… kept it clean, and “worked around it”. I hadn’t turned it on, or made use of it at all. Nothing stopping me but fear.

The fear started off simply enough; it isn’t actually my espresso machine and I didn’t want to “break it” (which, realistically, should not be such an easy thing to do, considering what it is built for). I put off re-reading the manual, or looking at a YouTube video for days. Well… for 60 days, actually. I smile realizing I’ve been here just two months (a whole two months!). Over the past 60 days, that hesitation to act became insecurity about acting, reluctance to follow through, and finally just a straight up failure to act that was at risk of persisting indefinitely, with the final result that I would have a rather large fancy paperweight on my kitchen counter serving no purpose. Silly.

I put “reboot espresso machine” on my to-do list days ago. I ignored that for a while, fearfully. This weekend, however, has been all about being present, being at home, and working down the list of tasks I had in front of me, many of which fell into this same “tread carefully” category of odds and ends I felt uncomfortable with. Like the sub-woofer. Like the espresso machine. So, yesterday I read the manual. I watched a manufacturer-sponsored video on using the machine. I bought almond milk made specifically for making espresso beverages (different texture than the usual sort). I had already emailed customer support and specifically inquired whether there would be gaskets needing to be replaced after 2 years in storage (there are not, they said). Finally – verb time. I filled the machine with water. Turned it on. Ran some out as hot water. Ran some out as steam. Checked the settings on each feature… and by the time I’d done all those things, it was much too late in the day for strong coffee, and I’d run out of courage. lol I talked myself out of making a coffee, and put that off for the morning.

I woke peculiarly early today. Like… seriously. 2:51 am. Somehow, I managed to be so entirely awake that getting up to pee did not naturally result in going back to bed, and I got up. Fuck it. It’s almost 3:00 am, and 3:00 am is “almost 4”, which is only half an hour from when the alarm would go off, so… Right. I’m up. Coffee time!

I hesitated, again, as I stood in front of the espresso machine, watching it heat up. My eye slid to the right; I could make a pour over… Then I glanced left; a cup of coffee made in the Keurig is drinkable, quiet, and efficient… I recalled the video, which had reminded me how easy it is to use this espresso machine (a semi-automatic), even first thing in the morning. I recalled how many times I have actually made coffee using this very same espresso machine, when it sat upon the counter in my ex’s house, where we all lived together. As the machine continued to heat, I recalled, too, that my Traveling Partner and I intend each other nothing but love, and share everything we have with great joy; there isn’t really any chance that I would willfully damage his espresso machine, nor is there any realistic chance that he would take it badly if something were to go wrong and it got damaged without ill intent. So… what’s the hold up? Well, at that point, just waiting for water to heat up. πŸ™‚

The beans were fresh. The grind may need some adjustment, but that’s fun for another day, preferably a day with plenty of time in it for drinking coffee. lol The puck was quite perfect, the smell of freshly ground coffee was enticing. The shot I pulled wasn’t my best – perhaps in another lifetime, I’d have poured it out and used the opportunity to begin again. At 3:15 am on a Monday morning, I found I was just as content to let it be, and embrace imperfection – and coffee. πŸ™‚ I steamed the milk, enjoying the ease of it far too much for the simple process it is, as enthusiastic as a toddler turned loose in the toy aisle. Β I took that first sip, of that first latte made by my hand in my own home in a bit more than 2 years (has it only been such a short time?). It was warm, and tasty, and seemed to me in that moment to be quite perfect – even as I recognized opportunities to improve my craft. There was no room for criticism in that moment; it was enough to be drinking a latte I made for myself. πŸ™‚

Contentment is something I have found I can build. I can craft it from fairly simple ingredients; moments that are enough, small successes, and letting go of attachment to outcomes and expectations. Finding that I can build contentment, and sustain it, has resulted in so many lovely moments – even actual genuinely happy ones that linger in memory and sustain me through tougher times. It’s nice. It’s a process. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Sometimes… yeah, I’m so human, sometimes I have to overcome my fears. Incremental change over time requires practice. πŸ™‚ We become what we practice.

I smile at the clock and sip my latte. I have plenty of time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I woke late. Slept in. I made coffee and stepped gently through the apartment in no great hurry to begin the day. I opened the windows and let in the cool morning breezes. I smile at the recollection of yesterday evening’s twilight rainstorm. I sat a long while as darkness settled, listening to the rain on the leaves of the big leaf maples just beyond the deck. The fine ash that had fallen everywhere when the winds carried smoke from the wildfires into our area has been washed away. I carry my coffee and a smile out to the deck and linger there for some moments.

I had left the windows of my bedroom open all night, and the sounds of rain, and peeping frogs, lulled me into such a deep restful sleep. I feel rested this morning, content, and even willing to use the word “happy” to describe this moment. A rare moment of utter delight, satisfaction, joy, contentment… and solitude. I’m okay with the solitude, which works out nicely for enjoying the moment. Nonetheless, when my Traveling Partner replies to my good morning message, a bit later, when I took my seat at the computer, my smile deepens, and my heart thumps happily, reminded of Love.

This too shall pass. Some other evening perhaps, tears will fall instead of rain, and some other morning I will wake with a headache, or heartache. πŸ™‚ It’s a thing. Life requires living – even the challenging bits are best if I am present, and the delightful bits are inevitably fleeting. So, I enjoy the morning, my coffee, this smile, this moment, this day… no idea what tomorrow holds. I’m sure there will be verbs involved. I’ve no interest in a do-over just now, or beginning this one again; it’s quite lovely as it is. I think I’ll just enjoy this, until sometime later. πŸ˜‰

For just a moment, from this narrow perspective, it feels as if we’ve changed the world…