Archives for posts with tag: are you still chasing happiness?

The sunlight is beginning to fade – early evening, approaching sunset, and still another couple hours (guessing) of day light before dusk settles. This is a favorite time of day, for me. I love the light, in the evenings. I enjoy the way the peach and gold and amber tones give a moment a certain luster it might otherwise lack.

…The election is approaching… Yeah, I know, me too; no real desire to talk about, struggle to avoid the inevitable next news story, talking head, or conversation in which the election is the topic of conversation. I mean, for fucks’ sake, vote. Please take at least that quite seriously. There’s no point in attempting to sway your individual viewpoint; we’ve all “shown up” and we’ve all attempted to make our point very clear over the past four years, with little success most of the time, and we’re all exhausted, frustrated, and saddened by the friendships ended by the divisiveness of the current administration. It’s been ugly. Let’s just get this shit over with, and just maybe begin life anew, sometime in November, rebuilding relationships, reaching across divides, maybe even “unburning” some bridges? I mean… we could. We so easily could begin again. 😉

Where will your path take you?

It can be so tempting to hang the entire future on a moment. Election or otherwise, there is so much more potential to an entire future than one moment. Just saying.

I’ve stopped reading news articles that lead with a headline of some doomsday scenario that is 100% pure imagination and potential, with nothing actually supporting the likelihood. I mean… I could tumble into a nearby creek after being struck by lightening while being bitten by a snake… but it seems unlikely. If I plan my day around that potential, or imagine a future that is dependent on the outcomes that could only result from that happenstance, I haven’t done anything particularly useful for my emotional wellness, my outlook on life, or even managed to be adequately prepared for what may actually be in my probable possible futures. lol I’m taking this thought farther than a “don’t catastrophize” reminder…

…It wasn’t so long ago that I was reading the news so compulsively, and so often, that my “state of mind” was adversely affected. I was anxious to the point of madness – and mostly over shit that had neither truth to it, nor noteworthy probability of actually occurring. I’ve stopped doing that, figuring that “falling behind on current events” by hours or days is a small price to pay for enjoying my life, and maintaining my sanity. 🙂 It’s already difficult enough to know how to be effective in the world… trying to do that on the basis of a bunch of alarming made up shit makes it just that much less likely that I’ll do anything besides become spun out and exhausted with frustration and outrage. (Perhaps that is truly the point of that style of “news” reporting? Render us captivated… but ineffective…?)

Reminder: COVID-19 – the pandemic? Remember that? Yeah. That’s not “made up shit”. That’s real. Just saying. Your choices matter. Protect each other. Practice social distancing. Wear a mask. Stay home when you’re sick and work on getting well. The pandemic is not a wholesale attack on our fucking civil liberties, and yes, it can “get to you” too. The lockdowns are a drag, I know. People are bored and eager to get out again. It’s hard. I get it. Fine. Do you. The death toll is climbing. Your choices affect other people – people who matter to you, not just far away strangers. (If you don’t believe that, I won’t convince you, now, I just don’t want to be that person who didn’t point it out when it came up in conversation. I guess I’m literally “just saying…”)

Weird time. The pandemic has been part of this entire year… I take a moment to consider that. I let myself begin again, new moment, new thoughts.

It’s quiet here in my studio. I hear the sound of a saw in my Traveling Partner’s wood shop in the garage. Sounds of home. I smile. Contentment may not be “the same as” happiness… still, I like it very much… and at this point, the line between feeling “happy” and feeling “contented” is rather blurry. I’m okay with that. I can so easily practice contentment, through sufficiency, observation, presence, acceptance, and non-attachment. Contentment builds over time. Practice by practice, moment by moment. Chasing happiness was neither satisfying, nor, as it turns out, was it particularly achievable. 🙂 I’m pretty okay where I stand in my life, today. It’s enough. 😀

What does it take to be “happy”? Sometimes autumn pears are enough… sometimes it takes a bit more work (and patience, and practice).

I think over the day. The week. The summer. The move. This peculiar year. Life in the time of pandemic…

…Then I begin again.

Have you ever chased something? Run hard, run fast, kept running after whatever – or whoever – pushing yourself beyond expectations because you’re just that close to catching up… only… “chasing” and “catching” are not specifically connected in any particularly firm way. I’ve chased things I never ever caught up with – or achieved. At some point, perhaps I reconsidered the worthiness of the goal, or just… couldn’t quite get there.

I woke feeling groggy. The apartment was stifling and still, in that “it’s going to be a hot one today” sort of way. I’d feel foolish to bitch about a “hot” day forecasted at 87 degrees Fahrenheit; my Fresno friends have it much worse. They’re expecting 107 degrees or so – real heat. I take a moment to enjoy sipping hot coffee in the cool of morning as the sun rises. Perspective. Gratitude. Nice ways to begin the day.

I’m thinking about how easily I am tempted into pursuing something desirable without really being mindful of the journey, itself… Chasing something, instead of… well… what else? It’s worth thinking this over.

I have friends chasing Love. I wonder if they’ll catch up with that? Seems an odd way to go about it…

I have friends chasing Success. That’s a tough one – and so subjective. I never could catch up with that one, until I understood that I could only achieve satisfaction through understanding Success on my own terms. I’m likely an abysmal failure seen through the lens of another person’s definition of Success. I’m undisturbed by that.

I have friends chasing Money. Fuck, it would be so lovely if that weren’t a thing. I even wish I could help; I’ve had to find my way to being content with “enough”, just generally in life, to clear that hurdle and let go of a chase that only ever seemed to wear me down, fairly pointlessly, without ever ending or achieving anything of note.

I used to chase a good night’s sleep, pursuing Rest as though it were a mugger who’d taken my handbag; I wasn’t going to let it go, and I wasn’t going to stop, and… I wasn’t going to catch up to it by chasing it, either. lol

Sex, too – Personally, I’ve probably chased Sex more often than most other things. The yearning tempts me into it and off I go with the wanting and the needing and the pursuit… Easily won at 20, 25, 27, 30… less so at 54. Perhaps what I think I want hasn’t caught up with where I am in life? Perhaps chasing shit just isn’t the most effective approach to living life? (Or getting sex!) (Or finding an intimate emotional connection!) (Or knowing myself!)

For me, the word itself is telling, “chase” suggests pursuit without end, a frustrating journey without a satisfying conclusion. The very notion of being encouraged to “chase” one’s dreams seriously irks me, because, for example, for me it implies that they are always just out of reach – so have fun with that. lol Built in frustration – no, thank you.

I’ve stopped chasing my dreams. I’ve stopped chasing Sex. I’ve stopped chasing Love. I’ve stopped chasing Money. I’ve stopped chasing Success. For now, I’ve even stopped “chasing” homeownership – because once I realized I was chasing it, I knew I wasn’t going to catch it. “Chasing” a goal doesn’t end that way for me, because what I understand about “chasing” means something quite different from that.

This morning, this moment, my experience of life is a little like that breathless pause, mid-chase, bent to catch my breath, heart pounding, chest heaving with the struggle just to breathe… having given up pursuit to rest, to reconsider… to be. Aware that I’ve been chasing shit again, and can go ahead and stop that. 🙂 It’s a nice morning to sort things out. To think. To pause. To appreciate what already is, and re-examine what my resources are, and what I really need, and where I am heading in life. There are, of course, verbs involved – my results will vary – I’ll probably need to begin again. 😉

…Like… a bunch of times. LOL

A nightmare about work woke me this morning, 5 minutes ahead of the alarm. It was a garden variety sort of ‘end of days’ nightmare, wherein small details communicated the end of…something. Something work-related, or perhaps the work itself. I woke feeling aggravated to find that work was now encroaching even on my dreams.

In the process of nudging my consciousness into the context of ‘now’ and letting the dream fade, I chose to check my Facebook feed. It’s been a very positive place lately, in spite of the rampant garbage political posts, and occasionally trollish nonsense that occurs; we’re all primates, each having our own experience. I figured a quick check in with friends, and some fun weekend pictures of goings on elsewhere would be a pleasant distraction from my nightmare. I notice that someone dear to me has commented on something I posted the day before.

(what I had posted)

(the post I shared, on which a friend commented)

 

My post was a share of a positive post from a page I follow that tends to be exactly that – positive posts, and often mostly affirmations of one sort or another, done rather well. The comment startled me right out of any sense of lingering nightmare, no doubt. The comment was angry [or sounded so to me] and was followed with another similarly angry comment [same commenter] that was rounded off with what very much appeared to be [possibly] a bit of actual accusatory name calling, and an angry demand that I change my behavior to reflect their [the commenter’s] worldview of [apparent] self-loathing. It was unexpected and peculiar. I walked away from it to make coffee.

I patiently and mindfully prepared my coffee, turning over the comment in my head. It was clear and specific on only one detail; the commenter disagreed with the proposition that there is value in loving oneself. He stated that love exists solely to be given away and asks how could we love ourselves (or be upset with anyone else) when people just suck so much? We all suck equally – so love the other person in spite of that, but don’t lie to yourself by loving yourself – because you suck, and we all suck, and no one deserves love but give it to them anyway. A harsh message delivered with an apparent demand for compliance.

I sip my coffee and continue to contemplate the words of an old friend, a while longer. First I am angry with his words – I don’t feel well understood to have it inferred that I am lying to myself to take the approach that I am worthy of my own time and affection – am I not? I certainly seem to be benefiting from taking better care of myself, investing in my own needs and desires, living beautifully, and showing myself real affection. My own experience suggests that these things are necessary, and that I am more easily able to love others because I value and appreciate myself as a human being, and take care of both this fragile vessel and the being within it. Why would I replace my experience with his words? His anger, so raw and recent, finds me self-conscious about simply saying I love this woman I am becoming – but I do, and it doesn’t harm anyone that I feel this way. Quite the contrary, my relationships with others are also improved.

I get over being angry and feel concerned for him, to be so angry about a positive message about self love that it inspired him to comment, when I ‘almost never’ hear from him at all, seems quite peculiar to me. It seems to be suggesting that he seeks to overcome self-loathing by forcing himself to go through the motions of loving others. It’s a perception as likely to be incorrect as any. I reconsider his words without the perceived anger – I don’t know that he felt anger when he wrote his comment, it’s an inference of my own – and I recognize that he, too, values love and is having his own experience. He expresses, however appropriately or inappropriately, concern and affection for me as a human being, and the path I choose. By itself, that’s a positive thing, although I find the demanding tone taken, and the insistence that I choose another way, both uncomfortable and unwelcome. It isn’t for him to make demands on me.

I think of a woman – this woman, the one in the mirror – from the perspective on life, self, and love that I had a decade ago, at 42. Could I have taken this path then? Would I have welcomed the suggestion that ‘being love’ and that choosing to love myself in order to love others wasn’t selfish at all, but necessary? Would I have accepted that suggestion and been able to make use of it at all – or would I have rejected the notion of taking care of me, because I didn’t value or love the woman in the mirror, and because ‘people suck’? It’s hard to know… It’s been a journey, and as with so many journey’s ‘skipping ahead’ isn’t really something we do so easily. I doubt I was ready then, for ‘positive’ messaging about my self. I have taken my journey in steps, in incremental changes over time, in moments of wonder, and the practicing of practicing that were chosen with great care for their successful outcomes – and I am the sole decider of success in the realm of my experience. My commenter friend is similarly choosing his own choices, walking his own path, and finding his own way. At least for now, it doesn’t sound like a very comfortable journey, and I wonder about his choices and who he has become… or is becoming.

His words aren’t worth lingering anger. His words don’t change my choices, or alter my path; they belong to him. Listening deeply matters, even in text – our written words communicate so much more than the handful of nouns and verbs suggest they might. We communicate emotion. We communicate shared experience – and we communicate our differences. We communicate warnings when we feel alarmed or frightened, whether that thing that alarmed or frightened us was real or not – as with a nightmare, perhaps. We are very human, my friend is correct on that point. He’s right, too, that what matters most is love. He is right that love is a verb, to be acted upon, and given – our only disagreement seems to be that I would further suggest that I am also worthy of my love, of my time and attention, of my care and consideration, because I too am human, and worthy, and that there is enough love for me to share some with myself.

I sip my coffee, smiling. I feel good today – I feel loved. I start the morning treating the woman in the mirror well, and I can expect that I will likely continue to do so throughout the day; it has become a practice. I’m human – that won’t be changing – so mistakes along the way are likely. I am worthy of the same consideration in the face of error that I would give anyone else – and I didn’t learn to give others that consideration until I had learned how to treat myself well. It’s a puzzle. It’s a puzzle with some verbs and a whole lot of practice. One practice I don’t need? Taking what other people say personally – they are also having their own experience.

It is a rainy spring morning, like so many; I choose my perspective, I choose my path, and I choose when to begin again.

It is a rainy spring morning, like so many; I choose my perspective, I choose my path, and I choose when to begin again.

Today is a good day for perspective and consideration. Today is a good day to walk my own path without concern about what path – or perspective – someone else may choose. Today is a good day to listen deeply, and follow my own counsel. Today is a good day to build the world I most want to live in. There are verbs involved.