Archives for posts with tag: awake and aware

Heading home in the cold last night, walking from the office to the light rail station, I crossed the square. As I walked toward the train platform, I passed a tall man carrying a flower-print duffel bag, wearing an expression of fatigue and sadness. I kept walking. I noticed the woman hurrying to catch up with him, a moment later. Then she started screaming. A plaintive wail, “no!”. “No! No no no!” She wailed. She screamed it at him, pulling what looked like a sleeping bag around her shoulders. She began to run after him, shrieking, wailing, crying into the night, and to all the passers-by “no!!!”. It was not anger that made her voice so distinctive and alarming, it was the pure raw grief and hurt and fear – real panic, the sort of thing one expects to hear in the midst of warfare, or violence. She sounded desperate, terrified, and bereft. The wails continued as she ran after the man. He walked on calmly without looking back. I turned and watched the scene move away from me, feeling helpless. There was no obvious action to take. The woman was blind to everyone and everything around her, except that man walking away. The only sign he was aware of her at all was that they had been sitting together, when I saw them from a distance, and also… a flower-print duffel bag is an odd thing for a man his age to be carrying, generally. Her screaming haunted my sleep. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how her story ends. I feel ashamed that I didn’t do more, but don’t know what I could have done under the circumstances. I feel puzzled by the seeming lack of awareness of everyone around, that evening… I saw no heads turn but my own.  Bystanders, each and all of us. What a shitty situation for a woman screaming “no”, alone in the night. I’d like to have been more helpful. It is still on my mind this morning.

I sip my coffee and think about how this experience is so telling of who I am now, where I am in life as a human being. I spend a few minutes noticing that I actually do care, even about the isolated distress of a stranger I passed in the night. I wasn’t always this person. I sip my coffee, and think about other times, when I was the one screaming and afraid, without help, alone in the darkness… I think about people who might have heard me, who may have wanted to do… something, but… what? I feel grateful that my life is calm and quiet these days. I take a moment to appreciate having survived some terrible dark nights. I make room to forgive the passing strangers who did not help, because they did not know how. That’s a step forward, for me. I feel the weight of a little more baggage drop to the floor. It hits with an imagined thud, and the realization that I can also forgive myself for being unable to figure out what to do last night, to help a stranger in distress.

It's okay to put some of that down, for now.

It’s okay to put some of that down, for now.

I take one more moment to wish a stranger well, after-the-fact, and to hope she found some peace, somehow, and some comfort. I hope she found a moment she could be okay in. “Not my circus, not my monkeys…” Well, sure… but… also… we’re all human beings. Each having our own experience. Separating myself, generally, from drama doesn’t have to also make me a dick to people, or insensitive, or callous, or cruel. Compassion, kindness, consideration are all still within reach, still important to cultivate, still matter. I’m no super hero – I barely adult adequately well to support my own life, some of the time – but I can still care, and still be kind, and still open my heart to listen deeply to another. Those still matter, even if I can’t save the world. Even if I can’t stop all of the screaming, everywhere.

Today is a good day to be awake, aware, and considerate. It’s a good place to begin. It could be enough to change the world… with some practice.


I got robbed last night. Feels odd to say it. Non-metaphorically speaking, my home was broken into,  things were taken. It was a new (for me) and fairly terrible experience. 

This morning’s post is written awkwardly, on my phone. The interface behaves differently. I’ve had little sleep.

The worst of it was in those moments of increasing awareness, as I arrived home, thoughts full of anticipation for the evening ahead. Looking back on it after less than four hours of sleep, it seemed much worse last night. This morning I feel fortunate they only took some electronics. They took my laptop. Other things matter less. It’s a lot to process… but I am okay. That matters most. So… now what? I mean… after filing the police report, and the insurance claim… after getting some sleep, after securing the premises… after the practical things are handled, and the tears have dried up… now what?

…I guess I begin again.

It’s amusing to me, this morning, that it took the better part of six months to stop reliably waking up before 5 am, even without my alarm set. One week of work, and this morning is a day off… and I comfortably and easily wake precisely at 5 am. No alarm. I could be sleeping in… only… I am no longer sleeping.


It’s always “now”, and the day begins.

An unreliable rain is falling. I’m sure it means to be a rainy morning for the effort the sky seems to be making, but so far it seems only a few moments of rain, and at best just a brief pattering of raindrops on the flue cover, before giving up. A half-hearted sort of rain. I’ve planned to be camping this weekend, with my traveling partner and son. My traveling partner was quite ill yesterday, and it seems unlikely he’ll be over it for a weekend of camping in the rain and chill of autumn approaching. I don’t yet know what the weekend really holds. It’s still quite dark outside.

I could expect to sleep in, and let the morning be wrecked out of frustrated expectations. I’d rather just get up, make some coffee, and enjoy the morning as it is, and so I make that a choice.

I could be invested in planning details of the camping trip that may or may not happen, and become irritable over plans not coming to fruition, or any number of life’s reroutes along the journey. I could be annoyed by the rain. I could be disappointed by my partner coming down sick, and become irritable over how inconsiderate I would also then feel. I’d rather simply enjoy the day, as it unfolds, maybe camping – prepared for it – maybe not – prepared for that, too, and enjoy life’s journey as it is. This too is a choice.

I could choose differently. Moment-to-moment, my will is my own – most particularly when I make it so. More verbs. Choose. 🙂 Today is a good day to choose wisely, to choose joy, and to choose contentment. These are choices, my choices. What will you choose? 🙂

I enjoyed an entire day of gentle stillness yesterday, no agenda beyond enjoying some chill time, no stress, no bother, no real ‘workload’. Much of the day was spent in meditation, seated on my cushion, or relaxing on the patio, watching the birds come and go, and listening to the sounds of the park in spring. No stress. Literally no stress. It is a remarkable feeling, and I’m glad I had the weekend away with my traveling partner to remind me what that feels like, so I would be prepared for it solo! There were some moments yesterday when my primate nature restlessly fussed in the background seeking some kind of escape from the peace of it; the chill time I had inflicted on myself requires as much discipline as any other effort. I resisted the call of social media, of favorite brain candy, of distractions by the dozens, and took the time I needed to really relax. There were still verbs involved. lol

I learned something over the minutes and hours of a wholly meditative day, yesterday; I need more time spent this way. I took a moment in the evening to reserve a favorite camp site in a favorite nearby(ish) state park with plenty of forest and good hiking trails – many that I’ve not yet hiked – for an upcoming weekend. Time out in the trees is very much the thing I need, without the constant temptations of distractions intruding in precious moments of stillness – mostly. All that remains is to coordinate the transportation details, get my gear together, and do a thorough gear check; it’s been more than a year since I last camped. Wow – so long? No wonder I am needing this time to refresh and recharge!

Number 23 is waiting for me...

Number 23 is waiting for me…

Life sometimes seems to get going so fast…the rushed hurried pace of planned events tangled up with the unexpected can become overwhelming without warning if I am not mindful of the potential. I’ve learned to limit how much I plan into any given day, even when I travel on vacation. I’m not the sort who makes detailed plans with a lengthy list of scenic landmarks to check off (Yep, seen it! Next!!), or noteworthy high-points identified by friends and associates that I feel compelled to similarly enjoy – that’s not my way. I do plenty of research on a destination (even this trip to the trees, in a park I am familiar with), and fill my thoughts with information about the opportunities, history, and scenic wonders – then I ‘wing it’. Once I’ve got a hotel reservation (or camping spot) the rest is surprisingly spontaneous, considering my fondness for planning. I don’t prefer ‘tour group style’ travel; I like to go and live.  Do I miss out on seeing that one fantastic whatever? Sometimes. Sometimes not. I rarely come home exhausted, irritated, or feeling vaguely let down, either, which is generally the outcome [for me] of traveling via landmark checklist. Your results may vary. 🙂

Another lovely spring-summer day ahead, a loose agenda (not quite a plan), and a smile on my face – it’s a good beginning, and a lovely morning to begin again.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Where are you today? Not generally, I mean actually right now, as you read this. Are you here, right now, engaged in this moment? Awake? Aware? Curiously present? It’s just a question about choices, about this limited precious time we each have, about what’s to be done with it.

Simple beauty. Simple moments. Awake, aware, alive.

Simple beauty. Simple moments. Awake, aware, alive.

This morning I sip my coffee, catch up with a friend, and read a chapter further in a book I am about half through so far. The morning began with meditation, and yoga, and proceeded to coffee – that’s all behind me now. Now I am simply here, in this moment, sipping my coffee and enjoying the quiet of morning. I am practicing being present.

As practices go, ‘being present in this moment’ is fairly simple in words, and rather nuanced in practice; the challenge is to be here, without launching a lot of self-directed criticism, becoming frustrated by some detail of housekeeping or task management, becoming distracted by social media, ruminating over past moments until I am emotionally invested in some other moment than this one, or progressing to wildly fantastic daydreaming that might become unnoticed assumptions or expectations lurking in the background of some future moment. I stay in this moment, and when I notice my mind wandering, or sense elements of internal dialogue that amount to ‘self harm’, I begin again. I stay in this moment. The practice resumes.

I sip my coffee. I feel the warmth of the mug, and the smoothness of the simple white porcelain. I taste the brew, the unique subtle bitterness, characteristic and not unpleasant, the robust and subtle flavors of wood smoke, nuts, moss, and chocolate of these particular beans. I hear the subdued noise of traffic on the not-so-distant streets, and the sound of the train on the other side of the park. I hear the many frequencies of my tinnitus, always there when I focus on it; I find myself thinking about setting a reminder to bring earplugs to the concert we’re going to tonight, and pull myself back to this moment, here, now. My fingers are chilly, and I feel a sense of ‘cold’ across my shoulders; the thermostat in the studio doesn’t increase the heat until… I hear the heater click on, as if on cue, and smile, enjoying the orderly sequence of events in this simple quiet moment. I sigh contentedly, feeling my lungs fill, then empty. I breathe. Relax. The rhythm of my fingers on the keyboard reflect the practice in this moment, tap-tap-tap, pause… tap-tap-tap, pause… Feeling it. Writing it. Staying here, now, with this moment.

I’ve been feeling spread a bit thin, more than a little stressed out, and right on the edge of being overwhelmed by life’s details during a busy time; I suck at busy. This morning I recharge, and reset, using this simple practice of being in this moment.I stretch. Breathe. Relax. I observe. I feel. I engage the subtle details all around me by really noticing them: the subtle shine of light bouncing off angles here and there, the temperature of the room changing, the quality of the light as day slowly breaks beyond the window, distant sounds and sounds nearby, the physical sensations of being human, the fleeting come and go of emotions and thoughts passing through my experience. I breathe. Relax. Smile. This is a first-rate moment, right here. 🙂

I feel myself really beginning to let go of the things that are not truly important to me personally, leaving behind only the things that matter most. Urgency that sources with someone else’s agenda is not by default any urgency for me, personally; it’s so easy to forget that, because emotions are powerful drivers of behavior (and cognition). The looming work day immediately feels less stressful, which is helpful; I don’t do my best work when I feel stressed out, unappreciated, or overburdened. I now find myself much more inclined to be eager and enthusiastic about getting through the day skillfully, not taking it so personally, and ready to get on with the evening on the other side. I also find it easier to recognize that it’s time to find something that suits me better, and meets more of my own needs.

I’m no expert on being in the moment, or on mindfulness generally – I practice what seems to work best for me, personally, and study. I try new practices, and keep at the ones that have good results [for me]. There are lots of resources for good mindfulness practices – some of them are listed in my reading list. Today is a good day to be a student. Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day for this moment, the one right here, however simple; it’s really the only one. Yes, there are verbs involved – and choices. What will you choose for this moment, today, now?