Archives for posts with tag: bad acts

I woke earlier than I wanted to, again this morning. I found myself, moments later, musing over a tasty latte my traveling partner made for me how strange it is that not so long ago I was reliably the first person awake every morning, even on weekend days. There were hours of quiet solo time on weekend mornings, rarely seeing anyone else awake before 8:00 am; time during which I could not easily get started on chores, and music would be ‘headphones only’, while the household slept, quiet time for reading, for meditation, for creative thought. Things changed at some point, though I am unsure quite when, or why. Now, I’m not only not the first person up on weekend mornings, I am seemingly utterly unable to ‘sleep in’. It just isn’t there for me, right now; the common sounds of movement, conversation, cupboards, doors, drawers, and conversation just don’t permit it. (I’d have to be heavily drugged to sleep through all of it, and I don’t take those sorts of drugs these days; the side effects and consequences are not worth it, long-term.)

I woke feeling reasonably rested, though, and not excessively discontent at the lack of languorous sensuous waking up time – it’s been so long since I enjoyed that experience I have begun to doubt it exists in reality. I dragged myself out of bed, and managed to refrain from bitching about being awakened, again. Meditation, and a few still calm minutes matter, and make a difference; I managed to keep from bitching aloud about the unsatisfying experience. The morning’s irritating wake up was behind me pretty quickly, and I sat sipping my latte after meditating, and enjoying the charm and delight of the holiday decor, the tree and the lights, and the quiet beauty of a pearly sunrise.

I’m enjoying my second coffee of the morning, an ordinary Americano, an ordinary morning. The laundry is started. The dishes are put away, and the dishwasher set up for the day’s coffee cups, plates, and flatware. I took my time with my morning yoga sequence, and because although I woke with a nasty headache, and a measure of arthritis pain, I didn’t feel quite as stiff as I often do, I tried a fairly simple arm-balance, my first such attempt. I happily toppled over a couple of times, trying again, until I was certain of two things: this will be easier when I’ve lost a few more pounds, and this is also something that requires patience with myself, and more practice. I feel satisfied with the attempt, and proud of myself to have come so far at all.

A holiday scene, for lack of a better segue.

A holiday scene, for lack of a better segue.

This morning I am thinking about contentment and consideration. It is mere coincidence that they both begin with ‘C’, but having noticed that, I’m finding it hard to let go of it, wondering what other related things I can add to the list that also begin with ‘C’. (My thinking brain is jumping into the morning with real enthusiasm – and full of distractions. lol) The point of today’s exercise is not lists of words that begin with the letter ‘C’, however. Today I am taking time to carefully consider which of my actions and choices are genuinely considerate of the needs and experience of others, and which are being rationalized as ‘considerate’, when in fact they are actions and choices that are specifically intended to meet needs of my own, any consideration involved being a byproduct, not an intention, or matter of will. It’s an important distinction, I think, because I am making choices; it seems necessary that my intention be entirely clear, at least to me.

Most inconsiderate behavior I observe – whether my own, or someone else’s – seems pretty consistently, and fairly literally, ‘thoughtless’. That makes sense considering the very definition of ‘considerate’. Do I have the will – and ability – to make each choice a thoughtful one? To make each action intentional? To truly consider the potential outcomes of each choice, each action, in advance? How much potential for joy, delight, and nurturing do I lose each time I take an action, or say words, thoughtlessly? Mindlessly?

Mindfully treating the world well, really being a considerate human being, is a very big deal; much of what is amiss in the world, regardless of the cause, could potentially be mitigated, if not entirely resolved, if each of us were truly, sincerely, wholeheartedly mindful and considerate. I don’t think I’m wrong about this one…but I don’t know that I have words enough, or the intellect, to deliver to you inarguable logical proofs. I look out into the world, though, and I can’t help but wonder… Would kidnapping and raping as a tool of warfare be a choice a considerate human being could make? Could a mindful, considerate law enforcement officer choke an unarmed man to death by willful intent, and aware of the deliberate nature of that choice? Could protesters become looters, or nihilists, in the passion of the moment – if they were considering the outcomes of their actions with willful intent, and consideration of their fellow human beings who would be affected? Could business leaders still justify forcing employees to involuntary labor on Thanksgiving Day, if they were making those choices with full consideration of the needs of others, and the impact on the hearts, souls, and experiences of their colleagues were in the forefront of their intent? Could a healthy young woman getting on a train shove an older lady using a walker out of her way and take the last available seat, if she acted mindfully, with consideration, and intent? Somehow…I keep finding my way back to the thought that simple consideration could solve a lot of the petty ills of the world with great ease – and potentially also ease some very major nastiness besides.

Help me prove it? Today is a good day to be mindfully considerate of the consequences of choices and actions, of will and intent, and of the needs of both self and others. Today is a good day to change the world.

I’m waking up, this morning, on the other side of change. It’s interesting to feel it  unfolding in my experience; different actions result in different outcomes. My appointment yesterday was somewhat intense, challenging, very intimate and connected, and…personal. It didn’t feel ‘bad’, or cause me great distress. That alone is a change in my experience. The everyday practice of taking a few moments for real stillness, for calming my mind and my heart simply as an exercise in mindful presence, and doing it regularly, has definitely changed my emotional resilience, and reduced my level of panic when I am overwhelmed, which happens less easily, and less often. Progress.

When I choose to behave differently, I change the way I interact with the world, and potentially open new opportunities and choices for people involved in my life. It isn’t about ‘fair’ or who did what first. It is very much about making real choices to be who I most want to be, to willfully and deliberately choose to honor my values, and act in accordance with them. It is about who I am, and how I treat fellow humans along the way. I create the world with my choices and my actions, or at least that small piece of it that revolves around me. Sounds so simple. Figuring out those pesky choices is the challenging bit. I’m definitely certain, at this point, that repeating ineffective behaviors again and again is not going to change an unappreciated outcome.  I’ve also got substantial empirical evidence to support the idea that treating myself badly limits my ability to treat others well, and that treating others badly generally results in two outcomes: one, people react and behave in life in accord with the way they are treated by others, and two, it tends to set up a perception of ‘who I am’ in their experience that isn’t very pleasant when reflected back on me in the way they choose to interact with me later.

I don’t always see my progress. I definitely experience my challenges in a visceral and immediate way. It can make for a pretty negative experience without the balancing effect of a daily meditation practice. At least, that has been true for me. (Your results may vary.) What I bring to my experience, myself, definitely colors that experience, affects my understanding of my experience, and filters it through the context of my chaos and damage – often in spite of efforts to be more present in the moment, more ‘now’, more mindful, more aware – and less ‘think-y’.  I guess that’s why it is ongoing ‘practice’ with no ‘mastery’ in sight.  This morning is a little different from other Thursday mornings, largely because Wednesday evening had a different outcome; we made different choices, my partner and I. I am more aware of small everyday differences in my choices, decision-making, and experience, these days.  It’s more important than I understood that I, myself, acknowledge and validate my small successes from within; it’s part of that ’emotional self-sufficiency’ notion, and it feels pretty good to enjoy this experience of recognition, alone in the dim light of dawn over my morning coffee.

There’s a lot of violence and tragedy in the world. Humans killing humans. Humans treating other humans badly. I can choose differently, myself, and although I am ‘just one person’ – I am also, actually, one person making choices, and that matters. I can choose, myself, to be non violent. It makes a direct and immediate difference in every one of my relationships with individuals, every time I make that choice. That is true of each of us, each time we make any one choice we do make; it matters, and it changes the world. I suggest, based on my own experience, that when we choose actions that result in violence, that result in overstepping the boundaries of others, that result in actions which violate another human being, or our own values, it also changes the world – and every one of those choices is an act of will.  Choose differently, if you want a different outcome.

Beyond grieving, beyond acknowledgement, what will you choose to do to make it better?

Beyond grieving, beyond acknowledgement, what will you choose to do to make it better?

So, here it is Thursday, and I’m headed to  work. Today I won’t bomb any school children in their sleep, or violate boundaries willfully. Today I won’t steal, murder, or deliberately put other human beings in harm’s way. Today I won’t use my ideology to justify the maltreatment of others.  Today I will not go to war. Today I will not justify bad acts with my experience of anger. Today I will not make choices that worsen the circumstances of others in order to profit. There are probably very few among us who ever do most of these things – but I snuck in a couple that I know many of us do choose. It’s pretty easy to casually use ideology to justify mistreating someone whose ideology is different; the ease of it doesn’t make it excusable, or less ugly. Certainly, many of us have used our own subjective experience of anger to excuse treating someone else badly, and my observation is supported by the plethora of news articles about domestic violence, and police brutality; the reality  of it doesn’t excuse it. Wheaton’s Law truly covers the basics;  that and The Four Agreements could easily ‘save the world’… but there are choices involved, and ideology and anger can get in the way of good choices.

Today is a good day to treat human beings with humanity. Today is a good day to love and to help. Today is a good day for compassion. Today is a good day to change the world.