Archives for posts with tag: Be Impeccable With Your Word

I slept deeply through the night, and woke gently ahead of the alarm clock. I sat quietly with my coffee for almost an hour, simply breathing and reflecting. It was a pleasant gentle moment with myself, and a great start to my day.

I found myself reflecting on the yearning to be heard that so many of us feel, so chronically, and the way we once channeled our voices into writing – on paper, I mean – journals, manuscripts, letters to far off family, friends, or colleagues. Letters to editors. Letters to legislators. Letters to businesses and institutions. It’s a slower pace of communication, for certain, and one that presents an opportunity to reflect on our words, and reconsider them. Contrast this with the “shouting into the void” sorts of experiences we find on social media platforms of various sorts; we can drop our remarks into a quick post or tweet, and fire them off into feeds everywhere… so many more opportunities to be really heard! At least… that’s the marketing hype. Be heard. Share your voice. Share your opinion (however poorly supported in any factual way). Share your outrage and your anger (without regard to the completeness of your understanding, or how well-informed your perspective truly is). Likes, clicks, and views are monetized. Profits go to the loudest most “viral” voices. It’s not a coincidence that we discuss such things using the language of contagion; it’s less about the truth, and more about spreading that shit around.

I definitely “want to be heard”. This? Here? It’s not really about that, for me – it’s more about a long conversation with myself (and with you) that I can look back on, refer to for context, and gauge progress over time, or reach back in time for “help from a friend” I can generally count on these days – myself. I still find myself, often, disagreeing with an article or commentator and wanting to “answer them” or reply… I know I’m not alone in that. Twitter is undeniable proof that we’re a society of folks who shout at their televisions when the talking heads on the screen say something we find disagreeable. lol

…Sometimes it’s a better choice to simply “shout into the void” and then just let that shit go. Seriously. I mean… is every opinion I don’t share worth challenging? Is every bit of objectionable content worth actually objecting to? I bet you know what I think the answer to those questions is… Opinions don’t become facts just because a fuck-ton of people share one (or many). Still just opinion. Still no more valuable than that. Too often we allow ourselves to be persuaded to adopt an opinion or stance on some subject without properly exploring the facts – the real facts, the documented known facts – and we’re far too reluctant to accept uncertainty or a lack of knowledge. We’d much rather “know” something… even if it is patently and obviously and demonstrably provably incorrect. No kidding. It’s actually pretty challenging to fight off the inclination to “know” something I don’t truly know, and based on what I see in the news, and on various news-adjacent or purportedly informative platforms, it’s a common affliction among human primates.

We could do better.

I know I can do better… that’s something I’m pretty certain of, and I find quite a lot to support that supposition factually. So. There’s that.

Our emotions get ahead of us so often…

Don’t drink the poison. Don’t pass it around. Don’t practice “being” an emotional condition that could be a moment (instead of a lifetime condition). Just saying. There are other options. 🙂 Share kindness. Be there for each other in difficult times – in the most positive way possible. Assume positive intent. Take care of yourself – and make it a priority worth your time and attention.

I sip my coffee reflecting on other moments. Smiling. Breathing. Ready to begin again.

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. 🙂

My coffee has grown cold. Second cup, busy day. I’m thinking over some things I’ve read recently (or watched) that “spoke to me”, and letting these things “seep in” and become more integrated with my own thinking. I think of it a bit like being on a journey without a map… and getting to peak at the map in the hands of a passing traveler, for just a glimpse.

This video really gets some important ideas about “following passion” as a way of doing life. I think it’s more than commonly clear on the subject.

Then there’s this article about de-escalating heated conversations. It’s given me quite a lot to think about, specifically about how complicated it can be to attempt to “enforce” calm on turbulent emotional states for me, and the real value in mastering the skills needed to do so.

I watched this video, which turned up randomly courtesy of the YouTube algorithm… it’s a good practical cautionary tale about seeking fame (or, at least, not doing things in one’s present that might prove problematic if one were to become famous at some future point).

Then, the article that keeps me returning for further reflection and consideration, and a fairly wholesome sense of renewed purpose, which is one about interrupting (a known challenge for me). I can’t even say, with any specificity, why this article got my attention with so much commitment. It did.

I sigh out loud and push my hair back from my face. It’s a long day of work ahead, today. I’m okay with that, it’s work I enjoy. I found a lovely bit of background noise to keep me focused, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

Today has been as delightful as yesterday was difficult. I never did really figure out what was up with me, yesterday, or if it was me, at all. I let all that go. My Traveling Partner and I had several rather difficult, frank, conversations, that required greater-than-typical willingness to be vulnerable, and a level of “real talk” that pushed boundaries on both sides. The level of heartfelt consideration and and love involved made it possible. I wouldn’t call it pleasant, but the day was emotional wreckage (for me) anyway, why hold anything back?

(In practical terms, yesterday was a good day, we both got things done, worked productively, and got some leisure time. Stepping aside from the emotional baggage, personal hand-crafted bullshit, and narrative-editing foolishness human primates are prone to, it was actually a pretty good day. I just felt crappy, emotionally, as if I’d consumed emotional poison.)

We got to a place where we were both just being frank and real, just talking, not mean, not confrontational – honest clarifying questions, a straight forward exchange of information, no game playing – and it sorted some things out. Somehow, this morning, things are quite lovely, and life is as good as it is, and we’ve enjoyed each other all day. It’s lovely. 🙂 It’s hard to understand how yesterday was the thing it was. I gaslight myself wondering if I imagined the shitty day I had, until I give up on it, distracted by something in my periphery.

Dahlias

There are flowers on my makeshift workstation. Dahlias. I enjoy them. A neighbor brought them down and took a moment to say hello. She had a chance to meet my Traveling Partner. I could hear them chatting briefly in the front door way. I heard my partner “…working from home…” I looked up and saw our neighbor. “Hi!” I called. She cheerily replied “Don’t you get up!” and waved. A few minutes later, my partner presents me with the lovely handful of purple, white, and pale yellow blossoms atop sturdy green stems. From our neighbor’s garden? She has a lovely cottage garden thing going at her place. (I remind myself to take a mask when I go to check the mail and stop by to say thank you… from a distance, of course.)

I sip on a glass of cold water and consider my neighbor’s thoughtfulness. She also brought fresh-picked ears of corn. (Does she have room for corn??) (How much room does corn really take…?) I find myself wondering which gift is most meaningful to me, and whether the flowers or the corn could compare with the gift of her simple thoughtfulness and consideration, at all.

My thoughts wander. I think about words and meaning, and how something as simple as the sight of a facial expression or the sound of a tone of voice can completely alter the way we are understood, and what we are thought to have “said”. I find myself listening to “Schism” with new ears. Consideration matters. Listening deeply matters. Finding the discipline to refrain from interrupting matters. Taking a kind tone matters. So many things that matter… so many verbs. lol

Lovely evening… I think I’ll begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee, starting my day, and skimming headlines. It doesn’t take long; the news is filled with non-news about celebrity politicians and the presidential election draws near. I speed along contentedly and largely without stress by allowing myself a jovial mental reply to the headlines – as though a friend said it to me aloud. I move on from there, generally without reading the articles.  Over weeks they have degraded, lacking anything really new to say, becoming strident on all sides, using ‘shout louder’ hoping to gain readers, views, and clicks; reading the articles is already pointless, reading the comments would be a crime against my own humanity.

Skimming the headlines does get me thinking about language. It functions by agreement; differences in our “dictionary”, and thereby our “map of the world”, result in a lack of shared understanding. It would be nice if that were so obvious that each of us routinely would request clarification in conversation (“Would you define ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’, ‘urgent’, ‘required’, ‘necessary’, ‘obscene’, ‘family values’, ‘right wing’, ‘left wing’, ‘terrorism’, ‘racism’,… You see where that could be cumbersome?), but we don’t ask; we assume we share an understanding of common terms. We are routinely deceived or bamboozled when (and because) that is not actually the case. I will walk away from conversation with someone who says “that’s just semantics” when talking about the meanings of the words they choose to use in reply to a request for clarification. It was just such a moment that firmly made up my mind to leave my last job; I can’t work comfortably with someone who expresses the belief that the definitions of the words he uses are not relevant to communication. That’s just… yeah. “Meaning” is sort of the fucking point of communicating… for some of us. For others… well… words can be a shortcut to forcing their will on others, and for those folks, perhaps the actual meaning is less important than the outcome.

Meaning still matters – that it matters is independent of what we choose to do about that. Sort of like reality itself – which gives not one tinkers damn what our opinions are, or what we ‘believe’.

Take a minute and have some fun. How many terms in the prior paragraphs are too loosely defined to be sure that you and I are “on the same page”? 😉

A flock of geese walking by; how do they communication so well?

A flock of geese walking by; how do they communication so well?

I sip my coffee, now-cold in the chill morning air, and watch an enormous flock of Canada geese slow march across the lawn beyond the window. It’s been some weeks since I’ve seen so many, it tells me fall is approaching to see so many.  Is that ‘true’? Does it matter? Well… if I were a feral human in my natural environment potentially relying on a tasty goose to eat now and then, it very well might matter that I understand very well, and quite accurately, their comings and goings. As a suburbanite on the edge of a manicured and maintained not-at-all-wilderness, with a well-stocked pantry, running water, heat, indoor plumbing, and a bit of time on my hands, it’s comfortable to accept their comings and goings as part of the scenery, content with the notion that they are a harbinger of the season changing… maybe they are. My required level of accuracy seems conditional.

I continue to sip my cold coffee – it’s very tasty in spite of having gone cold – and mull things over. There is value in simple language. I like being well-understood. What has value but doesn’t come naturally is worth practicing.

Today is a good day to compare the map to the world; it is of greatest value when the map accurately reflects the world. Scale matters. Perspective, too. Today is a good day to change the map.  🙂

 

It is a very quiet morning. The keyboard ‘sounds loud’. I park my mechanical keyboard and opt to use the soft quiet keys of my laptop, typing with the most delicate touch I can manage. I am alert and a bit sound and light-sensitive today, and recognize it is something to be aware of as the day wears on. I don’t often get such a good opportunity to get ahead of my issues this way. I even have a good idea what the drivers are, this morning. Hello, PTSD-as-residual-of-domestic-violence. It can be a complicated experience.

I am not surprised that I am faced with managing my symptoms; my traveling partner is spending a great deal of time here, struggling with his own challenges, needing more than usual emotional support, frustrated, hurting, and understandably angry with the use of emotional weaponry in another relationship. It’s too easy to let his anger, the emotional experience itself, resonate with me; he does not ‘deserve’ this, I often find myself thinking. While that’s true (I mean, who does?), it’s counter-productive to providing emotional support. I practice listening deeply. I practice compassion. I work on finding a comfortable balance between soothing the hurts, and providing requested input without making it about me – this is sometimes complicated by my reliance on metaphor and comparison to similar experiences I’ve had to gain understanding or clarity. I keep practicing. I definitely need the practice. This isn’t mine to ‘fix’.

I began re-reading The Four Agreements. “Be Impeccable With Your Word” is most specifically the agreement I am reading, although… it’s the first one, and I’ll read the entire book. I am re-reading it for a refresher and deeper understanding of the first agreement, “Be Impeccable With Your Word”. I think of other experiences in life, other relationships, and of finding myself on the receiving end of some angry accusatory tirade in which some practice or way of thinking, recommended in the self-help aisle has been launched against me as a weapon. I remember also a tense, peculiarly cathartic sight of  young, angry, 20 -something, literally throwing a self-help book at the face of a partner in a public argument – a public moment of a human being lashing out directly at another human being physically – screaming “it’s a self help book, you asshole!” I had almost burst out laughing with understanding. We can only ever work on ourselves, really.

Being impeccable with my word, The Four Agreements makes clear, is not about ‘telling the truth’ precisely, or about ‘keeping promises’ either, well… not only those things. It’s vastly more complicated, subtle, and nuanced. It is a favorite practice of mine, and my own understanding of it is as a fundamental statement of mental and emotional purity, as in ‘don’t fuck with people’s reality, and especially don’t do that on purpose’. Lying counts, so does misleading someone with great care through choice of language or use of misdirection. Explicit expectation setting on which there is not intent to follow through is also a failure to be impeccable with one’s word. Then there is name calling, beratement, judgement – yes, even that; the things we say to people can cause them great pain. We all know it. Sowing discontent is another way to undermine the impeccability of our word. Mean jokes, too. Even just being irritable and cruel. Yeah…basically, the idea is that language is a powerful shared tool for human primates akin to actual magic. Being impeccable with my word is a practice intended to keep me on the path of treating myself and others well. (I may not say out loud the words I use to/about myself, but those count too.)

I breathe through my increasing irritation about how my traveling partner is treated in another relationship; I can’t fix it, and it’s not mine to fix. It’s hard to be on the sidelines watching someone use their words as weapons against someone so dear to me such that he is further hurt, further tested. I contemplate my own similar experiences, the choices required to take care of myself. I know there are verbs involved, and that it is a journey with many choices. It’s hard to watch, though. I find myself puzzled why more people don’t recognize that they are crafting their own hell-on-earth with the way they mistreat people they say they love – hell, the way they treat people generally. Sounds a little judgmental when I see the words hit the page. I return my thoughts to my own experience, my own actions – things I can affect directly through my choices. I am human. I can do better, myself. I observe in moment of cynicism, that this is one of the great challenges in a human life; I acknowledge I can grow, change and do better – a lot of people do – and then there are others, seeing that acknowledgement and replying through their own choices and actions ‘you go right ahead working on you, thanks, you owe me that and I’m not changing shit myself, so… yeah’.  It’s a thing. It’s frustrating – and more. Still… this is my own journey, my own path, and although there is immense power in the words used aggressively or wickedly by others, I don’t have to drink the poison. I can choose differently.

I hear the wail of the morning train not so far away. My cup is empty of even the last cold swallow of coffee. I feel the chill of the room sitting in a soft cotton camisole and wondering where I left the sweater I chose to wear to work. I feel a moment of gratitude that my traveling partner has such a good heart. It is a lovely quiet moment, this one, filled with opportunities to embrace the best qualities of my experience, and build my day on that foundation.

Today is a good day to walk my own path, and use my words with care, kindness, compassion, and awareness. Today is a good day to listen more than I talk.

Today is a good day to walk my own path, and use my words with care, and compassion. Today is a good day to listen more than I talk.