Archives for posts with tag: be one of the good guys

I enjoyed a lovely handful of days out in the trees. Relaxing? Sure. Good hikes? Definitely. Even challenging. Restful downtime? Yes. Time for deep reflection? Quite a lot. Did I write? No, not really. Read? Barely picked up a book. I mostly sat around watching the clouds drift by between naps and walks. It was time well-spent.

Here’s a question that crossed my mind rather unproductively, though… Who exactly are “the good guys”? Seriously. I don’t think a rational person can call our US government a governing body of “good guys”. The media? Doubtful. They have challenges with fundamental truthfulness, to varying degrees that seem dependent on how much profit is in the lies they may be inclined to tell, or the revenue generated by their clickbait articles. It’s frustrating to try to “read the news” these days. How about “every day Americans”? Are we “the good guys”? Considering how commonly people act a fool, or lash out violently against other “every day Americans”, it’s hard to call us, as a group, “the good guys”. Other governments? How different are they, really? People are people. Human primates are barely domesticated at all, and find endless rationalization for treating each other like crap, individually or in groups. It’s pretty horrific. We’ve done some terrible things as creatures.

…Before you go making excuses (“something, something, in the past things were different…”), keep in mind that every single day someone just straight up kills another person, often someone close to them, even a partner, a child, a lover… just… yeah. Every day. Domestic violence. Gang violence. Racially-motivated hate-driven violence. Institutional violence. “Criminal violence” isn’t even the largest portion of violent crime being reported. Shot at a gas station during a robbery? It happens. Not as often as an angry spouse lashes out at their partner. That domestic violence even exists at all still shocks and horrifies me, not just as a survivor, but also as a human being. I mean, for real? What the fuck?? Seriously? How is that even a thing, at all? How does any one human being reach a place where they can justify an act of violence against another human being – particularly one they say they love. Truly horrifying.

I’m grateful to have escaped with my life, to have survived, and to have found my way to a healthy authentic experience of love with a partner I know cares for me deeply, and truly loves me. I literally can’t imagine him ever raising a hand against me. Love feels comfortable and safe. How could it be any other way and still be “love”? ūüôā

Seems strange to find it so needful, so often, to want to suggest people “stop hating”. Are we truly such barbaric vile creatures that it is necessary to point out the value of basic kindness? (That’s rhetorical; we’re obviously not drowning in kindness, consideration, compassion, and tolerance, and there just can’t be too many reminders to be better people, when being a better version of ourselves is so readily within reach for all of us.) Just… do better.

Begin again.

This is me, beginning again. Right here. Now. I take a breath. I change the playlist. I change the view. I change my perspective. I practice the practices that work best for me. I pick myself up when I fall, and get back on my path. Easy? Easy enough to do it as often as I need to (which is, I admit, often).

Sometimes just watching the clouds scoot by is enough.

My computer locks up. No, I don’t know why, I just deal with it and move on. Re-center myself after the briefest moment of frustration, and pull myself back into the pleasant moment I had been enjoying, flipping through pictures from my camping weekend…

Lovely moments spent meditating in lovely quiet places are worth savoring.

I recently read an article about the negative consequences of venting when we’re angry. I mean, sure, it feels sort of gratifying to “get it all out”, but, and this is real, it also tends to cement that negative experience in our implicit recollection and boosts our negative bias. The outcome is different when we look for opportunities to learn from challenging experiences, seek other perspectives, and “focus on the positive” (in an authentic way). That seems worth exploring…

We become what we practice. Are you practicing being angry? Are you practicing prolonged frustration? Reactivity? Shouting? Maybe practice other things… ūüėČ I’m just saying there are choices. We can each choose to be “the good guy” more often than we likely do.

…And we have the opportunity to choose differently, and begin again.

I slept well and deeply, I woke “too early” out of habit. No stress there. I got up, took my morning medication, opened up the house to the pre-dawn breezes, and gently wondered at how light it is these days at 4:19 am before returning to bed. I love summer sleep. ūüôā The mild early morning breeze and scents of the meadow fill the apartment, and I nap a little while longer before waking to greet the day. A wholly lovely start to a summer morning of sunshine, and dewdrops sparkling on the lawn.

I will brave Memorial Day weekend traffic at some point today… but I might ride the bus downtown for my salon appointment… The convenience of the car is not sufficiently enticing when I fill out the details with the holiday traffic, the fuss and bother of finding downtown parking… I vacillate. Car? No car? Convenience? Ease? Quick? Low stress? It’s a small enough choice, one might expect it to be an easy one. lol

A lot of life’s choices seem to work this way; seemingly simple until I look beyond the superficial if/then, yes/no elements of the decision. Life can sometimes seem an elaborate prank. I find value in shifting my thinking to consider it more as a “choose your own adventure” game… and as it happens, it very much works that way. I make a choice, the choice dictates what other choices, experiences, and opportunities develop in my new, altered, future… another choice, another change, and so on. At any point, I can completely alter the course of my life with a choice. I think I implicitly know this on a very fundamental level, because when I feel life going sideways, spiraling out of control, or need to “back track” to sort something out, I go looking for the choice that brought me to the place I’m in. I think, though, that I’m pretty terrible at being correct about which choices lead to which outcomes. I mean, some are easy; I got married, therefore I am married to my Traveling Partner. Choice, outcome, done. It’s just that easy…only… is that really the choice I made that was the one that resulted specifically and directly in having that opportunity? In being in that place at that time? In being situated in life in circumstances that put the idea in front of us both in a positive way?

It’s hard when I’m existing in some unhappy distressed moment, or feeling discouraged and beat down, or when I am grieving, frustrated, or raging, to be mindful of how much of my experience is legitimately within my control. That’s not a moment in which I want to be reminded of it, either, honestly – like a child, I need to “have my moment” and get over that bit, but once my head clears, and I’ve taken time to process my emotions and settle down to dealing with things properly, it’s generally my own choices that lead the way to relief, to contentment, to change, to fulfillment… to the place I choose, wherever that may be. Life is interesting in this way; we have this immense power all along, but it takes some of us a lifetime to be aware it was ever ours in the first place, and then we’ve still got so far to go to learn to use it well, in service of our needs over time, in service of becoming the person we most want to be, in service of greater good in the world – or other less savory choices. It is a choice. Actually, it is a lot of choices.

What will I choose today? Where will the journey lead me? How will I become more the woman I most want to be? How will I right wrongs in my life? How will I change the world? Where will my story end? Will the narrative of my life be an incredible adventure? Will it be lovely poetic prose? Will it be a rousing call to arms? Will the narrative of my life foment revolution or beg for change? What about yours? Right now, right here, this morning – are you the person you most want to be? What will you do about that?

Neither too early nor too late.

It’s time to begin again. ūüôā

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.