Archives for posts with tag: be real

An ordinary enough Spring morning. I’m sipping coffee. Minutes are ticking by. The cool dawn air fills the apartment. My fingers click rhythmically on the keyboard. Traffic swooshes by, beyond the driveway. I am considering the “blank page” in front of me – both actually, on this monitor, and metaphorically, this day ahead of me.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

Yesterday’s work day was productive, and felt… short. Very short. The evening that followed was delightful, connected, and relaxed. I slept well. I woke easily, just minutes ahead of the alarm clock, feeling rested. This cup of coffee tastes delicious. My clothes feel quite comfortable. Given this context, the fact that I feel content, merry, and relaxed, this morning, is no particular surprise, right?

This gets me thinking about context, generally. When I find myself feeling miserable for one reason (or many), it changes my outlook on everything that touches my experience. I tend to take more things personally when I am in pain, for example, even though there’s no direct connection between the physical experience of pain, and other qualities of other experiences. It colors my mood, and thus, colors my perception of my experience. If my mood, itself, can alter the way I see my experience, and if the experiences I have in life have the potential to alter my mood… is this a trap – or an opportunity? I used to feel it was a sort of sick joke, and emotional Catch-22 wherein, no matter what, the outcome was always that life sucked. One way or another, I was back to misery, pretty inevitably.

Mindfulness practices, and specifically meditation, unraveled that “trap” – turns out I set that trap myself, and caught myself regularly, fair and square. lol I did most of that to me. I mean, sure, I learned all of it somewhere, but that is so much less significant (for me) than the idea that I built that trap, maintained it with great care (and many verbs), and resisted treated myself any better for a long time with the sort of will and commitment that one generally sees from the eager or ambitious. Sort of scary, looking back, how very skillfully done all that was, and how ferociously I protected myself from any sort of healing progress, for so long. Choices.

Context matters. Where am I right now? Am I okay, right now? How do I feel? Pulling my awareness to this present moment, again and again, and allowing the bullshit narratives to fall away until I am only this human being, breathing in this moment, uncomplicated by assumptions, expectations, and clinging to what is not, there is so much less misery in my experience. This helps me sort out random frustrations, hurt feelings, poorly managed fury, dark days, weird sorrows – nearly all that mess is just made up bullshit, and I can choose differently. It’s often about context. The assumptions I make about this or that detail (or person) really fill it out and make it seem so real. It generally isn’t. I giggle, imagining a world in which everyone around us was truly the embodiment of my assumptions, my thoughts about them, instead of being who and what they actually are.

When I allow others around me to be who they are, without my assumptions and expectations clinging to me, them, or the connection we share, I can also relax and let go of any ludicrous notion about changing them, or fixing them, and just enjoy (or not) who they are, themselves. I can be who I am, too. We can share that time together authentically, and maybe even learn things from each other, and grow. If I’m clinging to a golem built of my assumptions and suppositions about them, filtered through my experience of life and projected onto them, we aren’t even really together, are we? I’m just hanging out with a different version of myself. lol It’s also much easier to be open to people, letting them be them, staying firmly “me”, myself… fewer verbs needed to be real, than to shore up an image.

Context… and authenticity. Perspective. Consideration. Awareness. Presence. All good words for a Tuesday… I think I’ll go out there into the world, with a handful of words, and a gentle heart. It’s a good beginning. 🙂

I admit I love the increasing cultural encouragement to embrace our authentic selves that I see popping up everywhere, often in the form of a response to some thing or other, phrased as “do you”. I like that. Definitely. Do you. Be you. Invest in you. Grow your brand – and your self. Explore who you are. All that sounds pretty awesome, and very supportive and encouraging… but…

…It also sounds “too easy”. I know, I know. Authenticity is actually pretty fucking daring, even now, and it requires self-awareness, self-compassion, openness, honesty on this whole other level a lot of people are not prepared for, and a willingness to let go of attachment to our own assumptions about who we in fact our, when those conflict with who we in fact are. It’s not actually easy to be our authentic selves in a culture built on controlling people through their insecurities, fears, and doubts. It’s even… brave. There’s still another “but” to move beyond…

…It’s also not enough to just drift in a sea of our own filth and basic bullshit. It’s not really the ideal “do you” scenario, is it? To just… stall in life and make no attempt to become the person we most want to be? To just… rest, assume the most slack possible approach to the question “who am I?”, and just… not bother doing more or being better? I mean… aren’t we capable of more?

This morning I am thinking about what it means to “do me” and how I can become the woman I most want to be. I know there are choices to make. There are verbs involved. I know my results with vary. I know that being authentic – truly frank and real – with the human being in the mirror has to come first, and be reliably a thing I do for myself, without fail. I know I have more questions. More opportunities. More chances to begin again.

I guess I’ll get started on that now… 😉

I had a wee moment yesterday, that teetered on the edge of the day going very wrong. It didn’t. I managed a step back, and some perspective, long enough for things to sort themselves out well. It’s really enough that things worked out, and not at all necessary to live life without such, or disappointing to have experienced it. In fact, because I didn’t become emotionally invested in the moment itself, or build it up to become a mountain of circumstantial anguish. It was more illuminating of my self and values, than at all disturbing. I didn’t know I would “get here”… hell, years ago, I did not even understand that “here” existed to arrive at. lol

We make up most of what causes our worst suffering, in our own heads. It’s ours. It’s hand-crafted painful narrative, and we often rely upon it a great deal to illustrate points, prove we’re “right”, and show “who we are”, to gain sympathy, or justify refusing to change, or to reinforce our insistence that we have no choices – without much attention to how entirely made up that bullshit really is. It sucks. It sucks to suffer in the first place, but oh does suck to understand we’ve done it to ourselves. Still – once I knew, I could stop fucking doing that!!

Life has been much better – easier, rich in cherished moments, low in drama, characterized generally by contentment – since I stopped putting myself through all that. It was not, unfortunately, something with an easy set of steps to follow, or something anyone could help me with.  I can try:

  1. Don’t be so down on yourself; you’re human.
  2. Don’t be so full of shit all the time; other people see through that crap, so can you.
  3. Do your best to be the person you most want to be, moment to moment.
  4. Repeat

No super helpful, I get it. It may be worth noting that, most commonly, I see the mostly likely point at which I am most prone to stepping from “what clearly actually is” to “I made this shit up myself, see?!” follows the word “because”. Maybe just… don’t do that. “I feel hurt” is honest, and clear, and fairly to the point. “I feel hurt because…” holds so much potential for magical thinking, disorder, lost reason, and lashing out at someone, that we often quickly stop sharing information that is legitimately provable true in real life, and start… making shit up. We often can’t tell we’ve done so, either. We believe our thoughts, and in this era of people behaving as if their opinion is every bit as worthy as actual truth, it can be hard to pull ourselves out of the slime long enough for honest self-reflection, and anything so wholesome as “truth”. “Because” is actually a pretty useful word, but fuck; fact check yourself.

Truth exists. It’s just sort of hard to stand firm to the process of telling it, honestly, particularly about ourselves, and especially when we may be quite definitely “in the wrong”. That’s right, I said it; we err. We make mistakes in reasoning. We excuse of ourselves things we do not excuse in others. We justify our bad acts. We’re “only human” – while we make that other person out to be a villain. It’s not actually okay. Here’s the thing that’s weird about it; it’s hard to call each other out for those lies (yes, they are) – we don’t want to be called out, ourselves, and… what if that person is “well-meaning”, or… they clearly believe what they’re saying? (Reminder: that we “believe” something is not in any way connected to the truth of it.) Yeah. I admit it – standing next to a friend telling me (or others) a tale that they clearly believe about “who they are” (or what actually happened) that I know, for a fact, is not true (from my perspective) – because I was there – is uncomfortable. I have nothing to say here about what to do about it or say to someone else who may be spinning up a bullshit narrative about themselves. I do make a point of trying not to be the person causing that specific category of discomfort, or indulging the particularly human quality of “making shit up”… unless I am literally writing fiction; it would be appropriate, then. lol

The way out of our pain in life is through it. Excusing it, camouflaging it, transforming it through skillful use of internal narrative – none of that “fixes” anything. We’ve all got to walk our own hard mile, deal with our own vast Augean stables, and become the person we, ourselves, most want to be, as honestly as we are able. (And, yeah, there are verbs involved – so many!)(Yep. Your results may vary, too.)

Why am I thinking about all of this, anyway? Life and the world, really, nothing fancier than that. The White House Correspondent’s Dinner got me thinking about it (Michelle Wolf’s comedy was brilliant and edgy). A moment I had yesterday seemed relevant. too. I woke feeling thoughtful, and I just went with it. lol

…I’m still out of coffee, but I remembered to start packing for the weekend. LOL

So how about today? New day, new beginning – are you ready to be who you are, as a starting point to becoming the person you most want to be? You can. You have choices. You can begin again. ❤

I saw a meme this morning promoting what seems, on the face of it, a really good idea that holds potential to benefit “everyone”. Hell, it has “everyone” right there in the bold white on black text!

The meme is not the world.

I don’t disagree with the idea that making voting day a properly recognized cultural day, on which we “all” take off work to do our civic duty and make our voices heard. I actually like the idea. I’d just like it to be something other than a meme. Something more truthful and real than a slogan. It’s a great idea – but it isn’t, and can’t be, made to happen in any literal sense – even with a federal holiday, even with “compulsory” voting. Why? Well… think about those words carefully. Think about the world “everyone” and think about the words “national holiday”. Now tell me what “national holiday” currently celebrated is enjoyed by literally “everyone” such that all have that opportunity?

Did you jump to Thanksgiving? Fourth of July? (I know you’re probably sharp enough to dodge the temptation of Christmas!) So… yeah, about that… On what “national holiday” do all business shut down, and all employees get the day off? I’m seriously splitting this hair, yes I am. Hospitals? Open. Gas stations? Open. Convenience stores? Open. A great many sale-hosting profit-seeking employee-exploiting big box chains? Open. “Everyone” is a big commitment.

Therein lies the danger of getting one’s ideas from memes. They are easy to share, true enough. They are conveniently succinct and pithy. They communicate emotional triggers well. None of this ensures they rise to the level of “true”, “accurate”, “feasible”, or “realistic”. I’m just saying. Think about what you read using your actual brain. Don’t just consume media and regurgitate prepared opinions, please? You have all the qualities of mind that a fancy primate brain can provide. Don’t just let it rot inside your cranium. 😉

…And with regard to improving access to voting, preserving voting rights, and making voting more accessible? How about voting by mail? 🙂 So easy. It works well, and is already the practice in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado; states where the news is not constantly on and on about voter suppression.

This isn’t really about the vote, though. Surprise! It’s about checking references, doing homework, fact-checking, getting news from reliable sources, and making every attempt I can at avoiding having my consciousness influenced by delightfully persuasive likely sounding memes. 🙂 It’s hard. There are so many engaging gifs and sound bites and vines and YouTube videos and memes and slogans and advertising… it’s almost as if getting my attention has intrinsic monetary value to the individual, group, or agency promoting the thought behind them. 😉

Taking care of me is complicated in the 21st century. Everyone wants my views, my clicks, my likes, my shares – yours, too. I want other things for myself.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

There’s a lovely long weekend ahead for me. (I know, right? Another one!) I am spending it with my Traveling Partner out in the countryside. No agenda, no plans of note, just time together. Maybe I write, maybe I don’t… if you miss me… well… there are like… 1416 other posts (surely you have not read them all?? 😀 ). I’ll be back soon… Sunday.  It’ll be a good day to begin again, feet up on the deck, autumn leaves strewn about, hot coffee steaming up my glasses in the chill of evening light.

I woke ahead of the alarm by minutes, feeling rested, and not particularly groggy. The morning has proceeded with logical elegance from task to task, and my coffee is hot, tasty, and welcome. I have nothing much to say. In a life so rich with words much of the time, I guess that’s okay, too. 🙂

The week begins well, and that’s enough. I could use more time in my day, but the new work environment is one in which I thrive, and feel appreciated. I can’t complain about that – and the commute is not the longest one I’ve endured since moving to the area. My longest was the original commute I traveled daily for some 13 years without questioning it. Moving closer to work didn’t feel possible; my (ex) partner was unwilling to travel to and from school, and the result was having to choose between what I needed, and what she demanded. When she’d finished earning her degree, the expected shift in priorities “didn’t happen”. I did not yet understand that I would have to take care of me. I allowed life to go on, without choosing change, and did so for a very long time. Resentful, exhausted, neglected and unhappy, I trudged along in life surviving on wishful thinking and daydreams of a future that wasn’t likely – since I wasn’t building that. We become what we practice – and I was practicing some very different things then, than I do now.

My choices, even then, were vast and assorted, and had many potential outcomes. I didn’t see the whole of the menu, as though refusing to turn it over and see the rest of it, limiting myself to just “today’s specials” – which, as it happened, weren’t that damned special. I’m not bitching, I’m just making a point of pointing out that I carefully crafted the experience I was mired in, by refusing to choose a different one. My choices mattered greatly – and yes, I’ll go ahead and say so sooner than later, when I did start making different choices, some of my relationships were changed, and some ended (including a partnership of 15 years, and a job with a company I’d worked for, for 13 of those). Choices have consequences. Remember reality? Yeah – reality doesn’t care what we think we’re choosing. We are each having our own experience, each filtering that through our own perspective – reality doesn’t care about that, either.  😉

This is not actually a picture of a rainbow filling a building with gold, however much it may appear so.

What it appears to be does not change what it is.

Choice and change and verbs and perspective… it’s busy in here. I find myself pondering the “meaning of life”. It’s that sort of morning. A good morning for meditation as the sun rises, and a leisurely 2nd and 3rd coffee…and it’s also a work morning. I’ll watch the sun rise on foot, as I walk through downtown to the office. I’ll see it reflected, perhaps, on the city from the other side of the river, where I stop each morning to reflect on life, and take a picture. It is a moment of perspective with lasting value.

Misty

Giving myself time to reflect…

 

...allows my perspective to deepen...

…allows my perspective to deepen…

 

Giving myself time to reflect allows my perspective to deepen and change with experience.

…and change with experience.

We are each having our own experience. We choose a lot of it. We carefully craft a lot more of it within our thoughts, even sometimes avoiding confronting what differs from our so carefully crafted narrative. Expectations and assumptions can be built on accumulated experience of reality – but they don’t have to be, and often aren’t. I set myself up for failure when I build my expectations and assumptions on my internal narrative, without checking in with reality. Funny thing (maybe) that reality seems so much more variable than expectations and assumptions…

My mind wanders. I’m enjoying the morning over my coffee, listening to a freight train roar past on the other side of the park. I think of my traveling partner, and life and love and time; perhaps I shall see him this evening? Perhaps not until tomorrow. We have evening plans for Thursday, and I “know” I will see him then – is that an expectation? An assumption? Is it reality? Certainly it is planned…

A wordless moment of clarity... a picture as a metaphor.

A wordless moment of clarity… a picture as a metaphor.

Today is a good day to be present in this moment, here. I think I’ll go do that. (Your results may vary…)