Archives for posts with tag: breathe

The evening ends gently. I’m tired. I’m in pain. Every doctor’s appointment feels like a re-run of some previous appointment. My frustration continues.

I take a deep breath and relax as I exhale, taking a moment to recall the squirrel visitor I watched for some while. I didn’t pick up my camera, just watched. I was sitting quite close. The squirrel didn’t seem to mind my presence on the other side of the glass, even though it was clear that I was quite visible. The memory of it makes me smile.

It’s not late. It is, actually, rather early. The last couple evenings it has been no effort to go to bed early enough to get a complete night’s sleep, and I have done so. So. Of course, this means that I also woke quite a bit earlier than necessary, each of the mornings following an evening on which I went to bed earlier. LOL I feel most decently well-rested, more or less. I’ve only just started having nightmares a couple nights ago, and so far they aren’t terrifying me into sleep aversion. I silently mock myself quite tenderly, without ill intent. I’ve come a long way. I can recall a time in the not too distant past when just contemplating the possibility of sleeplessness becoming a cycle of nightmares would disrupt my sleep, and result in precisely that dreaded scenario. I can look that one in the face these days. Even when I start with the nightmares again, most recently it has been the case that I manage to hold onto a sense of order and manageability for many days and nights, only beginning to fall apart just at the end, when normal sleep returns, and some sort of life I call “normal” resumes.

I shake off the thought of nightmares; it doesn’t do me any good to start up days and nights of nightmares by investing precious limited lifetime in playing reruns of my nightmares in my waking thoughts. No good at all.

I observe that I still managed to nudge myself into a mild feeling of uneasiness, and decide to finish the evening on my meditation cushion. Tomorrow will be soon enough to begin again.

“Fuck Portland.” It came out as a snarl. I said it more than once. It was an unpleasant commute. I said much worse as I crept east on Division at less than 10 miles per hour. I waited at least twice at all but one intersection on my usual route. My GPS mocked me by pointing out it was “the usual traffic”. “Oh, Google,” I sneered, “I disagree.” Construction delays? Nope. A freight train halting traffic at important crossroads? Nope. Bus traffic? Nope, not this time. No, this time it was… Portland. Yep. The very culture itself combined with certain specific circumstances and… commuter hell.

One of the things I least appreciate about the area is the odd practice of extending courtesy to who or whatever is directly in one’s view, while utterly disregarding the existence of anything else at all. In this case, very polite drivers yielding the right of way of other drivers who have no interest in so doing, and haven’t consented to giving it up; a car waiting to turn, dense commuter traffic on a primary road that has the right of way, and lo! The oh-so-polite Portlander just fucking stops dead still in the middle of the road to allow someone whose turn it is not to go ahead and make their turn – sometimes, even if doing so requires just sitting there awhile as the perplexed driver who recognizes they do not have the right of way wonders what the hell is going on, until they finally also recognize that this polite clown is actually no kidding going to fucking sit there until eternity – unless that turn gets made. This is an experience over which I just seethe. I get very angry. Anger is hard on me. I’m not good at it. I have to practice the best possible anger-related skills and practices, or risk utter failure at adulting with skill. So. I practiced all the way home.

I did say “fuck Portland” a bunch of times, I won’t even minimize that – but I said it. I didn’t scream it while beating my fists on the dashboard, or throwing myself against the car door, or throwing shit. I just said it, and I totally meant it in the moment, too; fuck Portland. Fuck city convenience. Fuck traffic. Fuck the endless badly maintained pothole covered pavement. Fuck the multifamily housing being added to even the smallest available remaining city lots. Fuck the high rent. Fuck having to listen to neighbors through thin walls. Fuck being far away from family.

Oh.

Oh, hell. Is that what this is? Am I feeling lonely, and it is erupting as anger? Why the hell would I find anger a more comfortable emotion than loneliness?

I got home, and sat awhile in the parked car in the driveway, listening to the rain fall and the shhh shhh of passing traffic. I checked the mail, and tossed the pile of nothing into the recycling bin on my way to the front door. I let myself in, expecting to feel at ease, and when I didn’t… I sat down to write. My “safe space” isn’t always a meditation cushion next to a patio door, or a fireplace, sometimes it is pen and paper, or a keyboard and a text box.

My writing is interrupted by conversation with my Traveling Partner. It’s funny. I’m already totally over being angry. Definitely more invested in this conversation with this human being I love so much. So… I think I’ll do that, for awhile, and see where the evening takes me. It’s a nice way to begin again.

Wow. I suck at writing in the evenings. I mean, I apparently don’t approach the matter with the same rigid commitment, or discipline, or…? Whatever it is that drives me to write before dawn is clearly lacking. lol Perhaps, there’s more of other stuff that tends to redirect my attention to the living of life versus the consideration of all of the many details that could go into doing so, for the purpose of committing a handful of words on the subject to a text box, online?

I write less in the evening, but in making the observation, I find myself also wondering if that were the point, in the first place? More may not be better…or… even at all good or worthwhile, and potentially just… time-consuming. lol It’s not about a word count, to the point that someone else once had to point out to me that I’d begun writing such long posts they’d discontinued reading them. (I don’t think that resulted in my changing my writing style as much as simply alerting me that I’d likely lose a few readers. I write, generally, very much the way I talk. 😀 ) Still, I’d much rather write when I feel most inspired, and write about things that matter most to me in some way that is meaningful or revealing or… somehow worthwhile to have taken the time to jot it all down.

The oven beeps to let me know it is pre-heated. I pause and stick dinner in the oven (a foil packet of veggies chopped into bite sized pieces, cubed meat – the type varies – some seasonings, a drizzle of olive oil, and stuff it in the oven for about an hour at 400 degrees; it isn’t fancy, but it’s easy, tasty, and requires little further attention). I take a deep deep breath and relax as I return to my writing. I notice my boots are still on, and suddenly they feel confining. I remove them. I’m not really following a set routine, lately, in the way I am most comfortable, and small distractions like boots, dinner, my hair falling in my face, the buzz of a message notification on a silenced ringer, really throw me off and I feel disorganized and unskilled at enjoying the evening. It’s comical in the abstract, frustrating in real life…but, and this still feels rather odd to me, I’m not particularly freaked out by either the frustration, or the feeling of being disorganized and unskilled, which is pretty cool. Incremental change over time. 😀

I look at the words with a weird feeling, realizing that at some point real lasting emotional and mental wellness may overtake me – will I stop writing? I mean, stop writing this, here, a blog about feeling my way through life’s chaos and damage in the relative darkness, and hoping to improve on my experience ever so slightly, in increments, over time, using borrowed wisdom, meditation, and mindfulness practices? Will I have anything to say, generally? Will I, instead, seek to enjoy my contentment silently as life’s evening light fades gently over time?

…I burst out laughing out loud when I realize I’m basically wondering what the future holds. lol Definitely a question for which I have no answers. The future is… out there somewhere, as yet unformed, to be built on a matrix of my choices and yours, and coincidence and circumstances, and tricks of our thinking, filtered through what we think we understand. Yeah. I have nothing for that one besides the awareness that if I’m fortunate, I’ll get to see it. 😀 What happens after that? I’m no help there either. I don’t know at all. Maybe we begin again? 😉

I had recently noticed that something’s been digging in my container garden. I know the squirrels, who are regular visitors, are likely suspects; I’ve seen them bury acorns in those same containers, so perhaps they’ve also been digging them up? Seems a safe enough assumption. It’s still just an assumption. If I hang on to that assumption long enough, it becomes a belief. As a belief, it sits in my head guiding my expectations of things to come. I expect, eventually, to see a squirrel digging up acorns from those pots, naturally.

A succulent garden in a large pot, thoroughly dug up, peanut shells littering the ground, carelessly left behind by a visitor.

Funny thing about “reality”; it isn’t at all what we imagine, or assume, or expect it to be. It is what it is. (What it’s made of is a lofty topic for other days, and fancy experts, I can’t do it justice, here.) I happened to be relaxing with a cup of decaf, considering the afternoon ahead, and spotted movement on the deck out of the corner of my eye. Squirrels? Not quite squirrel like. And tiny. I turn slowly and watch carefully, waiting… waiting… waiting… My eyes adjust to the “pattern” of the container garden on the deck – there it is. A new visitor, or at least one I haven’t spotted before – a chipmunk. An actual chipmunk has come up onto the deck (which exists on the same level as the single level residence in which I make my home, but from the back of the house, would be “the second floor”, because the property slopes considerably). I sit and watch the chipmunk. The chipmunk darts here and there, behind pots, over pots, between pots, watching me. There is no opportunity to get my new camera, but my phone is at hand. I don’t reach for it right away, I just watch.

My chipmunk visitor pauses perched on a pot.

That’s when I spotted it, a snapshot of a reality I don’t generally see; the chipmunk is my digging visitor. My little visitor hopped up to the lip of first one pot, then another, and just dug like crazy, leaving pock-marked soil, divots, and craters behind. The chipmunk was digging up the peanuts the squirrels had recently buried and eating them, one by one. There’s even a chance it’s been happening right in front of me – the little chipmunk’s camouflage is very good. I sat and watched a good while longer, until my little visitor left.

Some movement startles the chipmunk, which grabs one last peanut and darts away.

I end up sitting quietly for some minutes, contemplating the ease with which I assumed the squirrels to be responsible for the “bad acts” of the wee chipmunks, who I hadn’t considered at all – because I didn’t know they would come up onto the deck in the first place, having never seen that behavior. I was limited by my lack of knowledge, and my reasoning was impaired by my assumptions. It’s worth thinking about. It’s worth getting all “meta” with that experience and recognizing the damage I potentially do to myself and to my relationships to allow unverified assumptions to become beliefs which inform my expectations and guide my decision-making. There’s something greater to understand in that, something that matters. I sip my coffee and stare into the rain.

I sigh contentedly. I don’t need more from this moment. This is enough.

 

The first time I heard “YOLO”, I remember being rather struck by it in a positive way, which was before I was fully aware how often it is attached to a level of foolhardiness or stupidity so vast as to be quite noteworthy, and… on purpose. Wild. Kinda scary. Definitely not at all what I might mean were I to observe that “you only live once“. Not at all. I’d be saying “live your life – truly live it, awake, and aware, and willful, you may not get another shot at this, so do your best”.

I try, every day, to take my own best advice. Sometimes I even succeed.

I am enjoying a relaxed quiet evening, but it isn’t “everything”. I plan the weekend, making sure my needs over time are considered ahead of the needs of the moment (which often aren’t truly needs at all, but instead some distraction or alluring momentary fancy). I smile when I realize how excited I am to have two days in a row to sleep in, and no driving. I feel that twist, and become a pang of regret and loneliness; I won’t see my Traveling Partner this weekend. I do need some real down time, though, a chance to rest, and a chance to take care of this space I live in, and some time to finish moving into my studio, so that days I am inspired to paint are as effortless as days I am inspired to write. These are things I need. 🙂

My mind wanders to that dark corner labeled “all the shit you forgot to take care of”, and instead of a panic attack, I find myself just sort of mentally “tidying up”, letting myself consider a large number of very assorted sorts of loose-end-y kinds of things I am prone to forgetting, just generally. I moved in July. Did I account for 100% of everything? Did I pack something, forget about it, and continue to overlook it because I don’t recall it even exists? So many distracting weekends away. How does a person rediscover what they have entirely forgotten, when that is a needful thing? That’s only sort of rhetorical; I do manage it, but I couldn’t explain in a million years quite how, and it’s very hit or miss. So… I guess I only sort of manage it. LOL Nice that such things don’t set off a storm of anxiety these days. The fear made it terribly difficult to catch things up, fix them, or complete them, or address whatever had or might go wrong with any skill. Now it generally just feels like another thing that needs doing, and once done, I’m done with it completely. I check off a few things, an address or two to update, things like that.

Strange night. I’m in a lot of pain, and the headache is just… extra. I’m managing a good mood in spite of that.  I’m still smiling from a few minutes of chat with my Traveling Partner. It’s a nice evening. It’s… a nice life. I frown, remembering how my every day moments “now” had been so thoroughly tainted by past events… when did that change? Will it stay like this? I feel the weight of my frown become stress in my shoulders and pause, breathe deeply, and sit more erect as I exhale. I’m okay right now. Right now isn’t something that needs troubleshooting. Right now I’m okay, and that’s enough. 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll begin again. 🙂