Archives for posts with tag: choices

I don’t honestly feel at all like sleeping on the ground, or dealing with overnight chill, or having to use vault toilets or a hole in the ground… or… any of the things that go along with camping, really. Not this weekend. I do, however, very much feel like hiking a few miles alone with my thoughts. πŸ™‚ It’s nice having the car. It’s nicer that it is my own, and of the sort far more appropriate to trail heads and rougher roads than the luxury sedan I’d been driving. (None of that diminishes my gratitude for having the use of my partner’s car for a year; I needed it, he was right.) The weekend is my own, and I’ll go where I please, travel the roads I like, and find the miles that suit me most to wander.

I sip my coffee and consider my rather lengthy list of hikes I’d like to take. I decide I’d rather not drive more than an hour this morning, having slept a bit later than I expected to, and also wanting to go to the Farmer’s Market this morning. My smile becomes a grin contemplating the luxury of being able, if I chose, to also just get in the car and drive down to my Traveling Partner’s location, and visit him there. Any time. There is nothing to stop me doing so, and no one to whom I must answer. That feels amazing. I sit with the feeling and the awareness awhile longer; I haven’t always truly had the freedom to be accountable primarily to myself, only, and it’s an intoxicating level of adult freedom.

This is a weekend of choices. One of those is that I chose to invest in my longer-term emotional and physical wellness by making this particular weekend mostly about self-care, also. Yesterday was spent advocating for important social issues as a citizen, and getting ample rest as a human being. Today? Today I want to get out into the trees, put some miles behind me, take some pictures, find some solitude and relief from the din and background noise of the world. Tomorrow, too. Even Monday (after my first Qigong class, fairly early in the morning). Something about the car I’d been driving was keeping me from hiking in some subtle way. (I think perhaps my reluctance to leave a largish luxury car parked at a trailhead and at risk of break-ins, when it wasn’t even my own car, was a bit of baggage I didn’t manage well.) The Mazda fairly begs to be left-along-the-side-of-the-road-back-soon-I-promise at every trail head I spot on every drive I take. lol I literally want to just park it, however abruptly, hop out and walk down each unexpected mystery trail just to see where they lead. πŸ˜€ This bodes well for future fitness, and I’m not inclined to fight it – I just want to get out there, and explore the world on foot, with a significant lack of human companionship.

New beginnings aren’t just an assortment of lovely sunrises, or yet another work shift, or one more morning waking from one more night of sleep; there are opportunities here for growth, change, and transcendence. These are chances to work through past pain, to set down more baggage and walk on – both metaphorically, and for real. What was yesterday about? Can I do better today? What choices does that take? How does this particular morning hold the potential to see me become more the person I most want to be at the end of this particular day? It’s a process filled with verbs, and my results vary. Still, I get as many chances to begin again as there are sunrises – or moments. There are choices involved.

I’m ready. It’s time to grab a map. πŸ™‚

Sipping my coffee and thinking about all the many things I’ve tried out over the years, qualities I have explored, places I have seen, styles enjoyed, projects undertaken, seems like a lot of variety – whole lifetimes of change. A lot of what I have been, I am not now. A lot of what I have done, I no longer do today. I’ve picked up skills, and built practice, that have since fallen into disuse… I give a moment of thought to the things that have mattered most (not all of which I pursued beyond the past moment in which they existed). I think of how all of this contributes to who I am, now.

…Hell of an interesting and varied journey… certainly worth giving a moment of thought to. I put on some music. I get a second coffee. I look around the studio, half-finished canvases… just everywhere. lol This back and forth stuff between here and there every weekend takes a creative toll. For the moment I satisfy myself thinking about the not-too-distant future that is (hopefully) retirement. My life is, I am hopeful, barely half over. πŸ™‚

Try things. It’s okay if you don’t “stick with it” endlessly forever. Learn new things, try new stuff, make things, do things, learn things – there isn’t anything “wrong” with taking something up, learning a bit about it, moving on to the next interesting thing. Oh, I know, there’s a ferocious culture of “don’t quit” and “you never finish anything” lingering about to discourage shallow interest, and changes of heart – and that literally does not have to matter at all. Interested in the sound of Mandarin Chinese as a language? Start learning it. Lose interest in things that are hard? It’s okay; languages can be quite difficult, and maybe you give up on that – you are still changed by what you have learned. Expose yourself to the world of options and opportunities that exists. Become more than you are.

Become more than you are. Be the person you most want to be – whoever that is. πŸ™‚

It’s not too late.

Begin again. πŸ™‚

 

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about life as art. Authenticity, creativity, beauty… transcendence of pain, finding voice for those things in life for which we lack language or words… isn’t a life well-lived, itself, an artistic endeavor? Life, lived, as an art form, itself… means… what? Another day in the studio. Today, a lot of questions, consideration of the day behind me, work already started, unfinished – like life.

Who is the artist?Β A question for answering, individually, subjectively, personally. There is only one answer, for any one artist, really;Β gnothi seauton. The journey to the answer, is the life as art.

A woman told me, once, some long time ago in another life altogether, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body – I’m not an artist. I don’t do anything creative.” I took that at face value, at the time, and it fit my understanding of the world, then. I later saw her in her home. Her home struck me as a piece of fairly wonderful artistry, and the lack of paint staining her jeans, or dust under her nails, or bits and pieces of creative moments needing to be cleaned up didn’t detract from that impression at all. Her home was lovely, orderly, cared-for – each piece of memorabilia, each ornament, carefully selected, an impression exquisitely crafted – how is this not also art? Wherever she moved, she appeared to be quite carefully placed to communicate a mood, a moment, or an idea of beauty. The point I’m trying to make is that, as an artist, it isn’t really for me to define “what is art?” – only to define who I am, as an artist, myself. Those choices are not made of words – they are conveyed by my actions. By my art.

Words over coffee. It was a good day in the studio yesterday. Playing with paint – and chaos. I choose my materials with care.

A pair, 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and UV. “Chaos Theory”

I did several pieces as pairs yesterday, specifically indulging my fascination with chaos theory. I started with two canvases, the same palette of colors for each, the same measured amounts of those pigments, placed similarly on each canvas, the canvases placed side by side, and worked as a single larger piece, to the same playlist. Mood, movement, brush strokes, technique – all as much the same as I can easily make them.Β  In every instance, of course, two different canvases still result. Not just different-as-in-separate-and-individual, but also just… different, as in – not the same. It was a fun day in the studio, playing with science, chemistry, and philosophy.

I spent the day in a meditation made of movement, color, and music, contemplating differences and similarities, considering the way I’ve carved up my life into “separate canvases”; the life of the artist, alongside the life of the analyst. The lover, alongside the angry woman. The professional, alongside the free spirit. The citizen, alongside the protester. I spent the day thinking about life as art, and contemplating this vast broad canvas of experiences as a single unified whole. I spent the day free of any constraints aside from those I have assigned myself. I answered a few questions – I asked a lot more.

I spent time in the garden, too. Another living metaphor.

I gardened later. I grilled a lovely summer evening repast. I meditated as evening came, and watched the dwindling twilight become night. It was the sort of day I could single out from among many and say “this is some of my best work”, as an artist.

Happily enough, it’s already time to begin again. The day stretches ahead of me, a blank canvas. You, too. What will you do with it?

This morning, before I quite realized what I’d done, I’d gotten lost in my newsfeed within moments of sitting down to write. I didn’t write. Well, I did write – but I wasn’t writing in a rational, purposeful, helpful way that supports me as a human, or shares something of value. I was mad. I was… posting replies. Oh my.

Once I noticed I was putting myself at risk of an angry screed, I pushed my chair back, sat fully upright, and took a couple deep deep cleansing breaths, and let myself relax. I held on to the awareness of that moment, breaking free of the tantalizing sticky trap of opinion, pulling myself free of the outrage machinery. (There is so much to be outraged about this days, no lie, that’s real.) Differences of opinion so easily become anger. We each feel so certain we are “right“, and that if only we could share the nuances of our personal perspective, everyone else would get it, too! While that may be true, now and then, it mostly just isn’t, at all. We are each having our own experience. It’s not actually fully share-able.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a “relativist“. While I do recognize that context, culture, and variations in human understanding and experience can change the truth of a proposition, I also understand the nature of reality to have unchanging elements (that I may or may not be fully able to recognize or understand, myself). I think how we define the terms we use matters a great deal, and definitely affects our ability to have meaning dialogue, generally, every bit as much as “the nature of reality”. I have an ethical framework, as an individual, that suggests to me that some actions and choices are “wrong” – meaning, not consistent with my ethics, as an individual. So far so good. Where things get messy, and I think this is true for a great many of us, is when my own sense of “wrongness” pressures me from within to make a point of calling it out when I see others taking those actions, or making those choices. Do I really get to decide right vs wrong for anyone but me?

Yes.

…Also, no.

So… “yes”, in the limited sense that I’m utterly free to express my opinion on the matter. However, in doing so, I’m a wiser happier human if I can also remain aware that my opinion on such things is not likely to a) change anyone else’s opinion (or actions) or b) have any great persuasive weight in the world, generally, and also… c) it’s not for me to decide what everyone else will think or do. I’m just saying. I mean that – I’m literally merely, simply, only, and “just” saying words. Someone may hear my words and change. Someone else may hear my words and double-down out of pure resentment and fury, because in their view I am clearly wrong. Still someone else will disregard my words without ever hearing me out,. We are each having our own experience. I don’t really get to decide what anyone else understands right or wrong to be – but I am not required to respect, value, share, or appreciate their perspective, beyond hearing them out, and accepting their agency.

I don’t personally take any of this to be an expression of futility, or as a reason to “stand down” or “keep my opinion to myself”, because humanity’s culture has formed around our opinions and understanding of the world. Our shared ethical commitments become our shared understanding of right vs wrong, and ultimately informs entire communities, and whole nations, allowing society to enact change. We do need to share our individual sense of right vs. wrong with each other to help steer this cultural ship through the waters of change and growth over time. It’s the anger and outrage of social media specifically (before coffee) that is problematic; too much noise, not enough signal. So, I give myself a break, sip my coffee, and bring my moment closer to home. I have plenty to do to make change happen right here. I have work to do to be the woman I most want to be. That’s a project I have real influence over – every day. My example, as an individual, has meaning without extending my reach “to the world” by replying to all manner of media detritus in a reactive moment. Hell, I don’t even respect the opinions of 100% of every human; some are worth far more than others (this is likely true for you as well), and we each “rate” the value of another person’s opinion on different criteria!! (Totally true, too.) So… another good moment to practice non-attachment. lol

I finish my coffee and begin again.

I talk a lot about making choices. I remind myself to make a new beginning, regularly. I practice non-attachment with commitment and discipline. I let things go. I move on. There is a serious reason why these are important practices for me; I have survived a lot through these practices. These are not practices for small circumstances, though it is the mundane petty things that provide the opportunities to practice regularly. These are the practices for the big shit in life.

Marriages that dissolve – with small children involved; sometimes people have to literally choose to walk away from their children to save their own lives. That’s hard. I can’t at all imagine what that must feel like, although I’ve had friends and loved ones go through it.

Jobs that end unexpectedly – with no opportunity to continue in a field of expertise or passion; sometimes people have to choose to undertake something entirely different, from the very beginning, without wanting to at all. Been there a couple of times, myself.

Abusive relationships – sometimes with real love involved; sometimes people have to walk away (in spite of love) to save their own lives – from violence, mental illness, or a narcissistic, petty, spoiled, unremorsefully callous loved-one unable or unwilling to make changes. Too many of us go through some version of this experience, sadly.

Sometimes life throws some very adult shit our way, seemingly forcing us to choose between our life and well-being, and what we think we want, or think we have, or think we need. It’s not easy. Sometimes the better, saner, choice is to just let it go. Begin again. Choose differently.

To escape violence in my first marriage, I had to reach a point where I was willing to walk away from everything. My home. My “stuff”. My existing social network. My career. My community. It was a matter of literally saving my life. I didn’t have much in the way of good practices for such circumstances then; I got lucky and made some choices that favored my survival. I’m grateful for that – and every day that my arthritis pain reminds me how mortal I am, it also reminds me that I have survived hell, and I am okay right now. Powerful lessons.

It’s tempting to work at things we’ve invested our hearts in, well beyond any useful point in making that effort. It’s tempting to excuse, explain, troubleshoot, or try again (and again, and again…). Sometimes those aren’t our best choices. It’s hard to be sure when that is the case, in advance, and we can be easily stalled by doubt. It’s emotionally difficult to choose differently, to select “self-care” from life’s menu, and “quality of life”, and to walk on from something we earnestly value, even when it is wrapped in misery. A good starting point is a realistic look at whether the thing we are valuing, whether it is a job, a relationship, a circumstance, or a possession, is truly all we think it to be. Is it just a “soap bubble”? What matters most? Have that and be controlled by it? Let it go and be free? It’s a choice. A really fucking hard one.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean there is no later follow-up, and there may be other actions to be taken… ending a marriage likely requires a divorce, for example – that’s a process that has a beginning and (hopefully) an end, but the process follows the decision to let go. The choice to act precedes the actions. Lost jobs are generally followed by new jobs – or some other new option for living life. Abusive relationships are… complicated. The ending of such things can be filled with further trauma; it’s rare that an abuser wants that relationship to end, themselves, they are invested because they specifically benefit from it. Things can get ugly. Scary. Filled with fear. Filled with sorrow. Filled with panic. Letting go – non-attachment- is a broad and well-lit path to emotional freedom. We can’t be controlled by what we are willing to let go.

It’s not easy. I’m having to let go of a specific, warm, and charming retirement that seemed so real and imminent, in favor of… no idea yet, but realistically I have to be willing to acknowledge that it won’t be that. I’m having to let go of a promising-seeming relationship (less difficult that it might have been, because the person involved made a specific point of burning bridges by way of mistreatment) – always painful. The worst? I’m having to let go of 42 original works of (my) art that I have not yet been able to recover, and may actually be destroyed (39 small works on paper, 3 canvases). It’s fucking hard, but even to continue to pursue recovering them (which may require litigation), I need to let them go, at least inasmuch as I have to allow myself to move on from grieving the loss, or being attached to a specific outcome. Still fucking hard. This? This is why I practice some of the practices I do, though; when I need them, they are here for me, reliably.

The sky is still blue. πŸ™‚

I had a lovely weekend, in spite of the possible loss of 42 precious original works of art. No small feat, and I am smiling over my coffee, feeling wrapped in love and supported and cared for. (Seriously? It was like a vacation, crammed into one delicious day and night.) I am relaxed and ready for the work week. I’m grateful for my Traveling Partner. Grateful to have such wonderful friends. Grateful to be okay right now.Β  It’s a nice beginning to the week, whatever it holds.