Archives for posts with tag: choose your adventure

I’m not at all firm on what to write about, this morning. I often begin that way, and it is a state of things that does not cause me any particular stress. I put words in the title field, and then begin typing in the text box, and away I go. Writing coherently, fluidly, about something that matters to someone, in a clear, specific, insightful way… is not a given. It’s more a coincidence, I think, when it does work out that way.

I think that “insight” is more to do with you, the person reading the words, than me… or the words. We each have our own dictionary, and what I think I’m saying may not at all be what you understand me to have said, and this need not be a relevant concern to the matter of insight, at all. You’ll likely make some assumptions as you read. Maybe if you know me personally, you read my words “in my voice”, but is it my voice now, or my voice of some other lifetime? Are your assumptions accurate? Were mine? If you don’t actually know me personally, in what voice do you hear these words, when you read them? There go those assumptions again, at work in the background. Who do you think I am?

If I got something from the process of writing the words, and you get something from reading the words I wrote, does it matter at all if we understood completely different things? Perhaps – at that point we attempt to explain to each other how well we understand one another, I could see that being a potential sore point, but… maybe not? Maybe? I don’t have an answer here, only a question. It’s not even an important question. Just a random thought on a Friday morning.

I make a second coffee, and marvel at how terrible it is. How is this cup of coffee possible, from the same beans, using the same machine, made in the same way, by the same method, into the same cup, at all different than the previous coffee?? I take another sip, puzzled, curious, and seeking greater understanding. I like understanding things. Yeah… No – this is one terrible cup of coffee. Wow. I mean… like… an achievement of bad coffee, a stand out, an extraordinary demonstration of how poorly made a cup of coffee can be – and I didn’t even need to use a percolator, an air pot, or poor quality additives. Good grief. This sucks. I mean… on this whole other “No, seriously? I must be wrong… one more sip…” level. lol This is bad coffee. LOL I am still drinking it… no idea what that says about me, or about human primates generally, but… this is me. Drinking terrible coffee. At this point, I am savoring this terrible coffee and even enjoying its noteworthy awfulness. Please don’t ask me why would I do such a thing, because frankly… I don’t have an answer for that one, either. It is every bit as inexplicable as if I were to suddenly rise from my seat and do a cartwheel. lol

I think about the winter ahead. I think about the future. I sip my bad coffee, now mostly over how dreadful it is, my consciousness has moved on to other things. I think about love. I think about lovers. I think about the twinge of discontent that sometimes catches me by surprise in some lonely moment, when my awareness of age and aging collides with my awareness that I “still feel young on the inside”. This morning, the thought is merely a thought, and does not evoke an emotion. My thinking moves on.

I’ve a busy weekend ahead, and I am eager to get on with it. I’ll see my Traveling Partner this weekend (if all goes to plan, next weekend too!). Fuck I miss that guy. I’m ready to make the drive down, and I’m glad I seem to be well enough to do so; I don’t think I have the pro-adult skills to firmly decline if I weren’t up for it. I just miss him too much at this point. lol I consider the drive itself. It is autumn, and a lovely time of year for a long drive through beautiful countryside. Weather permitting, perhaps I won’t take the highway? A longer route, through scenic forests, down less traveled state highways and country side roads could be quite lovely and relaxed, and a great deal more like part of the weekend than mere transportation from point A to point B. (I-5 is efficient, but not beautiful, the result being the drive feels very purposeful, and more like “work”.)

The map is not the journey. The journey is, itself, the destination. Life’s menu of options is vast, and the choices are many. I am my own cartographer. I sip my terrible coffee and smile. The words pile up. I open up Google Maps with a plan in mind, ready to begin again. 🙂

 

 

Let’s overlook how often I simply choose not to go out to some event, or show, or whatever I thought I’d talked myself into – because that’s a thing I totally do (and I highly recommend it, myself, since I think forcing myself to attend events I don’t feel up to for whatever reason is a rather stupid use of my time, generally). I do like “doing stuff”, going places, seeing sights, hearing music, hiking trails, exploring the world and getting to know its bizarre inhabitants; I love all that. Mostly. Sometimes.

I live alone. Which I also like. Sure, I have a committed and adoring partner. Sometimes there’s a lover in the picture. I have friends. Associates. Assorted hangers-on of one variety or another. A tribe. A social circle. A scene. I live my life in the company of other humans living their lives. Excellent stuff for keeping good company – and I recommend that, too; we are social creatures. Our lurking ever-present need for intimacy, connection, and contact doesn’t somehow dissipate over time spent in solitude. I definitely enjoy the company of others. I don’t always have it. So, okay… what to do in the context of being alone, and wanting to do stuff…?

Go do stuff.

No kidding. It’s that simple. Farmer’s markets excite you? Go to those. Have a determined passion for growing lovely flowers? Go to places where flowers grow, where plants are sold, where gardens are planned – obviously. Maybe art is your thing? Lots of museums, galleries, and art shows to attend! Antiques more your thing? Cars? Beaches? Surfing? Concerts? Travel? Exotic dining? No problem; the world is vast and entertaining, and all the options exist. Do the verbs. Go to the places you dream of.

Alone?!

…Why not alone?

After my break up with my most recent ex I sort of… stopped doing things I enjoyed for some time. I’d pulled the same bullshit maneuver within a short while of being with the ex prior to that one, too. I was just… fuck it. Ennui. I trudged through my experience, supporting my then-partner’s desires to go and do and be, and tolerating the full-time discouragement of my own interests. I didn’t know how to do differently. The relationship before that one… was worse. Over time, learned helplessness crept in, and I failed myself in a rather large way. <shrugs> So okay, fast forward to this great relationship… still carrying these bad habits, and a total lack of skilled self-care. In a practical sense, one reason I made the choice to live alone was to sort some of this shit out. Learning good self-care was a much higher priority than museums, coffee houses, poetry readings, open mic nights, picnics in parks, small venue concerts… surviving was a bit more important, it seemed then, than thriving.

I was wrong though. I was incorrect about the importance and relative value of doing the things I love. Oh, not in a monstrous or malicious or hateful way. I just didn’t understand what living well could look like, built on my own choices; there were verbs I just wasn’t using. I didn’t understand that those things I personally thrive on might help me along my way, even help me sort out some of the chaos and damage, as well as provide opportunities for new connections with other humans.

I live alone. That’s just one characteristic about my life. I enjoy a lovely brunch out with friends. I also enjoy brunch alone. I enjoy brunch. 🙂 I enjoy music, and the events and artists I want to see represent my own taste – sometimes going alone makes for a very special evening, since I won’t spend any of it wondering if the person attending with me actually enjoys it, or is just being polite in their silent misery. I like the things I like whether I am alone or not.

I’m just saying – take time to do the things that excite and interest you, whether you do them with someone else, or alone. They are still the things that excite and interest you. You will still grow from those new experiences. They subtract nothing from your experience to do them alone. It is your journey. Your experience.  🙂

…Clearly ballroom dancing will be easier to enjoy with a partner, but… yeah. In general. Go do the stuff you love. Yes, and alone, also – why the fuck not? lol

My calendar for the autumn and upcoming winter months has filled out nicely. I’ve got tickets for a couple of concerts I’m excited to see. A couple trips down to see my Traveling Partner. Quiet weekends in the studio, or out on the trail (while the weather holds up)… brunch… farmer’s markets… I’ve got a lot to look forward to, which I enjoy rather a lot just by itself. The anticipation, I mean. Choices and verbs. And planning. And living.

Don’t wait around. This is your life. You can live it, fully, delightfully, and even beautifully – even if you’re going solo on this journey. 🙂

It’s been a satisfying weekend, so far, and it’s Sunday. Back to work tomorrow. A new list today. It’s time to begin again, you see, to return to reliable self-care routines, to catch up on the housekeeping, to wrap up loose ends, to tidy up the studio.

I sip my coffee contentedly. No new work has been completed, but the studio feels “right”, and a great deal of background work has been done (which is to say, backgrounds have been painted, in-fact). I also managed to do a great deal of additional moving in work, because realistically, although I can quickly paint quite a few backgrounds for later use, doing so still results in wet canvases everywhere needing to dry, which results in time on my hands not being spent painting. 🙂 It’s been a lovely relaxed joyful productive weekend that also managed to be wholly restful. I needed that, too.

Today, I look around over the edge of my coffee cup as I move through the rooms of my current residence, feeling settled in, and “at home”, and mildly frustrated each time I recall that I’ve got at least one more move before I can even consider not having to move anymore. I shrug off that bit of discontent (it can wait for some other moment to be fully considered), and take a look around with an eye for starting a new work week. There’s laundry to be done. Vacuuming. Meal prep for work week lunches. I smile with approval at how little things “fell behind” over the weekend. Even today can be relaxed, and simply a day of mindful service to hearth and home, and itself quite emotionally nourishing. I enjoy being the human being responsible for my day-to-day quality of life.

I make my “to do list” with care, and an eye on meeting the needs of the moment, and also my needs over time. My idea of “carpe diem” and “YOLO” include consideration of the future moments of living that are implied by “to live” being a verb that expresses an ongoing condition. Sure, sure, being mortal is a thing, but since I’ve no guaranteed “end date” on this journey, it seems the wiser course to mindfully consider my needs beyond this moment right here; I may need some things from myself (and life) tomorrow, too, or next year… or in 2025, the year I expect to leave the workforce permanently. 🙂 Ideally, embracing life includes that future I am planning for, not just this one singular mortal moment right now. This morning, that future consideration leans heavily on the upcoming week, and some bigger events a bit beyond (holiday season planning, I am looking your way!!). It’s enough. More distant future planning is still fuzzy and daydream-y, enough to consider gently, not quite enough to count on.

My sleep last night was as restless and weird as my sleep Thursday night was uninterrupted and deeply restful. I don’t take that personally. I got up once or twice, child-style, for a drink of water and a quick check around for “monsters”. (Somehow tap water always tastes best in the wee hours, barefooted in the darkness, and “monsters” seem an entirely reasonable thing to check for.) My half-awake mind doesn’t question the need for either, though I am certain that thirstily gulping down two big glasses of water at 2:43 am likely contributed to the urgency of getting up promptly at 6:45 am, this morning. The day began earlier than I’d have planned, but late enough to feel like “sleeping in” in spite of that. 🙂 Win and good.

I’ve got a list. I’ve checked it twice. It’s time to begin again. 😀

I’m not telling you what to do, just suggesting that if you happen to notice you are being programmed, whether by “the media”, or an advertiser, or an authority figure, or a cultish workplace, or a religion, or a school, or really whatever is pinging on your consciousness with a specific agenda-driven outcome in mind that profits some entity that is not you… Change the channel. Seriously. Walk on. Move out of view, out of reach, out of range. Choose a different activity, a different focal point, another perspective.

I’m not really sure what else to say about this one. My consciousness is my own, right up until that point at which I hand it over to someone else. My will is involved here – so is my awareness. There are verbs involved in de-bunking the bunk, and revealing the many frauds perpetrated on our consciousness each day (often by precisely those agencies purporting to tell us the “truth”).

I try to choose what content I consume with the same care that I choose the food I eat, the water I drink, and the moments I share with others. It’s harder than it looks, sometimes. 🙂

One commonplace example of what I am talking about is Facebook. How many times have you scrolled through the newsfeed multiple times without noticing most of the content is repeated, and also “sponsored”, rather than actual posts from chosen friends? Programming. Just saying. Maybe don’t choose that – or don’t choose it so often. Do you even have any clear idea who Facebook is programming you to be? We become what we practice. Repetition is learning. Who are we becoming? Why are we allowing it?

Something to think about. There’s only one you, until you become one of many cookie cutter people all stamped out from the limited content broadly shared (and filtered) by an agency you have no control over, and which does not reveal its method or goals to you. Then, you become copies of one another, all nodding along politely as you grouse about the same things, using the same language, sharing the same appropriately polarized dichotomies approved for use that year. Yuck. We have more to offer each other, ourselves, and the world.

Facebook isn’t “the bad guy”, they are merely providing a requested service to which we happily succumb. There are others. Lots of others. We choose those, too, and in choosing who we allow to program our consciousness, we have at least some small choice over what fills our consciousness… but we can be free even of that. It’s also a choice. I’m not even saying “give it all up”, though surely that’s one choice that holds great promise. I’m just saying, be aware, be awake, and choose. Make that choice your own.

I guess I’m sort of grumpy this morning. It’s early. The work day is ahead of me. I’m very human. 🙂 My coffee is super yummy, and in general I am content. I smile at my crossness, recognizing that this morning words are from me, to… me. I need to stop looking at Facebook (or the news) first thing in the morning. Fuck those bitches. lol There are better things to do with mornings, and my cognitive liberty has great value to me, personally.

I take my coffee out to the deck, into the pre-dawn darkness. It’s a lovely morning to begin again. 🙂 It’s a lovely morning to change my world. I have choices.

There’s this place in life’s wilderness that we sometimes wander into, a deep mire of negativity, doubt, and conviction. The mire of our heart. Few of us would choose to live there, once we understand we don’t have to.

The weather in the mire is a permanent, sullen, bitter gray.

At the edge of the mire is a sunny meadow. The woman who lives in the meadow wears a smile. She has worked hard. She works still. It isn’t about wanting to work so hard, or enjoying the effort, or being without pain and fatigue, but she knows that this is her life, and the enjoyment to be had living in the sunshine, among the meadow flowers, is so much nicer than stagnating in the mire. She knows too well; she used to live deep in the mire, well beyond any place that sunshine could reach. The way out was tedious, the path stony and uncomfortable, the distance was great, and the decision to trudge on down that path one uncomfortable step at a time was its own torment. Her constant companions were doubt and despair, but life in the mire had already made those her companions…so… what was there to lose along the way? She was at least moving.

She slowly exchanged “can’t” for “can”. She began noticing sunrises. She began to consider whether she could feel better, more often, and began choosing to do so, unsure (at least initially) whether it really was a choice. (It is.)

Sunrises came and went and as she reached the edge of the mire, more often “can” than “can’t”, more often saying something uplifting to a passer-by than offering criticism, sarcasm, or a pessimistic observation, and even learning to treat herself more gently. It took years to get to the edge of the mire. It took years to see that indeed there is a meadow beyond the mire, and sunrises for days, and flowers in the garden of her heart. She smelled the flowers, gathered seeds, and began to tend her garden.

She looked back into the mire and saw a friend standing there, mired. Deeply committed to the muck, and the pain, and the disappointment, and the sorrow… only… none of those things were really there. From her vantage point, having stepped into the meadow and looking back into the darkness, it was so clear – there was nothing holding him back from leaving the mire at all. There never had been. Sure, there was a short distance of path to trudge across (how had that felt so infernally long?), and the way never had seemed so clear as looking back across it, but… it was the simplest of journey’s, once the journey had begun.

She called to her friend from the meadow, throwing armloads of flowers into the sunshine, casting their petals and fragrance into the breeze, but the breeze doesn’t reach the mire. “Come this way!” she called to her friend. He stood there, ever so motionless. “Look,” he replied “I can’t.” She sighed. Puzzled. “Oh hey!”, she called back “I thought I couldn’t, too – but I did, so I could, which means you can… if you do.” He looked frustrated, bitter and annoyed. “I said I can’t!” he confirmed rather angrily. “Nothing works for me. I have nothing and no one will help me. No one cares. No one will talk to me. Nothing works out.” She wept to discover she was “no one” and paced awhile back and forth along the edge of the mire, feeling sad in the sunshine.

Another sunrise came. Other sunrises will come. The woman in the meadow lives in the flowers she planted, smiling among the breezes and the birdsong. There is work involved in tending the garden of her heart. There are weeds to pull. There is always work maintaining all the sunshine. It’s not artificial light, and even the work puts a smile on her face. The mire grows more distant, and she plants more flowers hoping to make the path from the mire to the meadow easier to follow. Maybe someday the man in the mire will walk a different path.

She can see him there in the mire, any day she chooses to look back. He swears she has always lived in a meadow, and that her life has always been this flower-filled lovely garden. She shakes her head, frustrated and sad that he doesn’t see her pulling weeds, planting seeds, and laboring to create this beautiful meadow from the edges of the mire where she once lived. He refuses even to come to the edge, to see what she has done. He accuses her of luck, and she does not argue that she hasn’t been lucky, because she has; she got out of the mire, didn’t she?

Every mire can become a meadow. It requires only all of the verbs, most of the time, and incremental change. It requires effort and will, and a willingness to care. It requires walking on, and beginning again. It requires practice. It requires that we plant our own flowers along our own way, and also pause to appreciate them when they bloom.

A man who says “I’ll never amount to anything”, doesn’t. Most particularly if he truly believes that, and practices the practices it takes to hold himself back. We become what we practice. Mire or meadow, we make our choice, and harvest from the garden we plant.