Archives for posts with tag: do better

I remember my father often saying to me “do something, even if it’s wrong”. The admonition was with regard to decision-making paralysis – those moments when one becomes so overwhelmed by some detail, moment, or selection of options as to become utterly immobilized, and unable to act. The Army also emphasizes the value of fast decision-making in a crisis, and “taking the initiative”. I’m not saying these are not useful life skills to have, I’m just wondering how often my own fear of failing to act promptly (or answer a question immediately) may have a less than desirable outcome, that could potentially have been avoided if I had allowed myself a moment to think? I mean… I get it, it sometimes matters a great deal to act quickly and appropriately to circumstances (step out from under a falling rock? Good decision), but… I can think of some circumstances when acting quickly, without thinking things through a minute, may be a poor choice (step out from under that falling rock into oncoming traffic may be less likely to end well, as an example).

I found myself, over the weekend, struggling to find the right “pace” in some conversations – jumping in too soon, and missing some relevant point or talking over my partner, or thinking over a question for so long that it begins to appear I am not listening – and the result is a distinct loss of conversational “flow” and merriment. It’s a small detail – but one that matters. Timing. I started making a point of noticing what, specifically, was driving my anxiety in those moments (since these were all friendly conversations with my Traveling Partner, there was nothing that would reasonably provoke anxiety in them), and I started to notice how often I reacted anxiously to the fear of “not being fast enough” – with an answer, a decision, an action – not even the actual timing or timeliness, just the fear of not being fast enough. I have since started really paying attention to how “the need for speed” may be driving my anxiety in circumstances where being quick has little or no practical value, and even in some where being quick with a reply is actually problematic.

My partner even mentioned, one day last week, that the pace at which I was doing some routine household task seemed “frenetic”. How odd. Really?

…Human primates are weird…

…Breathe… Exhale… Relax…

I consider that I may “miss the point” by being too quick to reply…

I consider that I may take a foolhardy action or jump to an erroneous conclusion by being too quick too act…

I consider how much less sweet one moment – any moment – may be if I “rush it along”…

…There seem to be a great many reasons to take my time, to really listen, to really consider my options before taking action, to think about the details, and yes, to take a moment to step back from the details to consider things in context, too…

I think about that chill, calm, experience of self (and life) that I enjoy most… there’s not a lot of rushing things through involved in that; it’s a more measured way, more considered – and considerate. One thing sure seems obvious…

I need to begin again.

Well… the news on January 6th was… newsworthy. I guess that’s something. (Just Google it, Future Reader, cuz I just can’t even begin to go down that path.) Honestly, I guess I was mired in whatever work challenge the day presented… I barely looked up when my astonished and appalled Traveling Partner stuck his head into my studio to tell me of the news, in an appropriately alarmed tone, and I’m sure he was purposeful and complete with his summary. I recall hearing something like, “…storming the capitol…”, I looked up, nodded vaguely, “…you already know about it?” I may have answered in the affirmative – I definitely was not aware of the specifics he was attempting to share, and what I thought he was talking about would certainly have been less… significant.

…Damn there’s been a lot of history in these 57+ years…

Funny (not funny, not really) how we “know a historical moment” when we see it… if it’s something going terribly wrong. I have the impression we tend, as creatures, to be less correct about the good stuff… like… a lot. It’s pretty inconvenient.

Here we all are, now. More than typically aware of how fragile a foundation our assumptions rest on, perhaps, and perhaps more aware of the alarming potential for violence each human being actually has. Strange that we ever lose sight of that… there’s so much violence in the world, and so much of it feels “unexpected”, however commonplace it may have been, or be, or seems to be becoming. We’re fairly dangerous primates, only partially domesticated, and our big brains allow us to build and make some amazing tools… with which to kill each other. Fucking hell. Will we ever discontinue this terrible terrible practice? Will we ever choose differently? 😦

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let that go. The sunshine breaks through the gray of a rainy winter afternoon, and I think about trails I’d like to hike…

Choose wisely. Stay on the path.

It’s already time to begin again.

Too many holiday reports of violence against family members, loved ones, children, partners… fucking hell, where did people ever get the notion that it is acceptable to act with violence upon those that are dear to them?? It sickens me.

…I’ve been angry, even enraged, even felt “righteously” so, such that my own actions seemed to me to be both inevitable & necessary, and also wholly justified (which did not and does not make it true, ever). I also managed not to kill anyone. Just saying. Don’t kill people. Don’t even raise your hand against them in anger.

Notice I haven’t said anything about men killing women, women killing men, etc; violence is not a gendered issue. You can say what you’d like about who kills more of whom, but the simplest of truths is that the life of another human being is not yours to take. Doesn’t matter what your gender is. I don’t seem room to argue with that axiom, myself, and I embrace it. (Don’t talk to me about war, or military force, or the justification for violence under some conditions – unless you, yourself, have been both soldier delivering that military force, and also a civilian experiencing having that force delivered upon you, please; without both perspectives what do you even “know”?)

I’m fairly over violence, generally. I respond poorly even to milder forms of emotional violence (raised voices, a nasty tone, guilt trips, manipulation), particularly after living without it for a while. I don’t mean to say I “never” raise my voice – I sincerely attempt to avoid doing so, and feel incredibly disappointed in myself when I fail to control my volume and my tone adequately well. There’s work involved. It’s work I find worth doing, so I keep at it.

…Then I read another news story that fills me with real horror; an angry parent kills their kids, takes their own life, in the midst of a messy angry divorce, or a partner slays their mate, or someone kills a parent… horrifying. What gave any of them the sense that this was an acceptable choice? How was this okay to do? Why haven’t we “made it stop”?

I sigh. Sip my coffee with a feeling of sadness for a moment. A pause to honor lives lost to the shittiest of excuses; anger. So not okay. There have already been dozens of lives lost in 2021, to familial violence, partner violence, and hate crimes. It’s the fucking 3rd of January. Maybe 2021 can be a year we finally get a grip on our anger and do better – as a species? As a planet? As a global community? Yes, I’d love to see humanity put the brakes on warfare, but more than that? I’d very much love to see humanity stop killing those most dear. I mean, seriously? It seems like a pretty obvious improvement, generally.

We’ll need to begin again, particularly if we hope to change the world…

It’s an “eat a bag of dicks, Tuesday”, sort of morning, so far. My coffee is half-cold, somewhat bitter, and vaguely annoying. My interactions with my Traveling Partner have been unpleasant. The day begins poorly. (I mean, it could be worse, for sure, and for most values of “how are things?”, “things” are “fine”.) I’ve already had an assortment of “what the fuck?” moments, a handful of “for fucks’ sake, seriously??” moments, and one definite “I don’t want to be around you right now” moment. Shitty. Seriously unpleasant.

…Meditation did occur… it mostly sort of helped… some…

It’s not at all clear to me “why this morning?”, and I take another deep breath, exhale, and try again to let that shit go. Humans being human, there’s a reasonable likelihood that there is no clear resolvable root-cause to dissect, that would leave behind only heartfelt appreciation and simple actions to take (then we all live happily ever after). We’re each having our own experience – which works out just fine, generally, unless people get hung up on insisting their singular individual experience is The One True Truth and sole description of all observable phenomena. That’s not likely to be the case, regardless who you are and what your vast perspective may encompass. We only “know” what we know, and can’t even approach knowing what that other person “knows”. Even if we’re told, what we end up with is often only an approximate understanding of that other person’s perspective. Complicating things comically (for some values of “funny”), we’re often very certain of things we’re totally incorrect about, factually. Fuck. Humans are weird.

…At least no one was yelling. I find raised voices triggering (I’m pretty sure my partner does, too), and I definitely don’t need that today (no one does). Obviously.

…Is it “obvious”? What’s “obvious” about it at all? Pretty subjective shit there. Hell, what’s “obvious” about anything, where human beings are concerned? I pause to reflect on the subjective nature of reality, while I sip this shit-tastic cup of “coffee”. Fucking hell. I made this?? (…And now I’m forcing myself to actually drink it? Good grief.) I snarl quietly at myself for not managing to be a better human being when it’s such an easy thing to do. I could for sure do better. (Couldn’t you?)

Stare at something long enough it may appear to be more significant than it is

…Doing better is definitely on my agenda for today. And dusting. Dusting is also on my list of things to do today (I forgot to do it yesterday, although I’d planned to). (“Be a better human being/partner” is on my agenda every day, but it’s a big ask some days, more than others.) I remind myself to take time to dust. And be a better person.

Getting here was a journey – it is a journey to sustain love, too; there are verbs involved.

Some time later, my Traveling Partner approaches me with considerable care. We converse calmly for a few moments. He looks sad. I feel sad. The morning feels “broken”. It would be painfully easy to extrapolate that the relationship itself is also “broken”. Catastrophizing small moments is easy for human primates. Almost convenient. Another breath. Another exhalation. Another letting go of “it”. Another chance to begin again. (Fuck this is hard sometimes!) I remind myself that love matters most. I pause to reflect on how very loved I am, and to feel the love that fills my heart when I think of my partner. I “listen again” to the things he’s said that tell truths about how to love him well: needs, limitations, boundaries, common misunderstandings, fears, heartfelt yearnings, desires, obstacles, frustrations small and large… all the things. I’ve got plenty to work with, and a lot to think about.

I set a reminder for (more) meditation, for later. (Today clearly calls for as much time spent on that as I can spare.) I glare at my work calendar. The routine of work is calming, but feels like a “cheat”. Calm is good, though, and has lasting value that could improve the day.

I stare unenthusiastically at my calendars – work and personal – one full, the other empty (of planned activity). I look over my “to do list”. “Acts of service” are one of the ways I show love…but admittedly, I’m not feeling very knowledgeable in the ways of love and loving, this morning, and find myself fretful and concerned that I’m “on the wrong path”. My head aches with the effort involved in emotional control as I stare into work tools. There’s an entire day ahead of me. This morning an entire day of new beginnings ahead feels sort of bleak and repetitive.

…Fucking hell, I’ve got to get past this shit…

Sometimes it seems a lot of work, and I’m not sure I’m on the right path…

…This too will pass. I remind myself to be aware of the differences between emotional weather, and emotional climate.

My Traveling Partner approaches again with some observations about his computer monitor, a new simulation that he’s interested in, and what is frustrating him about those experiences. I listen carefully, empathize and commiserate. We connect. He returns to his planned day, I return to mine.

It’s time to begin again. It’s tough to end a difficult moment without beginning a new one. It’s helpful to stay open to the possibility of success, and let go of as much baggage as I can. My results are going to vary – it’s a very human experience. It’s going to require practice. 🙂

 

 

I may not write for a few days. There’s a lot going on in our flailing culture, right now, and I’d rather not provide a distraction. We all need to face this. We need to look America’s “original sin” of racism in the face and clean up the mess we’ve made.

I’ll resume writing, but for now, I am doing other things, and making room for long-silenced voices to be heard. Thank you for understanding. Please, definitely vote every time you get a chance, and definitely do your part to put decent human beings who value humanity and human life into office, instead of self-important already-wealthy liars and cheats whose sole intention is to enrich themselves at the expense of the nation. We can do better than we have, and we owe it to ourselves, our communities, and our future, to do so.