Archives for posts with tag: don’t be the bad guy

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 woke groggy and in pain, and lacking the welcome feeling of being rested. My head aches, my sinuses are stuffy, and the room feels hotter than the temperature says it is. As a collection of smaller experiences, these could be symptomatic of a head cold coming on, but in this instance, I think perhaps I slept too long in a position that wasn’t ideal for my head and neck, and slept poorly on top of that. I shrug it off, deal with it, and move on with the morning without reading into the experience or catastrophizing it.

I ache today. Pain is pain, I suppose, and in this case much of it is to do with the physical awkwardness of the way I approached painting this past weekend, working mostly on the floor, which required a lot of getting up and down, and sitting cross-legged on my rolled up yoga mat as a cushion, with extra leaning, reaching, and bending. It doesn’t make me regret spending the weekend painting, or even that I chose to work on the floor. I’m simply aware that my discomfort today is a price I am paying for it. It’s barely worth bitching about; as expenses go, it seems quite a bargain, since I am more often than not in some amount of pain much of the time, regardless. 🙂

I could make all of it worse, if I choose. A lot of people seem inclined to do so, enhancing their negative moments with additional emotional luster and investment in nebulous made-up root causes or “back stories” that imbue the tale with more dimension. I could borrow from my assumptions (also fully 100% made up in my own head) and sprinkle on some unfulfilled expectations of the world, or circumstances, or some other human being, and mix that in with those assumptions, and the moments of hurting that life requires I endure, and that pimple of a difficult moment is now grand drama of the highest order. It could make for much more interesting writing, I suppose, than my patient (with myself) humble (because – fuuuuck!!) observations of my experience, day-to-day… only… I’m not really doing this “to be interesting”. I’m sharing what I can of what has often been a challenging enough experience (without enhancements), because it helps me when I am able to “find my voice”… and also because when I struggled most, myself, in life’s darkest moments, it would have helped me then to hear that voice… from anywhere. So. I’m here for me. Here for you, too, perhaps, as a byproduct of rather haplessly reaching across time to a woman that doesn’t actually exist in my own mirror so much these days, just in case she (or someone very like her) is staring back at you.

I smile and sip my coffee. I enjoy a moment of “wow, I’ve come a long way”. I take a moment to also appreciate how much more prepared I am for dark times that may eventually return. “Wellness” can be rather unfortunately relative, and it would be a fool’s game to sip my coffee on a pleasant morning smugly certain I am “well”; PTSD and a brain injury don’t really work quite that way. I can sure improve my quality of life, my resilience, my skill at self-care… I can practice mindfulness, heal my heart over time, and be generally well, most days, most of the time. Complacency about it isn’t on the table for me. I’ve taken that journey a time or two, also. Sometimes reality hits back. Sooner or later, I may find my nights filled with nightmares, without knowing why, or I may find that arthritis pain degrades my sleep quality until my resilience and wellness are reduced, and I am less easily able to bounce back from stress or think clearly, and reach that point of fatigue when the cognitive impact of my TBI becomes quite clear, and my thinking disordered. I don’t reach for those moments… but I also no longer fight them, or the reality of those moments being an occasional part of my experience. I’m ready. Mostly. Generally. It sounds easier when I read the words than it ever feels in real life… but… yeah. Mostly pretty ready to be the woman I am.

I practice not making a difficult moment worse than it is, every time I have one, these days. I do my best. My results vary. There are verbs involved. Choices, too.

This morning I woke aggravated over something small and stupid. I could have used that to build on my physical discomfort and had a really shitty morning with minimal effort. I chose differently. It’s a pretty nice morning, aside from pain, and honestly – I’ve been in worse pain. I’ve got work on my mind, but even that could be “worse”… I’ve worked worse jobs (for companies I have literally nothing good to say about after-the-fact). Life isn’t like that now. It’s so important to be awake and aware for the good stuff, too. 🙂

Today is a good day to enjoy the day as it is. Today is a good day to choose wisely, to begin again, and to walk on. Practicing mindfulness may or may not change the world; it is enough that it has changed my experience. Today is a good day to practice.