Archives for posts with tag: don’t kill people

I am sipping the cold remains of my second morning coffee, abandoned earlier, on my way into the garden. It’s less than ideally satisfying, as cold coffees go, neither properly cold, nor at all warm. I don’t much care; relative to other concerns it is a meaningless detail. Today, I’m feeling the weight of Memorial Day; it’s been a very long time since Memorial Day was any sort of celebration, for me. It is a day to remember the fallen: lives lost to war, lives lost to violence, a moment to contemplate the wasted human potential sacrificed to the causes of various governments… some of those lacking in moral high ground of any kind. I don’t find it something to celebrate. Instead, I honor those I’ve lost, and the lives lost that matter to others that I will never know. It’s simply my way.

I spent yesterday afternoon in my studio, painting. I’ve commented in other places that I am less likely to paint when I am content, fulfilled, happy, or satisfied. It’s an emotional experience that requires emotional impetus, and emotional momentum, and, for me, a way to communicate what I lack the words for. Make of that what you will. Honestly? I dislike “watching the world burn” in these problematic, chaotic times… but in my studio, and so many elsewhere, these are conditions that have a lot of potential to create great art. (Fingers crossed that anyone is around to appreciate any of it… later on.)

I am feeling a bit glum, and a bit angry. How is it 2021 and sexism is still a thing? Or the chronic condescension of patriarchy? How are so many people unwilling or unable to see the strong connection between sexism & misogyny – and literally all of the other evils of our society? (How many racists do you know who are not also sexist? How many people filled with hatred toward immigrants are not also sexist? How many elected idiots are not also sexist?) Sexism isn’t even limited to men, for fuck’s sake; there are ever so many women willing to carry that apologist torch to maintain this system that burns us all. This is where my head is at today; perplexed and sorrowful about all the human relationships tainted by the ugliness of implicit sexism. I’m not feeling open to excuses, explanations, denials, or “othering”, today. I’m not interested in justification, or placating platitudes. Hell, it’s not even connected to Memorial Day sadness – not even a little bit. It’s just where my head is at. I’m in a place in my own life where I no longer feel any obligation whatsoever to placate various men in my life, although out of general consideration, and a lack of interest in their opinion on an experience of sexism they can not share (and largely seem unable to recognize, as a result), I mostly just don’t discuss it, at all. Complicating all this is that is sometimes feels like a conversation with my father. He’s dead, though… hard to “feel heard”. So the anger comes and goes, not unlike the sorrow of any one Memorial Day; it has a place in my experience, a moment taken to care for it tenderly, to consider and soothe it, and then I move the fuck on to other things. There’s no solution that I reasonably expect to see in my lifetime, and I’ve got things to do.

I put on music to write to, suited to this peculiar headspace, while I sip this cold coffee and practice self-soothing a lifetime of seething rage until I am “okay” once more… For most values of “okay”. It is what it is, I guess. Life is, generally, pretty good. I find it worrisome to see so many people take their anger out into the world, along with a gun… and then end someone else’s life. That seems pretty unfair and entirely inappropriate. I don’t like seeing it become more and more prevalent… but of course, it’s hard to be certain that it has; likes, clicks, views, and the eager drive to capture consumer attention dictates what is in our news feeds every day. The undermining of “truth” – real, factual, documentable truth – has progressed to the point that I’ve even removed satirical and comedic content that uses current events for the foundational content from my feeds. I don’t care to risk my understanding of what is real and true, if I can avoid doing so. I try to stick with content that is fact-checked reliably. It gets harder all the time.

What do we do with all this anger? I feel it, too. I’m trying to find healthy ways to process it, to deal with it, to care for my own tender injured heart without doing damage to someone else’s. Painting is one way. Funny thing; yesterday I was not “painting anger”, although it was among the mixed emotions that pushed me into my studio. I was painting love, and painting hope, and painting joy, and the comfort of emotional safety. I was painting what I want to see in the world and in my own life. I surprised myself with that. Maybe it’s a good practice? I guess I’ll be needing to practice to see what comes of it, over time.

Today, though, is a day for housekeeping, and mindful service to hearth and home. This, too, is “my way”. I’m not sure why Sunday. I could say “the habit of a lifetime” – but it isn’t. Growing up, I most commonly saw housework being done more or less in all the waking hours of our family life – and all of it done by my Mother, or Grandmother, or some other woman, in some other home. I’m fortunate. I get a lot of help from my Traveling Partner. We generally both handle routine basics during the week. I do a few hours of focused housekeeping on the weekend, to get ready for a new week; I like the results, all week long. My partner tackles a lot of the maintenance and upkeep of the house and the technology we live with. It mostly seems a pretty fair division of labor. My resentment, when it occasionally builds up over time, tends to be more about my own shortcomings self-care-wise, and lack of skillful boundary-setting or time management, and discomfort with asking for help when I need it. Recognizing that’s “on me” to resolve, I try to be aware of my bullshit before it spills over elsewhere. No doubt I could improve in this area. lol

I look at my list of chores for today. It’s honestly not “all that”, and definitely doesn’t amount to enough work for any hint of annoyance or resentment or fuss. It’s just a routine Sunday on a long weekend. 🙂 Hell, I may even paint more later – I’m feeling very inspired lately. I don’t suggestion that that is a good thing… it’s just fuel for the artistic fire within.

I glance at the time, and into the bottom of my now-empty coffee mug; it’s time 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…

Eat less or exercise? Personally, I have to do both. It’s non-negotiable. If I get less exercise, still keep my caloric intake well-managed (and low) and eat healthy food, I gain weight anyway. If I get plenty of exercise, but make poor nutritional choices, I also gain weight. If I eat a poor quality diet, don’t manage my calories closely, and also don’t get sufficient exercise, I not only gain weight, I gain a lot of weight, and I pack on the pounds fast. Some medications cause me to gain weight, too; that’s something I reliably find out the hard way. So… eat less or exercise? I don’t get to choose, I’ve got to do both. 🙂

There are quite a few things in life that we sometimes get snared viewing as a choice between options, when, actually, it’s a choice to change, or not to change; all the options involving change may be required to make change occur in the direction we’d specifically like to see. Real-life doesn’t tend to negotiate with our whims.

Emotion, and the skillful management and expression of strong emotion, specifically, has some things in common here, with a twist; incremental change over time is super slow, but our emotions jump to the head of any queue, lead every moment, and arrive to every party too early. So sure, it’s reasonable, and true, for someone mid-freak out to have the recognition and understanding that their experience is based on “irresistible” internal forces beyond their immediate control; strong emotion, particularly powerful emotions like rage, frustration, and sorrow, can erupt from within us, sweeping over us, taking away our sense of control, and eventually leading to regrettable words and actions. The “I’m sorry”s begin to pile up (if you are that decent sort who regrets treating others badly). So do the rationalizations (about hormones, childhoods, provocation, circumstances…).

It’s also quite true that our behavior is a choice. Yes, all of it. Yes, pretty much all the time, every time. The first time someone lashes out with an act of violence, they might get by with “I didn’t know” or an expression of astonishment that they could be provoked to that point, but second times? Third times? Times that occur after someone – anyone – has pointed out that’s not okay? Yeah, those are choices. Yielding to strong emotion and relinquishing control over behavior is a choice (unless maybe you are profoundly mentally ill and urgently in need of inpatient treatment). Well, if that’s also true, is everyone who ever treated a loved one poorly, or punched a wall, or lashed out with horrible words deeply mentally ill and urgently in need of treatment? Some of them probably are! Most of them likely are not. That they are choosing such behaviors is still a choice, and they could choose differently, and no you can’t “make them” change, and omg – if they decide to change themselves, that is a process that can be infernally slow, fraught will failures, and varying results.

…And before we can change ourselves through our willful choices in the direction of being our best selves, we actually need to 1. be aware that we would like to be other than we are, and 2. understand that change is possible, chosen, and must be practiced. It’s a lot to hold onto. It’s a lot of work. The practice has to come ahead of the need to be changed. It’s necessary both to feel, and to practice our best behavior under the stress of an “emotional load”. We’ve got to do both. It’s work that will have to be done in the face of real-time failures, disappointed frustrated loved ones, relationships that don’t make it through the process, friendships that end because it turns out some of them were invested in what is being changed. It’s work that is continuous and ongoing. Change is a verb – and you have choices.

Another school shooting. I read about it and can’t help but wonder where so many people have gotten the idea that their anger, disappointment, frustration, or any other emotional experience, entitles them to take a life – any life. Where did that come from? How long has this toxic seed been part of our culture? Did the shooter understand this is unacceptable behavior? If he did understand that, and chose to do it anyway, where did he get the idea that this is a course of action appropriate to his emotional experience? Why do so few people understand what poison their “righteous anger” actually is? Even otherwise good-hearted people can be drawn into making the most outrageously hateful statements about the value of another life (don’t read the comments on the internet, People, I’m just saying there’s an astonishing amount of rationalized hate out there), given the opportunity to frame that other human being as a bad guy of some kind. We most commonly succumb to hate due to a lack of empathy… I don’t know how to fix that for the world, or my nation. I’m still working on it for me – one practice at a time. Changing myself is within my control; I have choices.

Time to begin again.