Archives for posts with tag: don’t make assumptions

I’ve got this headache plaguing my every minute again, today. It sucks. It’s a small irritant in a generally good experience, though, and things could be far worse. Weirdly, “things seem strange” – the ratio and size of this window looks somehow wrong. The font seems small compared to my expectations. I check that I’m wearing the right glasses. I find myself clenching my jaw, and make a point to breathe and relax my face. Where is this stress and feeling of aggravation and enduring frustration coming from? I feel a bit… generally peeved. Did I miss the mark on my morning coffee…? No, I definitely had two cups.

I increase the magnification on this window, and let that go. I take an OTC pain reliever for the headache, and let that go, too. I breathe, exhale, relax – and take a minute to savor the excitement of the upcoming job change. There’s a moment of satisfaction in each piece of paperwork in that process that is completed. I give myself a moment to feel the sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing the tax paperwork for the year, and let go any lingering stress left behind from that process, too. Small details. Life, lived.

…This headache, though…

A couple weeks ago, my lack of enthusiasm for vacuuming found itself notably worsened by the earnest-but-inadequate efforts of the wee cheap plastic upright vacuum I’d purchased back in 2015, when I moved into #27. Tiny apartment – it didn’t need an expensive feature-packed vacuum cleaner, just a vacuum cleaner sufficient to keep up with one women in less than 700 sq feet of space, one third of which wasn’t carpeted. This house is bigger than that, and although only the bedrooms are carpeted, it’s still quite a bit of vacuuming each week keeping up with two busy adults venturing in/out, onto the deck, into the front yard, out into the shop (in the garage)… and, I can’t say I was successfully keeping up, at all. Neither was that vacuum. It did its best, and it got me by for… 6 years. Wow. Not bad. 🙂 Just not enough, anymore. My Traveling Partner and I talked it over and decided a new vacuum cleaner would be the next quality of life improvement, and did some pre-shopping, settled on a make/model, determined the likely date of purchase (if available). That was two weeks ago. This morning, I was up early, and out the door between my first and second coffees, heading up the road to the retailer with the vacuum cleaner we’d selected.

…It rained the entire drive there and back…

This is not an exciting tale of adventure. I bought a vacuum cleaner. Not exciting. It’s a good one, though, and I’m delighted with the results. I mean… the rugs in the living room actually look clean, for the first time in quite a while. Satisfying. I make room to savor even this small emotional victory. (This headache sucks so much, truly, that contemplating a good result with a quality household appliance feels like real greatness. lol)

…I let go of how irked I am with myself that I hurt too much to aggressively persistently vacuum every inch of flooring across every square foot of house; I can only do my best, and still need to care for myself. I definitely do not want to be the sort of human being willing to make myself cry over the vacuuming. I mean… seriously. It matters so much more that I am in pain. I give myself a minute to consider next steps to care for myself well.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and I feel my irritation resurface recalling that I confused “W-4” with “W-2” in conversation with my partner – which, after a tax-paying lifetime as an American adult, one would figure I’d have mastered as just too fucking basic to get wrong. I let it go. Small mistakes are common enough for people. Even the sharpest, wittiest, most educated, most well-spoken, most erudite, most fluent human beings make mistakes when they speak. Wrong words. Mixed metaphors. Poor choice of verbiage. Slips of the tongue. All too human. I happen to be prone to those things as much as anyone… maybe the tiniest bit more because of my TBI. I’m likely far more sensitive to my errors than other people are, and more so in these later years when I am more prepared to be authentically myself, and less likely to rely on a “script” that conforms to social norms and expectations. Still, I find it awkward and embarassing, and I take a moment to wonder what drives that, instead of focusing on the mistakes that are so human, themselves. It’s the expectations, isn’t it? It’s not the mistake that is the “problem”, in this instance – it’s that I have expectations of myself that don’t allow for those mistakes. That seems like a bit of a dick move… I certainly don’t treat other people that way. Another breath. Another moment to relax. I left all that go, too. I can treat myself better. 🙂 Clearly I need practice.

I review my writing for grammatical errors – a particular sort that is specific to my issues, which is to say, messed up suffixes, opposites, and missing words. They’ve gotten to be pretty common, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t bother about it if they weren’t the sort to entirely change the meanings of sentences. I mean, rather a lot, actually. I look over my writing, correct the mistakes I find. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.

…Fuck this headache…

I’m fatigued from fighting my pain, and managing my mood. I feel tears well up over nothing at all – just the frustration of being in pain. Still. Again. (“Other people have it much worse,” I remind myself, “It’s just physical pain. Just the arthritis and the chill and the damp. Let it go.”) Another breathe. Another moment.

…Time to begin again.

I am sipping my coffee and considering, for a moment, how strange that there are so many yesterdays, and only just this one ‘today’, only this one ‘present’ moment. I’m not sure how to count futures; are they infinite, because there are so very many potential choices and happenstances, or are they not-even-one because no one such potential moment has any substance whatever until it occurs… in the present? No great calamity or stress pushes my thinking down this pathway this morning. I think I got here because I am contemplating retirement rather earnestly, and giving thought to ‘when’, and ‘how’. I have literally no interest in continuing a tedious corporate grind for someone else’s gross margin until I am 75 or 80 years old. Some days, I barely muster the commitment to do so now. Choices, however, come at a cost, and the bills must be paid.

I’m not having any sort of crisis of self or identity here, I’m just tired. lol I’ve been working my entire adult life with the exception of some weeks between jobs now and then, and I’m ready to invest my time in my own agenda. I’ve said as much before, and I don’t make a secret of it. Hell, the one time I tried to take a serious hiatus, a breather, six months for me… someone else in the household lost her job, income we’d all counted on, and I was asked to go back to work, and did (probably a good thing for all of us, since she was not able to find work for the better part of a year). Economically, I’m fortunate to be employed. Emotionally, I could sure use a break – and realistically, I’m not going to be getting one any time soon. Still, I find value in considering my future retirement. If nothing else, I am hopeful that considering it in a practical way regularly will ensure I have one. I know, I know – there are verbs involved. 🙂

I find myself feeling cross at the recollection of a recent conversation about retiring, and wanting do so before I am 60. There seemed to be real resistance to the idea, particularly if there were going to be any chance I might be dependent on my partner’s resources in any measure to make that happen. It was a peculiar moment. I managed not to bring up the months and years of an adult lifetime during which I have reliably and encouragingly supported partners who were not employed at the time – whether between jobs, careers, or starting their own thing; the only such months and years that are relevant are the ones with this partner. The apparent lack of reciprocity caught me by surprise with such force that I couldn’t ask the needed clarifying questions, and instead I let the topic die quietly. It is fairly academic at this point, anyway. It suffices as a red flag, though, calling attention to something that is worth understanding more clearly. Where will I really be in life at 70? At 80? At 110? Is it a given that my elder years will ‘look like’ my recollections of my great-grandmother’s life from my perspective as a child, secure at home with generations of close family? I know that it is not. I don’t know what it will be, but it’s fairly certainly not going to be that.

The travels of a stray ant wandering past remind me how little substance thoughts of the future really have. There is this ‘now’, really, and that’s all I have to work with. I can do my best now. Treat my loves well now. Treat myself well now. Live this moment right here, and make of it what I can, understanding that today’s resources may also have to pay for a tomorrow I can’t see a price tag for. I feel a little cross over the vagueness of the future. I feel fortunate, content, and warmed by love in this current finite present moment. I get to choose where to spend my time.

Planning for my future, surely, but not living there. 🙂

I sit back from my words and wonder what I can do to meet the underlying need begging to be addressed. “I need a break.” Okay, that’s a practical matter isn’t it? So… from what, exactly? Is it really about hours of work each week, or the nature of the job, or any of those details? Is it about an emotional experience that could be addressed quite without disrupting the work week? Is it simply a byproduct of a busy week on the calendar, on top of uncertainty about the future just weighing me down a bit? Questions. Maybe it is time to head to the trees for answers? Taking some time off for a long weekend would probably do me some good.

It’s raining this morning. It’s been raining most of the night. I love the sound of it on the eaves, windows, and chimney cover. I woke fairly early and meditated for some while as the dawn turned to morning, and the rain fell.

A rainy morning from another perspective.

A rainy morning from another perspective.

I find myself thinking a lot about perspective this morning, and my metaphors have gotten all jumbled up. I think of the unique individual nature of each raindrop, each wet blade of grass in the meadow, each insect chased by each swallow…and as each metaphor begins to take shape in some more meaningful seeming way, it crumbles under the weight of how similar each of these things really is, from my own perspective. Can I tell at a glance once rain drop from another? Or one blade of grass, one insect, or one swallow? Hardly. Not as a general rule. Few could, except perhaps those who make a committed study of some particular – raindrops, or maybe a certain very particular butterfly, or the blades of grasses. I spend some moments considering that. If I were to spend a great deal of my time studying just one very narrowly defined object, creature, event, or notion, wouldn’t I become highly aware of the most granular subtleties of every characteristic, over time? Would this alter how I view all manner of other things as well – changing the focal point of my perspective in some fashion?

The rain continues to fall. The ducks and Canada geese appear to be enjoying it greatly, and feasting on something they dig out of the mud between dripping wet blades of grass. I think about perspective as I watch them; if I asked them ‘how are you doing’ and asked also that they place their experience on a scale of 1 – 10, what would they say? I think about my own answer to that question. I find it a difficult way to rate my experience, because it requires thoughtful consideration and then probably some math to find an average; I am in a lot of pain today, but feeling content, serene, and pleasantly disposed toward the world…not quite ‘merry’. So… 1 – 10? 6? 7? ‘Better than average’? What’s ‘average’? My average? Or would the questioner’s perspective be their own understanding of ‘average’? I want to rate it twice – climate and weather. Because my day-to-day background sense of things (climate) is more a… 9. Which is nice to make note of. My right-now-pain-and-all (weather) is something more like a 6 with suggestions that a playful 7 is within reach, if I continue to manage my pain as best I can, and also hold on to some perspective – weather changes. I look out across the rainy meadow. Numbers don’t matter to raindrops. The blades of grass are not concerned about my perspective.

A runner crosses my view of the meadow, running through the muddy grass to bypass the flooded trail. He runs in a t-shirt and shorts, and the rain continues to fall rather heavily. The weather is not yet warm. I wonder what his perspective is on the rain as he passes by beyond the window, across the grass? Does he find his experience bracing, refreshing, and delightful? Did he seek out the sensations he is experiencing? Or his is morning run a matter of rigid habit, of discipline, and a personal will to refuse to be overcome by some raindrops? He chose – but what was it he was choosing?

Today is a good day to listen to the rain fall, and a good day to consider something from a different perspective.

Homecomings are special moments, at least for me. Even the small everyday homecoming of arriving home from work is a potentially beautiful and deeply connected moment with loved ones. When a homecoming goes wrong it hurts so much more than it probably requires, once considered with a full measure of perspective and compassion. I know this, because I have ruined a number of them, over the years. Along the way I have learned some things about homecomings:

1. Everyone is having their own experience, and has their own emotional investment in the outcome; making assumptions about exactly what it is, is a proven poor choice.

2. Unstated expectations are highly likely to be a factor in a homecoming going awry.

3. Everyone wants to share what’s been up with them during the time apart.

4. Being attached to an expectation, an outcome with an emotional investment behind it, or an internal narrative that no one else shares, is a shortcut to an unpleasant experience.

5. Even homecomings are about some very simple things: being accepted, being heard, and connecting.

Last night the travelers returned, and somehow managed to be unexpectedly early. Rather than being stressed out that I didn’t get to the house ahead of them to clean frantically (and mindlessly), I was delighted that they were home and safe. I arrived minutes later, and enjoyed my usually-at-home partner’s appreciation that I had stopped for cat food along the way (and she would not have to do so). I kept The Big 5 in play while they were away, and truly my partners are rarely far from my thoughts; the house was decently tidy, and small details matter. All weekend, I sought out little things to do that might result in a comfortable pleasant experience when the traveler’s returned.

It was a lovely homecoming evening, filled with laughter and shared stories, new art, and quiet conversation. I didn’t spend my solo time wracked with anxiety about housework; I painted. They didn’t come home to a disaster, because I also made a mindful effort to take care of things like dishes, and laundry, and routine chores (hey, I do have to live here, too! lol).  We didn’t ‘lean in’ to each other, allowing the greetings to be natural and comfortable, and the evening to be relaxed and leisurely. It was lovely.

The evening was short, of course. Both their arrival, and my return home from work occur slightly later in the evening, and once the car was unpacked, and calories were handled, showers finished… it was well into night. I spent some precious loving moments in the arms of the traveler returned home, too meaningful and valued to overlook, to personal and intimate to share further. I know I am loved.

Quite a nice homecoming.

I also slept incredibly badly, restlessly, and drenched in sweat – hot flashes? Misery. I woke with a headache, stuffy sinuses, and arthritis stiffness that renders my movements almost puppet-like. Still, no complaints from me, because those are not the details that define my experience.

"The Stillness Within" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas with glow.

“The Stillness Within” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas with glow, 2014

Today is a good day for love. Today is a good day to change the world.