Archives for posts with tag: each having our own experience

There are other voices than mine. There are other lived truths than the truth I live myself. There are other perspectives, other viewpoints, other angles from which to consider each very human moment. There are other tales to tell, told by other travelers. Each existing alongside all the others, their existence, itself, does nothing to diminish the truth of the others; these are narratives. Subjective experiences of being human, in all its wonder, glory, pain, and joy. I tell mine here, my way. 🙂

A friend posted on Facebook recently that she is undertaking her own healing journey, walking that hard mile, processing trauma, seeking healing, and that she had started a blog. She started a group, to post to, understanding that perhaps not everyone wants to share that journey with her. I appreciate the consideration. I respect the journey; I’ve been on my own such journey for a while now. I reflected back on that moment when I decided to start a journey, and a blog, and considered how that “went down”, and the reactions I’d gotten at that time, from friends and loved ones (a fairly discouraging mix of disinterest, distance, and patronizing comments, generally, and a couple folks sincerely interested in being supportive). I asked myself, explicitly, “how do I want to ‘be there’ for my friend, and her experience, right now?”

I provided a reply I hoped would be welcoming and supportive, and accepted the request to join her group. Why would I not? Reluctance to be triggered? I grant you; it’s a risk. (People in my life spend a lot of time opening up to me about trauma, as it is. I’ve survived it so far.) People need to feel heard. They need emotionally secure relationships in which to open up about what hurts them. Me, too. Can I “be there” to support that? Of course I can. It’s on me to set and manage my boundaries, if it gets to be too much, and even that is a way of being there for a friend or loved one, setting that powerful example that it is also okay to set boundaries, and showing what that looks like, in practice. Practice. Yeah – and also, because I, too, am entirely made of human, I need practice, myself. Practice at listening deeply. Practice at maintaining perspective on past trauma. Practice understanding that we each walk our own hard mile. Practice at “being there” for others. Practice, frankly, at being the woman I most want to be – in every interaction, every moment, on every day. Words are just words. It’s the verbs that make changes come to life. It’s what we practice that matters; we become what we practice.

This morning I read the first of her posts (that I’ve read). I savored her voice. The difference in her style of communication. I read from a place of non-judgmental acceptance, and non-attachment. Her tale is not my tale, however similar some details may seem; she is having her own experience. I listen with empathy, consideration, compassion. I listen deeply. I recognize her humanity, her unique experience. I acknowledge the human experience beyond the words. I nod quietly, more than once. “I know you,” I think to myself. Still, I also allow her her moment; we are individuals, with our own experiences, our own pain. We’re in very different places on our individual journeys. That doesn’t matter as much as “being there” – being present, aware, and compassionate – because although we are each having our own experiences, we’re also “all in this together”. I sip my coffee and contemplate the journey stretching ahead of her.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs. Begin again.

My view of the meadow, covered by morning mist rising from the marsh, is obscured by condensation on the window, left open during the night. My view is obscured by my perspective. Something to think about, generally.

Low mist on the meadow before sunrise.

Sometimes I have to change my perspective to enjoy the view…

Today my traveling partner [figuratively, metaphorically] becomes my literal traveling partner, headed to a favorite festival. I smile every time I think about him enjoying himself there. I come back to the thought frequently; I enjoy his joy. 🙂

I caught myself getting caught up in the news… the usual horror and tedium, frankly, and fairly dismal. Getting mired in it does no one any good, and doesn’t change things. I can change only those things that are precisely and specifically changeable by me. It’s entirely a worthwhile endeavor to be the best human being I can, without bothering with the day-to-day stress and drama of comparison, or competition. Yeah, life?  It’s so not a competition. What a lie I’d been sold there! When I allow myself to be distracted by how well you are doing, or how well that famous person over there is doing, or how well a motivational speaker suggests I could be doing, or any number of other frankly revenue-generating (for someone) bits of bamboozlement, I lose precious time on my own authentic journey. Sometimes the journey is difficult. It’s mine. Sometimes the journey is a disastrous maze of detours. It’s mine. Sometimes the journey is fraught with confusion, sorrow, or anger. It’s mine. Sometimes the journey is delightful, joyful, and fun. It’s mine. My journey to make on my own terms; I am my own cartographer, having my own experience. Sure – we’re all in this together, and that matters, too. Still my journey, on my terms, in my own time – and similarly, yours belongs to you. We don’t gain much when we try to use someone else’s map… and we lose a lot when we’re sold on someone else’s destination. Just saying. Do you.

The mist begins to lift, the sky to lighten. I hear crows discussing their plan for the morning. I see the earliest hints of autumn in the trees on the far side of the park; shades of yellow and orange beginning to show in the summer green foliage.

Today is a good day to wish the world well, and my traveling partner too; each of us having our own experience. Each of us on our own journey. Today is a good day to be authentic, genuine, and also the very best of who I am able to be. (Each of us doing so would change the world.) 🙂

I woke too early, but didn’t get up until 5 minutes before the alarm; I turned it off, grateful to avoid it. I have a headache, feels like one from being dehydrated and whatever else goes with crying. Easily resolved; I drink more water.

I woke with my consciousness free of emotional debris – that’s a nice change that occurred somewhen, over time. It’s a new day. I find myself glad it is just one work day away from a long weekend. I feel as if I need the rest, though I am doubtful resting will be my first choice; in spite of last night’s… difficulties, I feel inspired to paint. It’s an almost overwhelming feeling and I find it difficult to remain in this moment, in this time/place, so overcome am I with thoughts of what could be appearing on my canvas(es).

So…another day. I begin again. I don’t know where it will take me. I wish my traveling partner well with my whole heart, somewhat saddened that we’re unlikely to spend any part of Valentine’s Day together; we go days, sometimes weeks without seeing each other. We managed to get through last evening, unintentionally, without even embracing. How odd. Unsettling and unsatisfying occur as words in my thinking, too. It’s okay – move along, brain, nothing to see here. 🙂

The work day starts super early on Fridays – but this morning I didn’t forget that (which is probably why I woke at 2:30 am, and did not return to sleep; last week I forgot it was Friday when I woke on Friday morning, and was very nearly late, which I don’t handle well). Coffee soon…

Today is a very good day to begin again. I’ll start right here…

Be love.

Be love.

It is a quiet morning. I slept in, and managed to do so in spite of a ringing phone next to my bed, left turned up from the night before. I woke minutes before my exhausted, distressed traveling partner arrived at my door. At this point there is little about my leisurely morning that differs from many other leisurely mornings; I have my coffee, and this safe and quiet place, and I am writing.

There are differences; each day, each moment, each experience differ subtly one from another, however similar in most regards. Today, some differences are small (I spent the morning writing notes on holiday cards, checking addresses, and getting them into the mail – as usual, at the last possible minute). Other differences are more significant; my traveling partner is sleeping in the other room, exhausted but feeling safe and able to sleep in this quiet space. I am ‘standing watch’, quietly writing and drinking my coffee. We care for each other in the face of any challenges the world throws our way, and today he earnestly needs to rest, to give in to sleep, until he wakes rested and able to reason clearly. My vigil affects the content of my thoughts and the emotional tone of the morning. I take time for me, too, ensuring I don’t inherit my partner’s stress (which could potentially render me less able to be rational and supportive). Quiet mornings are excellent for meditation. Meditation is excellent for maintaining perspective and balance in the face of stress.

Today balance is important, most particularly that balance between honest recognition of difficult circumstances in a relationship, and not over-stepping the boundaries as friend, lover, and partner by dictating decision-making in a ‘you need to…’ or ‘you have to…’ sort of way; there’s no win in doing so. The outcome of telling a loved one what he or she ‘must do’ about a problematic relationship is rarely anything other than later stress and agita over the outcome, whatever the decision-making may have been. So, I do my best to simply love my partner well, and listen deeply, and answer only the questions asked, and to do so honestly but without attempting to persuade or influence – to ‘be here’ for my partner, without making demands on his decision-making, whatever my own opinion may be. I sometimes feel as if I am holding a very detailed map… pointing at the map… and saying ‘you see where this is going?’, but it is truly not for me to make decisions about a relationship I am not part of, or to plan the route on a journey that is not mine.

I pause for a moment of compassion for the Other in the equation, feeling complicated emotions myself – a soup that includes concern, sadness, frustration, anger, and a very real helplessness. I have no power to improve things in any way, and no words to share that could change how many verbs are involved, how many choices are being made – or not made – or to ease the suffering, so much of which is self-inflicted. I take a few deep breaths, and think back on other years, other relationships, my own challenges, and as I exhale I let it all go. This one isn’t about me.

Storm-tossed, damaged, emotionally flooded - there is still a chance to begin again.

Storm-tossed, damaged, emotionally flooded – there is still a chance to begin again.

Today is a good day to practice those practices associated with listening deeply, with non-judgment, with acceptance and compassion. Today is a good day to practice those practices associated with not taking someone else’s experience personally; we are each having our own experience, truly. Today is a good day to avoid diving in to ‘fix’ something that isn’t mine, and that I haven’t been asked to fix. Today is good day to ‘be here’ for a friend, a lover, a partner – and to understand that sometimes just being here is enough.

I take pictures. I take a lot of pictures. My camera goes everywhere with me, although to be fair that’s not a challenge; I use my camera phone as my primary camera. Sometimes that’s obvious, since as cameras go, it’s still a phone. I don’t consider myself, creatively, a photographic artist first; I am humbled daily by the images shot by any number of other photographers – including my 16-year-old niece, who recently took up photography, and has since shot any number of outstanding images of insect wildlife, dog facial expressions, and life*.

I take pictures of squirrels.

I take pictures of squirrels.

I take a lot of pictures without worrying much about whether or not I am ‘good enough’ to be ‘a photographer’. By definition, a photographer is one who shoots photographs. I’m that. I’m a lot of other things too. What sets me apart from any professional photographer (who earns a living taking photographs with a level of technical ability worth paying them for), or an artist who works in photography as their medium (who, whether they earn a living or not, takes wonderful photographs, images that capture something about life and the world, that people want to see), is The Ratio [of great shots to wasted ones]. I am a student, an amateur, a woman with a camera phone; I take uncounted pictures to get one great shot [maybe] – and am quite willing to make use of pictures that communicate something to me, personally, but which are not particularly skillful or extraordinary pictures. A professional would take potentially many pictures, and get many that were precisely what they were looking for, and a professional would be unlikely to make use of poor quality images. An artist might take more pictures – or not – but would likely have many more shots that capture something quite extraordinary. The ratio of great shots to ‘why did you bother’ shots is very different for someone just snapping pictures along life’s journey, and someone who is skilled, studious, gifted, or driven by artistic purpose – or all of those things at once.

A favorite floral shot; some pictures capture something that lasts.

A favorite floral shot; some pictures capture something that lasts.

One lovely thing about life is that practice is a thing; I could become a more skilled photographer with study and practice. (My photography has improved quite a lot over the past couple years.) I could become a captivating artist with a camera, with more study and practice. (I occasionally take some amazing shots even now.)  There are all those verbs involved, and results that vary based on choices and opportunities – and inspiration. With practice, the ratio of great shots to wasted shots would change in favor of great shots – because we become what we practice. Yep. Some things are exactly just that simple. I can’t actually see any particularly obvious dividing line between ‘dinking around with my camera phone’ and ‘I’m a photographer’ – Only a ratio of great shots to crap shots, a ratio of meaningful images to trite images, and a ratio of great pictures taken to all the pictures taken.

Sometimes I don't quite capture what I was going for.

Sometimes I don’t quite capture what I was going for.

Having said all of that, I’ll add that I’m not certain the ratio has ‘real meaning’ or value beyond words; I love taking pictures and don’t care much whether I am ‘a successful photographer’ by any definition but my own. I enjoy taking the pictures, and in some cases even those that ‘didn’t turn out’ capture something of value, or are meaningful to me in some way. I could definitely grab hold of the ratio as an idea and beat myself down for not being ‘good enough’, or not growing fast enough – instead, this morning, I just observe that it’s there, as a thing – maybe – and that there are differences among us. My young niece has far more talent and aptitude with a camera than I do; it shows in the pictures. Happily, life is not a competition; I am free to enjoy her photographs alongside my own.

It's a journey. Each step I take is my own.

It’s a journey. Each step I take is my own.

Today is a good day to see the world with new eyes. Today is a good day to enjoy beauty and wonder. Today is a good day to be who we choose to become – by practicing. There is so much freedom to choose who we are, and who we want most to be. The labels are less important than the verbs. There is a whole world to explore on this journey.

*I am choosing not to use any of my nieces images in this post, although I am thinking about her work, and have it open on another tab of my browser, where I can look at it while I write. My choice to use only my own work in this post is based on my Big 5 relationship values; I have not been given explicit permission by the artist (my niece) to use her photography in my blog. It’s irrelevant that she is 16, or that she is my niece; she is the artist, and her images are her own work, owned by her, and using them without her permission is a theft of intellectual property. Yes, I’m serious. Please be considerate of the work of artists, get permission, give credit, and don’t seek to profit financially from their work without authorization – in advance. It’s just common courtesy.