Archives for posts with tag: each having our own experience

We are each having our own experience. As true in this calm moment as in any moment of chaos. ๐Ÿ™‚ I sip my morning coffee, already cold because I got caught up in listening to music, and chatting with a friend online. I don’t mind. The music – and the friendship – are very much worth my time.

I sit here contentedly musing over the conversations of the week behind me, and the evening, last night. It was an excellent first week at the new job. It resonates pleasantly in my memory. My Traveling Partner and I worked out plans to do with benefit selections, and changes to the budget for the year to come. No stress, anxiety, even though the topic was definitely to do with money. I smile and let myself recognize the growth that experience implies – and the healing. I’ve come along way with myself, and savoring that awareness is, itself, a form of growth and healing. ๐Ÿ™‚

At one point, we decided to watch a couple of videos that intend to contrast “get ahead habits” with “fall behind habits”. Both had excellent content, in some regards. Both were also deeply flawed, depending on context, perspective, and framing. This presented a challenge for me; I was viewing them from an awareness of other experiences that made some of the points in these videos… problematic. For one thing, I’ve told you that these were videos about getting ahead versus falling behind, but the content creators don’t actually frame them up that way at all; they say the videos are about “poor people” versus “rich people”. I found that, frankly, highly objectionable, and it kept getting in my way of my ability to listen deeply to the actual points being made, which in several cases had real value. More than anything, the implicit definition of “rich” as de facto equivalent with “successful”, “deserving”, or “good”, and of “poor” in a litany of negative ways presented with a shaming tone was super aggravating. The videos were purposefully made with a very particular demographic in mind; people who want to get ahead in life, from where they are right now. Rich versus poor is a common enough false dichotomy in our culture, and it’s also not uncommon to blame poor people for poverty, or to treat rich people as though they are also ethical, and deserving. I just also think it’s fucking mean to take that approach.

Here’s the thing, though; the content has value. The points being made were not in error, generally. The points were merely drastically over-simplified, lacking in nuance, and stripped of context – in order to make those points more obvious to an audience that may not understand. The terms “rich” and “poor” weren’t being defined with any clarity to provide context – rich is rich, and in the videos no distinction is made between wealth gained through ill means (fraud, theft, exploitation), inheritance, or good fortune, and wealth gained through skillful endeavors. Actually, and I think it is what was annoying me most, the videos very carefully imply that all wealth gained is a goodness, and eschew any discussion of ethics. Same with poverty. The content providers allow an implication that enduring poverty rests on the decision-making of the poor, without even a hat tip to misfortune, institutional racism, or the very real limitations our culture has placed on people’s access to the tools and knowledge that might ease their scramble from poverty to… not being held back by poverty. The content only has two options: rich or poor. No discussion of middle-class success… or any discussion of success versus wealth – conflating cash hoarding with success in life tends to lock out viewers who might see success quite differently than a mountain of cash.

I watched them again this morning, and considered the points from many angles, allowing myself to “talk back” to the faceless narrator. I got more from them the second time through. I still think the content could have been more nuanced, deeper, more authentic, and more informed by explicit discussion of ethics, success, and happiness “metrics” that are more legitimate than a bank balance. I ask too much; the content provider knows their trade. I am not their audience – I am an eavesdropper gleaning something useful from a discussion that doesn’t have much to do with me, really. The target audience may not have the will or interest in also learning to live well, behave ethically, be their best selves, and treat others (and the world) well. They aren’t there yet. They just don’t want to be poor. An understandable position to take, and I hope they succeed at escaping poverty.

I hear my Traveling Partner stir in the other room. The weekend is here. I smile and finish my cold coffee. It’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.ย I come back to the thought frequently; I enjoy his joy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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? ย It’s so not a competition. What a lie I’dย 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 inย 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.) ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.