Archives for posts with tag: existential angst

Too hot… Tooooo hot… My coffee’s too hot, Lady… 😉

Seriously, though? My coffee is too hot. lol …And it’s okay to be amused, to be silly, to be whimsical, to make jokes, to be merry, even in the morning, yes and all day, too. Lighten up when  you can, enjoy the moments that don’t weigh you down, and savor those, too. Even if – especially if – your heart is heavy with grief, pain, or trauma; those lighter moments can help us through some really dark times.

For clarity, because I assume by this point you are somewhat familiar with my whimsy (and word play, and over-use of metaphors), I’ll explicitly point out that this morning is merry and quite delightful, thus far. Neither the song I linked, nor the context of my experience right now, is weighed down by pain, or grief, or trauma – I’m just saying letting your heart be light when it will is a healthy thing. 🙂

Yesterday was as easy as the day before was difficult. It was a lovely day, summery, fun, fulfilling, exciting… did I mention the fun? And the fulfillment? A good day.

If you’ve made the whole thing about the job, you may be missing the point. 🙂

…Good days also end. They come around again. However dark times feel in one moment, it’s only one moment. There’ll be another. We can make choices, change choices, put verbs in motion, adjust our perspective, and even walk away from what doesn’t work. We have so much power over our own lives, often more than we use, certainly more than we recognize, when we feel hurt, trapped, or held back. How often is it our own choices allowing us to be hurt, trapped, and held back? (Sometimes it isn’t, let’s be real about that, and the harshness of our circumstances can be imposed upon us by bad lawmaking, by human nastiness, and by the choices of others, just as it can be by anything we’ve done, ourselves – also a thing, and yeah, even there, our decision-making can alter our experience of our circumstances to a greater or lesser degree, and we still have tremendous power to change the future.)

“This too shall pass,” applies even to the best of times. The best, sunniest days, eventually see the sun set. It’ll rise again. The wheel turns. There’s a new beginning just over the horizon. With this being the case, then it is also a given that it’s true of our darkest times. I mean, generally… there’s also death to contend with, eventually, no argument there. I don’t have much to say about that, and existential angst can get out of hand pretty quickly if we’re overly concerned about that.

Oh, nice… my coffee is cool enough to drink. I smile merrily. In this moment, that matters. That’s okay. I think all I’m getting at this morning is… be sure to have a good time, too. Enjoy living life. Enjoy the sunshine, and the rain. Enjoy this human being that you are – even while you work to become the person you most want to be. There is only practice, there is no “perfect” – enjoy the journey (you may not ever reach the destination).

The clock keeps ticking. It’s a new day, a new beginning, a new chance to be the woman I most want to be. It feels like summer.

…It feels like time to begin again. 😀

What if you died today and had to give feedback to yourself on your life, or defend, justify, or excuse it, after-the-fact? How would well would you rate yourself?

What if you could try again? Would you make any changes?

It’s an interesting thought exercise… I’m inclined to follow through on this one very soon, perhaps over some solo weekend during the holiday season. I did it once before, purely by chance, years ago. It mattered a great deal and gave me new perspective on my life. It’s a tough one, though, and can really mire one in sadness – it’s not for the timid, the faint of heart (nor the inauthentic). Taking it lightly is neither useful nor helpful. I do hope you find it either useful, or helpful, or at least a thought-provoking read over your coffee, or tea.

Ready? Let’s begin…

Imagine this; you’ve died. It doesn’t matter at all how, you are dead. No opportunity for one more please, thank you, I’m sorry, or I love you. You are done. Game over. Right now. Okay, so now let the death part of the scenario just go; you know nothing of it, and can’t. You’re dead. Nothing new to remember. Let’s look at your life instead – or more to the point, you look at it. That’s right. You had your chance. It’s done. Game over. You are only a collection of memories – your own, and those that others left behind have of you.

Look at your words, and actions, and the outcomes of your choices, and  your baggage, – your free will brought you to these ends. What were your actual, no bullshit, real values – based on your actions, your decisions, what you chased in life, what mattered most to you in fact (what you said you valued has no meaning now, you’re dead and those were just words) – what were your real true actual values? (Don’t rush this, you’ve got plenty of time; you’re dead.)

“Why those?” is maybe not the correct next question, more to the point; is this what you wanted of your life, and your choices? Is this end result “enough”, or “what you wanted”? Are you okay with this being your legacy?

Are the things that were stressing you, truly, now that you’re dead and can look back unafraid and unashamed, were they truly stress-worthy? The times you snapped at loved ones over petty annoyances – worth it? Justifiable? (I mean, you can’t change it now, and all they have to look back on is who you actually were, and how you really treated them.) The stress about work, all that potentially wasted time grinding away on someone else’s agenda – was it worth it in the end? Was there ever “enough” money? Was being “right” worth the agita of forcing someone else to say that you were right – even if they only did so to shut you up? Was it ever finally the “right time” to do something about what you wanted most to do?

Ask the hard questions. Gnothi seauton. No bullshit. Turn and face yourself, naked and revealed. Look into the mirror. Who were you? Is that who you wanted to be? Who you expected to be? Who you thought you were?

Could you have done “better” or “more”? Who defined those qualities for you in life? Why wasn’t it your call, your definitions, your free will reaching out to enact your own choices? Why did you settle? Why were you “chasing” happiness… money… pretty lovers…a better high…a more perfect romance…? Whatever it was… the curtain has fallen. You’re done. Was it worth it? Are you content with the person you were? Will you be remembered? How will you be remembered? What is your legacy?

There may be other questions, too, that matter to you particularly, that hold you back right now, questions I can’t possible know – but you know them. So ask those too. Who were you? Is this truly what you want to leave behind when death overtakes you?

Take your time – I’ve got work to get to, can’t stay with you while you work through the details on this one, and really… It’s all about you. When you are finished with being finished with being you… what then? When you allow yourself to understand and fully accept that a time will come when indeed “you had your chance” and now it has passed you by… will you think you have wasted that precious limited life time? Will you feel a moment of regret for the shitty choices, poor values, lack of ethics, lack of conscience, cruelty, carelessness, regrettable loss of control, the hurt you have done to loved ones, and yes, even strangers? I sort of hope that you do, or that, if nothing else, you feel something that moves you to make some change or other that takes your journey somewhere new – somewhere you really want to go, but hadn’t yet gotten to. Because death doesn’t seem to hold a ton of potential to change who you were, you know?

…Well… At least in this instance… you get a do-over. You get to begin again. Are you ready for your second chance to be the person you most want to be?

Here it is. Right now. It begins right here, right now, and with each choice that follows this moment.

What will you do with it?

I woke this morning, but I’m not actually sure when. I checked the clock at 2:38 am, but didn’t get up. I may have slept more, I don’t recall being wakeful, but I recall many moments of being awake. I don’t know whether they are consecutive (and I was awake until I got up) or separated by sleep (resulting in sleep, however restless it may have been). I got up at 6:38, 4 hour later, when I next checked the clock. If it had been, say, 3:11 am, I’d have gotten up to pee and gone back to bed afterward – and perhaps that would have been a good choice at 2:38 am. 🙂

I see signs of autumn everywhere on my walks lately.

I see signs of autumn everywhere on my walks lately; time to get back out on the trails.

I’m not sure what sort of morning this one is, so far. I’m still sore from more than usual miles of walking yesterday (a reminder to get back on the trail). I woke in pain, stiff from my arthritis, and since that’s primarily in my spine, it affects most movement, even breathing feels subtly impaired, as I fight the pain to find posture that allows deeper breaths. (Many of my headaches source with a damaged cervical vertebra (C7) and its adjacent arthritic siblings, rather than with my TBI.) I put on music first thing this morning, even before I turned on the aquarium lights, which is unusual. More unusual still, I didn’t do so with deliberate purpose and awareness, it was the action of someone just being and doing, action following impulse without intent. I’m not unhappy with the choice, but the ebb and flow of my emotions seems more connected this morning to the music than to my experience. Highs and lows come and go with the changing tracks on my playlist. I made my coffee, and forgot about it on the counter in the kitchen. My memory seems very clear on details that are often sort of vague and challenging – but I am peculiarly inattentive to other sorts of things I generally track well. And… Yesterday there was this moment when it was entirely and rather publicly clear that I had entirely lost any ability to manage simple math – I couldn’t calculate 44 days from the current date for a simple forecasting scenario, even using a calendar, and the calculator on my computer was beyond me (cognitively), at that moment. It could have been an embarassing moment – it wasn’t; I was frightened, and felt very vulnerable and insecure. The feelings passed, the concern did not. I’m sort of … following myself around observing myself in the background today, with concern and curiosity.

I write awhile. I retrieve my forgotten coffee. I change the playlist when I find myself feeling some borrowed emotion that doesn’t fit the circumstances of the day. And I wonder. I try to avoid worrying, but find myself thinking of things like “Flowers for Algernon”, and the neuroscience of cognition, and the progress on A.I., and how fragile this meat vessel really is, and how many people in my family have died of strokes… and my injury. Suddenly my fears become liquid and the tears are quietly slipping down my face, and I weep to face my mortality so starkly. 52 isn’t old. Neither am I a child. I carry enough damage to this fragile vessel from years of punishing circumstances, trauma, casual thoughtlessness, and mischance that I probably ought not expect it to be without consequence where longevity is concerned. It’s a good call to take care of myself if I earnestly want to stay around – but, realistically, so much of whether I stay around isn’t actually up to me in the moment, at all. Strokes do happen. Will I know, when the time comes? Will it be like some of the TIAs I’ve had, looking out through my eyes as windows, aware but unable to say – but for longer than a moment? What’s next? Will everything just… end?

I didn’t understand yesterday how profoundly affected I was in that moment, with a colleague, utterly unable to do the simplest math, looking up from my desk so helplessly – and asking for help. That was hard. I didn’t lose face, and the moment passed. I’m open about my issues, and learning to ask for help when I need it has had a lot of value. I’m frightened, though, and that’s harder to be open about. I let myself cry, and face the fear. I am okay right now. My coffee is hot, well-made, and tastes just right. The morning is a pleasant one. The music is all music I like very much. I live well, comfortably, and meet most of my day-to-day needs easily. I am human; emotions like fear and uncertainty are part of the experience. I guess I’m just not ready to go now, and the fear hits that yearning for more time – now that I seem to be sorting some things out. It’s a complicated feeling.  Tears and more tears, no sobbing or hysterics, just this momentarily ceaseless flow of tears, blurring my vision. And this fear. I have so much more love to give…

The tears slow, and eventually stop. My head aches from the crying… or…was the headache already there? I’m not sure this morning. This morning I lack certainty about a great many things. Will I see my traveling partner, or is he still sick? Will my housewarming later today be fun and relaxed, or will I mess with my head foolishly getting overly worked up over small things and stress myself out? Will I continue to find, over the course of the day, that other things ‘aren’t working’ as I expect them to, in my ability to think, to do math, to spell, to write,  to reason, to recall, to plan, to communicate, to feel…? Will I rise above the small challenges to engage this lovely moment, or find myself faltering and failing to find any secure emotional foothold? Will I take care of me, quite tenderly, and recognize that at any age being reminded of one’s mortality can be ‘a tough  moment’, or will I treat myself callously, with disregard, self-deprecation, and mockery? Will I “be okay”, or can I find sufficiency in being okay right now? I momentarily feel as though I might trade actual death from whatever nasty virus my traveling partner picked up for 15 minutes in his arms, feeling comforted, cared for, and alive. Fear sucks.

My playlist comes through for me in the most amazing way some times. My heavy heart starts lifting listening to Atmosphere remind me how human life is. I remember, again, that I am okay right now, and that – truly – there is nothing in this moment right here that warrants these tears. I start letting it go, and gently finding my way; mortality isn’t really something we can fight skillfully (yet) as human beings. I may not live to see us achieve near-immortality through the advances of science. I have ‘now’, and it can’t be taken from me. Today isn’t a bad one. The morning isn’t difficult. I didn’t sleep badly. My coffee didn’t disappoint me. I am not out in the cold, or without nutritious groceries in my pantry. I am not lacking in love. I don’t have to go into the office today. I am, in fact, okay right now. “All is well” is approximately accurate – at least as far as any details I can be clearly aware of in my own experience, myself, in this moment.

As suddenly as they came, the tears – and my fear and uncertainty – dissipate. I am okay, right now. It’s enough, isn’t it? 🙂

I clean my salt-spattered glasses, sip my remaining now cold coffee, and notice again the lovely morning ahead of me, requiring only that I take care of me, practice good practices, and live well and mindfully in this moment, on this day. Now.