Archives for posts with tag: I’m just saying

…In the simplest terms, is…

It isn't always blue skies overhead, but we can choose to look up, at least.

It isn’t always blue skies overhead, but we can choose to look up, at least.


Although life is often no bed of spring flowers, we can plant the seeds, and nurture growth, any time.

Although life is often no bed of spring flowers, we can plant the seeds, and nurture growth, over time.

Don’t we serve ourselves – and our loves, our community, and our world – when we take care of ourselves well, with an eye for our longer term needs, and what matters most, doing no harm, and living mindfully? No, it isn’t without effort. My results vary. There are tons of verbs involved. Growth seems slow. Change is incremental. I often find myself beginning again. Isn’t all that worth it, to find lasting contentment?

I spent last night sick, and disinclined to write. Tonight, although I was in quite a lot of pain and my traveling partner was feeling somewhat unwell, we spent a handful of hours hanging out. I am still smiling. I’m inclined to say more – certainly the evening is on my mind. I don’t know that I have the words.

Sometimes when I hang out with someone, I walk away from the interaction still feeling very much that we are strangers. Other times – other people – it is easy to connect deeply, to be open and comfortable, to be easy with each other, and walk away afterward feeling closer, and feeling connected. This evening was more than just a pleasant good time together. We spoke intimately on difficult topics, shared our emotions comfortably, and gently, and when we said good-bye at the end of the evening I felt heard, and I felt I knew a little more about my partner’s heart than I did before. I even felt a little more well-understood, myself.

It was an ordinary enough evening when it started. Then, somewhere midway through some possibly completely unrelated bit of conversation, he said…something.  My eyes filled with tears, and his filled with puzzlement. “You said the ‘L word’, I replied, trying to smile. “Loneliness,” I continued, “I’m not very good at talking about it.” I struggled to regain my composure (there really wasn’t anything wrong at all) and explained that for some reason, just hearing the word “loneliness” has the potential to cause my eyes to tear up. He looked at me with such love and empathy. There was no hint of awkwardness, or strain. We talked awhile about loneliness in general, and in our own experiences in life. We talked about solitude, and the things that differentiate those experiences one from the other. It was beautiful. I feel comforted, and supported. I feel loved.

The listening thing is huge. It wasn’t obvious whether or not my traveling partner felt it too. I’ve been practicing ‘listening deeply’; I find the most elegant and lovely explanation in a favorite book on mindful love (How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh).  The extraordinary intimacy of the conversation, and the evening, was quite wonderful. Comfortable. Easy. The result? A very secure feeling of loving and being loved.



I don’t have much of real value to share about tonight; I am wrapped in love, and inclined to relax, feet up, just smiling. Maybe for a while. Some evenings, I sit in the twilight and I wonder. Tonight, I sit in the twilight and marvel.

I am sipping my coffee – this morning it seems very ordinary, and at some earlier point in life I might have spent some measure of time inclined to troubleshoot the coffee-making, or perhaps poured it out in frustration and made a new cup of coffee. This morning, I am sipping my coffee and recognizing that it is adequate, not bad, just not worth raving about…but some coffees are like that, right? Good enough to drink…not quite good enough to write a favorable review.

I slept well this morning, with few interruptions and no nightmares. I woke slowly, and took my time with my yoga, meditation, and shower. It doesn’t seem the sort of morning that requires rushing through things – it’s rare than any morning actually requires rushing through things, but some of them seem to want it. Rushing is not my preference. I take my time. I sip my coffee and grin at my awareness that taking my time is not, by itself, what makes a great cup of coffee.

A moment of reflection over coffee

A moment of reflection over coffee

There’s something on the edge of my consciousness, and understanding of something that I haven’t quite managed, perhaps, waiting to be recognized more fully, and embraced, or perhaps shared…like the way my nose tickles before I sneeze, I sense the understanding on the edge of my awareness. The morning is chilly, and autumn approaches. There are other things crowding into my experience, begging to be noticed: the sweater I am wearing to work wraps me in softness, paintings I hung last night tug at my senses yearning to be viewed again, the stiffness in my spine that characterizes nearly every morning at this stage in my life, the soft ping of incoming email… The rich immediacy of the moment has so much to offer that I find it quite difficult to try to focus on something on the extreme edge of my awareness, teasing me that there is more to understand about myself, or the world. I’m okay with that; understanding comes with time, and waiting on it doesn’t wear it down, or make it less worthy.

Autumn approaches.

Autumn approaches.

I love the poetry of language, and the nuances available in a rich vocabulary. It is possible to say so much, so clearly… Sometimes I fail my intention, and lose the meaning in the words. It’s actually quite common. I am practicing simpler ways of communicating in direct conversations in my relationships, and not because the poetry of language has no value on its own, but rather because I actually enjoy it when my needs are met in my relationships. Sometimes that requires fewer or simpler words. I find myself wondering if my traveling partner has noticed any change? Simple, practical, direct – and not in an unkind or terse way – is useful in day-to-day communication between friends, lovers, family, co-workers. I guess that seems obvious… I find it a challenge, more often than I would like to. I sometimes come across as terse or abrasive when I am being direct. Sometimes simple and practical language, coming from me, sounds…child like, or over-simplified. There’s balance to find, and I have not yet found it. I like colorful language and clear descriptions and don’t necessarily get why there is an improvement in describing someone as having ‘curly hair’ versus ‘she is surrounded by vast clouds of soft brown bouncing when she talks’. If two curly haired women were standing side by side, you would know immediately which of the two was the one I meant if I use the poetry language has to offer. I have much to learn about language, and communication. I could just point and grunt, I suppose…but I do like words.

Simple words are beautiful, too. They require greater skill to be poetic. Coming to that understanding finds me exploring shorter formats poetically, and in prose; can I say it with fewer words? Can I communicate accurately – and simply? More of life’s curriculum. I absolutely detest “tl:dr” finding it an extreme discourtesy.  I also like being heard – and there is great value in being able to easily communicate in the broadest possible circumstances with the greatest number of people. I am still a student, even of words, even of language – even of poetry. This amazing journey offers much to learn.

Even the flowers know autumn approaches.

Even the flowers know autumn approaches.

I have a long weekend ahead. I plan to paint this weekend, after I run a couple errands on Friday. I will likely spend much of the weekend alone, which means far fewer words. Where will inspiration take me? I am eager to invest the time in me, no timers, no alarm clocks, no calendar…just an artist at work. Simple enough.

"Monochromatic Flower" 18" x 20" acrylic on canvas 2010

“Monochromatic Flower” 18″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas 2010 . A single color on canvas seems simple enough…very challenging to photograph. (It’s a metaphor. 🙂 )

Today is a good day for simple words, and simple things. Today is a good day to savor simple pleasures. Today is a good day to communicate big ideas with fewer syllables. Today is new and fresh and exciting – and wide open with possibilities…what will I do to change the world?

It’s a Saturday morning. The habit of a lifetime of employment tends to get me up most mornings sometime around the same time of morning that I wake all week long. Work changes life. I am sipping my coffee, made with great care, and savoring the morning; it will not lead me to the office. This, right here, is life being lived. What follows are words…resentful words, contentious words, discontented words, and yes – angry words. In short – ranting. You don’t have to read it; figured I’d give you an easy out and let you know in advance.

Our harvest has much to do with what we planted, and how we tended our garden.

Our harvest has much to do with what we planted, and how we tended our garden.

There is so much to read about ‘work-life balance’, for and against, pro and con, is it realistic, is it worthy, is it necessary, is it valued… and I think my own musings took me along a path that opened my eyes to something relevant – a detail I don’t often see openly discussed in a comfortable way; it matters what we do for employment (work) whether work and life are out of balance in the first place. If I am working too hard, feeling under-compensated, exploited, taken for granted, and find myself compromising my own needs for my employer, then work and life are most assuredly out of balance… but…what if my passion is for the work that I do? Perhaps then the experience is quite different? If we are trying to have a discussion about work and life and balance, it’s probably important to be mindful of the nature of the work, and the nature of the life, and the needs of the individual humans discussing it relevant to their own experiences. It is a conversation with many voices.

It's my own perspective, and like so many things it may look different from some other point of view.

This is my own perspective, and like so many things it may look different from some other point of view.

For me, there is nothing whatever about the work I do that is ‘important’ to me, to the world, to humanity, to the future of our survival, to our day to day health as a society, or progress as a specie. I play a role that comes down to enhancing the revenue generating potential of other human beings engaged in task completion for our employer’s agenda. I gain nothing from the greater success, myself, when my employer does. This is likely the common experience of employment for a great many people. This sort of employment is rarely physically difficult, but it is mind-numbingly tedious – and for an artist, for a writer, for a poet, for a human being, this amounts to nothing more or less than a conversion of life-force to currency that can be used to further my own ends, and to live my life more easily (it’s hard to paint if the power is turned off, or I have no funds for canvas!). It makes the concerns over ‘is the compensation sufficient’ incredibly important, very relevant, and a key deciding factor on whether any one job is worth doing, at all, whether employers like the fact that people decide on employment based on pay, or not. (I find myself surprised every time a business leader expresses reluctance to hire or promote someone who ‘is only doing it for more money’, because… why else would they?)

Seriously? Why else would I be working, if not for money?

Seriously? Why else would I be working, if not for money?

I imagine that employment at some endeavor that is enriching, fulfilling, important to society, people, or life, or work that moves humanity forward in some fashion is less likely to feel as though one is being exploited without regard for one’s own needs in life. The closest I have come to work of that kind was being a soldier at an age when ethics and morality seemed pretty black and white to me, the world seemed simpler with clearly defined good guys and bad guys – and I was mere years from a serious brain injury; I understood myself to be ‘one of the good guys’. My understanding of my role – and my worth – was limited. The most fulfilling work I’ve ever done was in construction, working on paving jobs. Ever after I have driven those roads with wonder and delight, observing that I had a part to play in the quality of the work, and the usefulness of the outcome. It’s a very good feeling. Builders, makers, creators, discoverers, designers, inventors, explorers, doctors, teachers, healers, philosophers,… there are jobs that seem more ‘worthy’ than others, the list goes on. No one ever looked into their parents eyes as a child, earnest about the future, and said ‘Mommy, I want to be trapped in middle management supporting the revenue goals of a large faceless corporation focused on gross margin and exploiting my fellow man for corporate gains I’ll never benefit from myself!”

I feel discontent this morning, in spite of my tasty coffee; I slept restlessly dreaming of work and struggling to let it go and enjoy my time, and my life. Don’t misunderstand me – I’ve got a good job, working for a skilled boss that I respect, for a company that provides a service. The office is clean. The people are human. The environment is generally fairly humane and cheerful. It’s still someone else’s agenda, and I still resent it when the business leans into my time for more than what I have agreed to provide. We’ve built a culture that emphasizes productivity at the expense of the productive; boundary setting by the exploited is negatively reinforced and actively discouraged. The business goal in most businesses seems first and foremost to limit cost as much as possible by hiring fewer, and paying them less, with little regard for cost of living, or whether survival on those wages is even feasible. We rather glibly and without compassion argue in meetings and for publication about what one job or another is ‘worth’ – from a payroll, labor cost, and gross margin perspective, without considering at all what the job is worth from the perspective of what it will cost a human being to give up their life time to do itPeople become an expense, a resource, a commodity… and we’re really not, at all. We’re living beings, with souls, needs, desires of our own – and a limited mortal life to achieve our own ends, and have our own experience. Our lives always have more value than our ‘work’ unless the work we choose to do is something we are truly invested in as a human being, have a passion for, and feel is worthy. There are choices involved – but the game is rigged, and the choice sometimes appears to be ‘work and survive, or don’t and go fuck yourself’.

Adding insult to injury in all this, the very people being exploited sometimes argue against their own benefit, refusing to even consider that perhaps their lives are worth more than they are being offered – and they got there being told all their lives that they have no additional value, by the people who would hire them when they become adults. It’s pretty ugly. Hell yes, technology has the potential to replace people in the workplace – that should be a good thing! Go HOME – live your life! Do great things – because there is greatness within you! YES – the ‘minimum wage’ should be as high as it possibly can be and the expense should come out of the profit margin! Profiting by stealing the life force of others by under-valuing them seems corrupt, immoral, and a willful theft. Standing on a bigger pile of money by paying those we employ so little that they must also get support from the government, move into horrific living conditions, or assemble communally with friends and extended family just to make ends meet seems shameful. I find these common things about work culture actually intensely offensive, myself, and I’m just going to say so. I have yet to see any data that shows a CEO is of more actual productive value than a laborer, or technician, or customer service representative – but they are certainly paid a great deal more to answer their email.

I’m frustrated by being ‘gainfully employed’ at 52. I have – no kidding, I’m serious here – better things to do with my time. Unfortunately, most of them come at a cost that requires some amount of currency just to achieve the day-to-day basics of food & water, shelter, power, electricity…so I make choices to convert some portion of my own life force, and limited mortal lifetime, to the currency I need to manage those details. What I ask in return is to be left the fuck alone by my employer on my time. Yes, I said it – and being salaried, saying so is tantamount to revolt, but it’s a boundary – and it’s my life, and I’ve only agreed to giving up 40 hours each week.

Now if I can just get my own brain to cooperate, to fight through the lifetime of ‘good worker’ programming – because my idea of ‘work-life balance’, is to ensure that my life is always the more important element of my experience, invested in with the entirety of my will and intent, living it engaged in the moment, and filled with joy, love – and growth. There are choices involved, and some of them are mine. “Now” is mine. There is nothing more important that I could do with this moment than live it, on my own terms, with my own goals in mind, meeting my own needs and having my own experience.

See what I’m saying though? Here it is, a lovely relaxed Saturday morning, and resentment over work still has its hooks in me – more than 1500 words worth!!

Moving on to living life.

Moving on to living life.

Today is a good day to let that go, and enjoy the day as a human being. Today is a good day to value myself more than the dollars my efforts represent. Today is a good day to look into the eyes of other human beings, and value them as human beings too – whether they are the barista at a coffee shop, the person pumping gas at the service station, the postal worker dropping off the mail, the handy man in the community, the technical support person on the other end of the phone… each and every one of us, human, each and every one of us worth more than the job we do for the currency we need.