Archives for posts with tag: impermanence

It’s been a month since I was laid off. Shortly afterward and largely unrelated, I took time to go through a large storage tote of odds and ends I’ve been hanging on to. It was a mix of military memorabilia and war mementos (why do people hold on to this shit??), and various employment-related paperwork items from past employers (decades of old reviews and accolades, exit paperwork, offer letters…). My purpose was to pare things down to just those items I really did want to keep. (I’ll make a point of observing that having kept the contents of this bin since the last time I went through these items some 10 or so years ago, I haven’t gone through them or needed/wanted to access any one item in this bin. Ever.)

The tl;dr on the process itself? I cut that bin of stuff down to about 30% of its original contents, with the remaining kept items being limited to a small assortment of military mementos, including 1 complete uniform from my war time deployment. The project seems to live on in lingering intentions to contemplate what I found and learned along the way; I had saved a quick draft with some notes.

about letting go of the past, tossing out mementos, old work papers, moving on from trauma, learning to truly let things go, shit like that

impermanence & non-attachment

fresh perspective on the woman I once was contrasted with who I thought I was at the time, and what it can teach me about getting to be that woman I most want to be

the value in keepsakes, the value in not keeping them

the added challenge in growing/changing if also clinging to reminders of what was

draft notes from the blog post draft of 9/12/22

This morning, I sit with my now-cold coffee, thinking about time, thinking about change, and thinking about how peculiar it was to actually read those old reviews and coaching notes (and yes, reprimands). It had been so many years, my own recollection of that time and those events was pretty firmly skewed toward me-as-hero-of-my-narrative. Fucking hell I needed a bit of work. LOL For one thing – I was 100% wrong every bit as often as I was 100% correct, and I was neither as awesome as some reviews make me out to be, nor as problematic as some of the warnings suggest I was. I was sometimes a liability and a headache, just by being myself, and probably quite difficult to manage, having both cPTSD and a TBI creating noteworthy cognitive quirks and emotional volatility.

Please note, I’m thinking back on events of the early ’00s, and well-before any legitimate push in the direction of “authenticity” in the workplace! Wasn’t a thing, yet, and quite often people really were punished or held back for the sole “crime” of being themselves and being different than the approved corporate drone template – which still goes on, but now we’re more likely to be offended by that. Progress? I’m just saying; I wasn’t always the “good guy” I saw myself as being. Very human. Also? Sometimes quite angry and kind of a bitch. Impatient. Inconsiderate. Smug. Rude. “Basic.” Unsympathetic. Lacking in compassion. Not a good look.

Sounds like I’m being pretty hard on myself. I mean, giving myself some credit …in spite of all that, I managed to find love…so..? Not a “lost cause” among human beings, surely. 🙂

The “truth of who we are” is more complicated that one perspective, even when that one perspective is our own. I know myself pretty well. I’m deeply acquainted with the woman in the mirror, but… until I really sat with a calm heart and new eyes to read those old reviews, coaching notes, and warnings, and really heard the messages, I did not understand the perspectives those Others were sharing with me. It must have been frustrating for people that it could be so hard to get through to me. I’m not into “taking it personally”, particularly at this late date; I am not the woman I was then. Still… I was that woman then. I understand her better now, not because of these old papers, but because I’ve gained so much new knowledge and perspective since then, generally. These old papers filled in some gaps, made sense of some “errata” that crept into my recollections over time. It was a great opportunity to loosen my grip on my existing personal narrative to allow that to be deepened and to become more nuanced through the addition of some really complex outside perspective.

I made a point of being open to listening to those past voices with more vulnerability, and willingness to learn as I went through all those papers. Does it change who I am now? Possibly not. Helps me understand who I was then more deeply, and provides a better understanding of how/why my journey over the years has had some of the complexities and challenges that it has had. Useful. Forces on me some useful and necessary humility, and if I’m being wholly honest, I need that. It also served to give me a moment to really put down some baggage and let go of some pointless bullshit that had lingered far too long. Needful.

If you spend your life thinking that you are Superman masquerading as Clark Kent, your choices (and words, and actions) are likely to be quite different than if you understand that you are Clark Kent daydreaming of being Superman. This is something worth thinking about. 🙂 Is there something so wrong with being an ethical person with a good heart, who is kind and who cares – but totally lacks any super powers at all? Just saying it’s something I think about.

Strange how I worked so hard to hold on to those papers over the years. They served no purpose besides taking up space… until I sat down and reviewed them, read them, and gave them real thought without taking any of it personally at all. And now? Having done that, I don’t need to keep them. What did I do with all that waste paper? Shredded and recycled. Gone. And then? Time to begin again.

Where does this path lead?

Early morning. Still dark. Nothing surprising about that; autumn is approaching. There are hints of all among the leaves and along forested paths. The mornings are chilly now. The nights have cooled off. The rains are returning. November isn’t far off, and the end of daylight savings time will switch things up a bit, but for now, that’s not relevant. What is relevant is that early morning is dark now. I sip my coffee looking past the window into the pre-dawn darkness.

“Hints of Autumn” 10″ x14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, 2021

My own heart, in this moment, is filled with light. 🙂 Nice place to start the day.

Impermanence is a real thing. Darkness comes and goes. For some folks, there often seems more “darkness” than light. I think on that as I watch the first faint hints of dawn revealing the gray cloudy morning sky. The light does return. I think about that homily “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, and while I wonder whether it is literally true, I sip my coffee and observe the sky as it continues to lighten, on the way to daybreak.

The wheel continues to turn. The pendulum swings, the clock ticks. Change is. We may be mired in darkness in one moment; the sun will rise on another.

The pale gray sky beyond the window hints at rain. The clock reminds me that the work day is ahead. My coffee is mostly gone. I think about garden chores. I think about a walk later. I think about my Traveling Partner in the other room, and fill my thoughts will love and well-wishes for his day.

Another moment slips by. It’s already time to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping my second coffee this morning, letting my mind take a break from work by looking over newly prepared canvases waiting for further attention, and a couple small half-finished pieces that I am working on a bit at a time. It’s a new approach. It reflects the feeling of permanence in this place. I sigh contentedly and sip my coffee, smiling.

…It’s not permanent. Very little, if anything, is. I sip my coffee staring into the colors on canvases, and lose myself in my thoughts…

Sometimes beginnings are untidy. It’s rare that an intention is effortlessly achieved. Things seem always to be “becoming”.

It’s a pleasant day to reflect on an unwalked path, an incomplete painting, or a dream as-yet-unfulfilled. I sip my coffee and try to do so in the context of impermanence, and a sort of accepting non-attachment… the future does not exist in my present. It’s up ahead, somewhere, waiting to become a moment all its own. I think about my notion that a cottage garden would be lovely out front… and the patience involved in seeing that become, first, a plan, then, over time, with some luck and persistence and any number of new beginnings… a garden worth lingering in. No certainty that it will be a “cottage garden”, really… That’s how things go; differently than planned. Often. 🙂 My results vary. lol

Still… I can begin again.

It could be that some of my challenges will be part of my experience for as long as I’m experiencing things. It sucks more than a little bit to dwell on that, so I move on with my thinking as quickly as I can, but without cruelty or dismissiveness. I am human, after all. This morning I woke, and quickly found myself reduced to tears…over… nothing. Nothing whatsoever that has any substance in this moment, I mean. Emotions. Dreams? Maybe.

"The Nightmare City" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow

“The Nightmare City” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow

I woke feeling angry with my traveling partner, which is odd; one of my challenges is feeling safe about, and comfortably expressing, anger in my closest relationships. (It’s baggage that isn’t about my traveling partner, but he’s had to endure me lugging it around all this time.) I woke feeling angry that in our first years married, illness held him back from doing a lot of cool things; we stayed home, a lot. Now he’s well, and feeling fully himself, and he lives a busy life of adventure, going, doing, experiencing new things… and we no longer live together, and these are not our shared experiences. The anger I woke with quickly threatened to become a tantrum, a storm of unrelenting strong emotion knocking me off-balance with hurt feelings, and regrets. The anger became grief and sadness as soon as I let myself feel my feelings with compassion, and recognized the simultaneous feelings of resentment, sadness, and insecurity. My heart cried out “what do we have that is ours?” and I couldn’t answer it – not because there is nothing with which to answer, but because I can’t easily find the answer (through tears, through heartache, through the fog of just waking up, before my coffee…) without considerable thought. I let the tears come; it would be a genuinely sad thing to share nothing with one’s lover, and were that the case, there would be no failure in these honest tears.

It's okay to put some of that down, for now.

It’s okay to put some of that down, for now.

Later, I sip my coffee aware of the authentic feelings at the root of my difficult waking moments. I’m deeply in love with this particular human being I call my traveling partner, and at least for now we live very separate lives. Sometimes that is a painful experience. Sometimes it holds some relief that this human being so dear to me doesn’t have to struggle under the weight of my chaos and damage full-time. Right now, in this moment, I just miss him and find myself wondering rather hormonally what value I have… (Fuck you, Menopause, I’m supposed to be past having to deal with hormonal bullshit!) It’s rather foolish. It’s very human.

Love matters most.

Love matters most.

Seasons change. Over the long summer I’ve come to miss him greatly, after enjoying living with him through the winter. I’m eager to enjoy the autumn and winter months together, celebrating holidays, enjoying the company of friends… but… there is something real here that may want my attention, and getting past the tears I’m aware that most his “go” and “do” activities in the past 2 years have developed in other relationships than ours. We spend very little time together; he’s busy elsewhere. (It’s quite possible the time we do spend together fully meets his needs. I’m not sure I’m ready to ask that question…) I woke up hurting over it and wondering what value “we” have for him. It’s not something to stew over – that’s a fast track to misery. I’ll just ask when I see him again, and he will tell me, and then I’ll know. I’ll be back to work soon… there won’t be time for fussing about how little time we spend together, then; there won’t be time left in the days for it. The time we spend together will be limited to the time we have.

My calendar is very full for the next several days. Appointments. Brunch with a friend over the weekend. Friday night with the guys from my previous work team. My last week of leisure will probably be filled with “getting ready to go back to work” activities. It’s not likely that these will be days filled with sadness or passing emotional storms, there’s too much to do, and life to be lived. I feel some regret that my traveling partner wasn’t available to enjoy more of this time away from work with me… but it was time I took for me, as it was, and it has been well-spent on healing, growing, and practicing good self-care. Worthy endeavors, good outcomes. (So, hey, Brain, stop being such a bitch to me, please?)

A gray dawn greeted me so gently I barely noticed it had become day time while I wrote. I’m not crying now, or even sad really. I’m sipping my coffee, listening to music, and feeling a contented smile tug at the corners of my mouth. I think about other friends. Other loves. Other moments of great joy – or great sorrow. Impermanence is a very real thing, and change is, too. I smile thinking about my traveling partner’s good times to come, and his journey here and there. I’m already eager to hear about it – and he hasn’t even departed. lol He’ll take approximately no pictures at all, but my imagination will fill in all the details in the telling. 🙂

Today I don’t opt into loneliness, and once my tears have dried it’s another lovely morning, heading into another day of living a life built mostly on contentment (and bits and pieces of chaos and damage). Today is a good day to begin again. 🙂

 

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.