Archives for posts with tag: it could be worse

I woke up easily this morning, a nice change from yesterday. Rather oddly, I woke with the whisper of a dream left behind still resonating in my consciousness. Words lingered, although I could no longer recall the dream. “You’re not the good guy, here.” And, “This isn’t about you, at all.” Interesting observations, suitable for many occasions – but I don’t have any context. The dream had already faded.

I’m not “the good guy” here, though, I’m sure of that; I’m a human being, living my life. Only that. Sure, I like to think I am doing my best. Sometimes I actually am. By many practical measures, it isn’t always the case, though; I could sometimes do more, better. That’s real, and very human.

This isn’t about me, at all. Well, much of it is not, that’s also quite true. Most of it, maybe. Like, seriously, almost any detail of any moment I can be present for, still just isn’t much “about” me. I’m here, living and being, and (in this case) drinking coffee…and even this moment, right here, early in the pre-dawn gloom, isn’t much “about” me. It’s about a typical Thursday morning. It’s about this cup of coffee, and this handful of words. It’s about this headache. It’s about the morning traffic, and the sound of little birds in the hedge beyond the window. I’m such a small part of this moment – and not in any “bad” or diminishing way. It’s just that there is so much more to… all of it. I’m just one consciousness present in this here-and-now. Taken in the larger context of “everything else”, my breath, and my very life force, are minuscule. That’s okay, too; there’s a lot of life to live, and a lot of details to take in. If I spend all of my energy on my small concerns, I’ll miss a lot of other stuff. lol

I stop drinking coffee long enough to meditate. Nice morning for it. Today, it does nothing for the headache. I hadn’t seriously expected that it would, but sometimes it does. If nothing else, it often gives me perspective on life that makes it seem of less consequence.

…I realize rather abruptly that I’d forgotten to take my morning medication when I got up. I go ahead and do that, once I’ve poked around in my recollection of the morning a bit, trying to be sure I’m correct about that (doesn’t do anything good for me to take it twice, I promise you that!) – I wash it down with coffee, feeling vaguely guilty about doing that (it’s supposed to be taken with a glass of water…). I let that petty shit go.

My body is uncomfortable, this morning. This fucking headache. Why do I call it a headache, I wonder? It is also a terrible bit of pain in my neck, and a weird jabby stabby sensation in my ear when I turn my head, sometimes, and also a rather horrible permanently cramped up trapezius, particularly painful along the top, from my neck to my shoulder. These pains all feel related to each other, and nothing much helps, so far. I think I would endure it more easily if I knew what the problem is. I’ve been in significant pain since about 1990, when my osteo arthritis developed, I don’t really expect to ever be entirely “pain free” again in my life… I do my best to care for this fragile vessel skillfully, and ease the pain as much as I am able to without poisoning myself or wrecking my health in some other way. It could be worse. I’d just like an answer to the question “what the fuck??”

Fuck. A glance at the clock reminds me of the work day ahead. Pain and employment are not really the best-ever combination of experiences, and it requires so much to stay ahead of the irritability, the distraction, and the misery of it. I breathe. I let it go. We all walk our own hard mile. We’re each having our own experience. Unavoidably, the pain I live with is the worst pain I can imagine; it’s what I know. Each one of us has our own challenge, and I am certain I have coworkers whose pain is more severe, whose life contains more chaos, who woke this morning frightened, or sad, or angry, or needing a moment of support and consideration. I can, if nothing else, do my best not to add to any of that, myself, and to be considerate, thoughtful, kind, and compassionate. I can, at least, try. Another breath. Another sip of coffee. Another moment to consider how fortunate I am to be mostly fairly healthy, all things considered, and to live with pain that doesn’t debilitate me to the point that I can’t work at all. It could be so much worse.

…Fuck this headache, though! Neck-ache? Whatever. Fuck all of that painful nastiness.

It’s time to begin again. I’ve got to work with “the materials on hand” in this life, and unfortunately, pain is a thing. I breathe through it, finish my coffee, and turn to face the day as the sun rises. 🙂

What a difference it makes to get a good night’s sleep. How different from each other can two mornings be? I am making a point of savoring my mood and my experience of morning, this morning, because it is mild, pleasant, quietly joyful, and a total departure from yesterday’s crossness and irritability. I lived a great many years thinking every moment of my life was misery, and finding out that some portion of that was entirely a matter of perspective (and choice) wasn’t just an eye-opener, not merely a good-to-know insight, but wholly useful. I also now know to take time to savor, appreciate, and linger in these lovely quiet moments, and to allow them to become memorable.

(If the only emotional experiences you linger over, invest in, dredge up for later discussion again and again, are the painful and unpleasant ones, the whole of life eventually may feel painful and unpleasant; we become what we practice.)

I find, as with breathing, a hidden gem of a practice within the simplest experiences of pleasure, contentment, and joy – simply that of taking time to experience them fully, to linger over them in my recollection, to “share the story” (however silly it may seem to say aloud “I am having such a nice morning!” to someone else). Allowing our quiet moments of joy and our incidental experiences of pleasant living to become memories, by investing our time and attention in them, ensures that our implicit memory of life in general doesn’t become wholly negative, and instead, supports a steady sense of self, over time, that feels generally quite positive. That’s what I did to become “a positive person” by the way; I took the slow route through practicing “taking in the good” and over time shifted my implicit memory in a more positive direction. Incremental change over time is a thing that happens; we become what we practice.

…Think that over, though, “we become what we practice” – that’s all of it. Everything we practice routinely becomes part of who we “are”. Over time, anything we practice regularly, whether we like it or not about ourselves, becomes who we are. Good and bad.  Choose wisely. 🙂

Thanksgiving is almost here. There was a momentary thought in the background, something like “Oh no – what if I forget the ____?!”, and then I grinned at myself as it slipped away. I’m not especially spontaneous, as people go, but I am adaptable AF. lol I have options. Life’s menu is vast. This matter of living it is not like riding a train; it isn’t on rails, I have choices, plans change with circumstances. Missing ingredients become opportunities to explore new recipes, that’s all. It seems doubtful that anything could really “go wrong” with the holiday weekend ahead. I will cook a holiday meal, it will involve food – tasty and nourishing – and the excellent company of my Traveling Partner. We’ll hang out and enjoy each other for a couple days. Perfect! lol Sufficiency for the win. 🙂

Toward the end of the long weekend, after my partner has departed, I’ll get started on putting up the holiday tree. 😀

Quite a few folks in my network, and community, find Thanksgiving somewhat distasteful, these days, and there is little talk of pilgrims. I find there is definitely room on my calendar for a repurposed harvest season holiday build around a feast, and a feeling of gratitude and community, with which to kick off the winter holiday season. I continue to celebrate Thanksgiving as the holiday it is named to be; a celebration of gratitude, appreciation, and simple joys, a good meal shared in good company, and a long weekend with which to prepare for winter. It is also a season for charity, for giving to others, for reaching out and helping those in need, for doing a little more for people who are not me. It seems a wholesome and well-intended holiday, and I cherish it in that spirit, myself.

I wish you well this Thanksgiving – and I hope you have much to be thankful for. If it is hard times, I hope that you find sufficiency and contentment (and prosperity at some point, too). If you have plenty, I hope you share it. If you have little, I hope you enjoy what you have without guilt or shame. I hope we all find a moment that matters, and take a good opportunity to begin again. 🙂

I rarely look forward to another day, and a chance to sleep in, as much as I do waking up to the alarm, groggy and sick on a Friday morning, after a restless interrupted night. All I could think about was “tomorrow I get to sleep in”. Hell, I’m still eagerly assuring myself that tomorrow there will be no alarm clock.

I woke during the night choking on a situation that went well beyond “post nasal drip”, sufficient to wake me in a panic, struggling to breathe. I didn’t even bother attempting to go immediately back to sleep; I’ve been waking up just about the same time each night since Sunday, and most of the week, eventually also getting up, having a cup of chamomile tea, and attempting to meditate, usually unsuccessfully, before returning to bed. I can almost hear the creaking and groaning of routines fracturing like ice on a winter pond under the weight of my experience of being sick. I’ve run out of fucks to give, and basic self-care is just about the best I can do this morning.

…I’ve been managing to keep the dishes caught up, though. 😀

Still sick. Definitely not feeling particularly inspired. Willing to begin again… tomorrow, though, okay? 🙂

I am sipping my coffee and listening to the rain fall. The irregular ‘ping!’ of rain drops on an overturned watering can at the edge of the community garden woke me, sometime shortly before 7 am. I woke slowly and gently, and considering sleeping more; it was a difficult night, interrupted at intervals by nausea or diarrhea. It was not the best night of sleep I’ve had this year. I got the rest I needed. That’s enough to start the day on. I get up, shower, make coffee.

The rain falls steadily. It rained once or twice yesterday, too. I note that I’d have been camping in the rain, which, once I get over the delight of the sounds of rain on a tent, isn’t that much fun for me. It’s hell on my arthritis, too. So I’m over any disappointment that had lingered about not camping. I’ve spent the time in the studio, on new work, and enjoyed a daring visit by brave friends from afar bearing soup, who felt the risk of getting sick was outweighed by the opportunity to catch up. Mostly, I’ve been napping, and sitting around in fuzzy slippers and yoga pants, undertaking to do as little as possible and rest as much as I can. It has still felt like non-stop effort. I’m tired. Sick. And tired.  lol

Today? I’ll spend the day resting, reading, bird watching from the patio window, sipping tea and taking care of this fragile vessel. That’s enough*.

There is a whole world just outside my window...

There is a whole world just outside my window…

*I may end up in the studio at some point; I did yesterday. 🙂 It’s hard to resist when it’s right here, ready, and I’ve both the time, and the inspiration. 😀 I can always nap later…

This morning I woke up crying. And in pain, but the pain is an everyday thing, waking up broken and emotional less so. This morning I woke up on the dark side of the bed, clumsy, hurting, and weeping. I initially tried a ‘reset’, took my morning medication and had a glass of water, went back to bed. Not helping. The tears become sobbing. Why am I crying? Is it only the pain? Nightmares? I slept well and deeply, and don’t recall my dreams… My brain carpet bombs my heart with every misstep, every failure, every scrap of potential risk in my near future, all my doubts, my fears, my insecurities – I’m drowning in panic. What the fuck is going on?? I stop caring much about any of that at some point and just give in to the sorrow, the dread, and the tears.

…Clearly, I was not going back to sleep. I get up. I make coffee. I open the apartment to the cool morning air. I am so overcome by restlessness and anxiety that meditation is difficult. I pace a bit. I’ve barely been up half an hour; yoga is difficult this morning and I am too stiff and too clumsy for now. No relief. No ease. The tears start again. My own words are attacking me, becoming water leaking from my eyes as soon as they form sentences in my head. The layered meanings of English words become enemies, and I hear only darkness and despair in the most beautiful poetry. I feel sad and lost – and can’t bear to put it into words. Fuck this… But now what?

I finally reach for my coffee and take a sip. Well. There’s one bright spot in a difficult morning – my coffee is excellent. It’s something – and I grab onto the moment and hold on. It’s still very early – earlier than I’ve been getting up most of this week. The sun has not yet risen, and I can see the colors of the sunrise just beyond the window of this room.

My brain sucker punches me again, when I try to write “just beyond the window of my studio”, and I start weeping all over again. How fragile happiness can seem when it slips away. “This is temporary, and it will pass.” I remind myself. I remind myself, again. Uncertain what is causing this emotional experience, even now, I go through the motions of any small thing that I know has the potential to be comforting, soothing, balancing… things that provide perspective, that ease emotional pain, that tend to support long-term wellness. I keep waiting for something to work. “Be kind to yourself, it’s a very human experience.” Yes, isn’t it? I feel rather as if I am… grieving.

I’m in pain this morning. I read my traveling partner’s well-wishes of the night before, hoping that I rest well and wake without pain. Well… 1 out of 2. It’s a start. Is this all just pain? If I start root-causing it now, I’ll likely be trapped ruminating over this all day without really getting anywhere. I woke up crying. I sure did. Now I work on pulling my focus away from it, and practicing practices that nudge me a different direction a bit at a time. The sun rises, peach and orange along the tree tops, dissipating into a pale cerulean blue wash of sky above. I watch the sun rise, and listen to the birds singing their morning songs. Today is not a work day, and clearly I need to take care of the woman in the mirror – once I figure out what this mad bitch actually needs to ease her hurts. Fuck this is hard sometimes.

My coffee is fucking good though. That’s something.

I take a really good deep breath. I observe my posture, and how tight my chest feels. I take a moment to stretch, really stretch, and breathe, really really breathe. More tears. Fuck it – let them come. I slowly ease myself through my ‘stiff back morning yoga sequence’, cutting myself some slack that it is so difficult today, and just doing it. Slowly. Try again when I can’t quite do some simple posture. I’ll get there. I remind myself that today will be a good day to meditate. I feel no enthusiasm for it. I’ve lost my joy for the moment – but chasing it is an exercise in frustration. The word frustration causes more tears; words are often associated with a visceral reaction for me, inconveniently. I remind myself that the tears are not my enemy, just another way to communicate an experience – a way that is very hard to shut down without actually addressing whatever the fuck is the matter. I let the tears come.

Okay, I’m done fucking around with this – and I need to break the cycle. Well – it feels like a need, and that’s enough to drive desperate action in human primates. So… I take a step I might ordinarily avoid, and I head to the internet. No, seriously, totally where I’m heading. Perspective is a powerful tool, and right now I’ve lost mine. I feel deeply aggrieved about… nothing, and it’s really messing up my ability to be in this moment and also okay – and I can’t identify any reason this would be the case. So. Perspective is on the internet. There is war. There is a refugee crisis. There is poverty. I let the tears continue, and I look on the face of the world’s suffering – because there are things worth crying about. There are people suffering, really suffering. I’m not among them. This is emotional bullshit I’m struggling with, and I can at least stop fucking struggling with it, and just be.

My tears stop. My heart aches for the suffering of others, and I feel grateful to be where I am, in the circumstances I have right now. I pause to reflect on what is, without burdening myself over whether it will last, or what ‘forever’ looks like, or whether this is enough. The sun clears the trees and fills my studio with light. Well… it’s not ‘enlightenment’ in any meaningful way, but it’s a start.

I’ll say that as practices go, diminishing the magnitude of my own suffering by immersing myself in the suffering of others (compassionately) in order to gain perspective is a fairly aggressive approach to take with myself when I am hurting – but it is often an effective tool. Compassion and gratitude don’t leave much room for despair, for anxiety, for sorrow, and tend to crowd out the chaos and damage, and the voices of the demon chorus.  (Note: I have found that it is not at all effective to attempt to take this approach with someone else when they are suffering – it’s sort of a ‘self serve’ tool, at best.) I’m not necessarily less angst-y, or feeling any less pain, but things being relative… yeah. I’m okay right now.

My coffee is quite exceptional this morning, and admittedly more so because I’d been getting by on the last of the pre-ground packaged coffee from the grocery store, left over from the trip to the coast for two days. The whole-bean artisan-roasted coffee this morning is a very different experience. I take a moment to allow myself to be comfortably aware that “this too shall pass”, that circumstances change, and that I may not ‘have it so good’ at some future point; change is. I am here right now, though, and it is enough. 🙂

A lot of the time I’ve spent bitching about how awful things were in that moment would likely have been much more enjoyable had I been focused on how exceptional other details of that moment happened to be. It’s just true. Hard, sometimes. Still true. My tears have dried. The day looks like a lovely one. The air is fresh and cool, and filled with birdsong. I am in a quiet safe space, with the day ahead of me. The pantry is stocked. The bills are paid. I head for my meditation cushion…

…I am okay right now. It’s enough.