Archives for posts with tag: listening deeply

I have spent “too much” of my lifetime feeling “irritated” about one thing or another. lol This morning I woke from a restless-but-deep sleep filled with bad dreams from which I could not wake. They were not specifically “nightmares” and I was not frightened, just… irritated. Bad dreams. I woke still feeling rather unspecifically irked, just generally, at no specific thing, or moment. I feel… annoyed. No idea why. I feel aggravated in advance of any obvious cause. Fussy. Irritable. Cross. Cranky. Rather disinclined to be at all social, and facing a day ahead of me filled with people. Shit. That’s annoying. (To be fair, emotions require no defense, no justification, and take no argument; they are simply feelings. Responses. Reactions. They are what they are.)

How do I figure it’s “too much” over the course of a lifetime? lol Totally subjective; as it turns out, I really dislike these emotional experiences of being aggravated, irritated, fussy, or annoyed. Any particular amount of time spent feeling this way just feels like “too much”, however little it is. πŸ™‚ My life. My experience. My definitions. πŸ˜‰

I sip my coffee and reflect on irritation… and on pearls. Pearls are lovely. Vaguely luminous in appearance, iridescent, sleek, precious… and they begin their existence as an irritant. Literally, in some cases, a grain of sand in an oyster starts the whole process. The pearl itself? A coping mechanism. The cause? Irritation. It gets me thinking about transformations, generally. How best to turn this morning’s irritation into one of life’s pearls? No idea, just now, but I do find it a lovely promising thought. (So many are!)

This whole TBI-PTSD journey from chaos and damage to manageable wellness is very much about transforming disadvantages to advantages, chaos to order, madness to reason, and hell yes – irritants into pearls. Metaphorical pearls, in this instance, but pearls of great value nonetheless. It’s not something that happens “automatically”. As with many things, there are verbs involved, an effort of will required, and an intention that must be formed before that process even begins – and so much practice!! Omg. So much practice. Incremental change over time is a given, we become what we practice, but it is a notoriously slow process and it often feels as though nothing is changing at all. It’s easy to become frustrated with that, to give up on myself, to give up on change, to give up on eventual actual manageable sustainable emotional wellness… but… change is legitimately a thing that is going to happen, and it will be wrapped in my choices, and my practices. Over time, my irritants may become pearls. (Or, they may not. My results vary.)

It’s a nice thought over my coffee. I pause on another thought, “this too will pass”. Also totally true. This morning’s irritability is what it is – but only that, and nothing more. It’s not sustainable. Emotional weather comes and goes. The climate in this life is pretty mild, much of the time. Contentment is fairly practical, as emotional goals go, sustainable, and something that can be “crafted” from components available in a great many lives, lifetimes, and experiences. Have you had a go at contentment, yet? It’s rather lovely. It lacks many of the dizzying highs of “happiness” – there is no euphoria – it also lacks the deep lows that go with chasing happiness, too. It is more a walk through a pleasant urban green space than a through hike on an unmarked wilderness trail; it is predictably level and comfortable. I find myself smiling past my irritability as my day-to-day contentment becomes a wellspring for more of the same, and slowly my heart fills up on that softer, sweeter, more satisfying emotional content.

My dreams were pretty shitty. They begin to fade from my recollection as my irritation recedes.

It feels, generally, fairly effortless to “begin again” when I feel pretty good. Harder when I feel irritable, angry, or strange. It’s still a choice, and even still a choice entirely available to me – it’s just a bit harder to choose it. Still an option, though. Needing a cognitive reset just to get to that place presents its own challenge. This morning, I find it useful to focus on a metaphor (those pearls) and gratitude (that I’ve come so far, already). It’s super hard to remain irritated (or angry) while feeling grateful or appreciative of something. πŸ˜€ (Nice trick, Brain, thanks!) Gratitude is an extraordinary way to hit the reset button on a moment, and find a new beginning – I definitely recommend it.

…And this morning, having begun again, I feel more than usually motivated to get a couple things done before I leave for work. Useful. I finish my coffee, and check my list. πŸ™‚

…I still got the invitation to join the fun under the big top. That’s sort of how OPD (Other People’s Drama) works; it’s not your own, but nonetheless, it draws you in, consumes your attention, your time, your resources… if you choose to allow that. The alternative, which is to say, choosing to avoid, or depart from, the local circus of human drama means accepting, first, that you can.

Some people cultivate drama, relish it, and insist you sample it with them.

You don’t get those minutes (hours, days, weeks… whatever) of your life spent on drama back. Ever. You likely also don’t recoup any more tangible losses, should you have been so foolhardy as to waste your literal resources on Other People’s Drama. Most often, our compelling, seemingly unavoidable (it isn’t) drama is that of family members, and friends. We may feel “invested”, or obligated to do something about for… reasons. We may think we can “help” (unlikely; drama is chosen by those who love it, and they aren’t going to relinquish all that attention any time soon).

The drama isn’t “real”…

My weekend was weird. I cherish the time I spent with my Traveling Partner. The unexpected drama swirling around an unexpected couch-surfing house guest staying with his other partner was… both unexpected, and dramatic. It was also utterly willful, built on the narrative in said house guest’s head, and entirely untethered from any obvious connection to reality. Chosen. Emotionally invested in. Shared with persistent enthusiasm. I excused myself several times to be away from it altogether. No advice I could offer will alleviate self-selected willful suffering.

…like a mushroom, what is on the surface of most drama is only the outward expression of something far more vast …

Then there was the alternate undercurrent of drama that is simply the ebb and flow of change as my Traveling Partner and his Other get settled into the new location, and adjust to nearer and farther away friendships also adjusting to those changes. Getting to know new neighbors. The welcoming of deepening associations among now-local friends. The boundary-setting and limitations on resources that must sometimes be placed on friends lacking recognition that generosity has limits, that resources are not unlimited, that circumstances change. Learning to live well in an entirely new context. It’s lovely out in the country on their acreage – it is also not city living, at all. Change is a thing. What works when one can just pop down to the big box chain at the large shopping megaplex down the street isn’t necessarily an effective strategy when the nearest neighbor is a drive away, the corner market doesn’t have all the essentials because it is only the size of a storage shed, and “town” is miles down the highway – and more of a village than a town. I’m not being critical of country living – I’m eager to retire and embrace it – it is simply quite a lot different, and requires altogether different strategies to maintain good quality of life. It definitely drove the point home to be part of the experience of shopping for more complete first aid and emergency care gear; there is no chance an ambulance could arrive to deal with a first aid emergency in less than 45 minutes or so out there, at best.

…like raindrops clinging to surfaces after a storm, tears fall, tears linger, tears eventually dry…

The drive home was… surprisingly restful. lol No traffic and no drama. My timing was excellent. I left after enjoying morning coffee with my partner. I got home in the early afternoon, with plenty of time to grocery shop (didn’t need to, didn’t bother), do some tidying up (didn’t feel like it, didn’t bother), and prepare for the week ahead (didn’t need to, already was). I spent the evening meditating, reading, and enjoying the changes in the shadows as afternoon became twilight, and then night.

…there is value in perspective, and looking beyond the storm of the moment…

I still did not wholly escape the whopping helping of OPD that I “enjoyed” over the weekend; more drama when I got home. I (rather humorously, actually) was “unfriended” by a friend – over the other friends we had mutually shared (who, apparently, he also unfriended). I noticed though (while briefly catching up with the world), and, yep, invited drama rather thoughtlessly by asking him what was up with the unfriending? So… he told me. lol Fuuuuuuuuck. Okay, okay. That one’s on me. But – we’re still friends, I think. I even think that matters, since the entire mess was a reaction to an online exchange which I was no part of, and I actually like the guy. I even enjoyed spending some minutes in conversation with him, once we’d moved on from the drama, itself.

…storms pass.

Seriously, though? What is up with all the fucking drama? I mean, I’m not really surprised. We elected drama. We gobble up drama in our feeds every damned day. We make more if we run out. It’s pretty gross, actually; we are not ready to be content, or even to enjoy a moment of quiet. I mean, as a species, or a culture. Me personally? So ready. In fact, I spend much of my time utterly without drama. It’s pleasant. I plan to do more of that. πŸ˜€ I’ve even gotten pretty good at it. (If you read my blog regularly, you are probably getting pretty good at it, too. πŸ™‚ )

There’s more to life than drama. Seasons change.

I woke at 2:32 am, this morning, when the power here went out in the strong wind and stormy rainy night. I might have slept through it (most of my neighbors likely did), but the back up power on the aquarium beeps in a friendly but hard to ignore fashion, about every 30 seconds, until shortly before it has done all it can, at which point it beeps rather more aggressively before becoming silent. Once it was silent, I went back to sleep for an hour. The power came back on minutes after the back up power to the aquarium was exhausted (just about perfect, and I remind myself to thank my Traveling Partner, who suggested it), about an hour and a half after the power went out. I dragged myself out of bed earlier than I meant to when my phone, carelessly left on my nightstand, buzzed when morning emails and message notifications began to arrive.

What we contribute to our experience ripples outward into the experience shared with others.

A new day, a new week – hopefully no new drama. lol It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I saw a meme this morning promoting what seems, on the face of it, a really good idea that holds potential to benefit “everyone”. Hell, it has “everyone” right there in the bold white on black text!

The meme is not the world.

I don’t disagree with the idea that making voting day a properly recognized cultural day, on which we “all” take off work to do our civic duty and make our voices heard. I actually like the idea. I’d just like it to be something other than a meme. Something more truthful and real than a slogan. It’s a great idea – but it isn’t, and can’t be, made to happen in any literal sense – even with a federal holiday, even with “compulsory” voting. Why? Well… think about those words carefully. Think about the world “everyone” and think about the words “national holiday”. Now tell me what “national holiday” currently celebrated is enjoyed by literally “everyone” such that all have that opportunity?

Did you jump to Thanksgiving? Fourth of July? (I know you’re probably sharp enough to dodge the temptation of Christmas!) So… yeah, about that… On what “national holiday” do all business shut down, and all employees get the day off? I’m seriously splitting this hair, yes I am. Hospitals? Open. Gas stations? Open. Convenience stores? Open. A great many sale-hosting profit-seeking employee-exploiting big box chains? Open. “Everyone” is a big commitment.

Therein lies the danger of getting one’s ideas from memes. They are easy to share, true enough. They are conveniently succinct and pithy. They communicate emotional triggers well. None of this ensures they rise to the level of “true”, “accurate”, “feasible”, or “realistic”. I’m just saying. Think about what you read using your actual brain. Don’t just consume media and regurgitate prepared opinions, please? You have all the qualities of mind that a fancy primate brain can provide. Don’t just let it rot inside your cranium. πŸ˜‰

…And with regard to improving access to voting, preserving voting rights, and making voting more accessible? How about voting by mail? πŸ™‚ So easy. It works well, and is already the practice in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado; states where the news is not constantly on and on about voter suppression.

This isn’t really about the vote, though. Surprise! It’s about checking references, doing homework, fact-checking, getting news from reliable sources, and making every attempt I can at avoiding having my consciousness influenced by delightfully persuasive likely sounding memes. πŸ™‚ It’s hard. There are so many engaging gifs and sound bites and vines and YouTube videos and memes and slogans and advertising… it’s almost as if getting my attention has intrinsic monetary value to the individual, group, or agency promoting the thought behind them. πŸ˜‰

Taking care of me is complicated in the 21st century. Everyone wants my views, my clicks, my likes, my shares – yours, too. I want other things for myself.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

There’s a lovely long weekend ahead for me. (I know, right? Another one!) I am spending it with my Traveling Partner out in the countryside. No agenda, no plans of note, just time together. Maybe I write, maybe I don’t… if you miss me… well… there are like… 1416 other posts (surely you have not read them all?? πŸ˜€ ). I’ll be back soon… Sunday.Β  It’ll be a good day to begin again, feet up on the deck, autumn leaves strewn about, hot coffee steaming up my glasses in the chill of evening light.

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, andΒ  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 like beginnings. I’m a big fan of starting and of starting over. I love the energy of a beginning, the enthusiasm, the eagerness. There’s one thing I do know about the majority of beginnings, though; they usually follow the end of something else. I don’t always like endings so reliably well.

I’m sad that the weekend has… ended. πŸ™‚ I had a lovely short weekend with my Traveling Partner. It was a fairly high energy visit, and we crammed into it quite a lot of hang out time, cuddle time, laughter, serious dialogue, connection, and social time – even managed to hit up a party. Twice. lol I slept like crap Saturday night (which meant, so did he 😦 ). I was so tired when I finally arrived home late in the afternoon on Sunday, after hauling ass up the highway through nearly continuous entirely pouring down freezing rain, that I barely finished a cup of soothing hot tea before deciding to just… call it a night. lol I crashed out early like an over-stimulated toddler.

This morning I woke precisely on time – well, if it were not for Daylight Savings Time, it would have been precisely on time, and with the alarm, instead it was an hour early…but… I’d slept through the night, from 6:45 pm (no kidding) until 3:28 am. I woke well-rested, and ready to begin a new week. Good enough. I got up. πŸ™‚

I didn’t bother with the internet much – or the world – while I spent the weekend out in the countryside with my Traveling Partner. It was sad to catch up this morning and see that yet another angry man ended his life with violence, taking a bunch of innocent people with him. I have no ability to understand why we do not, at a minimum, restrict firearm ownership from individuals with domestic violence priors. I just don’t get it. If a human being is already known to have a domestic violence problem – whether they are convicted or not – why the ever-loving-fuck would they be permitted to buy or own a firearm, ever, at all? If a human being can’t be trusted not to assault people they say they love, how can they be trusted to use a firearm responsibly? These are serious questions, and they need serious consideration, serious answers, and serious action. Fuck, we are some stupid god-damned primates. I’m very disappointed in us. Anyway, this is just my opinion about the most recent firearm related sad news. I’m sure you have your own.

A new week begins today. We’ve all got yet another chance to begin again, to start over, to do things differently than we did them yesterday. That’s pretty cool. πŸ™‚

I started the morning in the usual way, then spent some time sipping my coffee and planning my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list. I enjoy planning, and haven’t yet determined the menu for the holiday meal. I’m excited about it this year, more so than usual, because I am anticipating my Traveling Partner’s visit to my new place, and he’ll be staying the weekend with me. πŸ˜€ Fun!

A new week begins today. There’s also the work piece; short work week ahead because I am taking a couple days for a long Veteran’s Day weekend, and making the trek back down to the countryside to spend it with my Traveling Partner. We’re seeing a lot of each other while we can. When winter weather sets in, I won’t want to make the drive, and he will likely journey elsewhere, anyway. This year, we are just straight up planning around that, and I expect we won’t see each other at all for 6-10 weeks, including all of December, and much of January. I’m okay with that. I’m skillful at enjoying my time alone, generally, and have plenty to do through the cold winter months. πŸ™‚ I’ll catch up on my reading, and have more to say about life and the world when we next see each other, and he will return with a traveler’s tales. πŸ˜€

That last paragraph started about work, ended up about love; clearly I’ve got my priorities in order. πŸ˜€

Coffee is finished. The day is started. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚