Archives for posts with tag: more questions than answers

I’m starting to feel genuinely settled in here at home. It’s lovely. ūüôā

I woke this morning to darkness. That’s not really a surprise; the sun has been rising later in the morning, every morning, since the Summer Solstice. lol This morning I really noticed. Chilly, too. Chilly. Dark. It felt earlier than it was. I started the work day early, too. It’s Friday; I’ll enjoy being done earlier.

Fun fact; I started drinking coffee when I joined the Army, right out of high school. Not apropos of anything much, just happened to think about it, over my coffee, standing in the rain, on an autumn morning.

Life. Love. Work. Art. Coffee. It’s a Friday, and I’m fairly convinced that what I have in front of me, as a human, is “enough”. Feels good. I’m not bragging, by the way, I’m simply making a point of taking notice of my contentment, the way it has built over time, and the details that have turned out to truly “matter most” to me, individually, as a human being living this mortal life. I mean… I could want more… there’s more out there to be had, for sure…

…It can not be easy for my Traveling Partner, as we approach a major gifting holiday, that I feel such a deep and abiding sense of general contentment in life, right now… I mean… what do you give someone who literally “wants for nothing”? It’s not “a wealth thing”. I could want more expensive things, I suppose. I could seek more… of something.

…Books. Never too many books…

I catch myself wondering if years of my life characterized by striving, struggling, wanting, and envying what I did not have, were more about other things lacking in my life? That seems worth thinking over, and really reflecting on the nature of discontent, greed, seeking, and yearning. What makes us “want more”? Is it a universal given that it is about having less? Are the things we want and yearn for deeply truly connected to the things we’re missing in our lives, or are they proxies or substitutes that seem more easily within reach?

Thoughts over coffee. A morning that feels like enough.

This is primarily a ‘well, obviously’ sort of parable, I’ll warn you now; there is no¬†new information¬†here, you already know this. It is a cautionary tale, a reminder, and a warning – like any good parable, a teachable moment being snuck into the day¬†by way of storytelling. ūüôā This one is also ‘work related’, and very specific in that context. This is The Parable of the Wheelwright.

A beautiful morning for a journey.

A beautiful morning for a journey.

A man of vision preparing for a long journey comes to a famously skilled wheelwright to order a covered wagon for his great journey. He has a vision, and shares his needs clearly and simply. The wheelwright takes his order, and asks questions about finishing details like color, and fabric, the size of this feature or that one, and the extras her new customer may want. It is a reasonable order. The wheelwright is a busy one, serving multiple customers in the community. She provides the man with a receipt for his order, and advises that his wagon will be done in one month – four weeks from that day.

The wheelwright is skilled and orderly, and lays out the work for the new wagon so that each detail will fit the others, and the work will be assembled smoothly, efficiently, and be ready when the man comes for his wagon in four weeks; this is done in such a way that all her customers will each receive their orders on time, completed with the great skill for which she is known. The work commences in the ordinary way. The wheelwright loves her work.

Before the end of the first week, the man of vision returns to the wheelwright agitated, and eager to get started on his journey. His wagon is not ready, and will not be ready for 3 more weeks – as agreed to. “Can I just get a wheel today?” he asks excitedly. The wheelwright observes that a wheel is not a wagon, and will not serve his purpose well, but the man insists he must have a wheel that very day, well-made and able to be affixed to a wagon. The wheelwright does have a wheel ready… made for a different wagon altogether, for another customer, but she is reluctant to give it to the man – it’s not made for his wagon at all, and giving him this wheel now, it may not fit his wagon when it is ready. The man insists, and takes the wheel that she has made, over her objections – he is sure it will be just fine, and departs contented.

Nearing the end of the second week, the man returns. He eagerly requests another wheel. He inquires if perhaps he could also have the canvas wagon cover as well. The wheelwright explains that a wheel is not a wagon, and that having just two wheels would not serve his purpose well. She points out that a canvas cover made for another wagon may not fit the wagon she makes for him. He is unconcerned and urgently wants what he wants, and insists on having a second wheel and the canvas cover that very day. The wheelwright explains that while she does have a wheel and a canvas cover on hand that she could give him, they were made for other wagons Рand that taking these items from other jobs will put her behind on her work on those jobs (which have due dates much sooner than his wagon) which will delay completion of his wagon Рwhich will not be ready now, until 6 weeks. The man is annoyed that his wagon is delayed, but insistent on having the second wheel and a canvas cover that very day.

At the end of four weeks, the man returns for his wagon – which is not ready. The wheelwright reminds him of the two wheels and the canvas cover which he received ahead of schedule, and how these choices delayed completion of his wagon. The man seems surprised that these actions would change the outcome of his original order, but agrees to return in two weeks for his wagon. Over the next two weeks, he sends several small changes to the wheelwright by messenger, requesting different fabric for the canvas cover, and a different style of spoke for the wheels.

When the man returns in two weeks for his wagon.¬†He is surprised to see other customers waiting at the counter, angry that their orders are not ready on time. The man’s requests had delayed other jobs than his.¬†The wheelwright did not seem to be enjoying her job anymore; she felt as if she could not work efficiently or skillfully with the frequent¬†interruptions and changes, but the man only sees his own vision, and does not see the unhappiness of the wheelwright. When his turn at the counter came,¬†he requests his wagon. It stands on blocks, with only two wheels and no cover, and he is angry and disappointed. The wheelwright reminds him he has taken two wheels ahead of schedule, and the canvas cover – and that if he will bring them in, she’ll attach them to the wagon.

When he returns with the wheels and the canvas cover, the wheelwright attaches them to the wagon. It doesn’t stand level; the wheels are three different sizes. Only two of the wheels have the sort of spokes the man requested, and the canvas cover is a very different fabric than he had decided on after the work was started. The wagon appears quite poorly made, and insufficient for the man’s great journey. The man is angry, and disappointed, and taking receipt of his wobbly wagon he departs grumbling about the poor workmanship and wondering how this wheelwright ever came by a reputation for being extraordinarily skilled, concerned that his journey would now be a failure ‘due the lack of skill of that damned wheelwright’. The wheelwright watches the man leave and considers taking up some other work altogether, finding the making of wagons frustrating and unsatisfying.

The¬†very same week¬†as the man of vision submitted his order for a wagon to the famously skilled wheelwright, another man had submitted his order to a wheelwright who had only recently set up shop in the community. This other man submitted his order with great care, having never ordered a wagon but certain of his needs on his upcoming journey. He listened with care to the recommendations of the wheelwright, and departed on her promise to have the work finished in four weeks. In four weeks he returned to take receipt of his wagon, and it was ready. Other customers had arrived ahead of him, and were receiving their wagons with great satisfaction, each wagon completed and beautiful. When his turn came, he received his wagon as well, completed, beautiful, standing level, and looking precisely as he had requested in every detail. Even the interior was well-finished, with handcrafted comfortable seats and cushions, and little details to make the experience of using his wagon extra nice. He was delighted with the perfect beautiful wagon and left with it exclaiming to all he passed that indeed she was a brilliantly skilled wheelwright… including to his friend, a man of vision, who would submit an order for a wagon the very next day.

I enjoy a good change of perspective.

I enjoy a good change of perspective.

Is this one a tad over obvious? Ah, but here’s the thing… the punchline… the plot twist; the wheelwright could have said ‘no’.

There’s a lot to learning about taking care of me. It’s a nice evening for it.

Yesterday went sideways for a painful moment or two. I am more resilient than I was even a ¬†year ago; some tears, some words, and a hot soak in Epsom salts later, I was okay. Saddened a bit that I am less skillful at face-to-face communication than I would like to be. Irked with myself failing to recognize that communication is not always what someone else is after, at all. Still…okay. The evening ended quietly, and pleasantly, and I managed to pass an interesting milestone that is quite new for me, although it was ¬†painful moment – I asked my traveling partner to go, rather than continue an unpleasant moment for both of us. I didn’t regret the decision. I didn’t candy coat it. I didn’t go after him, changing my mind. I didn’t plead for him to return – or even actually want that. I took care of me, gently and without guilt or fear. Last night, I needed me.

I miss living with my traveling partner – the convenience of his nearness and warmth is lovely – but one advantage to living alone is being more able to invest in my self-care, and to continue to pursue progress in therapy at a time when much of what I am working on/through/with touches on intimate relationship experiences, emotional self-sufficiency, free will, and developing/maintaining a comfortably adult sense of self with an injury and trauma history that tends to push me in a co-dependent¬†direction with any being that may wish me more good than ill. Living with me is not easy on anyone – me, included. For now, developing that relationship I have with myself is an important part of what I am doing lately. It’s harder to do living with a being I adore with whole-hearted enthusiasm, commitment, and affection so strong that I routinely put love – and my traveling partner – ahead of my own needs. This is a poor choice over time, I know, and I’ve felt it like a weight tied to our experience together. We both need a break from the chaos and damage, figuring out how to get one has been a challenge. How unfair that he has to deal with it at all? He didn’t bring me to this place, but he’s been quite a good sport about walking part of this journey with me in spite of that… but… I am my own cartographer. It doesn’t just ‘have to be that way’ – it simply is. Eventually, following someone else’s path leads me predictably astray from my own. There’s no ill-intention to it; we are each having our own experience.

It was my traveling partner who first made that observation to me, in these words, “we are each having our own experience”. It has been a powerful observation that holds great meaning and perspective for me.

A good reminder

A good reminder

This morning I woke gently from a night of deep restful sleep. No tears. No nightmares. No residual ‘ick’ or emotional hangover. This is an interesting change, and I’m not inclined to question it. I feel appreciative of progress made over time. I am living my own life – right now. There are still going to be some painful moments; emotion is part of my¬†human experience, and there is no ‘happy ending’ besides the one I create for myself.

Yesterday is behind me. Today is ahead of me. Tonight is hours away, and it is still the middle of the work week. There is plenty to do here at home – some housekeeping, a few remaining moving in tasks, a stereo to hook up. I decided to give up on the huge wall-mounted monitor – even on its stand it takes up too much wall space for something that is of little importance to me; I am quite content watching movies, anime, and favorite shows of all sorts on my laptop, or a bigger monitor than my wee laptop – but I earnestly prefer my wall space be reserved for art, and don’t really watch much television at all. On the other hand… music doesn’t sound the same on the laptop, even with my sound bar. It’s not at all the same as listening to music through a good amplifier and great speakers – filling the house with sound, and feeling the bass in my bones. I want that experience back in my day-to-day existence with the music I like best, myself. It’s been more than two years of compromising my musical taste because it wasn’t preferred in the household – now the household is mine, and I play the music I love, myself.

Somewhere across the distance of life's journey, I am connecting with myself.

Somewhere across the distance of life’s journey, I am connecting with myself.

I find this slow process of unfolding and becoming and allowing myself to acknowledge, accept, and invest in my own taste and needs without distraction or compromise both interesting and sometimes quite emotional. So far I am delighted with the results, and not inclined to take direction, or be blown off course by what suits anyone else – even my traveling partner. This sometimes sets up some powerful internal conflict as I untangle me from all the baggage that isn’t actually ‘me’. Love is what it is, and loving well demands that I open my heart to others – but also that I nurture my own heart, and satisfy my own needs. When I take the best care of me I am more able to love well…but I may not be the person my lover assumes me to be. Is there risk that love will be lost along the way? That’s a complicated question that lacks a clear answer…but I am certain of one thing; I can’t love easily if I am not the person I actually am, and any love returned to me can’t easily be experience, enjoyed, or sustained if it is intended for someone other than the me that I actually am.

The sum of many parts.

The sum of many parts.

This is not a sad morning, or moment. I feel encouraged and strong, and something like the way I feel in that moment at a trail head, pulling on my pack, adjusting the straps, and double checking my map before I head down the trail, eyes wide with wonder, awake and aware. I don’t know where my path will take me, and I’m okay with that. Today is a good day for solo hiking.

It would be a humble enough victory to end life described as ‘reliable and unbiased’, but I do think it would stand as a victory of sorts, and a lifetime of which a human being could be proud. I mention it because so much of our information isn’t either of those things, and we are often unaware of it. It isn’t enough to suggest a better source of information; most news sources globally are tainted with bias of some sort. I suspect the best most of us can hope for is to select a broad variety of sources and source material, of a variety of known biases, and do our own homework; fend for ourselves, intellectually.

What value is a lifetime of study without reflection?

What value is a lifetime of study without reflection?

I am, and have long been, the sort of person who will gently inquire as to the source of information, and even ask friends and loved ones to cite their references in a friendly discussion. I try to avoid unfriendly discussions, contentious dialogue, arguments, and hostile diatribes entirely; I have no time to waste with bullshit, or conversation on controversial matters that severs any possible connection with¬†reason, in favor of sound bites, slogans, and invective.¬†I recognize that conversation built on emotional judgments can become arguments quickly, and generally without the possibility of resolution; emotions can’t actually be argued with effectively. Emotions are subjective, in every case, and not subject to proofs. It’s rude to argue with someone’s feelings, and disrespectful, inconsiderate, and diminishing of their value as a being. Like it or not, we are each having our own experience.

It’s also rude to use ones emotions to support a seemingly fact-based position on an issue, because there is no room for discussion; each of us is having our own experience, and we are utterly free to feel however we do about the experience we are having, and to evaluate past experiences in any way we choose. (It may be quite unavoidable.) ¬†It’s sort of a logical ‘dirty trick’, but I doubt most people do it willfully; they simple react to what they read or hear, with the full weight of their convictions, which are sometimes based entirely on their emotions, without any underlying personal experience, study, or vetted information, at all.

It can be challenging to untangle this puzzle. I suggest a bit of study on the subject of E Prime, if you haven’t already. I’m not advocating the full time use of E Prime, myself, although I did for a number of years. I suggest, rather, that¬†understanding the basics of E Prime¬†is illuminating and holds potential to improve general use of language. Admittedly, I also think any excuse to read Quantum Psychology¬†has value; it is a book that holds potential to improve ones thinking in a number of ways. ¬†ūüôā

There’s something unstated here, that is important [from my perspective]; I’ve had this knowledge a long time. Reason, logical discussion, E Prime, and awareness of bias in language have been part of my experience for a while – and did nothing to ease my suffering, or increase my happiness, contentment, or ability to connect on an intimate level with other human beings. At best, it gave me a glib (and false) experience of certainty that I was ‘more right’ than someone else, that really wasn’t particularly helpful, or accurate, and did little to improve my experience. Being ‘right’ hasn’t turned out to have much value at all. ¬†So…I share these words today with the further observation that although ‘being right’ often feels incredibly important, that hasn’t held up under scrutiny for me, and hasn’t been what brings me contentment, joy, or balance. Certainly, ‘being right’ has not one damned thing to do with love, and loving.

If there is 'just one thing', it is far likelier to be 'about' emotion than reason. It is our feelings that define our experience.

If there is ‘just one thing’, it is far likelier to be ‘about’ emotion than reason. It is our feelings that define our experience.

 

So…I continue, myself, on this journey of studying emotion. Emotional intelligence, emotional intimacy, and emotional self-sufficiency seem to hold more promise on my journey toward wholeness, and wellness, and meeting my needs over time, than my old ally ‘reason’ has ever delivered. Emotion has more to do with the ‘who I am’ pieces of my experience than any opinion on a controversial cultural matter, by addressing who I am directly, instead of reflecting back from current events and filtered through social norms. Emotion is hard sometimes. It is visceral, raw, and immediate. It is ‘unarguable’. It is incredibly real – but so often treated as second-class in our experience, or unworthy of our attention and consideration. ¬†Our emotional experience is ‘reliable and unbiased’ – it is reliably ours, and it is our own real reaction to… something. That’s where it gets sticky for me, and why I invest so much study, contemplation, and mindful observation in the experience of emotion, these days, over reason. ¬†So many times I have been bamboozled, not using reason, or logic, or facts, but by playing on my emotions and relying on my lack of skill, and lack of understanding, of emotion to achieve the persuasive win.

Reading the books does not create change. It is our actions that change us, even the action of thinking differently.

Reading the books does not create change. It is our actions that change us, even the action of thinking differently.

I enjoy logic, and reason. I value them. That hasn’t changed, but I now recognize that my emotional life is likely the much greater part of my humanity, and left unattended I am a savage – however educated I may seem to be.

Life isn't all logic and reason; we are emotional beings. It only makes sense to invest time and study in such an important part of our experience.

Life isn’t all logic and reason; we are emotional beings. It only makes sense to invest time and study in such an important part of our experience.

Today is a good day to feel. Today is a good day to love. Today is a good day for compassion and kindness. Today is a good day to change the world.