Archives for posts with tag: one step at a time

Weird night. I woke repeatedly to answer a question someone asked me – in my dreams. Different dreams. Different questions? No idea, I was confounded each time my attempt to answer (out loud) woke me, because I could not actually recall the question I had tried to answer. My sleep cycled through this strange sequence some 5 times, to my puzzlement when I finally woke, to enjoy the day ahead. No nightmares, although my urgent desire to answer this single question was really frustrating to wake from feeling so incredibly unsatisfied.

I make my coffee. Answer a couple messages. Still feeling sort of weirdly out of step with the day, the time, my experience, I rather randomly (it felt) threw open the patio door and took my coffee with me to my meditation cushion, and restarted my day. Bare feet extending over the door sill, sipping my coffee, feeling the hints of mist-not-quite-rain tickling my skin and dampening the edges of my pajama pants, I sat a while, smiling to myself, enjoying the chill of the autumn morning with the warmth of the house at my back. One of the squirrels began to approach, but realizing the peanuts were really quite near me, without any door between us, he retreated to the deck rail to flip his tail at me rather aggressively, and chitter his annoyance in whatever passes for language among squirrels. I presume it must be a similar experience as arriving to a breakfast destination only to realize there’s a wait. lol Not meaning to be a buzz kill, I move back a bit and close the patio door, so my squirrel neighbor can enjoy breakfast in comfort.

A rainy day, a squirrel.

I sit quietly a while longer, thinking about spring camping. (You may recall, I’ve said I’m “a planner” by tendency? It’s a true thing; I’m planning my spring camping weekends as “now” as I can; it’s less than 6 months away! I frankly feel a bit rushed. LOL) This past year, my camping plans were almost entirely derailed by the regular weekend trips down to see my Traveling Partner; gas money, and time, that in other years would have been camping trips, and the usual recovery weekends between such things were spent recovering from commuting back and forth to be in my lovers arms for just a day or a few hours. My nail-biting as I review maps and details is less about nights out in forests, and more about days out on trails; I need the exercise, and trail hiking is my favorite way to get it.

Ultimately, we each choose our own path…

I figure, maybe if I put more planning under my hopes and dreams for 2019, I can enjoy more of all the things. 🙂 Other things sort of got in the way this year. Break ups, moves, career changes, lifestyle changes, resource changes, business organization changes… all these sorts of things are incredibly disruptive for people, when they come up. For us (together), we handled at least one of each of those in 2018. It was an expensive, and emotionally taxing, year. In some ways inconvenient, unpleasant, and painful. Disappointing. Hard. In other ways, though, it has been a healing journey, a bit of progress, finding some better ways, forging stronger healthier connections as we end relationships and associations that were toxic or overly costly in human or social currency (or, yeah, financially). We’ve all had our own hard mile to walk this year. You, too? Probably, right? 🙂 We’re all in this together, so it’s a fairly safe assumption we’ve each had our challenges.

The year is quickly winding down. There will be no elaborate “punch line” or “finish” to the end of 2018, I suspect, just a fatigued sigh and a moment of relief that it is over, that love wins, that I made it through from one crazy blow out rager of a New Year’s party at one end, to… what? What will New Year’s Eve be this year? Will I be home alone quietly, spending the holiday as is generally my practice, in meditation, contemplation of the year past, and the year ahead? Will I find myself surrounded by friends (or strangers) at some massively loud banger this year, celebrating full on with a crowd of other people, also celebrating, and all the over-stimulation that provides? Fuck – I’m still blown away by the house party I attended last New Year’s. It was… intense. lol The delicious illusion of inclusion and hopefulness that night really set the tone for what it seemed the year would become… of course, it didn’t. Because that’s how illusions work; all show, no substance. The hopes we fostered that night became the disappointments in the year ahead, but of course, we did not see or acknowledge that, then. lol Why would we? It was as if casting a spell, shared by all of us, over all of us, hoping for something much better than we’d previously had. Or… maybe it was just a party? 😉

Mt McLoughlin, Oregon

This year I expect to be a tad more studious about my New Year, whatever I do with it. It’s always a great time to begin again. 🙂 We can’t really know where our journey leads, but we’ve still got to make the journey. Sometimes what looks like a destination, turns out to be nothing more than scenery along the way. It doesn’t change the worthiness of the journey itself, to discover that our path leads past something beautiful in the distance, rather than directly to it; what we see from our own limited perspective in one singular moment may not be as real (or attainable, or desirable, or as near at hand) as we’d like to make it. 🙂 There are so many more options on life’s menu than we can see from the perspective of one moment.

The map is not the world. The fantasy is not the reality.

I look over maps of trails and camps nearer to where my Traveling Partner currently resides… there are some choice locations that are wilderness, in spite of their nearness. There are choices that are very near, indeed, and so manicured, maintained, and resourced, they would be more glamping than camping. Some cool opportunities to be “near enough” that he could pop over to my campsite, or I could pop over for a few hours of partying and music, and we could still generally be doing our own thing… this is a solution that appeals to me greatly. 😀

I sip my coffee and daydream, as the gray sky shifts in tone and hue from “why are you even up already?” to “why are you still lounging around in jammies?”. Looks like it is time for another coffee…

 

I don’t honestly feel at all like sleeping on the ground, or dealing with overnight chill, or having to use vault toilets or a hole in the ground… or… any of the things that go along with camping, really. Not this weekend. I do, however, very much feel like hiking a few miles alone with my thoughts. 🙂 It’s nice having the car. It’s nicer that it is my own, and of the sort far more appropriate to trail heads and rougher roads than the luxury sedan I’d been driving. (None of that diminishes my gratitude for having the use of my partner’s car for a year; I needed it, he was right.) The weekend is my own, and I’ll go where I please, travel the roads I like, and find the miles that suit me most to wander.

I sip my coffee and consider my rather lengthy list of hikes I’d like to take. I decide I’d rather not drive more than an hour this morning, having slept a bit later than I expected to, and also wanting to go to the Farmer’s Market this morning. My smile becomes a grin contemplating the luxury of being able, if I chose, to also just get in the car and drive down to my Traveling Partner’s location, and visit him there. Any time. There is nothing to stop me doing so, and no one to whom I must answer. That feels amazing. I sit with the feeling and the awareness awhile longer; I haven’t always truly had the freedom to be accountable primarily to myself, only, and it’s an intoxicating level of adult freedom.

This is a weekend of choices. One of those is that I chose to invest in my longer-term emotional and physical wellness by making this particular weekend mostly about self-care, also. Yesterday was spent advocating for important social issues as a citizen, and getting ample rest as a human being. Today? Today I want to get out into the trees, put some miles behind me, take some pictures, find some solitude and relief from the din and background noise of the world. Tomorrow, too. Even Monday (after my first Qigong class, fairly early in the morning). Something about the car I’d been driving was keeping me from hiking in some subtle way. (I think perhaps my reluctance to leave a largish luxury car parked at a trailhead and at risk of break-ins, when it wasn’t even my own car, was a bit of baggage I didn’t manage well.) The Mazda fairly begs to be left-along-the-side-of-the-road-back-soon-I-promise at every trail head I spot on every drive I take. lol I literally want to just park it, however abruptly, hop out and walk down each unexpected mystery trail just to see where they lead. 😀 This bodes well for future fitness, and I’m not inclined to fight it – I just want to get out there, and explore the world on foot, with a significant lack of human companionship.

New beginnings aren’t just an assortment of lovely sunrises, or yet another work shift, or one more morning waking from one more night of sleep; there are opportunities here for growth, change, and transcendence. These are chances to work through past pain, to set down more baggage and walk on – both metaphorically, and for real. What was yesterday about? Can I do better today? What choices does that take? How does this particular morning hold the potential to see me become more the person I most want to be at the end of this particular day? It’s a process filled with verbs, and my results vary. Still, I get as many chances to begin again as there are sunrises – or moments. There are choices involved.

I’m ready. It’s time to grab a map. 🙂

Yesterday as I walked through town on my the commute into the office, I found myself fighting a feeling of urgently wanting to “just keep walking”. I walked through town wondering about neighborhoods I’d never seen. I took a couple sort-of-scenic detours down streets less familiar. I even slowed my pace a bit to more fully enjoy the moment. It was hard to fight off the feeling that I just didn’t want to be forced into a cubicle, a labor-box, in return for money… I wanted to walk on. I wanted to put miles on my feet, and feel the morning breeze in my hair. I wondered how far along the Willamette River I could go, along the paved walk of the Eastbank Esplanade, and where the day would take me if I only simply walked and walked and walked…until…

I pause in the usual place, and gaze across the river to the city that has been so much of my life for so long.

…I pause in the usual place…

…And then I arrived at my usual destination, quite properly grown up and adult, and sat down at my desk with my coffee, and got started doing all of the things. I started the day looking forward to hanging out with my Traveling Partner in the evening; by the end of the day, which was upon me rather abruptly and somewhat unexpectedly, I was tired to the point of regretting making any plans that did not include quiet, meditation, and an early bed time. lol Some adult I am. 😉

...And on the other side of the work day, I return home.

…On the other side of the work day, I return home.

Actually… I did okay on the adulting. I enjoyed my morning walk. I allowed myself my emotions, and the freedom to let my imagination explore other potential choices. I showed up where I was expected to be for a day of planned employment. I worked well and efficiently, and got things done that needed doing. Tired at the end of the day, I reached out to my partner in a comfortably self-aware fashion, and suggested a reschedule – because I needed rest, and a late night would potentially impact days to come. I got home, and took care of me. I think, just maybe, I still struggle a bit with how very different my thoughts on adulthood are as an adult living life, than I expected to from the youthful perspective of someone not yet quite adult. (I had no idea I’d value sleep so fucking much, for one thing. lol) 🙂

Here it is today, again. Time to begin again. Again. I wake. Do some yoga. Meditate. Enjoy a shower. Dress. Sit down with my coffee to write. I’ll ride the train over the hill, then walk through town to the office. I’ll work my shift, and return home. I’ll enjoy a brief evening, in some modest way, and call it a night sufficiently early to get adequate rest and still rise again, well before 5 am. It is an adult life built on my choices, directed by my goals. I’m not imprisoned in my life; I’m building something. It takes time.

I look ahead to the weekend with a smile. Right now, it’s enough.

Tomorrow… I’ll begin again. 🙂

 

 

I don’t observe the occasional utter lack of stress in a critical way, and I try to simply savor those moments, delight in them, and enjoy them while they last. My walk yesterday morning was one such experience; beautiful from end to end, with several really choice delightful moments to look back on now as memorable.

That time I photographed a hummingbird... A lovely memory. :-)

That time I photographed a hummingbird… A lovely moment. 🙂

The entire day was pretty enjoyable. I have no recollection of any difficult or challenging moments. I don’t say so to brag, or to imply that I’ve found some magic cure to being human; I make a point of saying so, because I need the awareness of it, myself. Taking time to appreciate the beautiful day, the lovely walk, the choice photographs, the conversations with friends, birdsong, merriment, a really good nap – all of it – tosses a positive pebble into the vast still waters of my implicit memory, and over time, enough of that sort of thing holds the power to reduce my “negativity bias“, generally. (It’s a great practice!)

These days, I also make a point not to dig around in my recollections to find troubling or difficult moments I no longer recall; the reward for letting them go is an improvement in positive outlook on life. Totally worth it. I can trust that they may surface if/when needed, and that they do not need reinforcement; negative experiences are sufficiently powerful without additional reinforcement through repetition or rumination. I find refraining from reinforcing negative experiences is also a useful practice. (It takes much less effort to tear my thoughts away from lingering over what sucks, or what hurts, or what went wrong than it once was; the power of incremental change over time.)

The day ended slowly, a pearl moon rising in a cotton-candy sky.

The day ended slowly, a pearl moon rising in a cotton-candy sky.

Between the start and end of the day, yesterday, life was lived, a beautiful journey was taken, and this morning I look back and recall it a wholly delightful day. Today… I get to begin again. Those beginnings? Not all of them need to be a departure from something difficult, and not all of them are. 🙂 Some new beginnings are simply next in a sequence of many. I entertain the notion that over time, many more could be delightful days with beautiful journeys than were previously, accumulating beautiful memories over time, like vast treasure, held within my heart for safe keeping… shared generously, because in sharing, love becomes multiplied. 🙂

There are days when I find myself pushing a few verbs off my “to do list” in favor of doing… less, sometimes because I’m just not up to doing more, other times… well… I’m pretty human. It feels good to slow things down and take it easy… or at least, easier. Over the summer, I found myself sometimes hurrying through my walk, sometimes skipping it altogether, not really seeing the scenery, not really hearing the birdsong, sort of stuck in my own thoughts, but committed to a process. This past week, something clicked. I began again. My walk yesterday morning built on that beginning, and this morning I find that I am similarly eager, encouraged, hopeful (hope-filled, more specifically), and enthusiastic about life and the day, and particularly my morning walk.

A tangerine sunrise infuses the morning sky with sherbet shades of orange. I smile, thinking ahead to the moment I will put on my boots and reach for the front door.

Where will the day's journey take me?

Where will today’s journey take me?

My morning walk does not require a plan – or a map – and I’m generally quite close to home. There are still so many opportunities, and choices, and verbs involved…

Will it be a narrow side trail on life's journey that entices me today?

Will it be a narrow side trail on life’s journey that entices me today?

I think about how brief lovely moments seem, and how endless my sorrows sometimes feel. I think about perspective.

Life's helpful signage sometimes isn't very helpful at all...

Life’s helpful signage sometimes isn’t very helpful at all…

We are each having our own experience. I smile thinking about the sign in the marsh, helpfully provided to caution visitors about… something; the sign points out into the wetlands, and the text is not visible to any human being walking by. It stands in a section of the park cut off from the main trail. Will the ducks and geese find it useful? I think about the metaphor, and I think about the aisles and aisles of self-help books helpfully offered up by one human being or another, who found their own way on a complicated journey. It’s nice to have a map on a journey, an itinerary perhaps, and some good expectations that compare favorably to likely real-world outcomes… we don’t, though, not in life. What works for me, may not work for you – we may approach things differently, and reading about a great practice isn’t anything like practicing it, over time. There are verbs involved. Results do vary. Most of the self-help books, and a lot of suggested practices, are like that sign in the marsh; well-intended, but facing a less-than-helpful direction. We are each on our own journey, finding our own way, doing our own best. Fortunately – and this is one of the easy bits, I find, myself – we become what we practice. We have choices. We can begin again. 🙂

I once walked the paved trail that is no longer here to walk...

I once walked the paved trail that is no longer here to walk…

We each make our own journey in life. The trail I took before may no longer remain to guide another; I may not be able to walk those steps again, myself. I am my own cartographer, because the path traveled by another may no longer remain to guide me. My choices are not your choices. My steps don’t fit neatly into the steps of someone ahead of me, and are not left behind with anyone else clearly in mind. Still, it’s a worthy journey, and although I am having my own experience, it’s easier to recognize how clearly we are also all in this together, than it once was. That’s a nice change. I used to feel (pretty chronically) so alone… that’s more rare these days, even in the stillness of solitude, and even wading through the worst of the chaos and damage that still remains.

Figuring out the obstacles is part of the point.

Figuring out the obstacles is part of the point.

Choices. Perspective. Awareness. Where will today take me?

What will I choose?

What will I choose?

Today is a good day to enjoy the journey. 🙂

 

 

 

Sitting here sipping my coffee, watching the dawn sky slowly become morning, and lingering over this lovely moment, now. I hear traffic in the distance – it’s rare that I don’t. I hear birdsong, too, red-wing blackbirds, robins, and doves, mostly, this morning. The cool air of early morning seeps into the apartment from marsh and meadow beyond. I pause to appreciate screens on doors and windows – no mosquitoes in the house.

a;dsfha

Summer flowers, and a worthy moment.

This practice, the practice of being present in this moment, and of observing and being without judgement, this practice has become a lifestyle at this point – and it is one of my favorite practices, seeming to stitch together a wholly different experience of life than the one I’ve had of careening through the chaos from crisis to crisis in some breathless reactive panic. It’s so easy it is tempting to call it easy – and thereby overlook how challenging this practice can be…it does need practice. There’s no ultimate mastery, at which point I can dust off my hands, look around the room smugly, and say “See? Mindful. Done.” It’s an ongoing thing – and for good reason, when I think it over; life itself is ongoing. (Well, until it isn’t, but that’s an existential irritant for another day.)

The apartment has cooled down nicely this morning. Today is forecast to be a bit less hot. Yesterday was comfortably more pleasant than the day prior – which was a very nice change in weather, since my traveling partner was over hanging out, and I’ve currently no AC. More than once I’ve found myself thinking back to other places with or without AC, and thinking about relative comfort. It’s not as if I can gain too much perspective.

It’s funny how our monkey brains work; I think about missing my partner later, and I feel the missing of him right now as I do, and quickly find myself awash in emotions from the blue end of the spectrum, although, in fact, nothing whatever has changed – and my partner simply sleeps in the other room. lol It’s something I am more aware of these days – my mind ‘plays tricks on me’, not necessarily out of any malice (I suspect it’s some attempt to be helpful or efficient…), but definitely with the outcome of crafting my experience of moments that don’t exist ‘in real life’. Being present in this moment, mindfully aware, observing and being, without forcing things through some sieve built of assumptions, expectations, and ‘what happened that one time’ is an idealized state of being to be sure – and it requires practice. (Always with the damned verbs!) I don’t find it ‘effortless’ at all. (I’m sure I suck at it more than I succeed with ease – but most of my efforts fall somewhere between those points… not sucking, and often succeeding, with more effort than is easily described since even the effort doesn’t exactly feel ‘difficult’, just that it needs attention. And practice.) I do find it worth every bit of the effort it takes.

Practicing anything is a bit challenging, I find – we don’t seem especially well wired to do any one thing ‘all the time’, and sticking with committed practice isn’t easy – or more of us would be accomplished piano, violin, or horn players, having ‘picked it up’ in school.  Certainly, if practice were ‘easy’, I would now be quite skilled on keyboards, bass guitar, gardening, math, languages, interpersonal communication, basic construction, home repairs, and reading blueprints, schematics, and sheet music… well, I think you see what I’m saying. I’m not sure I’ve ever stuck with practicing any one thing until I achieved ‘full mastery’ (what I understand that to be, myself)…  but, I’ve become someone who practices. I didn’t start here; I had to practice to get here!

Changing my perspective on practice, practices, and practicing has been powerful. I’ll keep heading down this particular path, it suits me. My eagerness to learn has increased as I have become comfortable with practicing. To be comfortable with practice is also to become comfortable with not knowing, with lacking skill, with having to begin again… turns out those experiences have real value, and aren’t particularly painful, generally. I am learning to be kind to myself when I don’t know something – because punishing myself for innocent ignorance undermines my ability to develop and grow with real depth and character, by building an implicit sense that there is something broken about not knowing.

Where will the day take me?

Where will the day take me?

Today is a ‘work day’. There will be plenty to practice – I’ll be out in the world, being human, and talking to people who employ humans, and looking for a good opportunity to become one such human being employed by another. I hear my traveling partner up, making coffee. I smile, and think about all the practices I associate with love and loving. Today is a good day for practicing the practices, wherever the path leads me. 🙂