Archives for posts with tag: OPD

This morning I woke rested, comfortable, and generally contented. Problem moments of yesterday remain just that; moments, that were yesterday. Small things stayed small. My Traveling Partner and I had a great afternoon and evening together, enjoying each other’s company without reservations, or lingering baggage or bullshit, after the morning’s one sour note in an otherwise harmonious experience.

…Even great musicians occasionally play a wrong note, why would love – great or otherwise – be exempt? 🙂

I keep working on my ability to communicate skillfully and gently. One book, one practice, one experience at a time, I keep at it. Study. Practice. Learn. Repeat. Resilience takes time and practice to build. (And possibly more than one genre of music… 😉 )

Back to the office today, after a restful and pleasant weekend. I touch the small elephant pendant my love gave me at the holidays this year, and smile. There’s more in life to deal with, more to do, more to savor, more to enjoy, and more to grow and learn from. This moment, though? Quite enough just as it is.

I finish my coffee, and begin again. 🙂

I was sipping my morning coffee in the dim of dawn, sun not yet peaking over the horizon. I was thinking about a friend who often seems to default to negative self-talk, and assumptions about others that are built on suspicion, fear, and mistrust. I know enough about my friend’s personal history to have some limited understanding why they would hold such a bleak perspective on life, relationships, and yes, even on the person in the mirror. I hold my friend in very high regard, and our mutual affection and appreciation has lasted many years…but even I am not immune to being the recipient of my friend’s mistrust, suspicion, and doubt.

My thoughts this morning, after recently having coffee together, were less about how uncomfortable it can feel to be viewed as an adversary, unexpectedly, and absent any input on my part to justify or support that view, and more about how unpleasant it must be to go through life that way, living in the context of some implicit certainty that everyone, eventually, is an enemy. It saddens me, and I struggle to balance my understanding and compassion with my feelings of helplessness and frustration – and lack of being understood clearly. My own communication challenges don’t make it easier. My own emotional baggage and personal history with relationships with other human primates don’t make it easier, either. I sipped my coffee, breathing, exhaling, relaxing, and consider my perspective, and where I can, also the perspective my friend expressed, with as much depth, and understanding, as I am able to do.

Perspective changes what we understand of the world.

I think back to articles I’ve read about mindfulness, and the handful of those that point out that undertaking a mindfulness practice can throw emotional health and balance into chaos for some people. I even accept that this is one of the potential experiences people may have; when we have adapted to darkness, the brightness of being flooded with light is not necessarily and immediately helpful, comfortable, or pleasant experience. Some of the things we keep to ourselves over a lifetime, dismissing our concerns, diminishing our sense of self, or building our narrative on a ton of self-serving made-up shit to compensate, perhaps, for the bleakness of our sense of doubt and futility, end up being powerful (and possibly successful) coping mechanisms for the hardest shit we don’t want to face – and having coped with, we don’t have to. Then along comes some “healthy” mindfulness practice that sounds awesome, that our friends are into, and we hop right into it, eager and enthusiastic… then, we find ourselves face to face with the darkness being dissipated by a light so bright we can’t see what it hides from us, and… we run, terrified and damaged, fearful of change, resisting what so bright a moment of illumination might really show us. After all, we’d coped with all that bullshit. We’d found a way. Now, here we are, facing our self, unexpectedly. Not always a pretty picture, and we’re not all ready for that.

Changing our own perspective doesn’t always feel comfortable. Whether or not “mindfulness” can be said to “work” is more than a little bit dependent on what we expect it to do, and whether that is what we actually want – or are ready for.

My friend and I talked about my journey, and theirs. We spoke of expectations, and of “reality”. My friend had, at one time, been a huge advocate for me finding my way to a more positive perspective on life. At that time, they seemed so unbelievably positive to me that it was hard to understand the thinking behind those words – wasn’t it a matter of “character” or personality? Wasn’t my personal history “real”, and sufficient to justify my chaos and damage… and negativity? Wasn’t my cynicism perfectly “reasonable”? Here I was sitting over coffee, after far too long out of touch, and I was the positive one, the contented one, the one bouncing back. My friend seemed overly negative, and out of touch with their own emotional experience, lacking in a certain authenticity and “presence”, that felt strangely dishonest and uncomfortable to me. The conversation came around to meditation, and mindfulness practices, generally. “All that’s bullshit,” my friend said firmly. “I tried that stuff back in the day, and it only made me cry a lot, and made me doubt my relationships.” I sat quietly listening (which can be difficult for me), then replied “What did your therapist say about that experience?” My friend answered abruptly, “I quit therapy. It was expensive, and kept making me doubt my place in the world, and my relationship with my partner.” She gestured vaguely, something like waving off that topic with her hand. “I didn’t need all that, I’m unhappy enough without help. Self-reflection bullshit just made me rethink everything. Who needs it?”

I keep turning the conversation over in my head, in the time since. So much of what she had shared seemed unhappy, and infused with a sense of having failed herself in some mysterious way, punctuated by occasionally accusations of some other person setting her up for failure. If she is so deeply unhappy in life, in her relationships, wouldn’t she expect self-reflection to hold up that mirror, and show her precisely that? Doesn’t that open the door to the potential that change could be made – chosen – and offer the chance to walk a different path?

No answers, this morning, really. Just questions, and self-reflection, and the illumination offered by shining a bright light into my own dark corners. There’s always an opportunity to begin again. 🙂 I am my own cartographer; I choose my path.

I enjoy the thought that my Traveling Partner and I are sharing this journey, walking a shared path. Now and then I am reminded that it is, however pleasant, an illusion. We are each having our own experience. We walk our own path. Survive our own hard mile. We endure our own dark night of the soul. We, each, alone care for our innermost heart, and nurture our tenderest wounds. The reminder was powerful, and I am so grateful I was merely a bystander to two paths that suddenly diverged on a Saturday morning. I don’t know if this is a sad story or not, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t – certainly it is a story of change.

I was having coffee with a friend. We get together now and then, on a Saturday morning, and catch up on life and things. A couple, strangers, came in shortly after we sat down, and sat near us, sort of off to the side, definitely within our view, and close enough we could not avoid hearing their conversation, which I’ll share as accurately as memory permits…

He held her chair. This ordinary looking man of apparent middle-class means, allowed his companion to get seated, and they ordered. She thanked him for picking her up from the airport, and for taking her to breakfast. How thoughtful. She smiled. He shifted uncomfortably before speaking.

“So… welcome back..?” He laughed uneasily. His smile was fleeting, and somewhat nervous.

“Are you okay?” she asked, without looking up from her phone. This seemed somehow significant to her companion, and his posture straightened, and the look on his face became resolute, and more sure of himself.

“Yeah. So, about that. I’ve decided to end our relationship.” She laughed with a bit of disbelief, then looked into his eyes and her face sort of… froze. “I wasn’t sure how you’d take this, so… the least I could do was take you to breakfast…”

“You wanted to be in a public place so I couldn’t make a scene!” she hissed, leaning in close. Her face was tight with tears she was fighting. He… was still calm.

He inhaled deeply and sighed. “You’re right of course. I’m sorry. I needed to feel… safe. This is hard. Hard for me, too.”

“Why?” she demanded with a quivering voice, “someone else…?”

“No.” He sounded sad, and lost. “I just… there’s a lot I want to do for myself, to explore on my own. I just… I want to be myself, no compromise, no obstacles, no negotiation, and I haven’t felt able to. I’m sorry.”

They both sat quietly for some time, just drinking their coffee. My friend and I sat drinking ours. Occasionally looking at each other in a soft, sad, “what the fuck?” sort of way, each in our own thoughts, about our own partners, our own paths, our own lives.

Eventually, the man at the nearby table busy quietly breaking up with his partner spoke again. “So… I’ll need the keys to the apartment before I go. I … um… I had your stuff packed up and put in storage while you were out of town, and… um… yeah. I don’t want you to come back to my place, at all. I packed your clothes and things and they’re in your car… I’ll… I’ll just pay the check and take a car service home… is… what I planned.”

She sat looking astonished, helpless… I sensed that it might turn to frustrated fury at some point, and hoped that everyone would keep their heads, and find that calm center in their storms. “Is this happening?” she said quietly, in a child-like voice, as if disbelieving. “Five years, and then… this?”

“Yeah.” he said, “It’s happening. I’m going to go now. Please don’t call, I’d like this to just be… over.” He hands her an envelope, and her numb hands accept it.

“What is this?” she asked.

“It’s an inventory of your things. Please email me if I missed anything. Also… I, uh, paid off your car. I mean… I bought it, but, um… it’s yours.”

“You’re not taking it?” she accused, almost snarling the question.

“No. Why would I?” he asked patiently, “I don’t hate you. I’m just… done. Okay? I mean… I hope we’ve over this really fast, and we both move on with better… other things. …I’ve got to go.” He put his jacket on, and looked around as if he did not expect to see the place again, ever, and left.

The woman sat quietly, staring into her coffee. The other customers seemed also uneasy. Conversations seemed quiet, muted, as with a respectful silence. I know I was, myself, uneasy. I sat with my friend, each of us taking a turn at small talk, both of us thinking about two people – any two people – at any airport, seeing each other again, after some time apart, and suddenly, one path takes a sharp turn for a very different destination. Now and then I glanced her way, although I don’t know what I was trying to see.

My friend and I finished our coffee. We hug and agree to “do this again soon”. We both know we don’t really want it quite as it was, this time… I walk away feeling introspective, and a little bit blue. What if it had happened to me? What about you? What would that be like…? What would you do? I sigh, as I unlock the door of my car, ready – so ready – to return home to see my Traveling Partner, again…

…My “Traveling Partner”… nonetheless, we each walk our own path. We’re fortunate, any of us, to share the journey for a while, aren’t we? It’s not likely we’ll share the journey “forever” (that’s a child’s fantasy, I suspect). I spend the drive home contemplating love, thinking about what it takes to build, maintain, sustain, and nurture love. Thinking about what I’m good at love-wise, and what I still need so much work on. I think about all the things in the world I would like to see and do and be and experience along the way… and I think about sharing it with my Traveling Partner. I think about not sharing it with him. Would I love life any less if our paths diverged? I like to think not…but it would be so painful to find out. I put myself in her shoes, imagine myself sitting with my coffee, alone unexpectedly, no plan, no place,… I breathe, exhale, and relax, grateful that my path, for now, is different. No assumptions. No expectations. Aware that change is a thing that can happen unexpectedly, to anyone, at any time. Firmly, studiously, I am not taking love – this love – for granted. There are verbs involved. Choices. No map.

I took comfort in arriving home to welcoming arms, and a chance to begin again.

I’ve been enjoying some lovely mornings with my Traveling Partner, instead of writing, knowing that our mortal time is precious, and too brief. As it happens, he’s traveling, this very morning, and although he is in my thoughts, he won’t be around to have coffee with me tomorrow morning. I’m feeling pretty content with having deviated from my routine for a couple days, to enjoy his charm and good company. This morning? Less than ideal for entirely circumstantials reasons, and although we hugged in passing, it was more a “Tag! You’re it!” sort of thing, a kiss, a hug, and I headed for the office, and he headed for the airport some short time later. I already miss his smile, his scent, his humor, and his good heart. 🙂

…What was less than ideal was mostly that we were out of coffee, so not only did I not have coffee in the morning, I couldn’t even offer him a cup made-to-order, upon his awaking to greet the day. :-\ Wholly disappointing on so many levels. Waiting until I get to work to have my first cup of coffee is definitely “less than ideal”. Not a fan. It’s even my own fault; I got distracted by news that he’d be flying out this morning, as I was heading home last night, and simply forgot to stop for coffee beans. It was on my mind. I’d committed in advance to taking care of it at a favorite spot downtown, so he focused on preparing for travel. Thus… no coffee. Damn it. Still, in all other respects, a lovely enough morning, and an acceptably positive start to the day.

Now? Now I am putting thought into this moment, this life, and a short list of tasks I committed to taking care of while he’s away – and a whole weekend ahead to do it. 🙂 Smiling, thinking about love…

I stood outside in the cold, taking my break, getting some fresh air and life perspective, as dawn became day, and found myself contemplating sufficiency, and love, and progress, and forward momentum, individual and shared successes… and I could almost hear old baggage hitting the pavement. I felt myself letting go, giving myself closure on a couple of prior relationship aggravations that still pained me, that I had continued to struggle with. It didn’t amount to “forgiveness” – maybe this just wasn’t about that? It was more that I could really appreciate, on this cold autumn morning, that the ends of those relationships really did free me to elevate (and, paradoxically, to deepen) this one that I value so greatly. Particularly with regard to consideration of an ex who relished tearing people down, who seemed to have so much power to hold us (my Traveling Partner and I) both back in life, through chronic gaslighting, narcissistic manipulation, pitting us against each other, petty jealousy and drama (and much, much more!)… and there I stood, on this magical autumn morning, clear skies, cold breezes, feeling… free. Free of her bullshit, free of her drama, and sort of chuckling to myself about how incredible all our lives together could have been, if she had been… someone else. lol Not her fault… just her choices. (Mine, too, I’m not inclined to overlook the power of my own decision-making, and one of the best I made was walking on from that tedious, painful, regrettable relationship before the damage was worse than it was.) We’re each so human. I’m sure she sees herself as entirely blameless, perhaps even “the good guy” – and this morning, any possible perception of injustice in that likelihood simply stopped mattering at all. Irrelevant to the point of being distant, and almost fictional. She has no power over me. Even her memory is faded, stale, and impotent.

The smile on my face as I returned to work almost hurt. A merry grin, innocent, content, and free… it feels good to put down some of that baggage, after so long, and to be here, now, and wrapped in love.

…Another opportunity to begin again. 😀

I woke to the alarm, switched it off, and lay quietly for some time, eyes open, lingering in that place between waking from a deep slumber, and truly being “awake”. It feels luxurious to be so deeply well-rested. Savoring that moment of unfolding realization that, indeed, I am “well-rested” this morning was so worth the time (and risk of falling back to sleep). 🙂 The hotel in-room drip coffee tastes delicious this morning; it is flavored with contentment, and a sense of satisfaction. No idea why this particular morning feels so good, but I’m not going to argue with it.

LA dawn, poolside breakfast.

…I’m looking forward to breakfast. It was a very good start to my day, yesterday…

Considering the stress involved in my arrival, on Tuesday evening, this has been a remarkably pleasant and productive trip so far. My time feels well-spent. I feel valued and appreciated by colleagues. I’m getting things done that I’d felt were needful, and that feels very satisfying.

LA, itself, is a strange place to find myself. lol It has a polished weirdness and vaguely persistent feeling of artifice that is hard to “see through”. Yesterday morning, I watched a woman twirling on her balcony… which seemed even more peculiar when it became clear it was part of her morning workout. On my way to work, I walked past a tv show being made, which only heightened the sense of artifice that seems to permeate this area of the city. Maybe it isn’t this way everywhere in LA? Even the homeless people, at least in this particular neighborhood, seem to take their lives to the level of “craft”; their pitches are fairly similar to the approach a carnie might take, trying to bring passers-by to their schtick, before packing up and moving on to the next city. It rises to the level of performance art… definitely weird. People in the office discussed the latest “cleanse”, and seemed to be fairly serious about it. I managed not to smirk at anyone over these details; people choose the lives they live, and it’s not really for me to choose for anyone else. My teal-blue-aqua hair got more stares in LA than it ever does in Portland, which struck me as seriously humorous. However seriously silly LA sometimes strikes me, Portland is also fairly weird, and we’ve all got more in common with each other than we often care to notice. LA is, most assuredly, more… tan. lol

By the end of the day, I was surprisingly exhausted. Grand plans of walking to the marina or catching the sunset on the beach, or hanging out with local friends, or doing, really, anything at all not work-related, quickly gave way to a newly ambitious plan; having an adequate, healthy, meal, and going to bed. LOL 🙂 LA… you win. I can’t keep up. 😉

I got back to the room, put the phone on the charger and lay down “for a minute”, which became a couple hours. I got up, grabbed a bite of dinner, and returned to the room, feet aching. I took the time I needed for self-care: time in the hotel gym, a shower, meditation. I felt rested, at ease, and comfortable with myself. I thought about the contrast with my Las Vegas trip, a couple years ago, for a work conference. The self-care really matters. I exchanged a few words with my Traveling Partner – who is at home, while I travel – and read awhile, before sleep caught up with me, for real. It was a lovely day, overall. 🙂

…Here it is, time to begin again. Half an hour before breakfast will be served in the hotel restaurant. Another hour before I head to the office for another work day. I give thought to the plan for the day, and work ahead of me. I check the calendar and remind myself what day of the week it actually is (Thursday, as it happens). I contemplate making the world a better place, and what that really means – and requires. I think about narrowing that down to the work pieces, and how best to craft, nurture, and maintain a truly exceptional (and good) place to work. I sip my coffee. The day, so far, is off to a good start.

My thoughts touch on love and loving, and suddenly I feel a deep yearning ache, and I’m swamped by a moment of loneliness – I miss my partner. The words form in my thoughts, and bring tears to my eyes unexpectedly. I take deep, even, breaths, and soothe myself; it’s a short time away, really, and I’ll be home tomorrow evening. I finish my coffee, and dry my tears; it’s already time to begin again. 🙂