Archives for posts with tag: OPD

I’m sipping my coffee and marveling, a little awestruck, but not in any pleasant way, really, at the quantity of posts, reposts, and shares in my feed that are seriously… emo. Like… bleak. Self-denigrating. Depressed. Blue. Despairing. So many of these are also coming from friends and associates I understand to be lovely people, from the perspective of my experience of them as individuals, in some cases gifted, warm-hearted, and thoroughly promising samples of what humanity is capable of, which… is weird. People who simultaneously appear to be on a journey of growth and improvement, and also appear to be mired in negative assumptions and self-loathing. That’s a lot to take over a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. (Personally, I’d rather not have to wade through all that suffering; I’d rather have brunch.)

I find myself wanting to answer each such post. To correct the thinking errors. To correct the mis-assumptions. To fact-check. To lift people up, by giving them tools to prevent themselves from drowning in their own bullshit. It’s not that easy, is it? A lot of people are ever so carefully crafting that experience. Building the narrative that supports it, with great care. Seeking emotional support and feedback from others who will nurture the suffering – instead of nurturing that human being who is their friend. Drama creeps in from the edges pretty quickly. I breathe. Let each one go. That is my own challenge; to refrain from reacting to each new outrageous self-deceit posted by a friend. Sometimes, attempting to correct these things only reinforces them by way of repetition and sharing. (See? We have learned something from social media!)

For fuck’s sake, people, try not to hate yourselves. Let go of hating each other, too. Try to assume positive intent. Oh, I know, you’ve been hurt – or soaked up the residual lessons resulting from the hurts your parents and community perceive, invent, or celebrate. (Quick aside for the white people in the room; no, this doesn’t get us off the hook for being aware of our privilege, or make it okay to shrug off generations of abuses delivered to others, or in any way defend the heinous institutions and practices that have held back our brothers and sisters of color. You’ll want to let that go, too – real wrongs definitely do need to be made right, and I am calling bullshit on racism, sexism, and xenophobia, just in general.) It’s time to let go of treating yourself like shit. That’s what I’m saying.

If nothing else, don’t be a dick. Not to yourself. Not to other people. Not – perhaps especially not – because you think it’s “just a joke”. When the humor comes at the expense of someone else’s injury, it’s not funny. If you’re laughing at other people’s pain, maybe spend some money on therapy instead? Sort that shit out. Why do I care? Because when we treat ourselves poorly, mock others for our amusement, and allow the world to strip away our humanity, we create a shitty experience for everyone involved. Why does it even have to be like that? Truth: it doesn’t. We can each choose differently.

My friends are all – each and every one – so special to me. I see your charm, your wit, your heart. I enjoy your merry laughter, your presence, and your forward momentum in life. I worry when you are in distress. I celebrate when you triumph over adversity. I celebrate your milestones. Your self-loathing? I’m betting neither of us really benefit from that. Maybe consider letting that go? You are so worthy. ❤

Really? You only need to begin again. Like, but a whole lot of times, probably, and yeah, it’s a slow transformation. It’s there for you, though. So am I.

It’s a journey with a lot of stairs to climb…

There are other voices than mine. There are other lived truths than the truth I live myself. There are other perspectives, other viewpoints, other angles from which to consider each very human moment. There are other tales to tell, told by other travelers. Each existing alongside all the others, their existence, itself, does nothing to diminish the truth of the others; these are narratives. Subjective experiences of being human, in all its wonder, glory, pain, and joy. I tell mine here, my way. 🙂

A friend posted on Facebook recently that she is undertaking her own healing journey, walking that hard mile, processing trauma, seeking healing, and that she had started a blog. She started a group, to post to, understanding that perhaps not everyone wants to share that journey with her. I appreciate the consideration. I respect the journey; I’ve been on my own such journey for a while now. I reflected back on that moment when I decided to start a journey, and a blog, and considered how that “went down”, and the reactions I’d gotten at that time, from friends and loved ones (a fairly discouraging mix of disinterest, distance, and patronizing comments, generally, and a couple folks sincerely interested in being supportive). I asked myself, explicitly, “how do I want to ‘be there’ for my friend, and her experience, right now?”

I provided a reply I hoped would be welcoming and supportive, and accepted the request to join her group. Why would I not? Reluctance to be triggered? I grant you; it’s a risk. (People in my life spend a lot of time opening up to me about trauma, as it is. I’ve survived it so far.) People need to feel heard. They need emotionally secure relationships in which to open up about what hurts them. Me, too. Can I “be there” to support that? Of course I can. It’s on me to set and manage my boundaries, if it gets to be too much, and even that is a way of being there for a friend or loved one, setting that powerful example that it is also okay to set boundaries, and showing what that looks like, in practice. Practice. Yeah – and also, because I, too, am entirely made of human, I need practice, myself. Practice at listening deeply. Practice at maintaining perspective on past trauma. Practice understanding that we each walk our own hard mile. Practice at “being there” for others. Practice, frankly, at being the woman I most want to be – in every interaction, every moment, on every day. Words are just words. It’s the verbs that make changes come to life. It’s what we practice that matters; we become what we practice.

This morning I read the first of her posts (that I’ve read). I savored her voice. The difference in her style of communication. I read from a place of non-judgmental acceptance, and non-attachment. Her tale is not my tale, however similar some details may seem; she is having her own experience. I listen with empathy, consideration, compassion. I listen deeply. I recognize her humanity, her unique experience. I acknowledge the human experience beyond the words. I nod quietly, more than once. “I know you,” I think to myself. Still, I also allow her her moment; we are individuals, with our own experiences, our own pain. We’re in very different places on our individual journeys. That doesn’t matter as much as “being there” – being present, aware, and compassionate – because although we are each having our own experiences, we’re also “all in this together”. I sip my coffee and contemplate the journey stretching ahead of her.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs. Begin again.

It’s a question worth asking, I think. It’s at least worth reflecting upon it, asking it of yourself, and perhaps even being prepared that this could eventually be a thing you have to wrap your head around; what if you had to completely start over – with nothing?

Where you would begin in life, if you had to begin again on an entirely different level? What if you lost everything, even losing your “way”, your sense of place in the world, your job, your home, your standing in the community? How to start over…? Where to begin…? What matters most?

What matters most?

If you’ve “lost everything”, it’s likely you still have something precious to count on… this moment. Here. Now. Maybe some choices? If you’ve already lost everything, you’ve also lost reasons to turn away from choices that could take you somewhere really new… that’s something. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, by itself, just the freedom to choose. Choose anything. To start from nothing and rebuild doesn’t sound at all pleasant, but once we’re on the other side of that “rip off the band-aid” moment of loss, isn’t it, potentially, all forward momentum?

For fuck’s sake, though, grieve if you’re hurting! Don’t mistake loss – and the emotions that it evokes – for anything more permanent than any other emotional experience, but do give yourself – and take – the time you need to heal and be okay! Impermanence is one thing, but please, oh please, don’t treat yourself harshly when you’re hurting. Feel your feelings. Be the best friend you may not feel you have, right now. Treat yourself with the consideration you’d give anyone else who is hurting. There’s no magic happy pill (no, really really there isn’t). Maybe it’ll be slow going to pull yourself out of whatever you are mired in right now… but you can.

Where would you begin, if it were you? A cup of coffee and a good book? A few minutes on a meditation cushion, a lovely view, the sound of breezes through tree tops? A few hours playing video games? A walk alone through a beautiful forest? I don’t know where you’d begin again… that one’s on you. I’ve gone without more than a few times. I lost a lot in life, and rebuilt a time or two; it’s why I refer to my lives in the plural, and reference “past lifetimes” – it really feels that way. lol I’m here, now, though, and I’m okay. Choices.

Yeah, but… circumstances, too. Don’t forget about the circumstances, right? Unavoidable, undebatable, immutable circumstances. Well, shit…

…Nah, I’m going to argue that one. Not gonna let that go. It’s an excuse to fail. Circumstances are circumstances; you still choose your adventure, still decide who you are as a human being, and you still have choices – how to act, how to react, what to say, how to treat people, how to treat yourself, where to go in life… all choices. Are you going to get handed some tiles in this game? Yep. It’s true. Starting points. From there; choices.

Choose wisely.

There’s much suffering in the world (and in my feeds), and I don’t much want to call it out, but some of it appears to be based on… choices. You can choose so much of your experience, and yes, even the suffering. Why choose to suffer?

We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

Damn, look at the time! It’s time to begin again. That’s a choice. ❤

It’s an ordinary morning, before, most likely, an ordinary work day. My coffee is hot, and adequately tasty. The room is a comfortable temperature, a little cooler than I like it in the evenings. I hear the trickle of the aquarium in the other room, and remind myself that it is on my project list to change the water, replace the heater, re-settle the plants, and restock with something inexpensive and entertaining – guppies? More neon tetras? Just plants and shrimp, maybe? I love having the planted aquarium, and contemplating the planned project, I feel that pang of sadness over the fish that I lost last year over a weekend with a power outage. It sucked to come home to that. This morning, though, right here? So far it is a pleasant one, routine, ordinary, unexceptional… I have grown used to pleasantness (in spite of chronic pain, and this perpetual headache).

This is now. I’m enjoying it. How about you? 🙂

So… If you are not enjoying now, is it truly a byproduct of a very crappy right now experience (which can certainly be a thing, and we’ve all had those moments) – or are you fixated on some past (however recent) or future (however soon) moment of misery that is not actually now? If that’s the case, I would like to offer a suggestion (what you do about it belongs to you); very deliberately, and with great presence and attention to detail, come back to “now”. The real now. The true present moment. Breathe it in. Become aware of the details – even the smallest detail that feels comfortable, pleasant, and fills you with contentment or joy, is worth your attention. Find a comfortable seat. Be gentle and kind with yourself. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. Let go of the past moments. Let go of the future moments. Just sit with, and be here, right now. 🙂 No kidding. Practice that.

Practice it a lot.

I was thinking about something at work yesterday – a busy day, filled with meetings and interrupted practical task-processing workload of the sort that suffers for interruptions – and what I was thinking about is this; it’s actually fairly easy to make future-affecting decisions somewhat skillfully from the vantage point of the present, when I’m actually present, mindfully aware, and firmly in the moment…but it’s nearly impossible when I am stuck on some past moment, or mired in anxiety about a future moment that is not yet now. I gave that rather a lot of thought, actually, and used the thought to tickle my awareness of the need to pull myself back to the present moment, again and again. By the end of the day, I felt more firmly present, and in the office that’s sometimes hard to get to. Rigid processes, task processing, clear orders of operations in interlocking pieces of workload with dependencies on the pieces of work that lead up to it; while these things make work more efficient, faster, and get more done with fewer human beings, they also tend to rob me of awareness, keeping me part of a process, and less than a human being. So much less. Then, complicate that with the stress of those interruptions that fracture my focus, degrade my desired efficiency, while also directing my attention solely to that interrupted work – and specifically away from presence or self-care. Yeesh. It’s a very unpleasant experience.

By the end of my day, I had figured out being more human in an inhuman (and inhumane) scenario. That feels good – I’m hoping to improve on my presence, awareness, mindfulness – and humanity – in the office, today. How much better could work be? How much of my inhumane work experience is self-selected? What can I change or improve upon with my own will, awareness, and choices? Where will this path take me?

I glance at the time, and into the bottom of my empty coffee cup. I guess I can go ahead and get started… Now.

I spent some minutes marveling as my brain lied to me about the lovely dawn beyond the window, hinted at through closed blinds. Looks like it’s going to be a warm, late spring day… but… it’s the Winter Solstice, so… no. I sit, drink coffee, and contemplate how easily I am fooled by a trick of light – and lighting. I recently changed the bulb out there on the stoop, and the light is a different color. I even know this. I am aware of it… and yet… it definitely looks like a pearly dawn, of the sort that precedes, perhaps, a slightly humid, warm-ish sort of clear day… maybe on the coast somewhere, or in the desert. I can see that. I can know it is not a real thing, and only a trick my brain and senses are playing on me.

I open the blinds, after a time, to see what is really beyond the window, in the way of morning light. Only the chill steely blue-gray of winter dawn, well before sunrise. Through open blinds, the porch light is just a porch light, perhaps a somewhat peculiar choice of bulb, but certainly nothing any stranger than that. What special tools these brain things are. lol 😀

A lot of our experience is like that; built on assumptions, sensations, perceptions, corrected through fact-checking, “double-checking” experiences, verifying what isn’t clear, and allowing ourselves to adapt to what we have learned, to hold a more accurate picture of the world in our mind’s eye. Not everyone is good at it. Yep, one more thing that takes some practice. 😀

When was the last time you over-reacted to something? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to just… not? To see things accurately, hear what is being shared with you with a clear understanding, to respond to the world – and your relationships – always in a wholly appropriate way? It’s definitely a goal, for me. I work at it every day. Every day, I see some tiny improvements. Every day I see room for more improvements. Every day I practice. That first reaction to an experience is nearly always driven by “unseen forces”; implicit values, assumptions, disappointed expectations, misunderstandings, miscommunications, unexpressed needs, unstated boundaries, physical comfort (or lack of it), emotional state of being in the moment, the fucking weather… the list is pretty long. I continue to practice being accepting of my first reaction to things, but not allowing that reaction to lead my decision-making, or ideally even also preventing it from coloring whatever the fuck is going to come pouring forth from my face holes as a stream-of-consciousness rant of some sort. I definitely also really have to work at this; however much I’d like it to feel (and become) quite natural, I very much have to practice… very much. lol So human.

That fancy brain is just trying to help; it’s so much faster to put reactions on our internal “automation” – that’s what makes them “reactions” rather than responses (measured, well-considered, thoughtful, appropriate). It’s sort of a bother that our reactions are not all that helpful, and are often just entirely incorrect – they are definitely faster than our ability to reason clearly.  Emotions generally get to the party ahead of our ability to reason clearly. It would be more efficient to fall back on our reactions in the moment, but honestly, they are often only useful in emergency situations – the rest of the time it is definitely worth slowing the fuck down and giving every-damned-thing a second thought.

…On second thought…

(You knew that was coming, right?)

…We’re also not actually very astute about what, specifically, in this modern century of humanity, actually amounts to an “emergency”. We get seriously jacked up about the dumbest shit. TV shows. Petty resentments. Who ate the last treat. Territorial disputes. Money. In a world literally covered in resources, more than adequate for everyone, we’re all very busy fighting over crumbs while a handful of dragons sit on hoarded wealth… and we distract ourselves from all manner of things that really matter a great deal – by reacting to shit that does not. (So human) We seem, often, largely incapable of honest collaboration and community, prone to viewing all of life’s challenges as tiny zero sum adventures in greed, “being right”, or “winning”.

What matters most? (The question does not go away, simply because answering it is uncomfortable.)

Today is the Solstice. The longest night. A celebration (for me) of contemplation, of wonder, of silence in our own personal darkness – and of waking up to the light.

A wintry sunrise is imminent. The dawn is a bleak pale gray with a hint of blue. The traffic on the road outside reminds me that I am not having to join them on the race to beat the clock to the office this morning. I take my time with my coffee, considering my experience and my plan for the day, thinking ahead to sharing the holiday with my Traveling Partner.

It’s been a peculiar year, and much has changed. I’ve made some interesting new friends. Broadened my social network both geographically, and in the variety of new human beings in my experience. I’ve ended some relationships – including one that reasonably ought not have been given another chance at all – and moved on with my life. There’s been some turmoil, some drama, and some major headaches (both literal and figurative). The world has strained with the pain of watching civilization heave, and perhaps fall… no way to know, quite yet. This moment? Right now? I’m okay. There aren’t a lot of extras. It won’t be a lavish holiday. I have what I need, though, and that’s enough. 🙂

I welcome the Solstice this year, as a season of change, and of reflection, and a time of vision. It’s definitely time to begin again.