Archives for posts with tag: parables

The sun is up. I slept in a bit. Sipping coffee, barefooted, on a weekend morning, late in the spring. It’s a lovely moment. I’ve got nothing to bitch about. Nothing nagging at my consciousness. No drama. No baggage (in this moment). No chaos. The morning is quiet. My mood is calm. My outlook on life is merry. I’m okay, right, in every sense of the word that matters. 🙂 My coffee tastes good. My roses have begun to bloom. My aquariums are thriving. The computer my Traveling Partner built for me while we share Life in the Time of Pandemic, together, is working beautifully – and by that, I mean it is both a wonderful upgrade in performance, and also a beautiful technological piece, aesthetically. I smile every time I sit down at my desk, feeling very loved. I feel content.

“Baby Love” blooming in a pot on the deck. 🙂

Let’s be super real on this notion of contentment and ease; I’ve worked years to get here, and there have been many verbs involved, and many tears shed, over time. My outlook matters more than material details. I could live this life, identical in all practical details, and be mired in misery. PTSD has that power. Healthy emotional wellness practices really matter that much.

No click bait here, no “secret practice your therapist doesn’t want you to know about” in an eye-catching thumbnail. I’m not about that. I’m just saying, perspective matters. How I treat myself matters. How I treat others, and how reciprocal those interactions are, matters. It’s been a long journey, and I’ve often felt I was stumbling haphazardly through the darkness, quite alone. I’ve known despair, and futility and frustration and sorrow and, yes, madness. I’m not alone in that – and that’s why I write. Reminders for me, and maybe, just maybe, a light in the seemingly endless darkness for someone else. Someone that I’ll likely never meet. There have been so many such souls on my journey… human beings on their own journey, helpful co-travelers, sometimes unrecognized until much later, because I simply wasn’t ready to hear what they were saying to me, then. We all walk our own hard mile. (You too.)

Life is pretty good these days, even in spite of the pandemic. It’s not about material success (I’m not wealthy), or finding one true love (I’m fortunate to enjoy a great relationship with someone I love very much, but in dark times love does not “cure” our sorrows, or ease the weight of our baggage). Life is pretty good these days because more of my choices take me in that direction, than choices which don’t. Verbs. Choices. Beginnings. Perspective. Sufficiency. These are only words, but the words represent concepts I’ve found key to making my way, a bit at a time, to a life that feels, generally, characterized by contentment, and joy.

I’ve put in many hours of therapy and study. Reading books isn’t enough; the ideas have to become changes in behavior and thinking. The epiphanies and “ah-ha moments” have to become new practices. Practices that work have to be sustained over time. There is a commitment to treating oneself well involved – this may be the biggest challenge (it has been for me).

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

I think I’m just saying… “you’ve got this!”. Unhappy with life? Choose change. Rethink your most basic assumptions. Re-examine your expectations of life, of people, of yourself. Try a new combination of real kindness and firm boundary-setting. Ask the hard questions. Consider all the options. Take care of yourself – because you matter to you. No reason to expect it to be easy, or that you’ll never cry again, or that “the world” will ever be “fair”. Be your own best friend – and your own best self, because you can make that choice from moment to moment, and when you fail (and you will, I promise you that), begin again. Just begin again. Don’t beat yourself up over your fundamental humanity – examine your errors with some emotional distance, gain understanding of yourself (and others) from your mistakes, learn, grow, and move on with increased perspective. Accept that you are human – then also accept that everyone else is, too. Make room in your thinking for what you can’t know, or don’t understand; there’s nearly always something new to learn. Check your assumptions.

There’s a lot of baggage to put down. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go of. It’s easier to give yourself closure than to seek it elsewhere. Don’t drink the poison. Tame your own barking dog. Consider your outlook on life, generally. Yes, it’s a lot of work, I know. It probably seems so much easier to get a prescription for some boldly advertised new drug. I’ve tried that, myself. It didn’t work reliably well for me, which is how I found myself at 50, filled with despair, trying one more therapist, one more time, unconvinced that life was worth living. A huge stack of books and a few years later, life looks (and feels) very different to me. I’ve made a lot of changes – to practices, jobs, relationships; I rebuilt basically my entire life (and lifestyle) to better support becoming the woman I most wanted to be, living a life of contentment and joy. Worth it. So worth it. (Not infallibly perfect – that’s not on life’s menu, right?)

So… what do you say? Are you ready to begin again?

Like any other, this day begins with a sunrise. Most are quite lovely, when I take time to notice them. Has anyone ever paused to notice the sunrise and said ‘damn, that’s just not attractive at all!’? I somehow doubt it very much. Sunrises, as things go, are pretty reliably lovely. I find myself wondering if that is in any part due to the simple relief and gratitude of waking up for one more day of living?

One of many sunrises.

One of many sunrises.

I slept poorly, and I am unsurprised; a significant change in my routine often disrupts both my sleep and my emotional balance, whether the change itself is a positive or negative thing. I am learning to refrain from defining a given change, or experience, as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Someone else has an excellent parable about that.  I like parables in general, and along with metaphors, and allegories, find them both illuminating and efficient at communicating subtleties in ideas.  There are some good ones here.  I sometimes consider their value as ‘children’s stories’ over the more favored (and severely idealistic) ‘fairy tales’ with reliable happy endings, where everyone gets to be a princess. Would I be different than I am if my childhood had been filled with wise parables that taught perspective, compassion, and consideration, rather than filled with fairy tales where the princess always wins – even if she didn’t really do much to earn it?

I’m not being fair to fairy tales, though, or to the volumes of reading I did as a child. I read all the fairy books…and mythology, and legendary tales of mystery and fantastical wonder, anything I could find in a language I could read, actually.  I still somehow missed some very important messaging somewhere along the way, or failed to carry it forward in life with me.  Like so many people I ended up thinking seeking ‘my fortune’ and seeking ‘happily ever after’ were goals worthy of my time and attention, without understanding that these things are of so much less value than the foundation stones required to support them: contentment, compassion, consideration, gratitude, self-acceptance, and finding that inner stillness with which to contemplate and enjoy the wonders of life.

I’ve somehow gone off on a tangent. I’m okay with that, this morning. It is a lovely morning, and soon enough I will be in mindful service to home and hearth, finding new balance in a new routine.

This morning looks like a good day to avoid assumptions, to be compassionate and patient with others – and myself, to cherish the warmth of life, love, and family. Today is a good day not to take other people’s stress as my own. Today I will practice new tools, and take care of me. Today I will change the world. 😀