Archives for posts with tag: read a book

This morning I’m all smiles. I had a lovely day with my Traveling Partner, yesterday. It finished well. Life feels balanced, and I am contented. Sure, sure, still looking for a job, so there’s that, but I don’t see that it has any requirement to be a massive continuous buzzkill every minute of every day… or… any minutes. Ever. I know “this too will pass” – doesn’t matter whether it’s a good mood, a bad mood, a wonderful moment, a tragedy; moments are moments. Transient. Finite. Limited. Very little in a single human life is so dire that despair is truly warranted (that’s one of the things that makes despair so terrible and terrifying – it feels like “everything”, and it’s very “sticky”). I enjoy the smile on my face, take a sip of this glass of water, and listen to a video that makes me smile with such tremendous delight it’s hard to move on to the next one. No, I’m not linking it; delight is not “universal”, and what tickles me so profoundly may be disturbing or offensive or puzzling for someone else. No point. Hit up Google or YouTube, find your groove. 😉

Different day, different meadow.

I went to the nearby nature reserve this morning to get shots of birds. I got there just at daybreak; first car into the park. Choice. The summer-scented air was fragrant with meadow flowers and a hint of marsh. The morning was very quiet and quite overcast. I grabbed my gear and walked down the path to a spot I know is a good one for taking pictures of birds. No birds. It was rather as if the wildlife decided to sleep in on this quiet gray morning. I walked on. Snapped some pictures of flowers, the skyline, reflections on the water. Kept walking. Eventually my Traveling Partner pinged me.

My last trip was more “productive”, if I choose to define it that way – there were more birds.
I got a lot of chances to improve on my skills at taking pictures of birds that day.

There’s no expectation that I’ll cut my camera time short when my partner wakes, although I do try to “stay gone” long enough for him to sleep in, should he choose to and find himself able. Still… not much going on in the nature park, so I turned back and walked back to the parking lot. I passed a lot of other visitors with cameras. By the time I was within view of the parking lot, the path down to the meadow looked like a fucking camera convention. Individuals and groups, each taking some favored spot, waiting, watching, hoping for a great shot of… something. (Anything – other than each other.) lol I see a lot of really fancy gear as I pass other visitors. I could easily be overcome with dissatisfaction and “gear envy”…but it’s not my way. Like, I mean, explicitly not my choice to be thusly overcome; I get some great shots with my modest gear. I enjoy it as it is. It’s often so much more about location, timing, and willingness to walk on, or sit quietly awhile, and less to do with the gear, generally. 🙂 A lot of life is like that. Even mindfulness practices – anyone can (people often do) spend a ton of money on coaches, consultants, therapists, or “specialists” to learn to sit quietly, breathe, and relax. (It’s even possible to take an expensive destination retreat at an actual monastery, should you have the desire and the resources. It’s not necessary to do so, though, at all.) It’s not even a certainty that spending that kind of money on breathing exercises and mindfulness practices will “pave the trail” for you more skillfully than taking it upon yourself to read a book and begin practicing practices. It’s more about the verbs than the dollars.

…I’m one of those people, by the way. No kidding. I was at the edge and still spiraling down, and I felt wholly defeated. I spent a notable amount of my limited resources on therapy. Doing so saved my life. Looking back, I can see how easily I could have made that journey, perhaps, without spending that money…only… I didn’t, because I wasn’t able to. I did not know what I did not know. I needed that help. So I did the needful and took steps to get the help I needed. Did my therapist do more than point me in the direction of reading different books, or helping me practice other practices? Oh, for sure. Real therapy. I needed a lot of help making that healing journey (that is still in progress), and part of that process was gaining a better understanding of my actual legit issues. Still… it is possible to make a healing journey without a map. It isn’t about the money.

I prepared my reading list so that someone who maybe can’t at all afford the expense of therapy in their here-and-now could still benefit from the foundations of the journey I’m taking myself. I write this blog for that same reason – and also because I often find that I “fail to take my own good advice” because I’ve lost perspective over time. This blog is something of a repository of my notes about this journey, and my changing perspective over time – a reminder that it can be done, because I’ve done it, just in case I find myself doubting. (I’m very human.)

What a lovely morning this is, so far. It may last the day. It may not. So much of that is up to me. I’ve got choices to make. Practices to practice. Verbs to put into motion. It’s time to begin again.

Good steps to begin a journey:

  1. Do something differently. (Follow-up)
  2. What about self-care?
  3. Maybe just don’t be in your own way?

I came home from my camping trip a day early. No particular reason, aside from knowing my Traveling Partner was missing me, and the day looked rainy when I woke this morning, and honestly? I felt “done”. It was a great camping trip, filled with self-reflection, meditation, coffee-drinking (it was terrible), sleeping on the ground (with very comfortable mats, and it was deeply restful, if not continuous), birdsong, breezes, and aggravatingly long walks to well-cared for vault toilets. So… it was a good camping trip that met many needs, with few complaints (I’d have to really dig deep, and I don’t care to make that effort just now).

I got to the site on Sunday, earlier than I’d planned – and damn am I grateful that I made that change! The peak heat of the day hit 96 degrees, even out there in the trees, and there was no breeze to cool off with that day. The air was still and stifling hot. My gear felt heavy. So heavy. I broke it down into smaller loads and slowed down; 4 trips down the trail and back to get my gear into camp. By the end of that first day, I was exhausted. I was also fine. I made a point to drink ample water, and brought a good supply of my own on the chance that the water in the park might for any reason be limited, inaccessible to me, or not potable for some reason. I also stocked the big cooler with proper electrolyte beverages (in this case, Pedialyte). I was glad I did. That first day could have turned out poorly without good hydration – and a plan to stay well-hydrated in spite of the heat.

Time well-spent.

The days rolled by gently, and the weather cooled off for the rest of my time out among the trees. That first night several large-ish groups and several obvious families lugged their gear down into the camp site, got set up, got frustrated with the heat, packed up all their shit and headed back out before the sun ever even set. By morning, there were only three sites occupied (out of 21), and I may as well have been alone. The solitude was drenching and thoroughly delightful. I wiled away quite a few lovely hours just listening to the wind blow, the chatter of nearby chipmunks, and the buzzing of insect life all around me. I let everything else just… go. Once, during the night, on one evening or another, my anxiety began to flare up for no obvious reason. My brain chased after it, like a cat after a dangled string. I got up from my resting place, restlessly, and wandered out into the darkness. I spotted the fat golden moon – some “super moon” or another. It was lovely and large, looming over the night, peeking through the hemlocks and maples. My anxiety fled – it could not compete with that fat round moon. LOL

Lovely quiet days. Lovely quiet nights. I read a book my Traveling Partner gave me (Richard Feynman’s “Six Easy Pieces”). I drank dreadful instant coffee, smiling so hard my face hurt. I relaxed. Thoroughly. I slept well and deeply. I even managed to enjoy my stay without becoming a feast for the mosquitoes – only just found a couple bites this afternoon, on my shoulder in a spot I obviously missed with the Deet. LOL There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

I glance at my email. Messages from friends and former colleagues, things that can wait for tomorrow. Soon enough to begin again.

Life is filled with mysteries and unanswered questions. This is my own experience, if nothing else. These mysteries come in all sizes, from the petty to the cosmic in scale, varying in philosophical and existential significance.

“Where did we come from?”

“How do I work this?”

“Where is the matching sock to this one?”

“Where did I leave my keys?”

“How do I say this?”

“How do I get there?”

“Friend or foe?”

“Have I forgotten to pack something I definitely need?”

“What is my favorite color/food/book/movie…?”

“What are the steps to making a perfect cup of coffee?”

“Where the hell did I put my Kindle?”

It’s that last wee mystery that’s been on my mind for a couple days now. I have a clear recollection of where was before it seemed to completely disappear. 🤔 I have, so far, avoided creating chaos by tearing apart every room in the house… but I haven’t yet found it. Honestly, it can’t have gone far. Fucking thing has a bright pink cover autographed in black sharpie by several nerdcore rappers; hard to miss. Definitely doesn’t look like anything else.

Where is it??

I have a potentially misleading memory of knocking it to the floor carelessly as I dozed off one evening… I have looked everywhere that could have occurred, and even moved furniture to look under things. It’s so very much not any of those places I’ve been gaslighting myself wondering if I only dreamt that detail. I am overly certain that it is not packed in any of my camping gear… and I am second-guessing that now, too.

Where is it??

Again and again I refrain from getting stuck in an anxiety loop; it’s just a Kindle after all, and quite an old one. My Traveling Partner gave it to me for Giftmas about 10 years ago. It’s replaceable, although the cover is not (it’s autographed). Still, it’s just a thing. It isn’t even my only access to the ebooks in my library.

Where is it??

It’s the mystery vexing me, more than the potential loss. Misplacing things is not particularly uncommon for me. I have a pretty exceptional built in “finder”, so these sorts of really challenging mysteries are fairly rare, but I do have a couple lasting memories of weird losses, found much (much) later in the oddest place… This is looking to be one of those.

Strangely, I am less anxious about losing my Kindle than I am deeply curious about where the hell it will turn out to be. 😆

…In the meantime, I’ll be camping for a few days without being easily able to take along almost infinite reading material; I’ll have to actually choose a book I want to read such that I am willing to carry it. Choices.

It’s time to let this go and begin again.

My coffee has grown cold. Second cup, busy day. I’m thinking over some things I’ve read recently (or watched) that “spoke to me”, and letting these things “seep in” and become more integrated with my own thinking. I think of it a bit like being on a journey without a map… and getting to peak at the map in the hands of a passing traveler, for just a glimpse.

This video really gets some important ideas about “following passion” as a way of doing life. I think it’s more than commonly clear on the subject.

Then there’s this article about de-escalating heated conversations. It’s given me quite a lot to think about, specifically about how complicated it can be to attempt to “enforce” calm on turbulent emotional states for me, and the real value in mastering the skills needed to do so.

I watched this video, which turned up randomly courtesy of the YouTube algorithm… it’s a good practical cautionary tale about seeking fame (or, at least, not doing things in one’s present that might prove problematic if one were to become famous at some future point).

Then, the article that keeps me returning for further reflection and consideration, and a fairly wholesome sense of renewed purpose, which is one about interrupting (a known challenge for me). I can’t even say, with any specificity, why this article got my attention with so much commitment. It did.

I sigh out loud and push my hair back from my face. It’s a long day of work ahead, today. I’m okay with that, it’s work I enjoy. I found a lovely bit of background noise to keep me focused, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂