Archives for posts with tag: snapshots of reality

I woke a bit early this morning, still smiling from the lovely evening spent with my Traveling Partner last night. I’ll probably be smiling for days, unless something entirely different knocks the smile off my face at some point. Hot coffee, headphones on, great playlist, smiling… this is a beautiful moment, as I start my day, still warm from a leisurely hot shower, still comfortable after my morning yoga… did I mention I’m still smiling?

What we see is often determined by what we’re looking at – and how we feel.

This moment is delightful. It’s still just a moment. Mindfulness is only part of this peculiar puzzle that is my journey from surviving to thriving; perspective matters every bit as much, I think. Take that lovely blue sky moment shot yesterday, pictured above, for example. It’s not an entirely frank image… I zoomed in on a small bit of blue sky, and some tree tops at the edge of a parking lot, downtown, near the waterfront, surrounded by concrete overpasses, framed in traffic, asphalt, and homeless people. I grabbed that sliver of beauty and blew it way out of proportion. I think I do that often, even without a camera. It’s also possible to do that in quite the reverse (and exceedingly common), zooming in on the suffering, the unpleasantness, the litter, the damage, the pain, the violence… life has a lot to offer, and it isn’t all pleasant happy fun stuff.

Still

How we view the world, how we experience our own lives, does have to do with our perspective on it. We filter our experience through our perspective. We give the details context, even going as far as making up, or filling in, missing narrative.

Still

Don’t miss out on the fun of life, or it’s whimsy!

We have choices, even about what to look at, and how to see it. Those choices matter, too. Balance matters. Perspective matters. Being “real” matters – and it matters how we define “being real”.

I don’t have anything super useful here, I’m just saying… perspective is a thing, and it’s useful to have some. Moments are moments, pleasant and unpleasant, and there will be some. 🙂 Taken together those ideas don’t stop life (and moments) from being rather like a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle which has pieces that are all shades of gray, and each piece uniquely shaped. Assembling such a thing into something that is ordered seems complicated. I don’t actually know if it is complicated…

…I’m just going to dump the pieces out of the box, and get started on this puzzle. 😉

I woke ahead of the alarm by minutes, feeling rested, and not particularly groggy. The morning has proceeded with logical elegance from task to task, and my coffee is hot, tasty, and welcome. I have nothing much to say. In a life so rich with words much of the time, I guess that’s okay, too. 🙂

The week begins well, and that’s enough. I could use more time in my day, but the new work environment is one in which I thrive, and feel appreciated. I can’t complain about that – and the commute is not the longest one I’ve endured since moving to the area. My longest was the original commute I traveled daily for some 13 years without questioning it. Moving closer to work didn’t feel possible; my (ex) partner was unwilling to travel to and from school, and the result was having to choose between what I needed, and what she demanded. When she’d finished earning her degree, the expected shift in priorities “didn’t happen”. I did not yet understand that I would have to take care of me. I allowed life to go on, without choosing change, and did so for a very long time. Resentful, exhausted, neglected and unhappy, I trudged along in life surviving on wishful thinking and daydreams of a future that wasn’t likely – since I wasn’t building that. We become what we practice – and I was practicing some very different things then, than I do now.

My choices, even then, were vast and assorted, and had many potential outcomes. I didn’t see the whole of the menu, as though refusing to turn it over and see the rest of it, limiting myself to just “today’s specials” – which, as it happened, weren’t that damned special. I’m not bitching, I’m just making a point of pointing out that I carefully crafted the experience I was mired in, by refusing to choose a different one. My choices mattered greatly – and yes, I’ll go ahead and say so sooner than later, when I did start making different choices, some of my relationships were changed, and some ended (including a partnership of 15 years, and a job with a company I’d worked for, for 13 of those). Choices have consequences. Remember reality? Yeah – reality doesn’t care what we think we’re choosing. We are each having our own experience, each filtering that through our own perspective – reality doesn’t care about that, either.  😉

This is not actually a picture of a rainbow filling a building with gold, however much it may appear so.

What it appears to be does not change what it is.

Choice and change and verbs and perspective… it’s busy in here. I find myself pondering the “meaning of life”. It’s that sort of morning. A good morning for meditation as the sun rises, and a leisurely 2nd and 3rd coffee…and it’s also a work morning. I’ll watch the sun rise on foot, as I walk through downtown to the office. I’ll see it reflected, perhaps, on the city from the other side of the river, where I stop each morning to reflect on life, and take a picture. It is a moment of perspective with lasting value.

Misty

Giving myself time to reflect…

 

...allows my perspective to deepen...

…allows my perspective to deepen…

 

Giving myself time to reflect allows my perspective to deepen and change with experience.

…and change with experience.

We are each having our own experience. We choose a lot of it. We carefully craft a lot more of it within our thoughts, even sometimes avoiding confronting what differs from our so carefully crafted narrative. Expectations and assumptions can be built on accumulated experience of reality – but they don’t have to be, and often aren’t. I set myself up for failure when I build my expectations and assumptions on my internal narrative, without checking in with reality. Funny thing (maybe) that reality seems so much more variable than expectations and assumptions…

My mind wanders. I’m enjoying the morning over my coffee, listening to a freight train roar past on the other side of the park. I think of my traveling partner, and life and love and time; perhaps I shall see him this evening? Perhaps not until tomorrow. We have evening plans for Thursday, and I “know” I will see him then – is that an expectation? An assumption? Is it reality? Certainly it is planned…

A wordless moment of clarity... a picture as a metaphor.

A wordless moment of clarity… a picture as a metaphor.

Today is a good day to be present in this moment, here. I think I’ll go do that. (Your results may vary…)

I’m really counting down the days, now.  In 29 days, I am 50.  I feel a bit unprepared. lol.

Finally finding my way...

Finally finding my way…not yet 50!

My partner photographed me last evening (the picture above wasn’t it), during a moment that was a bit… well… I wasn’t feeling great about ‘things in general’ and I was definitely feeling a bit fatigued and annoyed with myself for not taking better care to meet my own needs in recent days. The picture he showed me was a photo of a middle-aged woman, rather more average looking than not, and… from my perspective in the moment, looking quite… old: overweight, lost in thought, vaguely dissatisfied, skin really showing signs of age…not my best look.  I found myself wishing I hadn’t seen it, because it doesn’t capture how I feel about myself, right now, or in general these days, and it provided a perspective on myself I didn’t care to experience.  He deleted the picture before I asked him to, and when I did ask him to delete the picture, hearing him quietly say “I already did” in reply caused this strange little moment of pain, and I suddenly felt very… out of date and replaceable.  Most days now I feel more beautiful than I remember ever feeling at earlier points in my life; seeing that picture left me feeling unsure of my experience of beauty and self, and tempted to yield to the immediate internal attack on my sense of self called ‘photographs don’t lie’…

…I got past that moment, and the sting of not being ‘picture perfect’ as I approach 50, because I remembered that while ‘pictures don’t lie’ – human beings do, and when they lie to themselves it is skillful and sometimes difficult to spot.  I’m unmistakably a grown woman of some years, experienced, and in some photos perhaps tired, or suffering, or lost in my own challenges – but I am who I am, and I am beautiful, vibrant, and talented.  I have my father’s charm, and my mother’s wit and willingness to play whimsy against intellectual rigor for poetry’s sake, or for humor, or a new point of view.  I am a woman of great depth of emotion, and of great insight.  I am experienced, and open to continuing to grow and change, and willing to share what I learn about life and love.  I am learning to be as aware of what I bring to the world around me, as I am learning to be aware of what the world offers me. I am learning a new way of understanding life and valuing it, building on compassion, kindness and encouragement, by choice.  I am learning to speak up for what I matters to me, and learning to communicate without attacking, or defending.  There is value in who I am, and excitement in who I am becoming.  Age isn’t especially relevant to any of that, nor is it relevant to my experience of life, except perhaps where the phenomena of aging present themselves one by one over time, and I don’t see that those are all that profound in and of themselves (yet).

Still, I will be 50 in less than a month. That has meaning for me.  I am facing a life that lacks ‘history’ in a way that sometimes wounds me greatly, from within.  I am, in a remarkable way, something of a stranger to everyone who holds me dear.  My longest friendship, at this point in my life, is with a buddy from my Army days…we’ve ‘known’ each other since 1981.  Since we’ve met we’ve actually spent less than 2 years of actual time in each others presence, and for many years now, rarely actually communicate. I haven’t seen him since…1988? Does he really ‘know me’? Me? Me, now?  Probably not.  I have a decently large circle of friends I cherish, people I value and of whom I would say ‘these are relationships that matter to me’… not one of those relationships is longer than 18 years…I’ll be 50.  My family, I suppose, has something or other like a historical perspective on ‘who I am’… except I was estranged from my family for many years, and to this day rarely visit family members in person; they live quite far away.  My dear sister and I, although our lifespans overlap by 43 years, have actually only spent 8 years and a couple short visits together, and reconnected much later in life, when I was past 40.  (She wrote me while I was at war, though, and her letters from that time remain among my most treasured possessions.) Even my partners have shared little of my life’s journey…my longest long-term relationship in my current experience is just 3 years and 3 months and about 3 weeks long, to date; although we met many years prior as colleagues we didn’t maintain any sort of connection when employment changes took us different places in life.  I’ll be 50 in less than a month. We’ve shared so little time together… how well do my partners actually ‘know me’? Hell, how well do I know myself? I have very few memories of my life before I was about 12, and those memories are really just a handful of snapshots of experiences, some of which I’m often unsure are ‘really my own’ – since many seem to be recollections ‘from the third person perspective’, as if they are things I was told about, and memorized.  (I remember trauma pretty clearly. Lucky me. lol.)  People have come and gone.  My challenges connecting well and developing relationships over time are coming home to roost as I face my half century – no one ‘knows me’ in that broad historical way that old old friends or family may share.  That is the loneliest piece of my understanding of myself – the subtle and pervasive awareness that no one really knows me, because they just haven’t been around for very much of my experience.  My dearest female friends – women I consider ‘old friends’ and who I hold more dear than most lovers – are women with whom I’ve shared less than 4 years of real-time together in most cases.  That’s a small piece of 50 years.  My longest standing female friendship is with a woman of many years association, and even that dear friendship, due to geography more than anything else, is someone with whom I’ve really only spent some fractions of a couple year’s time really in the same space.  How sad.  Sadder still that I have to get this far in life to notice the lack of historical perspective on myself, from anyone but me.  ‘Lonely’ describes the feeling, and it is a feeling I haven’t had much exposure to, honestly, or I suppose I’d have noticed sooner… it is definitely an emotion I am glad to be able to simply observe, and let go.  It is, however, a powerful life lesson on the value of connections and a reminder how little time there is to waste in life.

Less than a month from now, I will be 50.  It feels like a big deal to me.  I have some ideas about it, even what I might like for a birthday present.  What do I want for my birthday, really?  I want to be known, loved, accepted as I am for the woman I am now, and am becoming… but sometimes I don’t know if that is a reasonable desire, because of the lack of history… but damn, what would be a more beautiful way to celebrate this amazing being I am, the life I have lived, the journey I have taken and that stretches before me, or to celebrate this fragile vessel, and all that it means to be human, to be a woman, to age and grow, and gain wisdom, develop insight, and to love deeply and truly, than to feel the warmth and honor of being recognized and valued? To be understood and cherished? To be loved?  But I don’t know how to put something like that on a wish list… I don’t even know how to ask for it… I’m not sure I’d know how to recognize it and feel the weight of it with certainty. F*cking brain injury. Damned PTSD. Cursed slow march to menopause.  I hope I have a pleasant birthday, loving and feeling loved. It would be enough. More than enough.

…At least I can say I started really healing, and practicing mindfulness, and finding my own way – before I turned 50!! 🙂