Archives for posts with tag: test your assumptions

I carefully flipped through stacked canvases, and pictures in my archives, considering this one, then that one, understanding that as a last-minute additional to an upcoming art show just days away, I’d likely have little space. The choices matter. (Don’t the choices always matter?) After selecting several canvases, in a couple of sizes, and deciding on bringing along some work on paper, too, I set all that aside in favor of a quiet evening of housekeeping, meditation, and self-care. It was a pleasant evening, well-spent.

I stayed away from the echo chamber of public comments on the internet. I avoided the outrage-machine of news media. I managed to mostly avert my eyes from social media, generally. “Nothing to see here…” It’s difficult, over time, to continue to read filtered, reprocessed, repeated bullshit and slogans, often then repackaged as “new” editorials and memes, shared and re-shared repeatedly; repetition is learning. Eventually, that shit starts to stick in my consciousness. Fuck all that; I’m an original.

Carefully consider your opinion on some controversy (I’ll wait); how much of “your” opinion is truly the result of independent thought? How much research did you, yourself, actually do on that subject? Most people just repeat some stew of “comfortable thoughts” with which they agree, that they heard or read somewhere, or trust from their childhood education. It’s terrifying (to me) how little real thought people give what they say they believe. Our implicit understanding of the world is every bit as questionable as our explicit knowledge, and every bit as worthy of being directly questioned, with real rigor. Making an aggressive sincere attempt to “prove ourselves wrong” – based on the likely-to-be-true assumption that we are more than likely wrong about something – ensures that we understand what we say we believe. Most people don’t. Most people just fucking wander around insisting on shit they do not even understand. Such a thing can cause great damage in the world – and to real actual human beings. We can do better.

I challenge you, today, to overturn a sincerely held belief for which you have no legitimate, factual, evidence-based, support – in other words, an unsupported opinion. Pick one. Any. Just do it. Found one? Probably one you don’t care too much about, or which holds little controversy? (Minimum risk to your emotional comfort, I get it.) Okay, now go explore the “other side” of that controversy. There’s probably more than one other side, actually; false dichotomies shore up a lot of bullshit opinions. The goal here, as I see it, is to learn enough to hold a truly nuanced opinion that undermines our “us vs. them” thinking entirely, forcing us to see the world as a small dirty rock hurtling through space, one which we must share with others, because there is nowhere else (yet) to go.

This isn’t really an “easy” practice. I mean, just as an example, if you’re a male human being, you most likely still have an opinion on abortion (although why you would think your opinion should have any sway in the world of women, I do not know)… but do you actually hold a nuanced opinion that accounts for the real-life experience of actual women? Like… all of us? From everywhere? Do you have your own first-hand experience of having had to make the choice whether or not to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy? Quite probably not. Plenty to explore there, opinion-wise. (Are you mad, already? This is just an example… take a breath.)

If you feel emotions rising just listening to someone’s opinion, particularly when it does not agree with your own, there’s a very real chance you are not acting from a place of reason, at all, but instead reacting to shit you accepted as a given, and memorized, so long ago you know longer recall where those “opinions” came from – definitely question that sort of knee-jerk emotional reaction to the world. lol That’s not a reliable approach to understanding those around you, at all. Myself, I find that if my emotions attempt to lead the conversation, it’s a great time to shift gears and ask more questions; there is much I do not know.

I do know three things I can count on pretty solidly, though…

  1. Very few things in life break down into two neat categories; most things are not properly definable as dichotomies (without seriously lying to oneself).
  2. I can do better today than I did yesterday.
  3. I can begin again.

Ready?

Our choices can change the world. It’s time to do better. It’s time to begin again.

Let’s not talk about yesterday. Well… we could, but if we do, let’s only talk about the best bits, the fun of it, the things that worked, how we overcame a challenge, why we’re feeling good about the future – and if we don’t have any of that to appreciate, let’s take a moment to be right here, right now, and just breathe through the things weighing us down. It’ll pass.

I woke earlier than the rest of the household. I indulged in a rare (for now) luxury; meditation without a timer, on my cushion, in the patio doorway, watching the night become dawn, and unfold into day. Almost two hours later, I made a cup of coffee, feeling nurtured and enriched. I needed that so urgently.

My emotional resilience begins to erode quickly without my meditation practice; I don’t withstand the continued onslaught of human emotions, drama, assumptions, projections, noise, or even endure the ongoing presence of other consciousness’ very well without literal every day meditation. Having a house guest, and my traveling partner staying over, and parties breaking out at my place before I even get home from work has meant that I don’t have the quiet time I really need with any reliability, right now. This too will pass. I’m not even bitching – I get to spend a wonderful amount of time with my traveling partner. I don’t grudge him his human moments. We all have them.

He has his own perspective.

He has his own perspective; he’s having his own experience.

My walk this morning took me, new camera (phone) in hand, around and through the park. Autumn is showing up everywhere. It was lovely, and time well-spent. It’s enough.

Autumn is here.

Autumn is here.

Today is a good day to is a good day to breathe, and to practice. Today is a good day to begin again.