Archives for posts with tag: The Art of Being

I woke up sort of cross and stupid, and bumbled clumsily through my morning routine, until I sat down with my coffee. Most of my ideas, at that moment, were half-formed, vaguely annoyed, and wholly human. I considered unpacking my complex relationship with anger – and traffic – or bitching about some other mundanity a great many of us struggle with daily, and lost interest before the ideas even began to take shape. You see, there’s a small bird in the hedge just beyond the stoop, outside my studio window, and this bird is singing, chirping, and generally really making itself heard. First, a “distraction”, now the soundtrack of the morning; I pause, and listen.

I am now enjoying a quiet morning, with a nice cup of coffee, and the sounds of early morning traffic, and birdsong. It’s a better-than-average start to a morning. I refrain from contemplating the day ahead; I’ve got an entire commute for that. Instead, I think about my garden, and consider the weekend for a moment, and quickly return to sipping coffee, and listening to this wee bird chirping and singing, beyond the window. I wonder what woke the little bird so early, this morning?

I give myself a moment or two, to fully wake, to be more prepared for the day ahead (any day ahead, really, not just this one). I sip my coffee, feeling quite content, and at ease. I consider how I want to approach my commute, this morning… knowing it likely won’t matter what I “decide” to do; I’ll find out what I’m doing about that as I drive along, just at that moment when a decision-making turn is necessary, and I see what I did about that, in fact. lol

I guess the point, today, is fairly simple; slow down. Let go. Exist for a moment without demanding so much of yourself, or your time. Just be.

Begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m enjoying a moment. This one. It is a morning moment, served up with a side of pre-dawn quiet, and a cup of hot coffee. I woke just ahead of the alarm, uncertain, in the darkness, if it was worth trying to go back to sleep… wanting to… as I thought it over, though, the alarm caught up with me, and announced the beginning of a new day.

I sip my coffee and appreciate things. I mean, just generally. There’s no doubt life has some challenges to offer, and having experienced a fair few, I maintain awareness that there are likely more ahead; it’s not personal, it’s just living a life. My coffee is hot, well-made, tasty – and in this particular moment, right here, it is enough to enjoy it quietly. Sufficiency. Mindfulness. Gratitude. It is a pleasant start to the day.

I stay with the moment awhile longer. This coffee. This moment. Present. Here. Now. Nothing fancy or expensive to it, and “presence” is not an especially complicated or difficult practice. I let go of ruminations over past challenges. I refrain from launching my consciousness into explorations of potential future challenges. I exist in this present, right now moment, content with my hot coffee. (Maybe you prefer tea? The practice of being present and mindful does not have to change, whatever your preferred beverage! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

My thoughts drift to recent photographs; representations of recent moments. Lovely urban shots of spring. Pretty pictures of raindrops on rose leaves extended into the afternoon sunshine, sparkling as if edged with glitter. Traffic. Sunrises. Sunsets. My camera has failed me several times recently – great shots that didn’t save – but my memory does not.ย  It’s a fair exchange, I suppose. I smile, and continue to sip my coffee.

…Another day, another photograph, another moment… another memory. It’s already time to begin again.

I read a post online today that frankly offended me. Did you see it, too? It was so… well, you saw, right? :-\ Lingering outrage is a pretty common reaction. Sharing it. Talking about it. Coming back to it again and again. Writers, advertisers, and media outlets count on it; it drives “engagement” to get people mad or to offend them. Engagement means $$, or so goes the common thinking about such things. It seems to be true.

I didn’t link the post, no. That was deliberate. Why would I need to link it? Are we not offended, equally, by all the same things because all such things are entirely obvious?

LOL You know I’m messing with you there; it’s a ridiculous idea.

My apologies for messing with your head. Here’s a flower. ๐Ÿ™‚

We are each having our own experience, and the fun meme that made you laugh sooo hard that one time? Maybe that was a thing that hurt me to my very core, leaving me shaking and triggered. Isn’t that possible? Isn’t it equally possible to simple reverse the circumstances – you offended, me amused? Sure, it is. That’s the thing about being so individual, and why the idea of “equality” can be so tricky, linguistically. It’s tempting to let the abstract word games obscure our awareness that real people are really affected by… all of it. The words, the choices, the actions, the memes, the assumptions, the reactions, the excuses,ย  – every bit of all of it is part of a very complicated larger whole thing. We are human. We are all quite human. We are each having our own experience. We are unique and individual. We are a lot alike. We are all in this together. We each have to walk our own hard mile.

Are you right about what “is” offensive? Am I? Even if either of us are “right” about something we understand individually to be “offensive”, what is the value of our individual experience relative to the existence of all of the individual experiences of each of the other human beings also having their own experience? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… Don’t kill me. Don’t confine me. Don’t coerce or force me. It’s that “pursuit of happiness” that is such a challenge, is it not? Do I get to pursue my happiness in any way that undermines your ability to pursue yours? I would not expect to. Perhaps you think differently? Then what? And what of being “offended”? If I am offended by your words or actions, but those words or actions in no way do me any damage, risk my life, reduce my liberty, or stop me from pursuing my happiness…? What if it is my actual existence that offends you? Do I no longer have the right to be? It doesn’t follow that such would be the case, does it? We know better than that, at least …don’t we?

Here’s the thing about “being offended”; it’s an emotional experience. If I feel “offended”, that’s mine, and it can’t be taken from me any more than my anger or my sorrow can be taken from me (i.e.; only if I allow it); my emotional experience fully and wholly belongs to me. No one gets to tell me how to feel, how I “should”ย feel, or that my feelings are not “okay”. Having and experiencing my emotions is mine. Changing how I feel? Mine, too. People sometimes do or say things that result in my having an emotional reaction to what was said, or done. My emotions are still my own to experience – and mine to manage. It was a long journey getting to that understanding. Understanding that my feelings don’t dictate reality or obligate others to action was farther still to go. Understanding that my feelings are only feelings – sensations, emotions, perceptions – which are also exceedingly easily manipulated, was a bit farther still.

I generally don’t continue relationships with people who regularly do or say things I find “offensive” or specifically hurtful to me. I am learning over time that ending such relationships is important self-care. It’s not for me to choose someone’s values, or dictate what they may find amusing or acceptable; if I am offended by something, that is a reflective of my own values, and for me to resolve. Taking care of myself isn’t on their “to do list”. Simple enough, generally. Having taken this approach, as an individual, though, I find myself occasionally in the awkward situation of interacting with someone I’ve offended (usually with some thoughtless remark), who clearly has the expectation that I will take steps to “fix” the situation beyond a sincere expression of remorse for causing them upset, and making a point to understand their experience in context. I mean… yeah. I wouldn’t cause offense willfully, with the intent of hurting someone. That’s just mean. That’s not who I understand myself to be, at all. I am, however, capable of causing offense just by being the person I am… depending on who you are yourself, offense could occur. I’ll apologize for offending you, I surely will. Next step is for you to walk away, if there is a fundamental mismatch of values that may cause the offense to recur. Take care of you. I’m not likely going to be changing the person I am solely to avoid offending you, under most circumstances

On another hand, though, I do enjoy authentically connecting with other people, and I don’t enjoy hurting them. So, when I learn that something I am likely to do or say, particularly with any regularity, or by any preference or defining characteristic of self, is reliably offensive or hurtful to others, I take a long close look at that, and ask myself if that is who I truly want to be, and does it really reflect my values? Because it matters. Because I do care. Sometimes, I even care enough to change who I am, or how I express myself, in order to be a better human being, just generally. Sometimes, upon reflection, whatever the potential offending moment is doesn’t seem to be a thing I want or need to change, for myself, and I choose instead to stand firm on those values, understanding that my choices reflect my character, my values, and define who I am. I recognize that not everyone is going to find me likable. That’s okay, too.

My swearing, and sarcasm, are good examples to use to illustrate my point.

I swear. I swear rather a lot. I sprinkle my writing and my speech with swearing. Feels naturally expressive, and I use it as a sort of verbal punctuation. There have been times in my life when individuals of varying closeness have expressed a distaste for, or even been offended by, my swearing. I reflected on that long, and often, and chose not to change, other than refining the way I do use such language to be more limited, more specific, and less likely to be a direct attack on another person.

Sarcasm, on the other hand, once flowed from my lips like a singer’s song, and as it turns out, I’m also a bit “tone-deaf” in that form of speech. I can dish it out, but don’t understand it reliably when I hear it, and did not understand when I was much younger how easily people can be hurt by sarcasm, or how easily confused if they don’t recognize it, or at the extreme edges of the verbal form, how little difference there may be between sarcasm and, say, gas lighting or deceitfulness. It has a lot to do with whether or not the listener realizes what they are hearing is sarcasm. Turns out quite a few people, including me, often don’t recognize sarcasm when they hear, or read, it. I reflected a lot on sarcasm, and how I used it, how I received it, how I understood it – and how commonplace it is that someone else doesn’t realize what is being said could be being said sarcastically, resulting in misunderstanding. I chose to change. I rarely use sarcasm, even as humor, at this point in my life. Now and then, and usually without realizing I’ve done so until too late to reconsider, one might still hear sarcasm from me. It’s rare. Very rare. More common is to hear sarcasm in my speech and misunderstand me – because I wasn’t being sarcastic, I was perhaps, just… wrong. Or thinking I was being funny (I’m not that funny, and I have a very weird sense of humor based, primarily, on wordplay, and the layers of meanings of words). These days I try to stay very deliberately away from sarcasm. It’s hard to do well without hurting someone.

When do words matter? When don’t they? Language functions by agreement. Communication is most effective when we understand each other. We build healthy relationships most easily when we don’t use language to hurt each other. Explicit clarification of our position is more readily understood than implicit acceptance of assumptions. These things seem obvious to me. They resonate with me, personally, as fundamentals of speaking, of listening, and of being heard. I found it worth changing, to make use of these principles with greater ease. There are still verbs involved. I’m quite human. I still find it necessary to “check myself” now and then in a moment of frustration, or annoyance. Still, I have a good idea of who I want to face in the mirror each day, and what her values truly are. I make mistakes. I can begin again. I become what I practice. ๐Ÿ™‚

Work gets super busy. I get pulled in a lot of directions, and there are a lot of things to get done in a day. Life gets busy at home, too, and there are so many tasks to complete, and moments to live. A single distraction can become a cascade of distractions, and suddenly I’ve got no bandwidth for what matters most… whatever that may be. I don’t think this is unusual, and I’m pretty sure we all deal with it.

I’m sipping my coffee this morning, contemplating the distraction that is the cough heard from the other room. My Traveling Partner, awake early. Very early. No telling if he’s starting his day (seems rather early for that)… and my mind is now occupied with the distracting puzzle; do I abandon my morning writing, and routine, to just chill with him and sip coffee until the clock ticks past the usual departure time? Do I remain steadfast in my commitment to writing, and meditation? I’m not even certain, myself, which way this goes – now that I am distracted. lol

Holding my focus in the midst of distractions is still a challenge. It’s one of the things I “broke up with Facebook” over; the loss of focus it was creating in my consciousness. The cognitive “tic” that had developed over time (the compulsive checking of social media accounts) definitely interferes with my ability to focus. It very nearly destroyed my ability to watch a movie (too long) or read a book (too slow, too much work). I wasn’t willing to give those things up.ย  The “tic” is still with me; I reach out and touch my phone a lot, then realize why, and just let it go. Over and over. It’s less now than a week ago, which reminds me it will eventually be just a former habit, that has been extinguished through disuse. ๐Ÿ™‚ It is a reminder that we become what we practice – for good or not so good.

I set my sights on more constructive, suitably useful practices that help me become the woman I most want to be, and begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Life is messy sometimes. Challenges I didn’t expect come up, and I’m not always prepared. I don’t think that’s out of the ordinary. Quite the contrary; I think it’s wholly commonplace. How I deal with bullshit, turmoil, change, and challenges, defines me. You, too.

…It’s back to the “who am I?” question. lol

So… who are you? How do you tackle challenges? How do you manage change? How do you handle bullshit? How do you cope with confrontation? I think these are all the same question – and that question is a difficult one to answer in a simple way. What are the defining characteristics that make you the person you are right now? I guess the follow-up is, “is that who you want most to be?”

…Well, is it?

Today I make a journey, more physical than metaphysical, and along the way I will be this person I have become over time. I reflect on that as I dress, and brush my hair. I reflect on that without my coffee, rather oddly, choosing instead to get coffee along the way. A treat. A convenience. A part of the journey. I’m not clear on whether I am “enjoying the moment” or “getting this out of the way”. Maybe it’s both. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am eager to go – because I am eager to return home.

I’ve made this same drive so many times, to see my Traveling Partner, feeling as though the destination was “my true home”. Love is a luxurious home for my heart. Now, he’s here, sleeping in the other room… My trip this morning doesn’t feel like a journey to my home, unless I consider myself a boomerang… flung far, returning soon, to this same point. lol The relaxed evening we shared last night still warms me, and lifts my smile to my eyes.

Journeys being what they are, it’s very nearly time to get going. I consider the journey ahead, and wish myself well. See you back here tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚