Archives for posts with tag: the map is not the world

It’s a lovely Saturday. My Traveling Partner and his son are in the shop, doing things with tools and wood. I am in my studio, taking time for art, study, meditation, and writing. My second coffee is down to it’s last tepid sip, and sunshine filters through the leaves of the pear tree beyond the window. It’s a nice moment. I sit with it awhile. I don’t need more, or different. This, right here, is enough.

Nothing fancy, just a view.

I don’t know what the rest of the day holds, or the week ahead, or what next year will be like. Right now, none of that matters; I’ve got this moment, here. It’s not fancy or exciting or extraordinary. It’s actually quite simple, a bit unremarkable, and there is nothing much about it significant enough to be especially share-worthy. That’s actually why I am sharing it. We get so used to chasing “happiness”, seeking novelty, excitement, or diversion, we forget to enjoy the simple pleasant moments life offers up pretty generously, much of the time. We wonder when life feels constrained, frustrating, disappointing, or filled with futility and sorrow, why there’s nothing pleasant to rely on… but don’t often acknowledge what we did (or more to the point, didn’t) do to build that “reference library” of personal joy to reflect on, and savor in less satisfying times. I can’t honestly “help you” with that, though, aside from pointing out how much importance your presence in your own experience really has for you.

One moment, experienced thoroughly, savored in recollection. Still nothing fancy. Just a moment.

In the simplest terms, if you want an implicitly pleasant and positive sense about your experience of “life in general” – an “upbeat outlook on life” – you’ve got to cultivate that, and one sure path to that destination is to be truly present, conscious, and involved in living the small pleasant moments in life. There are verbs involved. Practice. Incremental change over time. It’s the sort of thing others will observe has changed about you, before you are wholly aware a change has occurred. Savoring the moments, however simple, of contentment, quiet joy, or everyday satisfaction, builds that database of positive feelings and experiences that become the foundation of our outlook on “life in general”. It’s not all about the extreme joys of great moments; those moments are beyond “every day”, and we know that.

One coffee, one moment – but the picture is not the beverage.

I don’t grudge myself the contented moments “just sitting” with a soft smile on my face, contemplating some little thing my partner said that warmed my heart or supported me. I don’t grudge myself the contented moments “just sitting” watching fish swim in my aquarium, or how the light streams into a particular window in a particular way. I don’t grudge myself contented moments flipping through the pictures and origin stories in favorite cookbooks. The time spent is meaningless out of context, and precious beyond measure enjoyed whole-heartedly on some small thing that satisfies. It’s not the time itself that matters, so much as what it is spent on. 🙂 Time spent content or joyful is definitely worthwhile, however simply spent. My opinion. Works for me. (Your results may vary.)

Still smiling, coffee finished, and having written a few words on a quiet Saturday… I think about the world beyond these walls, and wonder about taking a walk. Certainly, this feels like a good time to begin again. 🙂

 

Today is off to a rough start. I’m writing early, with tears on my face. This morning begins with a challenge. I’m not always ready to measure my words, to smile accommodatingly at the world, or to be prepared for things to skid sideways unexpectedly over some random thing and handle it with grace and diplomacy. I’m not that skilled or resilient, yet. I’m taking my coffee in the studio, this morning, as far from other human beings as this house permits. Fuck humans. This morning I have already had enough of people.

…That didn’t take long…

An innocent seeming remark, taken personally, wrecks what had some small shot at being a good morning. It sucks. Weekday morning. I’ve got work in a little while. I’m wreckage. God damn it this sucks all kinds of completely.  We’ve got a house guest too, on top of just sucking generally, so on top of the general sucking – we’re having an argument at 5 o’clock in the morning while a guest tries to sleep through our bullshit. Fucking hell. Not okay. On top of the stress of this, generally, I’m also deeply embarrassed by our basic rudeness.

Fuck people. Fuck relationships. Fuck having to deal with any of it, ever, at all. I am feeling bitter, and I am feeling blue. I am angry that a small well-intentioned observation that was emotionally neutral at the moment it was spoken, turned into this shitstorm of emotional sewage so early in the morning. I feel robbed of a pleasant morning. He does too, enough to make a point of expressing unhappiness that I would choose to be in my studio, writing, instead of hanging out with him, even as things are right now. (I admit, I don’t get that – I don’t even want to be around me right now.)

…I slept like shit…

…I woke up feeling cross and headache-y…

…I was already “not in a good place”…

…I’m in pain…

Realistically, I can’t put this morning on my partner. My emotions? Mine to deal with. I apologized to him. He didn’t hear me. He apologized to me. I didn’t hear him. We repeat the cycle. Eventually apologies are audible. We hear each other. We acknowledge those words. He wants to talk. To engage. To restore emotional intimacy. I want to withdraw to the safety of solitude. He feels hurt by my rejection. I feel hurt by his lack of understanding that I want to provide myself with some basic self-care right now. We repeat the cycles we’re most familiar with. Doing differently is serious work.

…I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee…

Making predictions about the day may tend to “lock in” the assumptions I’d have to make to do so. It’s a poor choice. I breathe. Exhale. Let it go. I keep at it. Breathing. Exhaling. Focusing on my breath. Letting my shoulders relax. Pulling my posture upright. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. I hear my typing cadence begin to become even. Regular. A steady beat. Less chaotic and tempestuous. There are choices here. Verbs. Effort. Will. The journey is not always an easy one. The road ahead is not always smooth under my feet when I walk it. There is no growth or forward momentum in what is easiest, only joy and contentment. My results vary. I need more practice.

…I’ve gotta admit, I do like the joy and contentment, though…

I sip my coffee. Contentment can be built. More verbs. A lot of practice. We become what we practice. What am I practicing? (I can’t do a fucking thing about anyone else’s practices, only my own, that’s just real.) Am I, as I sit here, the woman I most want to be? (I could do better.) Still human. So human.

It’s a fairly shitty morning so far. I could definitely do better. I guess I have to begin again.

…Time to get on with that…

Rain is falling today. It feels soft on my skin. I stand in it to feel that sensation. The air tastes fresh. I breathe deeply. I inhale. I exhale. I feel the rain drops spatter my skin. I am present. I hear birdsong. I feel a slow soft breeze. The breeze carries a scent of forest and flowers, and autumn. I hold this moment with such care and attention, yielding to it completely, saving it for later.

Here. Now.

Rain fell today. It felt soft on my skin. I stood in it to feel that sensation. The air tasted fresh. I breathed deeply. Inhaling, exhaling, feeling the rain drops spatter my skin. Minutes ticked by. I heard birdsong. I felt a slow soft breeze. The breeze carried a scent of forest and flowers, and autumn.

I take a moment to contemplate one lovely moment at leisure, smiling quietly. Sometimes this is enough. 🙂

 

Fog is weird stuff. We pass through it easily, still, it blinds us and alters what we see of the world around us. Try to shine a bright light directly into fog, and it becomes more difficult to see, rather than easier. So weird. So… metaphorical.

Sure is foggy… am I really so certain I know what’s hidden out there?

How many times have I driven a familiar road, blinded by fog? Or walked some foggy trail listening to muffled steps through the mist, with only my thoughts for company? Or just sat quietly, in the dense damp of morning fog, imagining whimsically that the fog held more meaning than mere droplets of water densely dispersed in the air?

Fog is a pretty good metaphor for the various thinking errors I find myself prone to, and even the “obscuring mist” of misleading assumptions that can so easily crowd out any perception of my reality in the moment. I think about that, on and off, from that first moment standing outside, early this morning, wondering if the mist were properly fog, or more likely the smoke of distant wildfires. Both, maybe. The stench of it suggested at least a considerable portion was – is – smoke. Blech.

…Maybe rain tomorrow? The weather hints at the potential. So does my arthritic back. Fingers crossed! We could use some rain. We could use a way out of the fog.

Yes, of course, it’s a metaphor. 😉

Begin again.

I’m drinking cold fizzy water. My work day is over. My Traveling Partner is in his shop, making something specific of nothing-much components – tools and knowledge make a lot of things possible. I reflect on small irritants, and things for which I am grateful, too. Sometimes the irritating things in life feel damn near inescapable. I often find that taking time to savor the things in life I cherish, and to reflect gratefully on the many many things in life that don’t irritate me, is time well-spent and a helpful anodyne to the plentiful aggravations life may throw my way.

Perspective matters.

Yesterday began well. A lovely day.

One very cool thing about perspective is that it can change. It can be willfully, deliberately, altered – by choice, if you’ve a will to choose to do so.

A strange haze began to develop, later in the morning… or was it just a trick of the light?

It’s tempting to see perspective as a single point, just one way of looking at something, or one position from which to consider things. Is it, though?

There’s definitely a haze, later in the day, and a high wind storm warning to go with it.

There’s often more than one “right answer”, more than one solution to a problem challenge, more than one way that “things go together”. On and off I keep contemplating perspective, and how best to make use of it to understand the country I live in, my own circumstances, or the strange times I find myself in. We’ve only got this one planet, and these all-too-brief mortal lives…

The otherworldly result of smoke from distant fires.

…somewhere, communities and forests and fields are burning. Fire season. Cities, too, for other reasons. It’s a very good time to contemplate perspective – and to broaden it. There’s more to understand than I can even grasp. I have another drink of water. I’m grateful for cold clean drinking water. I’m grateful for this place I call “home”. Even that sick strange orange sky – I’m grateful to be able to see the sky, and to breath the air. I read some of the news. It’s bad in some places. I put it down – it’s not new news, just words about things I’ve read before.

What are you “for”? What are you “against”? Why do you feel that way? What have you done to test your assumptions? (I’m betting you’ve made more than a few assumptions, without testing them; it’s very human.) Would you refuse to test drive a change of perspective if you knew doing so might change your thinking? What does your answer tell you about the person in the mirror?

Too many questions, and my water bottle is empty. The sky is still a crazy sort of orange that fascinates and alarms me. One way or another, we’ve got to begin again.