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

The text this morning was to the point, although not as abrupt as I imply in the title of this post. I feel grateful that my sister is right there, with our Mother. For a moment, I imagine this stern, strong, witty woman who raised me, pushing her chair back from a crowded card table, folding a less than ideal hand, and heading into the kitchen to refresh drinks. That memory is of a lifetime ago, in a far away place, disconnected from my experience of “here” and “now”. Do I want her to “hear my voice”? “Non-responsive” doesn’t sound like she’s likely to register voices… we’ve spoken recently, and regularly – is it enough?

…We don’t have a “Book of the Dead”, in our culture… It’s a strange random thought, a forerunner to intense grief.

There are tears in my eyes. I resent them; it’s too soon. Life stretches ahead of me, while I reach my thoughts – and my heart – across great distance. Imagining her as I remember her best; in her late 30s, in her early 40s. Strong. Determined. No bullshit. Rapier wit. Iron will. I observe the characteristics in myself that I most likely got from her; my tenacious loyalty. My intellect. My commitment to being a good provider. My reluctance to walk away from a bad decision. My willingness to hide my emotions for far too long. My laugh. That same laugh that her Mother had, too. I hear Granny’s laugh in my recollection. I feel, for a moment, my Mother’s warmth – like summertime in my heart. I sip my coffee and celebrate this woman who made me.

…Grieving comes soon enough. It’s important to examine those cherished moments as treasures, with great delight, and excessive merriment, and not allow the tears to wash those away. They matter so much more than the tears ever could.

Life didn’t have a map – you did okay with that, Mom. No reason to expect death to be more difficult to master; in a sense, we prepare for it all our lives, don’t we? Striving, clinging – and learning to let go. Good fold, Mom. Safe travels.

You are part of me. My journey began with you.

I sit quietly with my coffee, remembering life with my Mom. My “origin story”. Some details are fuzzy, others crystal clear. Some moments remain painful to this day, others bring me immediate joy when I recall them. One thing is certain; she will not be forgotten. Tears later. Coffee now. I wish she were sitting here, sharing that with me, right now; I have so much to ask, and now there is no time…Β 

β€œLife should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ~Hunter S. Thompson

…And all the new beginnings that that implies…and perhaps a few more.

I put quite a bit of time, enthusiastic daydreaming, and research, into the trip I planned to take this past weekend. I never did the one thing necessary to bring it to life; I did not begin the journey. I just thought about it. LOL There’s a lesson in there. An allegory. A metaphor. A parable, perhaps. The weekend did not lack of significant XP, however; it was an adventure, a brief journey, and an interesting progression of emotions and events, nonetheless. πŸ™‚

I needed wide open space, and big sky – and found it close to home. There’s a lesson, here, too.

My birthday has been well-celebrated. A new year of life has been kick-started, decisively. There has been feasting, entertainment, the company of friends, and so much love! Errands were run. Housekeeping got done. The garden was cared for. A humble adventure has commenced.

My first orchid. A wee adventure with which to start the year.

It’s been a fast, relaxed, and delightful handful of days, in spite of news of my Mother’s decline. There will be time to process that in full, and there is no need to rush, or to force it down into a dark quiet corner of my heart. It is what it is; we are mortal creatures, and of all the things that will inevitably pass, our brief mortal lives are one of the most challenging to let go of… and then that greater challenging of letting go of those we love. No user’s guide for this one, either. I sometimes feel I am fumbling around in the dark with my emotions. I know that my emotions haven’t killed me yet. πŸ™‚ I’ll get through this, too.

I think about the beautiful broad expanse of meadow, and the scent of wildflowers on the breeze.

I smile, letting the details of the weekend unfold in my recollection. What a lovely time to share with my Traveling Partner.

Life’s pleasures don’t have to be fancy to be enjoyed. Life’s beauty doesn’t have to be costly to be lovely.

I sip my coffee. It’s Monday. I shift gears to “now” and remind myself of the path ahead. The year will continue to unfold. What will July hold? What of September? And the holiday season with my Traveling Partner right here at home? What of the future? And the unanswered questions in life?

Where does this path lead?

It’s time to find out. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Tomorrow, 56. Today? The end of 55. It’s been a very much better than average year, actually… seems worth noticing at least that. πŸ™‚ So, my grim titular reference isn’t all that; it’s just a way of pointing out this year has been filled with days, and the last of those is today.

Contrary to what the sign says, I’m pretty sure there’s more than one way. πŸ˜‰

I’m taking a few moments this morning to take stock of the year, much in the way I do on New Year’s, and with a “summer ahead” sort of perspective. It’s time to let go of lingering petty foolishness, and time to revisit old lists of shit to do, and either do what has not yet been done, or scratch it from the list and move on. It’s a good time to celebrate a year of accomplishments, personal and professional. It’s a time to “reset” on whatever I can, and move forward from “here” and on to the next year. πŸ™‚

Flowers fade, sure, and flowers open. The endings are also beginnings.

I sip my coffee and watch the sky begin to lighten, awhile. No pressure. No hurry. Just me, this cup of coffee, and this moment. πŸ™‚ I think awhile about last year, around this time. It wasn’t about me. Really – none of it was. lol I’m even okay with that. It was a year to wake up, to make changes, to move on, and to level up. I learned a lot, and sustained very little damage in the process; I count that as a win. πŸ˜€

I’m tempted for a moment to hop forward to tomorrow, ahead of time, and to contemplate the future, and being 56. I grin at myself, and let that go. Tomorrow is tomorrow; I also want to wholly experience today. πŸ™‚ The last day of being 55. I won’t be “here” again, however long my lifetime may be. πŸ˜‰

So much goes into this journey…

I glance at the clock. I’ve got time to water the garden before work, and the forecast is 95 F (35 C). The garden is so lovely this year; it was the heat that provided the magic fail sauce last year, and my frequent time away. I’ve committed to doing better this year, and clearly, here I am, ready for that…

…New beginnings still need some verbs. It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I woke early. Ridiculously early. 2:22 a.m. early. lol Doesn’t wreck the taste of my (early) morning coffee, and I am content to be here, in the early morning quiet, a bit earlier than usual.

…To be fair, I went to bed early, too, as a result of not really sleeping the night before; I was just wiped out, after a busy day of working through the fatigue, and the extra work of seeking to manage my moment-to-moment behavior in the context of shared work, all day, with colleagues I respect, and who see me as both adult, and as a management professional, well… yeah… I was exhausted by the time I got home. My Traveling Partner kindly suggested I just go ahead and go to bed, fairly early in the evening. Realistically, I was a bit too stupid with fatigue to think of that. LOL “Bed time” came early last night. I’m up early this morning. No surprise. No stress. Good coffee.

I sip coffee. Breathe. Relax. Let the stray thoughts come and go. Let fears and doubts go. Another breath. Another moment. πŸ™‚ I think back on moments from yesterday – not the work moments; the work moments will take care of themselves in the context of work, when I am in the office and on the clock, once again. Nope. Those don’t need my attention right now. Instead I am thinking back on flowers, on the scent of the early morning breeze, the smile of a friend in passing, a hilarious joke I’d already forgotten; this is a moment for building a firm foundation of emotional resilience through a favorite practice. I am “taking in the good“, and enjoying my morning coffee, contentedly.

Even the flowers in urban landscaping can become a meaningful moment of delight, contentment, and joy.

I think back to an earlier starting point on this journey, and how much misery filled my moment-to-moment, hour-by-hour, day-to-day experience of living. It often felt so entirely pointless. It was, at first, a major challenge to “find” even small moments of anything wonderful, beautiful, uplifting, joyful… and here I am, a couple years down this very strange path, and in spite of the often overwhelming seeming miseries and hardships of the world, I can find a moment of joy to savor, almost any time, almost anywhere. It’s a nice change. (Yes, of course, there were verbs involved, and a lot of practice. Worth it.)

A moment of will, a decision to “let it go”, and the choice to turn attention to something small, something beautiful… can change the character of an entire day.

I breathe. Relax. Repeat. Moments to contemplate simple beauty. Moments to savor a good cup of coffee in the chill of morning. Moments to enjoy being, without an agenda, without the stress of time or timing. Moments, so often, are enough. Stuck in a shitty one? Breathe. Relax. Let it go. Just let that shit go. Take another breathe. Sky still blue? Are you okay, right now? Another breath, another moment. Repeat as needed. Take a walk. Keep breathing. Let the stressors weighing you down fall away for a moment – you can pick those up later, if you really feel you must. Another breath, another moment. Another choice.

…I catch myself thinking about a singularly unexpected (and challenging) moment, yesterday; a colleague’s emotional investment erupting to the surface, catching me by surprise. I value their opinion, and experience. I spend a moment considering a question; what do they need to feel heard, on this? I make a point to set a reminder to follow up, to take time to listen deeply. I don’t know everything. This is a shared journey.

…Then I let that go, too, and return to this quiet moment, and this delicious cup of coffee. Soon enough it will be time to begin the day, for now, this moment here is quite enough. πŸ™‚

Initially, I wrote it off as coincidental; the rise of negativity, the more intense emotionality, the unpredictable temperament, while it could have been the new Rx… why would I assume it necessarily was? I mean… I’ve got issues. lol Then, my Traveling Partner noticed, largely by way of being hit with an unhealthy dose of it on the receiving end. Then, a couple of friends noticed it – one of them by way of the negative affect of my posture, and facial expressions. Oh. Hell. No. I am not putting myself through that. I’d only been on it a handful of weeks, and already struggling with nightmares, weird shifts in mood and/or perspective, and a powerful (slow) spiraling negativity that was definitely worsening. I follow up with appointment making, and begin to taper off of the new Rx, (after getting some relief, but not nearly enough to make the trade-offs worth it).

…24 hours later, the bleak gray “certainties” that had been rapidly becoming my perspective began to lift. Yesterday was a lovely day, and it was easy to enjoy, and the smile on my face felt real, not forced, and although I’m dealing with pain, this is me… dealing with it. So. Some better. Much better. Pain sucks, but pain along with feelings of muted despair, terrible mocking nightmares, and moody bullshit…? Worse.

I didn’t write over the weekend. I was definitely aware that my thinking and emotions were increasingly colored by this prescribed, regulated, managed, and also notably not working out well for me, personally, prescription drug experience. (I was definitely “on drugs” – which happens to any one of us far more often at the hands of a physician than a street dealer!) I’d ideally rather not drag everyone else into the muck with me. Making the choice to recognize and act upon the problematic symptoms sooner than later is merely a byproduct of being well-supported in my relationships, and having already experienced the outcome of excessive trust placed in someone else’s judgement over my own first hand knowledge, of my own first person experience. Seriously, though, if you’re on a medication with a problematic effect, please talk to your doctor – don’t just quit! Some drugs have a very particular or difficult withdrawal effect, and you’d want to be supported properly with appropriate care. πŸ™‚

I woke easily, this morning, no nightmares chasing me. The alarm was unwelcome, and honestly, I expect this on a Monday morning after a lovely weekend; I’d rather stay home, in the garden, enjoying another coffee, and hanging out with my Traveling Partner, or a friend, or the squirrels and chipmunks if everyone else is busy. πŸ™‚ Not gonna lie; I think work is highly over-rated. Still, it gives a certain structure (and cash-flow) to my day-to-day experience. πŸ˜‰

So, it’s a routine Monday, after all that, following a lovely weekend of sunny days, gardening, and running errands. I’m sipping coffee, and looking ahead to the work week. I have the thought that it will be a busy one. Then I wonder about the impact of the Google outage… holy shit a lot of everyday life goes through the internet somewhere, these days. I sit with that thought for a moment, feeling grateful I don’t have all my household electronics controlled by way of an internet connected device. I actually didn’t notice there’d been an outage until my Traveling Partner read about it on the news. lol We were contentedly busy being people, in real life. Most enjoyable. πŸ™‚

I look at the clock. Yep. Choices. Every choice I make is a whole new beginning. From the small things like “shall I have another coffee?” to the bigger things like “who am I and how do I want to live?” – the answers send my experience along a new path. I grow. I become. Journey-as-metaphor works, because it’s just so close to accurately describing what life, experienced along a timeline, is really like. There’s still no map… but these are my own choices, nonetheless. πŸ™‚ I become what I practice, and it’s time, already, to begin again.