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

My coffee is tasty. The house is comfortable in the pre-dawn chill of a summer morning. The air quality is still pretty poor as smoke collects in the air from distant fires. My mind is more or less… blank. I’m not quite awake yet, at all. I take another sip of my coffee and stare at the screen. It too remains “a blank page” for some minutes before I finally just drop that into the title field, and sit quietly, drinking coffee, aware.

This is not an unsatisfying moment. I am not feeling frustrated. (I chuckle as I write those words, immediately hearing my Traveling Partner’s voice replying in my head “Well, how are you feeling?”) I am feeling content. Just that. This moment does not seem to require more.

We create our experience with our choices, and our understanding of it is a carefully crafted narrative we make up ourselves, that may or may not accurately reflect the details of our experience (or any other – we’re seriously really good at making shit up and convincing ourselves it is real). This particular experience, here, now, is built on my choice to relax and accept that I may not have anything noteworthy to write about this morning, and to fall back gently on “just putting words on a page”, “thinking out loud”, in real-time, unedited and uncensored. I smirk at myself using the word “uncensored” in the context of this particular morning; there’s nothing about the morning thus far that would require, or benefit from, censorship anyway. πŸ™‚

I’ve caused myself so much stress, anxiety, suffering, and heartache, just by insisting that I do more, faster, so often. The arbitrary performance standards we set for ourselves (and each other) often have no basis in what works, or what matters most. Sometimes they are just numbers pulled out of thin air. Why let life become stressful over made up shit? Seriously. Same with our internal narrative; we often make up a story about our experience that is based on untested assumptions, unvoiced expectations, and wholly unrealistic fantastical details that are in no way factual – then we let it stress us out. (Note: consider not doing that!)

This morning begins another work day. One more after that, and it’s the weekend again. πŸ˜€ I’m ready for it… but first, I have to live today, in this moment, present and engaged, and doing both things and stuff. lol Have to? Get to.

…It’s already time to begin, again. πŸ˜€

Wednesday. I’m already eager for the weekend ahead. I am thinking about the down and back drive to see my Traveling Partner this weekend. Different car. I try to remember why, exactly, I’m making the trip… and even though I do have a clear recollection that it is a purposeful journey, I don’t recall why I’m making it, beyond the pure joy of the drive, and a visit with this delightful human being I so adore. It is a source of mild amusement that I am eager to make the drive. I haven’t been, generally, aside from being eager to see my partner, always. It is in the context of the new car that I find my eagerness to make the drive, specifically… Which gets me thinking about context, generally.

I let my mind wander a bit, thinking over “context”. I don’t get anywhere particularly useful, today. I fall back on listening to the early morning commuter traffic begin to pick up, out there beyond my window. Yesterday’s commute, the first one in the new car, was… fine. It was just fine. It was fairly effortless, although still punctuated with occasional stupid bullshit (or at least decisions that appeared, from my vantage point, to be fairly stupid, probably bullshit, based on context), and I even found myself simply enjoying the drive. Does the car make that much difference on the quality of the journey? I guess it could – in a journey taken by car. lol

I sip my coffee and consider the day ahead. I do so a little reluctantly. I have some errands to take care of either during the day or after it ends, and somehow… I don’t feel like it. LOL I’d much rather laze about barefooted thinking about my “boyfriend” and enjoying summer. The work day ahead looms over my reluctant consciousness this morning. I am thinking about summer drives on country roads, and picnics, barbecues, and house parties. I am thinking about friends, and love, and joy. I am thinking about that feeling of liberation that I feel on a Friday evening, or a Saturday morning – no work, no school. If I could sort out the logistics, I would definitely take the rest of my adulthood off. LOL

The last swallow of coffee, another glance at the clock, in the context of an ordinary Wednesday morning. It’s time to begin again. I take a breath, which becomes a sigh. There will definitely be verbs involved – my results may vary. πŸ˜‰

Change takes time. I mean, obviously when change is forced on us, some parts of change and changing, and certainly the requirement to do so, can hit us with real force in a very immediate way, no doubt about that. What I am pointing out is more that the skillful adaptation to change takes time. I roll with my changes as skillfully as I am able to, in the moment, but it does definitely take me some time to “get used to the new normal”. The experience of “change taking longer to get used to” is something I recognize as part of my TBI and the day-to-day realities of dealing with it, but it is also an experience most people likely have to one degree or another.

When I moved from the smaller apartment (#27) to the larger one right on the edge of the park (#59), the very specifically mirror-imaged kitchen messed with my head for months; I just kept clawing at the wrong side of the doorway for that damned light switch. It was the better part of a year before my brain finished making that change. Even with practice, some things change really slowly.

There’s a different car in my driveway this morning than there was 10 days ago. I was only getting started on getting used to commuting on transit, again. This morning, it’s back to commuting by car, but the car is different. This is no small thing, but it’s also no big deal. It’s both noteworthy and inconsequential. It likely will be somewhat different; the car handles quite differently. Sounds different. Feels different. Surrounds me differently. There are different features to learn. Different placement of some things, compared to the car I’ve been driving. Some things feel more natural than in the sedan. Other things feel quite strangely placed, as though the manufacturer “doesn’t know me at all”. (It’s mostly more comfortable and familiar-seeming than less, though, which is nice.) The new car is a first for me with this manufacturer, actually. A Mazda. Funny how much difference small changes make. They add up, too. It means driving very mindfully is a thing I need to make a point of for some time to come. I can’t really rely too heavily on implicit memory right now; I have none that applies to this vehicle. lol

One very telling thing? I regularly catch myself humming an old Queen song, “I’m In Love With My Car“,Β  when I am thinking about this car. lol It’s been awhile since I had a car that I felt that way about, myself. πŸ™‚ I’m almost excited to drive to work today. For me, with the injury I have, that also means being very mindful and present is a huge thing, especially the first few weeks driving this car; it’s my one way to keep excitement from resulting in inattention or poor judgement, which can be a common enough result of being overly eager or excited about something, for me.Β  I’m definitely excited to be driving it. So… a good choice of vehicle? πŸ™‚ I mean… it’s not a powerful luxury sedan (they tend to be a bit outside my comfort zone, and always feel sort of… huge), nor is it a fantastical beautiful sports car sort of machine (which, I’ll admit, I adore on this whole other level, but the driving of which bring out personality traits I don’t find are my best)…but, it’s every bit of the machine I find myself wanting most, day-to-day: nimble, quick, and capable of going where I want to go. I smile when I see it there in the driveway.

Some of the fun in life is about change. Every change is a new beginning. A “do over”. An opportunity to become more the person I most want to be. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad I’m getting over this head cold, too; it’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee wondering why it tastes crappy this morning, and smile at the recollection of the numerous friends who would likely point out that it could be simply that it is coffee. Having a… “fondness” for (addiction to?) coffee isn’t something everyone has, wants, or seeks out. Coffee, sometimes, tastes like some rare combination of cardboard and tobacco tea. lol It’s not always flavorful and delicious, especially preferring it, generally, black. This morning, this cup of coffee tastes a bit like… coffee filter paper that’s had one cup of coffee run through it, the grounds dumped out, and then refilled with crushed dandelion stems, and some sort of bitter tea has resulted from this process. Only… I don’t really taste “bitter” in any clear way, so… just… not good. lol

…I could set it aside and not drink it, I mean, if I weren’t concerned about the headache that would come later today… or… yeah. Okay. I know, I know. It doesn’t make any sense. Why would I continue?? This is addiction. It’s how it works. I take another sip of my coffee…

…I drink rather a lot of coffee, and sit with that for a few minutes, just thinking about that, and taking stock of how skillfully I am/am not managing that addiction? (Addiction is what this is. The legality is not relevant to the chemistry.) My consumption over the past year has crept up to a very steady “3 coffees”…but… it had reached a point at which those “3 coffees” were all quad shot beverages. lol Oops. That’s a bit much, and even with ensuring my consumption is all in the morning (unless willfully and explicitly to support a late night), it is enough to interfere with good sleep. I’ve already cut way back to just “3 coffees”, meaning, just three actual coffee beverages (and if any one of those is an espresso drink, it only has a double shot in it). My coffee habit, over the years, has required some vigilance. Every now and then, it’s important to notice “how bad it has gotten” and take a step back, adjust, and put myself back on track with what I am really comfortable with. I recall one point in my 20s when I literally (no kidding) walked around more or less always with a coffee cup in my hand, and drank generally nothing else.

This particular cup of coffee is actually really quite remarkably bad. Wow. If they were all likeΒ this, I probably would not drink coffee at all.

I let my mind wander to other things. My Traveling Partner somewhere out in the world… The day ahead… Car shopping… The heat of summer… I sip my coffee and enjoy the quiet morning. It hasn’t mattered whether the coffee actually tastes good, not for a really long time. Not really. Sure, the coffee thing is what it is, and what it is, is that I’m addicted to coffee. I’m even okay with that. It’s a moment. A ritual. A part of a stabilizing morning routine that begins my day slowly, encouraging me to take the time to really wake up (and helps a bit with that), before I face the world.

…It does need some awareness and management, that’s just real.

My aching back is back to being more about my arthritis than injury or muscle soreness. Pain sucks, regardless, and I welcome any lessening or reduction in it. I enjoy the moment of “feeling better” without pointing my consciousness back to the pain itself. I find that focusing on the pain, and becoming invested in the emotional experience of the pain, in the moment, tends to amplify it, and I really don’t want to add that to my day. I breathe, relax, and let the awareness of pain, generally, fade into the background. I won’t lie; it’s not a perfect solution. I still hurt. I’m just not letting pain pwn my day. πŸ™‚

I finish my coffee and look at the clock. The world goes on being the world. People are still people. Buses are still running. Commuters are still rushing across town. Work is still something that occupies far too much of the time of far too many people. Too many other people don’t have enough work to support their quality of life needs (because, keeping it real, too many jobs don’t pay a living wage at all). There is still a need for balance. There is still a search for it. Life is a process, and a verb. Active. Changing. Real. Filled with choices.

There is time to begin again. There is time to become the person I most want to be. There is time to change the world. There are verbs involved. Ready? It’s time.

Timing is a thing. It’s morning again. I’m rather aggressively slurping my coffee. There’s less time in the mornings, and I am feeling grateful that I started waking up at 4 am weeks ago (months?). I still get an hour for myself before it’s time for feet to hit pavement, and head to the bus that will take me to the office. I’m not complaining, just noting the change to my routine, and to my timing.

I exchange a few words with my Traveling Partner. I am very much missing him. I think about love for some little while. I try not to count the minutes. πŸ™‚

The walk to the bus stop is easier each day as my body gets more used to it, and my brain gets re-calibrated to the time it takes to get to work. The commute is basically doubled in duration, in both directions, and the bus is crowded in the afternoon, on the way home. I’m not surprised by these things, they are merely characteristics of the new normal.

All the way home, each evening, I consider the things I am going to get done once I arrive. I get home too tired for any of that. This, too, is familiar. Yesterday evening was fairly skillfully done. I managed to stay fully on track with my self-care stuff, and even enjoyed the evening quietly before calling it an early night and getting some sleep. I slept through the night. I woke to the alarm. Getting up was harder than usual – I really wanted to sleep on. lol I tried to convince myself it is Saturday (it’s not; it is Wednesday) and almost went back to sleep. So unlike me.

Finally acknowledging, regularly and out loud, that I have been pushing myself too hard allows me to also admit I need more rest, like, seriously. I’m looking forward to sleeping in Saturday, in spite of knowing I’m likely to wake with the dawn, anyway.

There’s really nothing profound about any of this, and the common truth of life is that much of it is mundane, ordinary stuff, lacking in profundity or significance. A good night’s rest still matters, though. A good cup of coffee (if you’re into coffee) still satisfies. Routine is routine. Average is average. Ordinary is what most moments and days are made of – that’s not only “okay”; it provides the framework to understand the extraordinary, and recognize significance of moments that are indeed profound. This morning is not that. It’s just morning. That suits me just fine – it’s enough.

I smile quietly and swallow the last of my coffee, my eye on the clock. It’s already time to begin again. More verbs. My results may vary. πŸ™‚