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

Yep. Pour me a river of strong black coffee. lol It’s already Monday.

I feel like I spent an eternity in Wonderland. What a fantastical, peculiar, love-drenched, musical magical weekend. πŸ™‚ I’m still smiling. I got to hear DJs I’d been managing to just miss over several previous events – in one case, someone I’ve been truly yearning to hear perform live (my Traveling Partner). I got to hang out fully welcomed by loving family (chosen family, cherished friends, and assorted colorful others). I got to see looks of delight upon being introduced (to a very select few) as “my wife, …” . There were hugs, and tales of adventure, and great music, and pretty lights – it was an experience outside the routine and ordinariness of my day-to-day, and this time I totally understood the draw of such a weekend, and how it might become a lifestyle for some, far more than I ever understood previously. It was lovely. It was fun. I’m still processing it. πŸ˜€

It was a weekend spent fully living each moment as present as I was able to do so. I now also Β understand how it is that my traveling partner rarely has any pictures of the events he attends; I never once thought to pull out my camera. LOL

The drives down and back were fine. Long-ish, but because the specific location was a bit further north, not at long as previous drives down. It had some fun weird surreal moments, too. I went to high school down that way, and upon seeing the gps coordinates of the location plotted on a map, I realized I would be in a (sort of) familiar area. Having the brain injury I do has some strange moments; I got close-ish to my destination, and somehow, found myself insisting (through spontaneous action) upon getting off the highway at an earlier than planned (by gps) exit. “Fuck this, I know where I am now” was how that felt, and I drove efficiently down half-familiar country roads at “local speeds”; the place names and landmarks I passed all seemed very familiar, but if asked I could not have told you were I was, nor described the route I was taking. The part of my brain driving the rest of that trip wasn’t, apparently, the part that does all the talking. LOL The trip back was similarly strange. I used my gps to set up the trip, but it wanted me to drive two hours out of my way becauseit was left set on “no highways”! I ignored it, got in the car, and drove. I figured it would recalculate the route properly once I was on the freeway heading north, at which point I’d be shutting it off anyway, and I knew the route I was taking, already. Fun and weird, and strangely empowering. πŸ˜€

Also mostly irrelevant. It was just a drive. Well, two. Two drives, and very little “traffic” except one bit on the way back, nearer to home but not quite to the exit I thought I was planning to take. I shrugged off any stress about either the pouring rain that was falling, making the roads slick (first rain in quite some time) and reducing visibility, or the traffic. I took the next exit once I hit congestion and hopped on a road that “felt” suspiciously like a good alternate route. I was right. Maybe I should be letting that part of my brain drive all the time? lol Hell, it was the ideal detour; it shortened my drive time by about 7 minutes. The weekend driving also ensured that I had ample exposure to driving and being in traffic after being tail-ended on Friday.

I think back on relating The Tale of Being Rear-Ended to my Traveling Partner, and his gentle and firm insistence that I have the bumper repaired. I have no earnest desire to follow through on that, but he’s right; keeping the car in good repair will keep me mindful of continuing to care for it. It’s a good car. Caring for my things allows them to serve me well, much longer, and reduces waste. But… I’d rather shrug it all off and just… not. This is no doubt why he made the clear – explicitly clear – gently firm reminder to definitely call the insurance and get the repair work done. Safety, too. While the airbag did not deploy, it may be necessary to check that it was not affected, and it may be necessary reset or replace something else that I’m not really thinking about that may have been damaged. It was a solid hit that did leave the impression of a license plate frame in my bumper, after all. I made the uncomfortable child lurking within my adult exterior stand quietly and listen to his reminders to follow through on this. He knows me well; he repeats the request a number of times over the weekend (any time the crash came up in conversation), knowing I will be less likely to overlook it as a result. I know me well, too; I don’t take the reminders at all personally, nor put up any defenses. I repeat the request back to him, further reinforcing it. I get home, and add it to my to do list. πŸ™‚

Wonderland seems so far away now. Like a beautiful dream. It was lovely to come home to a tidy house, and I’m glad to be home, but I miss residents of Wonderland, and the music, and the energy, and the fanciful details that continuously reminded me of all that is strange and lovely and worthy of a break in the routines. I miss my Traveling Partner and his Mad Hatter friends. I miss the rave pixies, and stranger strangers with their own tales to tell. For one brief moment my heart feels torn in two by lives worth living that seem so very separate and hard to reconcile.

Then a smile creeps over my face; the weekend solved a “problem” (more a sort of math-y word problem than a real hardship); what to do about retirement. I feel like now it is just timing and tasks and becoming ready for a moment that now feels selected, and a journey on a path that now seems subtly illuminated. Pretty wonderful, itself, and absolutely an outcome of visiting Wonderland this weekend. It’s true. I have a plan for retirement. πŸ˜€ Nah, I’m not intending to share more detail at present; it is too new for any of that. There’s work to be done, though, and some of that has already begin. πŸ˜€

I look at the time, and realize what is so obvious each morning I care to notice it; it’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€

 

Yesterday got off to a great start, and finished, rather literally, with a bang. Well, more of a crash. I got tail-ended in rush hour traffic. No “lol”, no emoji, no minimizing, no catastrophizing; I got hit from behind by an inattentive driver while I was stopped, with sufficient force to leave an impression of her license plate frame in my bumper. It wasn’t what I planned for the evening, it certainly wasn’t what I expected, but it is a thing. It occurred.

I’m okay.

It was a generally weird day that stands out a bit in a sort of “report card” fashion, because quite frankly an ever-loving-shit-ton of stuff (all super strange oddball outliers of events and circumstances) went peculiarly sideways yesterday, a lot of it rather inconsequential, some of it to do with money, all of it touching on the sorts of things that would have grievously triggered me even a year ago. I’d have been emotionally incapacitated, flooded, and completely overwhelmed by a day like yesterday. It most likely would have sent me crashing into a period of learned helplessness and despair that could last weeks, punctuated by reactive relief-seeking acting-out that wouldn’t have helped at all, probably made things much worse.

This morning, I am relaxed after a good night’s sleep. I feel pretty comfortable physically. I’m still on for my trip down to see my Traveling Partner, and don’t seem to be dealing with any significant after-effects of yesterday’s experiences. Things seem quite fine, actually. As though yesterday were entirely separate from today in every way, other than being adjacent to one another on a calendar page. So. Apparently it is possible to “enjoy” a day of utter chaos, with some destruction and loss, and yet somehow not go to pieces, not melt down, not lay waste to whatever is left to hold on to… It’s possible to do a bit better than merely survive what is uncomfortable, chaotic, and destructive. That’s some good news right there. πŸ™‚

I got hit hard enough that I felt light-headed and strange when I got out of the car. Wobbly. Worried about my back, my neck, my head – the other driver. Late into the evening I continued to wonder if the persisting headache was from being struck, or just another persisting headache like so many? This morning – no headache. That’s enough. I slept well, and I feel comfortably able to get back in the car and drive down the highway. Road trip!

Today feels like a good day for beginnings. I find myself hoping this particular day includes a big reduction in the quantity of weird shit going on compared to yesterday. lol Yesterday was a bit much to take, and I’d started to feel a bit.. hexed. Still… wow. How much more well-prepared for living life am I, that yesterday didn’t destroy me? Didn’t even blow me off course! That’s… yeah. Wow. I gotta stop celebrating at some point, though; it is far to easy (for me) to let a moment of celebration become a careless presumption that I am “entirely well” or in a place where I “don’t even have to worry about any of that”, and I lose myself in a quagmire of poor decision-making and frivolous use of resources, and find myself both accountable, and unprepared to care for myself. Like a kid taking the training wheels off their bike for the first time, then falling on their ass. I’d like to avoid that fall.

I find it best to have my moment, enjoy recognizing the progress I have made, and return fairly quickly to practicing the practices that support my wellness over time, and that meet longer term needs, and keep me on a path that supports my goals. πŸ™‚

So, this morning I begin again. Again. I make choices. I get up gently when the alarm goes off. Yoga. Strength training. A leisurely shower. I check my list and begin doing the small things I’d want done before I return home: top off the aquarium, make the bed, tidy up a few things, drop my kindle in the side pocket of my bug out bag. I look around before I sit down with my coffee to write a few words before the weekend really gets going; is this the home I want to come home to? Will I feel “welcomed” when I return? Will I be comfortably able to just walk in, set down my bag, and chill? Satisfied that I have met the needs of a future me (only days into the future, but you know, we haven’t met, yet, and I do want her to be welcome when she gets home) I relax and make an Americano.

I sip my coffee contentedly. I take a few minutes to check in with friends. I smile thinking about a moment in the office, yesterday. I’d seen a colleague looking a little… well, we’re both veterans, and he had that look of being “stuck in a different moment” and avoided eye contact. I reached out over our messaging service a little later and just asked him how he was doing? He said “I’m good”. I wasn’t sure I believed that, but it’s not necessarily helpful to pry people open like clam shells. I replied “Awesome. Big plans for the weekend?” He sent me an emoji back and commented “That’s a solid buddy check right there. I had a moment, earlier. I’m okay now” and proceeded to tell me about his upcoming plans. We shared a bit. Turned out I felt the need for some support too, but it was less obvious to me that it was to him. The power of connection. The power of relationships and shared experience. That interaction was one high point of a strangely chaotic and messy day.

I’m not sure I’ll ever fully leave some of life’s pain behind me. I don’t really expect to entirely clean up all the chaos and damage – but it is pretty fucking splendid just to be able to live my life without everything seeming to crash down, over and over and over again, like a house of cards in a strong breeze, any time something goes a little sideways. Progress. Incremental change over time. Lots of practices. Lots of verbs. Lots of choices.

Oh hey, look at the time! There’s a highway just over there… and a journey to make. I’ve got a map for this one, but even in this instance, the map is not the journey, and I have to make this trip, myself. πŸ™‚ I’m having my own experience.

It’s definitely time to begin again. See you on Sunday – in the glow of evening light, perhaps? πŸ˜‰

My evening was not ideally productive and this morning I notice that somehow the evenings this week have seemed to slip by with very little getting done, and few of my intentions being realized. It’s those damned verbs piling up like speed bumps along Β my journey, becoming unfinished (or unstarted) tasks, slowing me down. I frown at my hands for no obvious reason, as I contemplate the long list of crap I hope to get done before I get in the car and head south to see my Traveling Partner this weekend.

Damn, I love how much more I see him, now that there is a car parked in my driveway. lol In general, I don’t mind the drive, and find that I don’t lose anything by it. I find it agreeable to have two 4-hour blocks of time spent in solitude, almost in a state of meditation, driving a familiar route, seeking that comfortable state of calm and contentment, “playing by the rules” and keeping a commitment to safety. It is both a game and a journey, and I’ve yet to even turn on music. I just drive, focused on driving well and safely, and eager to see my Traveling Partner, but also not stuck on specific details like departure times, arrival times, or “being there long enough to make the trip worth it”, or any of that. I just go. Love. Return. I do it with as much presence as I am able to maintain, as continuously as I am able to maintain it.

Other drivers are analogous to “other people’s drama” on my physical road trips. I use moments of frustration to practice practices like reframing the experience of the moment based on an alternate possible understanding – changing my assumptions about other drivers can change my experience. Did that guy “cut me off” because “he’s a jerk” and “a shitty driver”? Is there a chance that he legitimately didn’t realize he’d left me so little following distance, and was perhaps, instead, feeling the pressure of that much faster car tailgating him in the fast lane and just trying to get over out of that guy’s way? Did that person who slammed on their brakes in front of me need to brake at the last minute because there was something in front of them, too small for me to see, or did they realize they missed their turn and panic for a moment? Is that person riding the center line an inexperienced driver feeling insecure at high speed?

Distracted drivers – I struggle with compassion for your experience, I admit it. Get off the fucking phone. Put down your device. Stop fucking around with the buttons and knobs you can’t quite see on the console and just… drive your damned car. lol (Yep, still human!) You get my point, though; I play some games with myself to make the narrative I create about what is going on around me less “me vs the world”, less a personal attack and more just humans being human and chaos of circumstances. Instead of those long drives being endlessly tedious, they have become opportunities to practice, to build emotional resilience, to explore what it means to be human, myself, and even to grow a little. πŸ™‚ Weekend well spent. πŸ˜€

Buuuuut… There’s still shit to get done here, before I go, to take care of the woman in the mirror, and to provide myself with the homecoming experience I most enjoy. I like to come home to an orderly home, no dirty dishes, no laundry that hasn’t been put away, no disorder, no “catching up” to do, no loose ends, bed made, carpet vacuumed… as though I care about my quality of life (which, I do). So, this evening, unfortunately, won’t be particularly relaxing, nor will the remainder of the morning; I have shit to do. lol One thing that doesn’t need doing? I don’t need to pack. I’m so glad I updated my bug out bag for regular use; it’s ready to go. I have literally nothing to pack. I’ll dress, grab my handbag, my keys, my bug out bag – and leave. It’s that effortless now. πŸ˜€ (Way to go, Me! Nice job taking care of you. ❀ )

I look over my to do list, sorting things to put stuff I can easily take care of this morning at the top. Run the dishwasher, check the fridge for things that may spoil if left over the weekend, take out the trash, make the bed, clean the toilets… Some stuff just has to wait: it’s too early for the noise of vacuuming, putting away the rest of the laundry has no excuse – I just don’t feel like doing it this morning. lol Looking over my list, thinking through the details, it’s clear that there is less of this irritating day-to-day stuff than it felt like there was, and more “bigger deal” stuff that can comfortably wait for next weekend, like hanging paintings, unboxing the last of the books, installing the new shower head, and other assorted final moving in details. What little stress I may have been feeling dissolves. There’s not even an hour worth of fussy odds and ends of housekeeping to do, really. That’s a nice feeling.

I look at the time. Sip my coffee. There are things to do. I’ve got a list. It appears to be time to begin again. πŸ˜‰

I ran into a very senior colleague yesterday. She complimented my hair, the many blues and greens of which continue to change as they age. I make a point of commenting that this, in part, is the intent, and that planning the colors includes accounting for what the selections will look like as they age together, washing out over time, and fading in sunlight. She expresses interest and we continue to talk.

It’s no coincidence that I make my living in the realm of planning things and analyzing time utilization (fascinating stuff, time and how we use it); I feel more secure, personally, with a plan in place – for pretty nearly everything. Plans are, in a sense, the future potential of new routines. At least, I see an association between plans and routines… Something to think over more another time, perhaps. I make a joke about having no spontaneity at all, only plans, plans “B”, “C”, and back up plans, fallback plans, contingency plans, emergency plans – and a willingness to refrain from becoming attached to any outcome, which sometimes gives a loose appearance of spontaneity that can be misleading. She laughs, not understanding that the humorous tone is the only joke there; the rest is legitimately part of my experience. πŸ™‚

I love anticipation – hard to relish or savor that without some planning.

I love daydreaming – and it’s super easy for a day-dream to be gently nudged over into becoming the beginning of a plan.

I love the comfortable certainty and secure feeling of having a routine, which, when included in planning just feels oh-so-super comfortable and gives a sense that I am prepared for life.

Shit goes sideways anyway, of course. Plans are overturned so easily on a single decision, sometimes not even my own (often not my own). Rolling with changes is easier with additional alternate planning already available, and back up plans to those alternate plans, and contingency plans to those alternate plans – one never knows where chance may take the journey, but it’s easy to imagine a bunch of ways that it might, and plan for those. I like to feel prepared. lol I like to enjoy the company of far more spontaneous friends, and over a lifetime I have evolved a way of coping with change that involved more, rather than less, planning to account for the unintended consequences of life’s unexpected moments. I spend rather a lot of time thinking about the future. It took a while longer to learn not to become attached to a future (that does not yet exist), while still embracing all the many options (that may or may not ever be truly within reach).

I used to suffer a lot of despair and disappointment. Attachment to outcomes, expectations, and untested assumptions is a short path to heartache. Letting go of that attachment? It’s a race track to freedom.

This morning I am looking ahead only as far as the coming weekend. I have a plan. So far it is intact, and I am daydreaming joyfully about the weekend to come, to be spent in the good company of my Traveling Partner. πŸ˜€ We spent a long while on the phone last night, intimate connected conversation about our future. About my not-so-distant-I-hope retirement. About where we each live. About what we want of life. It was lovely. It felt like a date. When I got off the phone I sat quietly for a long while, just relaxing and savoring the feeling of being loved, and planning a future.

This morning I woke with a contented smile and a calm heart. My coffee is delicious. The world (at least this small piece of it over here) is quiet. I look around me at the many things to do, to change, to craft, even a few things yet to unpack (hey, it’s a process, it takes me time! lol). I won’t be doing any of that this weekend. I look ahead to the evenings between now and the weekend; I make a plan.

This is life. It is worth living. There is much to do. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I guess it does not “go without saying” that we can care for ourselves well, and also treat others well. There are certainly some moments in humanity’s “blooper reel” that highlight how easily we lose sight of that in practice; we can be well and also do good. Apparently Marriott’s slip and fall moment involved a passenger ship, and an opportunity to rescue human beings from an island after a hurricane devastated it, with another on the way. Instead of rescuing everyone they could, they rescued only their own hotel guests, and left with capacity for hundreds of other human beings, also in dire need of rescue. Go ahead. Google it. I’ll wait.

The justification for leaving human beings behind, stranded, without support, services, and in some cases without even shelter was… “policy”. Yep. Their hands were tied by “policy”. Β Their own policy. Let’s just admit right now that we all recognize what bullshit that is, most particular in times of humanitarian crisis. “Policies” are entirely arbitrary rules made up by people to account for most circumstances, and enforced through a filter of ordinary biases and willful exception-making (when it seems expedient). Using a “policy” to justify mistreating people isn’t okay. It is, in fact, cruel bullshit. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be one of the Marriott’s of the world. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t helpful, it isn’t kind, and it has no value to anyone outside the shareholder class, who (surprise!) may profit from it financially. Fuck that bullshit. Do better. Do good.

Take care of yourself. Definitely do this. Treat yourself well – and do it because you matter, too. I found it more challenging to learn to treat myself well than I expected to; I fought myself every step of the way. I didn’t understand that mistreating myself undermined my ability to treat others well, and also limited my compassion for others. It’s been an interesting journey with the woman in the mirror. We weren’t exactly friends 5 years ago. I put up with her bullshit. She put up with mine. We treated each other badly. Β It was a daily battle to get through all of my self-imposed obligations, responsibilities, tasks and chores, and… I had nothing left for me, and wasn’t doing much of value for anyone else, as it turned out. Awkward. I was just working hard at going through the motions. Life felt pretty empty, and chasing happiness wasn’t getting me any closer to it.

Let go of a few self-imposed “rules” and “policies”! Treat yourself and others truly well (shit, that sounds like a rule, or a policy, right there… lol). No guarantees that “happiness” will follow, although I find helping people fairly gratifying personally, maybe that isn’t you (yet). We become what we practice; if you practice treating people badly, you become a bad person. Just saying.

Too many of us Marriott our way through our lives. Managing clear boundaries becomes living by a set of restrictive rules used to exclude others from our experience pretty easily. Refusing to help because it is inconvenient, or may have some potential for personal risk, says a lot about how we feel about our fellow human being – and how we feel about ourselves. How tightly swaddled in your privilege are you? Do you know the names of the cleaning crew at your office? If you’re part of the cleaning crew at an office, is it comfortable to smile and make eye contact with “the suits”? When was the last time you reached across a social or economic chasm to say hello to another human being, without regard to what they can do for you? Are you making a practice of averting your eyes from the homeless? Do you turn your back on uncomfortable strangers riding public transit so you don’t feel the pain of not giving up your seat to someone who needs it more?

No one can do “everything” for everyone. Most of us have resources enough for our own needs, our families, perhaps if we are fortunate, for our extended families as well. I get it; it feels like there isn’t enough to go around. There is though – because small gestures matter, too. Ask people in distress if they are okay. That’s a good beginning. Then listen. That’s some great follow through. Maybe you can help. Maybe you can’t help. Sometimes people need a connection more than a solution. πŸ™‚ Sometimes though, you will have the solution, and the resources, and the time, and it’s all right there… don’t be Marriott.

Our choices can change the world. Isn’t it time to begin again?