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

Well…

…55, eh? Okay, let’s do that, then. Hardly avoidable without drastic, unpleasant measures, easier – far easier – to go with it.Β  πŸ™‚

My plans today are fairly loose, and more “about me” than not. Some self-indulgence, some chill time, some phone calls, a walk in the woods, lunch out, some pampering, all suffused with the additional luxury of this being a “work day” in the middle of the week, which I’ve taken off for no purpose but to enjoy this moment celebrating my survival.

Birthday Flowers

I’ve made it to Level 55, y’all!!! OMG!

I made an unfortunately shitty cup of coffee after my shower this morning. I’m drinking it anyway. The mug is warm in my hands, and I’m frankly grateful for the luxuries of potable water, an electric kettle, and very fresh, carefully roasted, whole bean coffee. I mean, seriously, bitching about a less-than-ideally-well-made cup of coffee would amount to nothing more than inconsiderate rudeness to the woman (me) who took the time (mine) and made the effort (also mine) to make it in the first place. lol I suppose I could have dumped it out and started over. It just wasn’t that big a deal this morning… and I think maybe I get extra experience points to also enjoy this moment, present and aware – even aware of the less than excellent cup of coffee. πŸ˜€

This is a day on which I’ll spend considerable time reflecting on the “XP” accumulated along life’s journey. I’ll contemplate Level 54, and wonder if I missed really cool “side missions” that could have benefited my personal growth later on. Did I overlook any fun Easter eggs? Have I failed to appreciate the profundity of one circumstance or another? I’ll look ahead in the game play, as much as I am able, and try to sort out Level 55 before I get going in earnest… What does the map look like? Where are the obvious hazards? Which “short cuts” waste time and resources, and are best avoided? Are there known strategies that work better than others? What are my resources, my limitations, my skills – what is my plan? In every life-level, there is some moment, or event, or “bad guy” to conquer (there’s a reason games are a great metaphor for living)… what form will it take? What will the important lessons turn out to be?

In the game of life, we don’t really get to repeat a level…but… it’s possible to half-ass a level so thoroughly that very little is gained (or even to “fail” it at great cost to ourselves), or find we’ve wasted our time such that we don’t really have any XP to show for it at all, and just sort of ooze over the finish line into the next level without much in the way of progress. We can’t really level up prematurely, either, but we can gain so much XP in a single level that the level becomes peculiarly, radically transformative. Sometimes we expect levels to have that kind of importance… 18… 21… 30… 40… and sometimes they don’t, in spite of our expectations (lookin’ your way, 40). 55? This isn’t a level people spend much time talking about… I wonder what surprises await me?

…55 doesn’t seem particularly noteworthy, aside from simply being here; as a much younger woman, I did not anticipate getting this far in the game. 55, from the perspective of 20, seemed “old” (in spite of being only 35 levels ahead of me)… now it just seems… well, not old, that’s for sure. I wonder where the day – and this level – will take me? So far, at approximately 2 hours of game play on this level (already)… it’s a level full of questions, and speculation, and it’s not very difficult (yet). LOL

There is this lovely day ahead of me, a blue sky overhead, birdsong, sunshine, and plans for lunch. It’s a good start. I guess I’m ready to press “Start” and begin again…

I often think of life as a metaphorical garden. (Isn’t it?)

I sometimes stray down the path without tending the garden.

The healthy tilth is a good starting point; planting seeds in crags and rocks may not yield a generous crop of fruits, vegetables, or flowers. Understanding what is fertile ground, and how to prepare ground for planting has value.

Composting scraps and garden waste skillfully results in more fertile soil… but which scraps are suitable, and which will ruin the compost? Not all that is waste or scrap is worth keeping.

Lush and beautiful, chosen with care. We reap what we sow, and how we tend our garden matters.

Choosing seeds and plants with care, understanding the climate, and the seasons, locally, in my own garden, really matters; however fertile the soil, planting something that can’t thrive in my climate puts my garden at a disadvantage.

A weed in one context may be a crop in another.

Taking care, every day, to nurture my garden, to fertilize when needed, to water, to cut back spent blooms, to weed out noxious or invasive intruders that consume resources, but yield nothing, matters greatly over time. If I am not present, some plants may thrive, willy-nilly, coincidental to the luck of the rainfall and the weather, but the outcome is left to chance – other plants will wither and die. My harvest may not be plentiful. My blooming season limited.

My roses suffer my lack of attention; this is true of most things that require attention.

Self-care works very much in this same way. I don’t suppose I need to spell it all out more factually – if you already keep a garden, you already get it. πŸ™‚

My results vary, as does the weather.

I haven’t been home much, lately. Most weekends I am away. I travel to see my Traveling Partner, catching up with him wherever he is. I travel to see friends. I travel for this or that event or festival. I travel on a whim. I catch myself yearning to be at home, in my own garden…

…Yes, it’s a metaphor. πŸ™‚

This weekend I am at home. I am in my own garden, tending it with care, making up for lost time, present, and appreciating this moment, right here. It’s enough to be here, now, and there is no need or time for self-criticism, or what-ifs, or if-onlys. This is now, and now is enough, and I am here, enjoying it with the woman in the mirror – who has been missing this quiet place, and time.

Be present. See wonders. Experience the moment, fully.

The morning started slowly, and auspiciously enough; I slept in. I woke gently in the twilight of a new day, the room turning light in spite of the curtains, as day broke. I got up. Showered. Found my feet carrying me toward the car as soon as I was dressed. Coffee-to-Go and a breakfast sandwich on a hilltop looking out across the countryside, with a view of Mt Hood beyond. Bare feet. Damp grass. Contentment. No firm plan, and coffee finished, I found my way to the farmer’s market, then heading home with fresh local strawberries, fully ripe – the sort one never finds in a grocery store. The scent fills the car.

I arrive home, smiling so hard my face hurt, in spite of the peculiarly moody dark sky, threatening imminent rain (that has only now started to fall, some hours later). I make a Turkish coffee, melt some chocolate, and feast on strawberries dipped in warm chocolate, sipping coffee, in my garden. I raise my cup cheerily at a robin who joins me, watching me from the deck rail. There is work to do in my garden, metaphorical or otherwise, and I have been away far too much for my own good. I finish my coffee, then finish the spring planting, finish the weeding, finish the watering, just in time to head indoors before the rain comes. I leave a strawberry, fat, juicy, and fully ripe, on the deck rail… in case of visitors. πŸ™‚

Rain is definitely coming.

Inside, my metaphorical life-garden greets me, and here too there is work to be done. Untidiness has crept in, a corner here, a stack of paperwork over there, a piece of gear that was not put away, a book askew from all the rest, a stray sock left where it fell, unnoticed, and so much laundry that very much wants to be put away… I’m still smiling. It’s a good day to begin again. πŸ™‚

We can so easily do “society” and “social contract” and “social network” better than we do. We have the best possible raw materials for it; the greatness among us. Have you ever sat in the company of your smartest, wittiest, most competent friends, and wondered… “how did the world get hereΒ with these people in it?” I have. I did a bit of that yesterday, enjoying deep conversation, meaningful, topical, varied, insightful – with people of experience, heart, intellect, and will to drive change. How did we fucking get here??

The day was well-spent in the company of long-time friends of great intellect and consideration. We sat outdoors late into the evening, at a cafe, mostly drinking water and talking. Occasionally someone would order something (it’s the proper thing to do). We sat down around 3 pm, my good friend The Author and I. Later another friend joined us, and he and I continued our conversation for hours – The Author had an errand to run elsewhere, leaving us behind to catch up on old times and find out more about these people we had become over the years. The Author returned some time later, and we were all joined by still another old friend. We talked into the twilight and beyond the fall of darkness. We could have saved the world last night, if anyone else had cared to get on board. lol It’s the way of things; there really are people who know how, truly, to “save the world”, unfortunately for the world, the rest of humanity has no intention of following a wise plan. Ever. Too busy being greedy, self-serving, cruel, and destructive. Sad really – we’re a pretty cool species, otherwise.

I fell asleep still dressed, exhausted by a day in the blazing sunshine (no sun burn, yay!!), filled with visiting friends, and grand adventure. I woke with the earliest hint of dawn, and returned to sleep. I woke a bit later, and went back to sleep again. No reason to get up super early… I slept in.

I woke gently some time into the morning, but the highway beyond the motel was still quiet. Yoga on a rock. A cool refreshing shower. An icy coffee, creamy and rather too sweet, full of ice crystals like an unexpected frappe… the tiny fridge is set much too cold. LOL Refreshing.

The Author has to try to run his errand again this morning, early. I opted to stay behind (though I now wonder why). The morning is gentle and lazy, and easy on my spirit. I watch the sun continue to rise, feeling the cool morning breezes fill this odd place. I am barefooted. Relaxed. Contemplating a second coffee while I half-wait to hear from friends about breakfast, or brunch, or hanging out. There is a party, later, and it isn’t at all about me. More friends to connect with, to hang out with, more children to meet before they stop being children anymore.

It’s a beautiful morning. We didn’t save the world last night, maybe we’ll get to it today? It’s a good day to save the world. If we all worked together we could manage it – by relying on the greatness among us. There is so much of it. What about you? Are you the person you most want to be? Are you making the world a tiny bit better every day you live, simply by being who you are? If not – why not? These are important extra credit test questions on the final exam in life’s curriculum. Yeah, it’s a test. All of it. Are you going to get a passing score?

It’s an open book test. It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜‰

Hell, not only is this not about “perfect” – it’s not even about “better than you” (and I’m not). I’m walking my own path. I’m made of human. You’re made of human, too. We can help each other out, do better in a shared effort, as a community of humans, or… not. I’m going to do better than I did, generally, every day ahead of me that I can. It’s an effort of will, and requires awareness. I’m not perfect. Being fully made of human, I’m not sure I can even know the form of “perfection”, or aspire to whatever that may be – but I can “better myself”. You can, too, if that’s your choice. The way I see it, if we care to make it so, it can be a shared process among connected individuals, in our families, communities, schools, and tribes. “A social contract”, if you will. Oh hey – that’s already a thing. We already make those agreements as a culture, every day, from the Constitution, to our traffic laws.

We can do better. So… Let’s do that.

Where can we begin? Wheaton’s LawΒ (“don’t be a dick”) is a good starting point, I rely on it heavily, and I do my best to comply with it until it feels almost like a law of nature, more than a suggested rule of personal best behavior.

Another extraordinary improvement, generally, for me, has been learning consideration. That’s a harder one. I see so little of it around me day-to-day, I’ve begun to wonder if it amounts to “advanced adulting”. It means what it says; consider your words, your actions, your thinking, your intention, your purpose – give all the things due consideration. Consideration is the opposite of both thoughtlessness and callousness, and is an extension (and increase in depth, perhaps) of courtesy, politeness, and “manners”, but without the rigid rule-setting. “Manners” sort of require that you have an understanding of what to do in a given situation, you see, and consideration more easily allows one to roll with changes and remain well-mannered, even in circumstances you have no experience with.

Words have meaning.

If you’re laughing when you tell people you’re “a dick” and proceeding to humorously treat people poorly, you’ve probably missed on both Wheaton’s Law and consideration. You may want to take another look at that; is this who you truly hope to be?

If you’re a white person, and you still think saying “the N word” is amusing, or acceptable in any way, at any time, for any white person… yeah, you may want to check yourself. You’ve definitely failed on both Wheaton’s Law, and consideration. You may have overlooked that what you think about that word is not the salient point,Β at all.

If you’re a male human being, and you are still treating women as property and denying them agency and humanity (dude, seriously? it’s 2018), yep, you know where I’m going with this – you could do better. It’s neither compliant with Wheaton’s Law, nor is it considerate. Actually – it may well be the rotten core at the heart of our cultural apple.

How is it we’re all still working so hard to build good lives, as good people, and managing to fail to be good people so often? When do we change that? When do we each embrace a desire to become the human beings we truly want to be? I think it’s in the mirror, personally. I know that when I am focused outward on what you could do to change, I am not thinking so clearly about what I want to do to change. It’s not that it’s an either/or thing, but… it’s pretty easy to stop doing the work, and if my effort and attention are on your behavior, it’s probably not on mine. πŸ™‚

This is a disturbing, rather sad, trend line.

…I do look up once in a while, and see what the world is up to. I’m occasionally taken by surprise to hear a man I hold in high esteem say something vile and heinously insensitive to, or about, women. Gross. I’m shocked into speechlessness that quickly becomes pity and disappointment when I hear white people using “the N word” as though they don’t understand how incredibly disrespectful and insensitive that is, and how much hurt that word contains. I’m puzzled when I observe seemingly good friends treating each other really really badly – causing actual emotional damage to each other, and then forcing themselves to laugh it off in a way that highlights the mutual discomfort. What the fuck, folks? Do better. Just.Do.Better. It’s not hard.

Here are some easy steps to doing better as a human being – trust me, this works:

  1. Consider your day yesterday, and any awkward moments, uncomfortable moments, and moments when you said/did something you didn’t feel really good/comfortable about.
  2. Don’t do that any more.

Wow. Change is easy! Wait, you don’t like the steps to be so personal, or self-critical? Okay, okay, I can work with that too:

  1. Consider a moment when you recently had to set a clear boundary or express one more firmly with an associate, friend, family member, or stranger.
  2. Don’t do that thing you pushed back on, yourself, going forward, to any other human beings.
  3. Respect their boundaries, too, when they set them with you.

So easy! Still too personal? (Hey, I get it, it’s “not always your fault”, sure…)

  1. Read something online.
  2. React to that thing in an unpleasant way in which you find yourself silently objecting to the reported language/activity/behavior.
  3. Don’t do that thing, use that language, or model that behavior, yourself.
  4. Indefinitely.
  5. Set boundaries about it with others, don’t be complicit in poor behavior.
  6. Keep practicing.

Change isn’t hard. It’s a choice. There are verbs involved. Perfection isn’t a thing. Practice is required. We’ve all got to begin again. And again. Our results will vary. We become what we practice – good and bad. When we work on it together, we get ahead faster. Funny how that works.

Are you ready to begin again? I know I am. I’ve got work to do, to become the woman I most want to be.