Archives for posts with tag: the real folk blues

This morning starts gently. The promise of every new day is a new beginning. Even in the time of pandemic, every dawn begins a new day (so far…). I start the morning with meditation, yoga, coffee… and this peculiar beautiful strange celebration of what is human. I love this video version of The Real Folk Blues. I’m not certain I can be clear about quite why. It isn’t the “original version”. It’s one created by artists (during the pandemic) inspired by that original for reasons of their own. It reminds me that even our struggles – maybe especially our struggles – create moments of profound beauty, wonder, and power in our experience. Anchors created in our memory that tie us to events, places, people, experiences… good or bad, lost or found; our hearts beat to these rhythms. Pieces of “who we are”.

Poetic musings and a bit of music, a cup of coffee, a sunrise… there are worse ways to start a day. πŸ™‚

My mind wanders through recollections of recent special moments. Like light and shadows, reflections on water, or catching sight of a finished painting with completely new eyes, the memories are meaningful to me, in a fleeting moment, the significance easily lost if I “overthink” them. There have been some lovely moments during the move, and yes, during this time of pandemic. I sit with those, sipping my coffee, insisting that my restless mind pause and focus on what is sweet, and merry, and good, and uplifting. Love and loving, and what matters most. The things I want to characterize my day-to-day experience. I pause not to celebrate those experiences so much as to savor them, and “lock them into” my implicit memory and experience of life “generally”. The wellspring of my positivity and fairly reliably good outlook on life, these days, is, I suspect, rooted in this one simple practice. It’s not “mine” – I learned it elsewhere. Here’s a great explanation of how to “take in the good”. Your results may vary. (We become what we practice.)

It’s a good morning for coffee and sentiment. Such a human thing. What’s so special about being human? I’m not even certain that it is special… there’s not much I can know about “the life of the mind” for a turtle, an ant, a hummingbird, or a house cat. I only know what I know – and that’s such a pitifully small amount of knowledge, even among human primates, that it can be a bit of a downer now and then. I queue up another favorite song, sentimental, encouraging, and very human. I smile while silly sentimental tears spill over for no obvious reason. Also very human. Also totally okay.

Perspective matters.
“Emotion and Reason” acrylic on canvas w/ceramic and glow 2012

Another day. Time to get on with another beginning. πŸ™‚ What sweetness and wonder might today hold? Time to find out… If things go wrong, I know I can begin again.

I sip my coffee and watch a cool video on a Wednesday morning, reflecting on the small wonders and good moments that have sprung forth during the pandemic…

this video, for example

I know. It’s a small thing, to see a group of musicians overcome the limitations of being socially distanced and stuck at home. So many small moments of unity. Candles in the limitless darkness, eh? Still, it’s something. Don’t forget to pause for beauty. Listen to a favorite song, sung a new way. The moments matter.

Have you been outside? I mean, at all? Taken a walk in the sunshine? Stood in your yard looking at the sky above you? For sure, it’s a poor time to gather in a large group in a bar, on a beach, at a club – I’ll pass, thanks.

There’s a lot going on in the world, in spite of the pandemic. There are things to celebrate – there are also things to protest, to mourn, to regret… there are songs for that, too. Sometimes, the same songs suffice.

Take a moment. Take a breath. Be present in your life – in your moment – every precious moment of our all-too-brief lives has something to teach us.

I sip my coffee, reflecting on life, on love, on my good fortune, in this moment, right here. It’s enough.

I look at the time. Still time for coffee with my Traveling Partner, if he’s up for it. I feel fortunate, indeed; there’s still time to begin again. πŸ™‚

The morning unfolds quietly. I sip coffee, watch a couple videos. There’s some amazing pandemic content, honestly. Like this. I mean, maybe you’ve got to be a fan of Cowboy Bebop… πŸ™‚ Hard times produce great art. Great art is often about hard times. I feel fortunate to be an artist, myself.

Yesterday was a good day, busy with work, busy with life, and a relaxed leisurely evening of love and conversation to finish it off. I can’t bitch about any of that. I sit here with my coffee and a smile. It’s enough. I mull that over a bit. I didn’t understand “sufficiency” for a long time, and really had to work at that. It took practice to be content with “enough” – and to learn to recognize it. It can be hard not to be overwhelmed by acquisitiveness and yearning. It’s pretty easy to want “more”. And more after that. The pursuit of “more” keeps a lot of people enthralled. People wreck their lives in the here-and-now chasing something other than what they’ve got.

I’m not saying there is value in asceticism. (I’m not saying there isn’t…) I’m just saying finding balance between “nothing” and “everything” has the potential to be fairly easy; it’s a big spectrum. Lots to choose from. One major challenge is simply understanding what really is “enough” for me, as an individual. What do I truly need to live an acceptably good quality of life? How much farther than that must I truly go to live comfortably well? Once I’m there, how much more do I really need? What is enough??Β What is excessive? When does desire for a thing or experience cross the threshold from interest to greed? Where does the painful character flaw of “a sense of entitlement” fit in to all of this?

(Note: I won’t be answering these questions for you. That’s on you to do, for yourself. We’re each having our own experience.)

I sip my coffee and think about what I have, and what more I may want in life, and wonder where the line is, that separates these things and experiences into categories like “need”, “want”, and “excessive”? What is “enough”… for me?

I still very much want a home of my own. “How much home, at what price?” is a seriously important question. How much square footage is enough? How many rooms meet my needs? How luxurious does it need to be to feel “comfortable”? I sit with my coffee and ask the questions. I consider the answers. It’s a familiar bit of internal discussion with myself. I’ve house-hunted before. I still don’t own a place of my own. More often than not, the cause of my lack of success moving forward from renting to owning has come down to not having enough to go further on the path of getting more. lol Renting, as it turns out, is generally, functionally, more or less “enough”. Mostly. I often experience moments of discomfort or aggravation that could easily be eased with some small change to my dwelling… that I can’t do, because I don’t own it. LOL Reason enough to want “more”, in this sense, but again… how much is “enough”?

This is just one example. Most people want something. We’re wired for it. Our desires drive our forward momentum, don’t they? So many questions to ask myself on a Tuesday morning. It’s not necessary to answer them all right now. Asking them is enough.

…Enough on which to begin again. πŸ™‚

I woke up abruptly, some minutes ago. I woke feeling frustrated, irritated, vaguely angry, impatient – a host of less than pleasant feelings crowding my consciousness. I felt as though I were in the middle of an argument. I felt as though I were not being heard. Definitely awake. Definitely “in the wee hours”. I laid awake awhile feeling my heart thump, hard, fast, as though I had been exerting myself. Breathless.

I got up, finally, to pee, to get something cold to drink, to “walk it off”, to “get some air”… I got up to breathe. To exhale. To let this shit go.

Initially, the house remained dark – suitable for the “middle of the night”, and avoiding waking anyone else. At some point, I remember I am alone right now, and turn on soft lighting, once it is clear sleep is not immediately at hand. I sit down to write, when it is also clear that “letting it go” wasn’t effortless in this moment – and was reminded of a conversation with a friend, earlier in the day. Human beings struggle. It’s not always an easy experience. We are beings of both emotion and reason; either one can be “a tad off”. Emotional wellness is important – as is our ability to reason in a rational, healthy way. They balance one another. They feed on each other. They inform each other. I experience feelings that source with my thoughts. Some of my thinking has its foundation in how I feel about an experience. Connections. We exist in context.

I breathe deeply. Exhale evenly, slowly. I relax, deliberately, willing my shoulders to drop back down where they belong (and wonder, again, what pulls them up so tightly, so uncomfortably). The experience of “hearing my heart thump” slowly diminishes, until what I am hearing is my typing. Some of this is about focus – what I pay attention to, becomes a larger part of my experience. We become what we practice. Doesn’t make it effortless. In fact, quite the contrary; it is the effort, the practice, itself, that creates the change being sought. Do the thing. Do it again. Keep repeating it. Eventually, it becomes part of who we are. “Easy” is not part of the process.

Another deep cleansing breath. Something icy cold to drink, seeking to cool off from the very subjective sense of being “too hot”.

…What the hell was up with my dreams?? I woke when I did, straight to being fully awake, no lingering in a dream, no recollection of the contents of my consciousness, before that moment when I woke, frustrated, irritable, and frankly a bit angry. What was that about? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go – again. It’s literally not relevant to this moment, here, now, in the quiet and the darkness.

I look at the clock and wonder if I will return to sleep… it’s not quite 2:00 am, on a “work night”. I’d rather not be awake right now… but I clearly am. What to do about it matters less, for me, than not getting stressed out by whatever that outcome ends up being. The thought of returning to sleep causes some anxiety. Nightmares? Possibly. I take a moment of consideration and gratitude that I don’t remember them, if that’s what woke me. Could have been a noise… but the world seems quiet, now. Lingering on the “why” isn’t helpful, and obsessing over that holds potential to drive additional anxiety. Another breath. I exhale. Relax – again. Let it go – again. Have another drink of cold weird liquid – what the hell did I grab out of the fridge? I look more closely. Oh. A sugar free sports drink in a flavor I don’t care for. Hilarious. I continue to drink it eagerly; the cold of it is more soothing than the flavor matters at all.

…I could just stay up. Have a shower. Meditate. Do some yoga. Make coffee… The time would pass quickly, and it would soon be time to head to the office…

My mind sifts through various recent conversations with assorted colleagues, friends, family members, doctors… aimless fussing and wound-picking, unproductive, and not especially healthy. I let that all go, too. I have a thought, properly relevant to experiences of anxiety and wakeful nights, and grab my vape – works for my daytime anxiety, will it work now? I watch the cloud billow around my face, and dissipate. There’s a loveliness to it, illuminated by the glow of my monitor.

I frown, irritated by the recollection of a recent visit to the VA. New doctor. Young doctor. “Have you tried Tylenol?”, she asked (about my literal decades of chronic osteo-arthritis pain in my spine). I’m still annoyed. Seriously?? Was she fucking kidding me? Potentially one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked about pain management, by a doctor. Have I ever tried _____? Lady, Doctor,Β if it’s over the counter, I’ve fucking tried it – or read the contraindications and recognized it isn’t for me. For fuck’s sake, really? Damn.

Oh. Is that what woke me? I’m still processing my anger and frustration with that appointment? Admittedly, I’ve avoided dealing with it. I keep trying to “let it go” without having to deal with it. That, folks, is called “skipping a step” and it tends not to be very effective – but grinding my gears over it, ruminating endlessly frustrated by it, is also not effective. Running from the emotions does not put them to rest – it just results in feeling as though I’m not being heard. (Because I’m not.)

There’s a solution here. I hit my vape again. I shift gears and head to my meditation cushion. Whether or not I sleep is no longer my concern. It’s about a bigger picture of self-care, and “feeling heard” is something that needs to begin with me.

Here’s a brief musical interlude to pass the time… πŸ˜‰

Some time has passed. There’s still time for more sleep, if it comes to that. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried. I feel relaxed. Content. Centered. I’m okay. This is one moment, of many. Just that. It’s not a bad moment, if I pulled it from life’s deck like a playing card; relaxed, content, safe, hydrated, secure in my home, secure in my relationships. There are no longer alarm bells going off in my head, and I am at ease, and comfortable in my own skin. The moment is altered and I change the music. I think of my far away Traveling Partner, still sleeping. I laugh, reminded that I am at home alone, and stream the music to the stereo in the living room, I turn it up, still mindful that the world (and my neighbor) sleeps. My thoughts travel briefly to a younger time in my life; I’d have run from this moment, pursuing any available distraction. Tonight? I pull myself back into my body, back into this “now”, and let the bass wash over me. “…Free the history…” I pick up my buugeng, and begin to dance, feeling my contentment mingling with the music, and the movement. (Your results may vary.)

Unexpectedly, in the middle of a moment, grief washed over me, unsolicited, unwelcome – and too real. It has been just 25 days since my mother died. So much has happened since then to distract me from that experience. I dropped to the floor weeping like a… like… well, like a grown ass woman, grieving the loss of her mother, honestly. It’s okay. There is no shame in these honest tears, and I am okay right now. This is real, and it is what it is. I needed this time alone, I suppose; real life has some things to tell me, things I need to hear. My heart needs to be heard – and I need to take the time to listen.

I cried for some little while. I’m okay with that; tears dry. As they do, I think about a shower, and coffee. It’s almost 3:30 am. The alarm will go off in an hour, and there’s little point in going back to sleep, now. πŸ™‚ It’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Sometimes I need to take a little more time for myself in the mornings. Today is such a morning. I’ve nothing much to say in any specific way and feel more like writing poetry than prose, but lack even those few words. So, I sip my coffee, say good morning to the world, and move on to other moments. πŸ™‚

My eye slides to my bass guitar this morning. My playlist inspires me to keep practicing, and practicing is, itself, my honest goal. I’ve no need to “perform”, it isn’t about that. I chuckle, wondering if I’ll ever let anyone hear me play… It’s a funny place in my head and heart, and my agency in the emotional space in which I play bass is so very fragile that small things break it (“Oh, you should…” “have you tried” “you need to…” “do that this way”). So, easiest to keep it to myself, quiet (for some values of quiet, obviously) and close to my heart, where I can keep myself safe, until some later moment when I feel less fragile and insecure about something I love so much.

There’s a whole morning ahead of me, before I have to head to work. I think I’ll get on with that, differently than usual. πŸ™‚ There is much to do, and there are verbs involved. Β What about you? What will you do today to care for that person in the mirror? (I hope it’s something nice!)