Archives for posts with tag: travelers’ tales

It’s evening, and I never get tired of being awash in evening light. The perspective from this 17th floor hotel room is vast and lovely. A distant highway adds sparkle as traffic follows the road in the deepening twilight. I look out toward the horizon picking out various landmarks I had spotted in daylight hours. There is a far off ferris wheel that lights at night. Tonight it is blue. The sky is clear tonight. At least over here. Out on that horizon, more thunderheads, but no lightning (yet).

Florida from the 17th floor.

I wore myself out at the conference today. That wasn’t my plan. Reality has its own, and consequences of physical limitations are for sure part of that experience. The convention center is quite huge. The distances from one end of the conference to the other are… vast. LOL In the late afternoon, I laid down “for 10 minutes”, planning to join other attendees at dinner a bit later. I woke a bit more than 3 hours later, a little groggy, very thirsty, and feeling somewhat rested and in quite a lot less pain. I’m okay with all of those things. Although I am quite outgoing based on my “personal presentation” in the workplace, or out and about in the world, the truth is I’m often cringing at the “unwanted contact” with other beings and other minds. Baggage? Oh, surely, and I’m even okay with that. I live decently well these days, and there is no shame in being content with a great many solitary experiences. I have grown quite fond of the woman in the mirror, and she’s excellent “company” given a few moments to myself to enjoy the experience of self.

My last trade conference before this one was some years ago. My experience was intense, unpleasant in spots, overly busy, distracting, unsettled, and my return home was… problematic. I over-reacted to the excitement and relief of being home, and my emotionality brought me in conflict with my partners-at-the-time. The meltdown was… significant, and terribly unpleasant. I feel hopeful that I’m past all that, and that this trip will end with the sort of comfortably familiar return home that I have whenever I return from routine business travel.

…The only things I find unpleasant about this particular adventure are the stifling humidity (Florida, need I say more?) and the astonishing size of the convention space, so vast that just getting registered yesterday resulted in 16k total steps walked from when I reached the airport, until I dropped into bed, exhausted. LOL It’s probably excellent for my overall fitness… but damn it’s hard on my ankle, and by the end of each day, my feet hurt like crazy. That’s how I ended up napping; I really just wanted to put my feet up awhile so they wouldn’t hurt, and I could go/do just a bit more. lol My body knew better; I needed that rest.

I am missing my Traveling Partner. Missing “home”. Missing my garden, and the plump gray cat that stalks blue jays from the fence-top outside my studio window while I am working. I miss being wrapped in contentment and love. I miss my own cooking. I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel a bit; it provides useful perspective on home life, and gives me a chance to fully appreciate my life. I’m not yearning and feeling lost, just missing things about my life that I truly love. I’m eager to get back.

I write a paragraph reflecting on practical/personal details of travel, generally. I delete it. I’m rambling. I’m connecting with my home experience by writing while I think about it. Inefficient. I think I’ll shift gears and message my partner, and chat awhile. ūüôā No phone call? Nah. Being on the phone is physically uncomfortable – it makes my tinnitus worse, and also tends to find me holding my left arm in a position that makes the pain of my neck injury worse. I smile to myself just thinking about my partner.

Soon enough, more sleep. Soon enough, I’ll begin again.

Homecomings are special moments, at least for me. Even the small everyday homecoming of arriving home from work is a potentially beautiful and deeply connected moment with loved ones. When a homecoming goes wrong it hurts so much more than it probably requires, once considered with a full measure of perspective and compassion. I know this, because I have ruined a number of them, over the years. Along the way I have learned some things about homecomings:

1. Everyone is having their own experience, and has their own emotional investment in the outcome; making assumptions about exactly what it is, is a proven poor choice.

2. Unstated expectations are highly likely to be a factor in a homecoming going awry.

3. Everyone wants to share what’s been up with them during the time apart.

4. Being attached to an expectation, an outcome with an emotional investment behind it, or an internal narrative that no one else shares, is a shortcut to an unpleasant experience.

5. Even homecomings are about some very simple things: being accepted, being heard, and connecting.

Last night the travelers returned, and somehow managed to be unexpectedly early. Rather than being stressed out that I didn’t get to the house ahead of them to clean frantically (and mindlessly), I was delighted that they were home and safe. I arrived minutes later, and enjoyed my usually-at-home partner’s appreciation that I had stopped for cat food along the way (and she would not have to do so). I kept The Big 5 in play while they were away, and truly my partners are rarely far from my thoughts; the house was decently tidy, and small details matter. All weekend, I sought out little things to do that might result in a comfortable pleasant experience when the traveler’s returned.

It was a lovely homecoming evening, filled with laughter and shared stories, new art, and quiet conversation. I didn’t spend my solo time wracked with anxiety about housework; I painted. They didn’t come home to a disaster, because I also made a mindful effort to take care of things like dishes, and laundry, and routine chores (hey, I do have to live here, too! lol). ¬†We didn’t ‘lean in’ to each other, allowing the greetings to be natural and comfortable, and the evening to be relaxed and leisurely. It was lovely.

The evening was short, of course. Both their arrival, and my return home from work occur slightly later in the evening, and once the car was unpacked, and calories were handled, showers finished… it was well into night. I spent some precious loving moments in the arms of the traveler returned home, too meaningful and valued to overlook, to personal and intimate to share further. I know I am loved.

Quite a nice homecoming.

I also slept incredibly badly, restlessly, and drenched in sweat – hot flashes? Misery. I woke with a headache, stuffy sinuses, and arthritis stiffness that renders my movements almost puppet-like. Still, no complaints from me, because those are not the details that define my experience.

"The Stillness Within" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas with glow.

“The Stillness Within” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas with glow, 2014

Today is a good day for love. Today is a good day to change the world.

…In sickness and in health…

Life's simple glory, complicated, simple, strange, wonderful, new or familiar; it matters every bit as much as it doesn't matter at all.

Life’s glory, complicated, simple, strange, wonderful, new or familiar; it matters every bit as much as it doesn’t matter at all.

This is a pretty fragile vessel I occupy. Backaches, tendonitis, headaches, sore feet, bumps, bruises, bad days, and…head colds; being human isn’t pain-free, convenient, or particularly easy some days. Today is one of those, and I do indeed have a head cold. Worse, I have a head cold on the handful of days that my traveling partner is visiting home. I have a cold instead of hugs and lovemaking, because I choose to take responsible steps to prevent the spread of illness, where I can. I find employment, generally, in call centers. It’s humble enough work for an analyst, and head colds go with the territory – in fact, I have numbers on that, and some trending. lol ¬†Love isn’t hindered by a head cold, though, and I enjoy the companionship of my partner in spite of it.

Annoyingly enough, this is also an extraordinarily busy week at work; as much as I’d like to, taking the day off to be sick isn’t an option. From my perspective, neither is getting all my coworkers sick, however trivial the illness, so I am working from home today – for as long as I can bear to toil over numbers. Every choice we make matters, in some context or another, to our own experience, or to someone else’s. My sleep was disturbed and restless last night and I woke from some surreal dreaming meditation on this particular strange thought; it all matters so very much, and it’s so interconnected, I lose sight of how irrelevant and unimportant any one detail really is. Perspective, balance…and the strangeness of the observation that ‘the opposite of what you know is also true‘. Is it? Isn’t it? Certainly it is an idea, for me, that sparks contemplation on perspective.

What we face, what we turn away from; we choose the world we see.

What we face, what we turn away from; we choose the world we see.

I can focus on the head cold if I choose, certainly it tends to be in the forefront of my thoughts and awareness this morning, or I can choose to be aware, awake, and observant of other details. The taste of my coffee, the trickle of the aquarium in the stillness of dawn, behind me, the internal glow of being well-loved, the moody gray sky outside my window…being present and in the moment, for me, still involves choices; what do I attend to, and what do I turn away from? For a lot of my life, I have ‘turned away from’ myself, and anything else I could turn away from, that built on ancient pain. I didn’t understand that by ignoring myself and my own needs, by showing myself no compassion, by disregarding my hurts in life and treating myself callously I was teaching myself that this was an acceptable way to behave towards others, and that it was also acceptable for them to treat ¬†me poorly. It set up a see-saw of emotional abuses over time, many of them self-inflicted through assumptions, thinking, and internal story-telling that have done a lot of damage to my relationships, and my own experience of life, and myself.

Lately, I am making it a point to treat myself well. I don’t mean lavishing myself with expensive trinkets, costly vacations, or inflating my ego; that doesn’t work for me, personally. I am learning better habits about treating my heart well, though, and studying the neuroscience of emotion, practicing nurturing behaviors, learning self-compassion…and the results are more valuable than sparkly jewels, by far. ¬†As with meditation, there’s a verb involved and practicing requires actual practice. Having a head cold, I rather expected it would be pretty easy to treat myself well…but being human isn’t really different just because I am feeling ill, and the requirement to be aware, present, mindful, and making choices that meet my needs are over time still requires small, continuous acts of will. It is, admittedly, harder to care when I feel ill…but surely in that case it matters even more to make the effort?

We create beauty by seeing it, we create love by loving; so much of who we are is what we choose to be.

We create beauty by seeing it, we create love by loving; so much of who we are is what we choose to be.

So. Yeah. I have a head cold. I’ll try not to be cross or irritable. I’ll choose to treat myself and others well, in spite of feeling poorly. Today is a good day for choosing wisely. Today is a good day for kindness and consideration. Today is a good day to change the world.

I’m sitting here staring into the monitor. My espresso slowly going cold. Looking a blank title bar, just sort of stalled in mid-thought. “Speechless” – first thing in the morning? That’s rare for me. My dreams often fill my thoughts and kick off my writing at the start of my day. Other times, I wake still considering something that troubled me the day before. Sometimes I wake with a sensation or emotion that seems to drive my experience and inspire me, or the studying, reading, email, or yoga do the that, instead. This morning? I am sitting here, staring into a title bar – with no title. That’s generally where I begin, the focal point of what is to come – a title. Not this morning. Could be the product of the short night; it was past midnight before I slept, and I woke again at 3:00 am.

I finally type ‘TBD’ into the title bar, and jot a quick reminder to myself to connect with a librarian friend of mine and get some remedial schooling on semicolons¬†and quotation marks. I suspect I’ve gone far astray of whatever rules may exist – and I do want people to read my words with some comfort and a sense of familiarity, with my punctuation and syntax if nothing else.

It has been an oddly difficult week. I’ve certainly been having my own experience. The OPD [Other People’s Drama] ¬†levels in life seem pretty high, lately, too. Funny thing…a partner returned home from a recent event, and shared a short story someone cool had shared with him. The Egg, by Andy Weir. I was incredibly moved. It seemed very consistent with threads of ideas that already exist in my contemplation of what is, and what isn’t, and maybe why. He shared it with me almost shyly, I consumed it with great delight; I was moved. I was moved as much by the sharing, and the tenderness in that gesture, as the I was by the story – and that’s saying something.

I am just finishing off a re-reading of Stranger in a Strange Land. ¬†An interesting connection, a thread of coincidence and meaning exists; throughout the book the main character, Valentine Michael Smith ‘The Man from Mars’ refers to himself as ‘only an egg’ in moments of doubt, troubling curiosity, and confusion. It’s a pretty powerful book, and at one time highly controversial. I suspect most people who read it get hung up on the representation of poly amorous love, or being affronted by perceived religious blasphemies, and miss some of the other insights and profundities. On this particular read through, I am¬†far less interested in those portions of the plot than I am in hints and references to mindfulness, perspective, sufficiency and choice. This is a book that says a lot about free will, accountability and consequences, but I doubt most people reading it notice those elements; it is also an amazing story.

I’ve been eager to hear about my partner’s¬†festival weekend, and realize with a touch of sadness that he’s had basically no chance to really share his traveler’s tales with me. Today he leaves to spend a few days with a cherished friend, doing meaningful things and taking time out to take care of needs of his own. We take few opportunities to actually ‘miss each other’, love is amazing stuff and we enjoy each other’s company greatly.¬†There is growth and healing and progress in also taking time for the things we love that we don’t share, or don’t do together, and these things are also part of who we are. I’ll miss him, and when he returns I will eagerly listen to his tales of adventure. As I think on it, I realize he’s probably in the same situation; we haven’t actually had much in the way of conversation about what we did with our time, and what our experiences were, while we were doing our thing last weekend. I’d ask ‘where has the time gone?’ but I know the answer to that one; the minutes, hours, and days of a lifetime wasted on OPD can’t be calculated easily, but drama is as time consuming as child-rearing is costly.

Walking my own path.

Walking my own path.

So. A few quiet days without this being who is so dear to me; the world with benefit from his time with others, no doubt so will he. I will focus on taking care of me, studying, meditation, asking questions, and living quiet life, content and productive, and becoming the woman I most want to be. Today is a very good day to change the world.