Archives for posts with tag: walking and thinking

I am sipping coffee on a Sunday. Good coffee. Pleasant Sunday. I am reflecting on what makes some moments “special” and others so seemingly “ordinary” and wondering if there is really any difference outside my own subjective impression of each moment.

I recently went to the seashore for “a bit of a break” and some “me time” away. I walked the beaches and nature trails. I took pictures. A lot of pictures. Many of those were pictures of entirely ordinary birds standing or walking along the beach, or parking lot, or some strip of not-quite-lawn. Why did I bother? They weren’t special or fancy birds… just gulls, crows, jays, and little brown birds of a variety of sorts. What’s so special about those birds? Nothing, right? It was getting the picture at all that was special (to me) – taking pictures of birds is hard. lol

A dandy gull strolling along in a parking lot. He was aware of me, and unconcerned, just walking along.

Were the moments themselves particularly “special”? I don’t actually recall them as unusual moments in any way, aside from being part of this particular beach trip. If I were to glance quickly at one of the many hundreds of beach photos I’ve taken over the years, I’m not sure I could easily identify one trip from another. They illustrate a more general experience of “going to the coast” and “being at the seashore”. Special inasmuch as it is not the routine day-to-day experience of life…but often very similar to each other (if for no other reason that I am always me when I go do these things, and generally I am doing them with similar motivation and goals in mind).

This crow was not interested in being photographed and quickly walked away when it noticed my gaze.

In a certain sense, isn’t every moment “special”, in that there is a predictably finite number of them for any one of us? We don’t even have the advantage of knowing in advance how many there will be – only that they will eventually just run out, often unexpectedly.

Even for little brown birds on mellow summer days; moments are finite and limited.

It seems far more likely that all moments are special than to assume no moments are special – it’s easy enough to identify one or two special moments (just look for lingering significance or fond memories!), which immediately debunks the proposition that “no moments are special”. So… moments are special in a quantity somewhere between “some” and “all”. Tough to know going into a particular moment how special it may prove to be, even immediately afterward. Some moments are so spectacular it’s probably obvious that those will become lasting fond memories for someone (or recollections of profound tragedy – “special” isn’t always “good”, right?).

Thoughtful? Distracted? Just having a moment?

This last beach trip was special, for sure. I was out on the coast giving my Traveling Partner room to work on complicated CNC build details without me being underfoot, or becoming a distraction. That’s not what was special about it (for me), although it is always wonderful to know I am missed when I am away. What made it special was the combination of finding new awesome locations to take pictures, new trails to wander, and also – that’s where I was when I got the call from my new employer with their offer, and knew that I would be returning to work soon.

I got the news sitting in my car, parked, watching the waves roll in, just after getting off the phone with my partner, after receiving an automated rejection email sent in error. lol

When I was mired in the worst of my bullshit, baggage, chaos and damage, I often felt as if “nothing is special”. That feeling (and experience) has a name, anhedonia. Life feels gray, meaningless, and very much as though nothing matters and no effort will change that lack of meaning. It’s grim. It’s bland. It’s very hard to pull oneself out of that pit. I had it wrong. I mean, obviously (anhedonia is an experience of disordered thinking/feeling). It’s just that I’m sort of blown away by how wrong I’d gotten it (as a result of poor mental health) – because it’s apparent now that the truth is so much closer to “everything is special” (even to the point of potentially numbing us to the “specialness of the ordinary”).

I smile and finish my coffee. I’m happy to be where I am these days. I delighted with the pictures I’ve been getting of birds. I’m okay with the birds themselves being entirely ordinary. Most things are. Moments, too. I’m done with insisting that anything “special” also be entirely out of the ordinary – that seems, now, to be a needlessly high bar to set for what is special to me. Sure – love is special, and very much out of the ordinary… but a great cup of coffee, a picture of a bird that turns out well, or a gentle relaxed Sunday morning are all pretty ordinary experiences – and also comfortably special. I’m good with enjoying the specialness of the ordinary, and embracing contentment and joy.

It’s time to begin again.

I will soon be measuring self-care in miles kilometers… or maybe pounds kilograms. I’m looking forward to my camping trip. Excited about the location. Excited about the downtime. Giving my gear a little side-eye. There is real effort involved in packing my gear to the site, and then packing it back out. I’m not even bitching – a lot of things require a handful of verbs and some real effort. Sweat.

The forecast is for some sunny summer weather. Not horrifically hot (or I’d cancel and stay home), and definitely summer. There is a small chance of rain showers about mid-way through my trip. My Traveling Partner teases me about the potential I may give up on it and come home early. I often do. About 40% of my camping plans face some sort of significant change between plan and execution. I don’t take that personally about myself – it’s not a lack of commitment to the adventure. It’s more a firm commitment to skillfully taking care of myself. I’m okay with that. 😀

I still haven’t found my Kindle. My Traveling Partner gently suggests, perhaps, maybe, there is some limited potential that I may have, inadvertently, tossed it out in some careless or absent-minded moment? I can’t eliminate that possibility. I’ll no doubt have to replace it at some point. In the meantime, it’s not a high priority, and I’ve got plenty of bound books. I pick a couple for the trip. My partner buys me a book he thinks I’d enjoy and I add that to my items to be packed.

Looks like an interesting selection. Where to begin? Feynman.

I am looking forward to this handful of hot days with a light heart. A few miles on the trail and a couple days in the trees with my camera sounds really good, and I am ready to go. 🙂 One more night of good sleep here at home, and coffee with this human being I hold so dear, and then… some time listening to myself think. 😀

It’s time to begin again.

A couple hours from now I’ll be on the road, heading to the coast (again). Short trip. Small break. A bit of downtime. It’s so nice to have that luxury, at this time in my life. I find myself wondering why I did nothing like this for myself for so long, when I needed it so badly? I failed myself pretty horribly in the self-care department for many many years. I’m here, now, though, itinerary planned, room booked (I couldn’t find a reservable campsite anywhere within the same distance – I tried!), bag packed… I’m ready. It’s only left to finish this bit of the workday, load my modest weekend bag into the Mazda, and fill the gas tank on my way, and I’ll be seaside with my thoughts for a couple days.

…Last time I went, I spent most of my time walking on the beach, listening to the sounds of wind and waves, just thinking and meditating. Pretty “uneventful” by most definitions – and that’s okay with me. I need this time to recharge, to recenter, and to gain perspective on “all the things”. I feel fortunate to have a partnership with someone who “gets it”. 🙂 Who gets me.

…Shit. I already miss my Traveling Partner, and I haven’t even left yet. LOL

I’ve got my laptop packed. I might write. I might not. No pressure… just quiet and time. 🙂

What are you doing to take care of that person in the mirror? Seriously. You can begin again. You can try something new. You can set new expectations and new boundaries. You can claim what you need for yourself from your own limited lifetime. There are verbs involved, and the work will fall to you, if it is to get done at all. You can do this!

…But will you?

It’s funny how a long-held dream or goal sometimes unfolds very differently than I imagined it might. House in the country? Check. Well… I mean… it’s well away from the city, and there is a large-ish farm across the road… The house itself? It’s in a small suburban neighborhood at the edge of a small town. lol It’s not exactly “rural” in m most respects, and quite convenient – even rather “walkable” (although the country lane that runs between our neighborhood and the farm on the other side is perhaps less than ideal for walking; it’s a busy road, and narrow in spots).

I’m not complaining. I love this little house. I love the view from the deck. The house manages to be both larger than I thought I could afford, and much smaller than I thought I might want. lol There’s a lot of that sort of thing cropping up as dreams become realities. It’s a bit like a chapter in Alice in Wonderland. How lovely, though, that generally the translations of my dreams into reality have been so much more likely to be a pleasant surprise instead of a disappointment, these days. (I’ll note that I don’t think this reflects a change in “the way things turn out” as much as it reflects a change in my perspective on things and ways, generally.)

That gets me thinking about books I got over the Giftmas holiday that I haven’t yet finished, and other books I’d also like to read. I think about a favorite bookstore, and wonder when the pandemic will really end? I do miss a bit of proper shopping. 🙂 Today will be a good day to read, too.

Similarly, my anticipated “regular local mile” – which I figured would likely be right here in my own neighborhood (and that has been a frequent walk) – turns out to be nearby, but still about a 10-minute drive or so… and about 5 miles away. It’s a lovely forested walk. There is a 1-mile loop, and a 1/2-mile loop. It’s the sort of lush bit of forest that I love, and the trail carries me up and down the hills, and over a creek a couple times, and around and through the forest until it returns to the trailhead. It’s quite lovely. I’ll probably go there often. I went yesterday. I’m planning to go today – I may do both loops (I like it that much).

Yesterday the approach to the trailhead was quite foggy when I got started.

It’s a good season for walking and reflecting, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, in this area where winter’s are generally relatively mild. (Maybe snow or ice later in January, or in February?) I enjoy the walking for more than fitness; I find that it “clears my head” and gives me literal “breathing room” for sorting things out and “gazing inward” while I enjoy the scenery along the trail. Taking pictures helps keep me grounded and anchored to “now”, as I walk. (I don’t do well stuck in my head.)

It was a beautiful misty morning for a walk.

I remind myself to run an errand on the way back from my walk this morning. I mean… for sure, that’s convenient, why not? I hope I still remember when the time comes… lol

The Vine Maples and Big Leaf Maples extend their bare branches, but without their leaves, I can see almost all the way across the park from a high vantage point on one side.

The muddy trails don’t fret me. They are still passable and fairly safe, and I always bring my cane for trail walking or hiking. I love the tangles of branches, the morning mist, and the puddles reflecting the sky.

Lovely little city park. It’s enough. 🙂 More than enough.

I sip my coffee and look over yesterday’s pictures. They distract me from the pain in my neck, which is quite a feat. I smile and sip my coffee, feeling wholly content and satisfied with this moment, right here. I think of my Traveling Partner, hearing him move about in the other room. I’ll invite him to go walking with me. He’ll look out at the chilly gray rather rainy looking day, and smile and say “No, thank you.”

My partner appears in the doorway as if I’d called to him, just as I begin to turn my chair to go ask if he’d like to go walking with me. He looks apologetic, kind, and very serious. “You may want to just avoid me today,” he says in that loving apologetic tone I know so well, “I just hurt that much, and I don’t want to treat you badly or take it out on you at all.” I nod. I let him know I understand and that I’m okay with that; I hurt too. It’s not an ideal combination of humans-in-pain, sometimes. We take our best care of each other, some days, by alerting the other we’re not fit companionship, at all, and making room to love each other with a little space between us. It’s a much better practice than some I’ve seen, and it works for us. No hurt feelings. Clear expectations.

So…a quiet Sunday, a walk, some housekeeping, laundry, and I’ll probably bake cookies and bars for the week, too. Before any of that? I’ll have to begin again. 😀

I took a long walk today, something short of ‘hiking’, but much more than a walk around the block, or to the store. I spent a mellow hour or so among the trees in a nearby nature park, a favorite place that was once part of my daily commute, on foot, to and from work each day. That seems an eternity ago, but in any case, it’s neither here nor there – it’s in the past. I walked paths I hadn’t walked before, and happily observed a couple new ones – or perhaps placed such that I simply hadn’t gotten to them, previously; they were new to me, and that was enough to count them as new, on my walk today. Camera in hand, questions in mind, and some mostly unmeasured time to walk, meditate, and be present, aware.

I feel more prepared for 2015, and in the quiet moments between hanging out with family, and finding my way to sleep, I am enjoying taking a look at the day’s pictures, as well as the experience, emotions, and thoughts they represent for me now. I hope the New Year finds you well, hopeful, encouraged, and ready to continue your journey, wherever it may lead you. Thank you for reading – it never stops being meaningful that there are people on the other end of this handful of words. You matter to me.

My New Year’s celebration, my thoughts along my walk today, are rather more personal than the sort of things I generally share so easily. Rather than feel naked and uneasy sharing things I don’t comfortably express, lack words for, find ‘too private’, or may actually just not be meaningful for anyone but me, I’ll share some of today’s pictures, and some observations. It’s enough. 🙂

...Come on, now; this is why we can't have nice things. :-\

…Come on, now; this is why we can’t have nice things. :-\

As I entered the park, I felt sad, disappointed, and angry that people don’t have enough ‘pride of place’ to want to care for the world we all share. I’m not sure I know what to do about it, beyond choosing, myself, not to litter, leave shopping carts misplaced far from stores, drop soda cans along sidewalks, or dump major appliances down hillsides. I guess it’s a start.

A fusion of nature and craftsmanship.

A fusion of nature and craftsmanship.

I entered the park and noticed some vaguely bowl-shaped stones here and there, and considered what a lovely bird bath something like that would be in my garden. I find the functional stone, and the carved detail added later beautiful, and seeming very sturdy; something that could be counted on. I walk on, reflecting on my desire to feel secure in my life, and in my relationships.

Every moment has something to teach me; there's no knowing what may be around the next bend.

Every moment has something to teach me; there’s no knowing what may be around the next bend.

I inhaled the chill winter air as I walked new paths. Again and again, I was struck by the quality of the winter afternoon sunlight. Again and again, I was frustrated in my attempts to capture it. I stopped looking for perfection, and began accepting what the camera revealed to me.

Winter forest, winter sky - I see mostly what I expect to see, when I expect to see something particular.

Winter forest, winter sky – I see mostly what I expect to see, when I expect to see something particular.

I walked through areas of the park I used to avoid for ‘safety reasons’. Not that the park is unsafe in any noteworthy way; I fell and hurt myself pretty badly there, once, tripping over an exposed tree root that I didn’t see – I wasn’t looking. That was a day I felt incredibly happy, and I was looking up, and around, and enjoying birdsong, and singing holiday carols to myself as I walked along – I definitely wasn’t looking at the ground. While that’s lovely, lacking sufficient mindfulness to successfully walk to work without hurting myself is probably not something to brag about. I walked paths, today, that were rife with twisted knots and braids of tree roots without any particular concern – or lack of awareness. I was aware of the tree roots, among the many details I observed along the way, and enjoyed them as an opportunity to refine the mindfulness practices that add so much to my experience now; I’m always practicing, that’s how these practices work. 🙂 It felt like a huge triumph to feel so comfortable, confident, and unconcerned about an obstacle that once weighed so heavily on my experience that I gave it the power to change my path.

Winter has her lessons, too.

Winter has her lessons, too.

I enjoyed my winter walk so very much, today. I was well-prepared, and although I was walking new paths, I felt I was in familiar territory. I felt safe. I felt fearless. I felt comfortable. Funny how much being prepared can change an experience. Something as small as dressing for the winter weather can have so much value. It’s worth taking the time to prepare, even for something as simple as a winter walk. How often have I rushed out the door to do something, or go somewhere, and found myself inconvenienced because I overlooked something I needed, or suffered pointlessly for some other issue that consideration (“What can I do to prepare for this?”) could have prepared me for? How many times have I succeeded beyond my expectations or desires, on occasions that I happened to be more prepared for an event, decision, or activity?

Looking up; a common practice I use to shift perspective, and a lovely metaphor.

Looking up; a common practice I use to shift perspective, and a lovely metaphor.

There’s more to staring into the sky than meets the eye. I find the literal change in perspective does tend to fairly easily allow me to change my perspective, whatever the circumstances. Perspective has proven to be a very big deal in finding emotional resilience, contentment, and emotional self-sufficiency. I had trouble learning the lessons of compassion until I learned some of the lessons perspective has to offer. I find that perspective and compassion generally go hand in hand.

Sometimes illumination seems so near... other time, it seems a distant possibility, seen just beyond some challenge.

Sometimes illumination seems so near… other time, it seems a distant possibility, seen just beyond some challenge.

So… I walk on. Sometimes the perception that illumination is just out of reach is an illusion, a ‘trick of light’ – a matter of perspective. It may not be at all what it appears to be, in some brief moment of struggle, or frustration.

Winter reflections.

Winter reflections.

That’s really what my walk was about, for me, reflections – my own, on the year just past, and considering what to take along for the journey ahead… Who am I, today, that I wasn’t last year? Who do I hope to be on this day, next year? How do I get there, from here? In the simplest terms, it’s just a walk on a winter day, some photographs, some moments, some thoughts… I didn’t need more than that. Today is a good day to start a new year…a year of love, of consideration, of practice. Today is a good day to start a new year on a less familiar path.