Archives for posts with tag: walking my own path

Yesterday’s aquarium project concluded quite successfully, with a tank full of obviously happy creatures, living their tiny lives in captive luxury. Sounds familiar. πŸ™‚ Same of me; living life contentedly, quietly, at home – in my own case, voluntarily confined in this time of pandemic. I could use more variety in the news, sadly, COVID-10 more or less dominates every headline, every human interest story, even coloring all the political and business news, and creeping into art, science, music… yeah; likes, clicks, views, and subscriber counts remain the true, consistent, underlying point of all of it. That’s sad. I mean, I’m grateful for updates and good information. I’m also aware that “life in the time of pandemic” still has so much more to it than news related to the disease, the spread of the disease, how to reduce risk of contagion, and the potential impact on various elements of human experience. I skim the headlines. At this point, there’s very little new content, and a notable diminishing return on taking time to read the articles.

…Life is too short to succumb to click-bait, or to read the same words yet again, reposted by some other news outlet. So… I don’t.

Instead, I am spending lazy contented hours this morning just watching the aquarium. Happy fish. Lush plants, recently pruned. New aquascaping. It’s too eye-catching to allow the news to pull my focus with repeats of the same bullet points that were promoted with such earnestness and enthusiasm (panic?) days ago. The numbers of affected people and businesses continues to increase. Yep. That’s to be expected, and has been expected. Who does not know by now? Even the stories about basic human stupidity have already gone stale (seriously, people went to the beaches in droves for Spring Break… during a pandemic of a highly contagious illness… I mean… wtf??).Β  I contentedly update the wallpaper on my phone, instead of reading the news.

I smile every time I touch my phone.

Life in the time of pandemic is complicated. The easy part is the staying home, it seems. It gets more complicated figuring out what to do with that time. I’m fairly sure reading the news is less than ideally emotionally healthy, right now. Growing fat on the couch with 24/7 continuous streaming entertainment is probably also less than ideal. I find myself eyeing the bookcase with real interest; there are a couple books I’ve yet to read from cover to cover. (Very few of those, as I have a firm long-time habit of reading every book I own.) It’s a peculiarly suitable time to catch up on my reading.

It’s spring, now. I have my eye on some garden projects, too. There is most definitely more than 6 ft of space between the houses along this street, and gardening is definitely on my “to-do” list. It’s about time to begin laying out plots for planting, and sorting things out on the deck so that the new irrigation can be installed (I’m eager to prevent that mid-summer die-off that so often happens because I’m not at home when the watering needs to be done). This “social distancing” stuff most folks are wisely committing to isn’t all that trying, if I use the time well to further my own agenda in life. πŸ™‚

My Traveling Partner handles things a bit similarly, seeking projects large and small to occupy his mind and hands. Household projects that improve our day-to-day quality of life are a favorite way to pass time. This weekend, he dived deeper into cherished hobbies and skills of the past, and spent time on personal development through self-paced study, too. It’s been pleasant sharing this time together. We encourage each other when facing some small challenge. We help each other when asked. We celebrate finished work together.

Life in the time of pandemic has its challenges, but also its opportunities. Spend the time well. (Or, hey, don’t – I’m not trying to tell you what to do.) This works for me… or… has so far. I glance at the time, aware that I agreed to wake my Traveling Partner shortly. …A nap does sound nice… and then? I’ll begin again. πŸ˜‰

 

 

I sat for a long while, this morning, quietly watching the fish swim in the aquarium. Shrimp, small fish, a couple of snails, and lush green plants, shifting in the gentle current created by the filter pump, presenting a tiny living world to my delighted eyes. It was a pleasantly timeless moment of contentment, joy, and solitude. Still and quiet. Calm. Satisfying. Emotionally nourishing. πŸ™‚

They don’t vote, and aren’t worried about the latest virus.

…The world is a fairly scary mess right now. Corruption. Pandemic. Greed. Deceit. It is at times quite horrifying. Other times, it seems awkwardly tedious with the weight of lessons we never seem to learn, as a global society. We’re too connected to view world culture any other way. Our survival as a species is so obviously linked with each other in this age of connectivity. It is, too often, very hard to watch. So… I take a moment for me, and watch the fish swim. πŸ™‚

Better than television. Reliably more truthful.

More often than not, there is nothing in the news that is truly urgent or new. Most of what we see, read, and hear, is in some way a repeat of something we’ve seen, read, or heard before. I remind myself, regularly, to let all of that go, in favor of walking in the sunshine, enjoying the garden on the deck, or watching the fish swim. These are by far better quality moments of existence, and life is already so very finite… better to enjoy more of these gentle pleasant moments that to become mired in what is not so very news-worthy after all. πŸ™‚

I smile contentedly into the empty cup that was once my morning coffee. Seems like a good time to begin again.

I am drinking my coffee this morning with that certain feeling of satisfaction and relief that comes from completing a task I wasn’t looking forward to, or may even feel a deeply anchored reluctance towards taking on the task at all. There are quite a few things that fit this category, some pretty ordinary things: vacuuming, filing my taxes, tackling a sink full of dirty dishes, raking or sweeping leaves, weeding the garden… sometimes it’s just pure resistance to the discomforts of manual labor, sometimes it is some sort of strange mental “block” that holds me back. So human. Tasks toward which I feel anyΒ  sort of resistance or reluctance can prevent me taking on the rest of a to-do list of needful things; hard to get past that one thing I just don’t “feel like” doing. Very human, indeed.

This morning, I’m smiling because I’ve finished off one such task, and entirely overlooked even feeling the weight of any reluctance, at all, during that process. Almost… pleasant. Definitely emotionally neutral, if nothing else. No baggage. I grin to myself, and have another swallow of almost-cold coffee, and considering planning a spring camping trip for myself. I wonder, contentedly, if my Traveling Partner will want to go? I keep my planning sufficiently open to permit it, without any concern or sorrow that he likely won’t go; our outdoor preferences are enough different that we truly don’t enjoy all the same things, done the same way. That doesn’t bother me at all. We need some time apart every bit as much as we enjoy (and need) time together. πŸ™‚ The bigger question is actually… April… or May? LOL

I let my mind wander to my walk, yesterday, instead of indulging my desire to plan an outing…

It was a lovely morning to walk along the riverbank.

Camping, hiking, walking… it’s about that moment of solitude and contentment, a moment of stillness, in the trees, on the seashore, along the riverbank… time spent walking, breathing, and contemplating. Time spent awake, aware, and present in the moment. It is about sufficiency, and perspective.

I woke to rain, today, and I am feeling restless, and eager to put a few more miles on my boots before the weekend ends. I had planned to work in the garden, but it was too early for it when I woke, and too rainy. Later, maybe. The rain dampens my plan to walk along the riverbank, again, too. I’ll still get a walk in… but when? Where?

I think about distant mountains, and waves lapping the shore. I think about Spring approaching.

I think over my short list of things I committed to doing this weekend and take a few minutes to sort it out in my head. It’s not that much to do, really, and mostly very routine sorts of things setting up the new work week that begins tomorrow, plus a creative task that gives me a measure of real joy, and a task I’d like to get done to make the house more comfortable. Putting my walking near the top of my list this morning makes sense; my Traveling Partner is still sleeping, and noisy housekeeping would be unkind.

I smile contentedly. I’ve got a good plan for a pleasant day, and it’s enough. It’s time to finish this coffee and begin again. πŸ™‚

My dreams chased me through war zones and down dark hallways last night. I’m sipping my coffee grateful to escape The Nightmare City without much else to say about it. Definitely nightmares. Not such a big deal now that I am awake.

…I have a dim recollection of being awake during the night…

…This coffee is good. This moment, right here, is just fine. I sit with my coffee, present in my moment. It’s a better way, than older, other ways. It’s enough.

Bleary-eyed, content, and more or less awake, it’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I was sipping my morning coffee in the dim of dawn, sun not yet peaking over the horizon. I was thinking about a friend who often seems to default to negative self-talk, and assumptions about others that are built on suspicion, fear, and mistrust. I know enough about my friend’s personal history to have some limited understanding why they would hold such a bleak perspective on life, relationships, and yes, even on the person in the mirror. I hold my friend in very high regard, and our mutual affection and appreciation has lasted many years…but even I am not immune to being the recipient of my friend’s mistrust, suspicion, and doubt.

My thoughts this morning, after recently having coffee together, were less about how uncomfortable it can feel to be viewed as an adversary, unexpectedly, and absent any input on my part to justify or support that view, and more about how unpleasant it must be to go through life that way, living in the context of some implicit certainty that everyone, eventually, is an enemy. It saddens me, and I struggle to balance my understanding and compassion with my feelings of helplessness and frustration – and lack of being understood clearly. My own communication challenges don’t make it easier. My own emotional baggage and personal history with relationships with other human primates don’t make it easier, either. I sipped my coffee, breathing, exhaling, relaxing, and consider my perspective, and where I can, also the perspective my friend expressed, with as much depth, and understanding, as I am able to do.

Perspective changes what we understand of the world.

I think back to articles I’ve read about mindfulness, and the handful of those that point out that undertaking a mindfulness practice can throw emotional health and balance into chaos for some people. I even accept that this is one of the potential experiences people may have; when we have adapted to darkness, the brightness of being flooded with light is not necessarily and immediately helpful, comfortable, or pleasant experience. Some of the things we keep to ourselves over a lifetime, dismissing our concerns, diminishing our sense of self, or building our narrative on a ton of self-serving made-up shit to compensate, perhaps, for the bleakness of our sense of doubt and futility, end up being powerful (and possibly successful) coping mechanisms for the hardest shit we don’t want to face – and having coped with, we don’t have to. Then along comes some “healthy” mindfulness practice that sounds awesome, that our friends are into, and we hop right into it, eager and enthusiastic… then, we find ourselves face to face with the darkness being dissipated by a light so bright we can’t see what it hides from us, and… we run, terrified and damaged, fearful of change, resisting what so bright a moment of illumination might really show us. After all, we’d coped with all that bullshit. We’d found a way. Now, here we are, facing our self, unexpectedly. Not always a pretty picture, and we’re not all ready for that.

Changing our own perspective doesn’t always feel comfortable. Whether or not “mindfulness” can be said to “work” is more than a little bit dependent on what we expect it to do, and whether that is what we actually want – or are ready for.

My friend and I talked about my journey, and theirs. We spoke of expectations, and of “reality”. My friend had, at one time, been a huge advocate for me finding my way to a more positive perspective on life. At that time, they seemed so unbelievably positive to me that it was hard to understand the thinking behind those words – wasn’t it a matter of “character” or personality? Wasn’t my personal history “real”, and sufficient to justify my chaos and damage… and negativity? Wasn’t my cynicism perfectly “reasonable”? Here I was sitting over coffee, after far too long out of touch, and I was the positive one, the contented one, the one bouncing back. My friend seemed overly negative, and out of touch with their own emotional experience, lacking in a certain authenticity and “presence”, that felt strangely dishonest and uncomfortable to me. The conversation came around to meditation, and mindfulness practices, generally. “All that’s bullshit,” my friend said firmly. “I tried that stuff back in the day, and it only made me cry a lot, and made me doubt my relationships.” I sat quietly listening (which can be difficult for me), then replied “What did your therapist say about that experience?” My friend answered abruptly, “I quit therapy. It was expensive, and kept making me doubt my place in the world, and my relationship with my partner.” She gestured vaguely, something like waving off that topic with her hand. “I didn’t need all that, I’m unhappy enough without help. Self-reflection bullshit just made me rethink everything. Who needs it?”

I keep turning the conversation over in my head, in the time since. So much of what she had shared seemed unhappy, and infused with a sense of having failed herself in some mysterious way, punctuated by occasionally accusations of some other person setting her up for failure. If she is so deeply unhappy in life, in her relationships, wouldn’t she expect self-reflection to hold up that mirror, and show her precisely that? Doesn’t that open the door to the potential that change could be made – chosen – and offer the chance to walk a different path?

No answers, this morning, really. Just questions, and self-reflection, and the illumination offered by shining a bright light into my own dark corners. There’s always an opportunity to begin again. πŸ™‚ I am my own cartographer; I choose my path.