Archives for posts with tag: we become what we practice

Sipping coffee on a quiet President’s Day holiday morning, and contentedly relaxing, letting go of baggage and bullshit lingering from jobs past, preparing for a future that begins in earnest, tomorrow. (Doesn’t it always?) I breathe. Relax. “Fuck my bullshit,” I think, smiling.

This seems relevant today (and many other todays as well). Far more experienced and expert words than I could offer. 🙂

I’m comfortable telling my own bullshit to fuck right off. If I don’t, I’m sure someone else will, but… what would I learn from that besides rejection? It’s too easy to excuse bullshit because someone else called it out, and the resulting feelings of defensiveness, hurt, rejection, and possibly resentment and anger, will quite likely blot out my ability to easily recognize that there is real truth to it. It’s important, I find, to be awake to my own bullshit, as much as possible, and do that work myself. It’s peculiarly far less lonely. 🙂

While I’m on about it… fuck your bullshit, too, damn. Can you do a little something about that? (Yes, you can. Choices. Verbs. It’s a lot of work I know.) I’m being somewhat playful, but also quite serious and purposeful. When was the last time you did a serious self-inventory? Who are you? Where are you headed in life? Are you wasting your resources and potential as if there is no future? Are you playing a grand game of Let’s Pretend and failing to understand how very much control you actually do have? Are your thinking errors preventing you from being emotionally and physically well? Are your addictions degrading your quality of life in return for a few minutes of something like pleasure? (Fine, fine, you’re not addicted, it’s just something you do… whatever. Fuck your bullshit.)

Seriously. Fuck your bullshit. Let it go. Change something you don’t like about yourself – because you don’t like it. Change your circumstances, if they suck. Seriously. Make choices. Use verbs. Don’t just party through your heartache or the wreckage in your head that’s holding you back. Educate yourself. Read a fucking book. See a damned therapist. Make every possible effort to be the person you most want to be! This is your life. Live it well, for fucks’ sake – because it is yours.

Why? Well, damn – because it’s what you want. Did you not already catch on to the fact that when what you want (of yourself, and of your life) is very different than what you are providing yourself, a deep despairing unhappiness can set in, an ennui that can destroy your ability to act – or to care – leaving you vulnerable to yet another evening/weekend/week/month/year of going… nowhere. Stress that never ends because you never choose in favor of your own long term interests and needs. Are you on a path that leads somewhere? Are you “wandering purposefully” seeking a greater truth? Or are you sort of just… killing mortal time? You could likely do better, for yourself. Your will to do so will matter a great deal. There are verbs involved. It’s a lot of work, and at least initially (maybe always, just being real; there’s work to do), damn little in the way of obvious pay off. It takes time. Incremental change is slow.

Anyway. What I’m saying is; this is your mess, you clean it up.

…And also? Fuck your bullshit. Damn.

…And also?…

Begin again. ❤

It’s come up a number of times as I transition out of this job, and certainly it has come up any number of times, an uncountable number of times, in life, generally; we don’t know what we don’t know. None of us do. I certainly don’t know what I don’t know. Demonstrably so. My colleagues don’t know what they don’t know. I can prove it.

I considered writing in detail about the painful professional reminders of this fairly predictable conundrum, but quickly tired of the mundanity of an experience I am living right now, and am also already so over. When we dismiss or diminish the hard-won experience and expertise of a friend or loved one (or colleague), we also undermine their interest in remaining emotionally invested in supporting our needs. That’s just real. Respect, consideration, listening to the answers to questions that are asked, taking time to be thoughtful and studious about information our experienced, expert, associates are willing to share with us, are great ways to demonstrate our appreciation, and to ensure their time is not wasted on us. Time is precious and limited.

Yes, it matters. We don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t. We literally can’t grasp the vastness of the information we just don’t have. Ideas we’ve never been exposed to. The potential negative consequences of the things we do not understand, or are not aware of. Showing consideration and respect for those among us who do know something more, and are willing to share that with us, is just an element of what could be called “common decency”.

Put down your opinion along with your ego for a moment, and be open to the idea that not only do you “not know everything” (easy enough to accept, generally), but also that there are others who do know more (a bit harder sometimes, perhaps). Our opinions don’t amount to knowledge. That can be so hard to accept. It’s still true. You want to be the expert? Gain the experience. Study. Gain the knowledge. Use it. Gain more experience. Fail some. Try things. Study more. Seek credentials where credentials are appropriate. Study more. Use that knowledge. Try more things. Ask new questions. Learn more things. See where this is going? You may have an opinion you feel strongly about, but unless your opinion is validated in some way, and proves to be quite correct, it has nothing whatsoever to do with “knowledge” and certainly nothing to do with expertise. Opinions, however firmly held, do not amount to facts – nor are they an assurance of understanding.

It’s okay not knowing. It predicts nothing about the future state of one’s knowledge or expertise; these are things that can be learned. We become what we practice. You want to be the expert? Gain some experience, seek knowledge. There are verbs involved. In the meantime, maybe get comfortable with the expertise of others. Ask them what they know. Listen when they tell you. Don’t assume that the appearance of ease is any indication that something is easy – maybe it is just well-practiced?

We can’t know what we don’t know – but we can pay attention, be open to learning, be willing to study. And we can begin again. 🙂

It’s all well and good to talk about beginning again, starting things over, letting go, moving on… incremental change over time is so slow… and… there are so many choices. So many voices with opinions. So much room for doubt, for confusion, for uncertainty… for fear. Where, I might ask, does one start on some new beginning? What does it mean, really, to “begin again”?

…Have you asked that question, felt stalled, and just… wondered, in helpless frustration? I don’t have all the answers. I’m mostly about questions, actually, but… sure. I’ll try to provide an answer – one, mine (it’s the one I’ve got handy) – and if it is helpful perspective for you, it’s enough, right? 🙂 There are, for sure, other, different answers. As many as there are other voices. This is mine (right now, at least, one of them, based on what I know now).

What does it mean to me to “begin again”? In simple terms, it means pausing in this present moment long enough to truly be fully present, in this moment, and really just this moment. It means being aware, and present, and seeking to be those things nonjudgmentally, and without lingering attachment to some specific future outcome, or past pain (or joy). Just… here. Now. To begin again, from that place of being fully present, observant, and aware, all that separates me from moving forward afresh, and with new perspective, is really nothing more than a breath. I take that breath, and make a choice, take an action, head to a destination – verbs. That’s it. Pause. Be present. Breathe. Move on. A new beginning becomes what it is to be. That’s my idea of beginning again.

Simple, right? Seems easy enough. The subtleties are the challenge; sometimes it is harder to be present. Sometimes very difficult to let go of past pain. Sometimes I am overly invested in a future outcome. Sometimes I just feel stalled. It is effective, though, and with sufficient practice, becomes such a natural moment along my path that it doesn’t feel like any sort of interruption, at all. It’s just a moment of clarity, of commitment to purpose – but without attachment to outcome – and a chance to pause to become, again, truly present in my experience. The benefits are obvious, although more so over time, with repetition. I feel, generally, more centered in my experience. More sure of myself. More aligned with my values. More capable of being goal-focused, and purposeful. It also seems to tend to leave me more open to inspiration, and more accepting of change, and adaptable in the face of turmoil. A worthy practice in a busy life.

Yes… it does amount to slowing down, taking a moment, and merely taking the time to “figure things out”. Call it what you like. I call it “beginning again”. 😉

I was sipping my coffee between moments in the studio when I really noticed; there’s a tree missing from the view beyond my deck.

What I expected to see…

It’s not a great picture, and I warn you now, it isn’t from an identical perspective – and perhaps that’s why it nagged at me so much. Something is different, I spotted that right away, but figured, in the gloom of twilight, last night, that perhaps it was just more winter, fewer leaves, more lights in the distance… something.

…what I see today.

There’s a missing tangle of mostly-dead tree. Obvious as anything could be, once I allowed myself to really see it, absent my expectations. There’s something to be learned from that.

The healthy heart-wood of the stump left-behind, quite evenly cut, about 18 inches from the ground, tells me it was not lost to misadventure or high winds. Willful. Probably well-intended. I feel sad about it anyway, thinking about the owl that had been making her home there. The squirrels using it as a freeway ramp to the tree nearer the deck. The loss of privacy from neighbors beyond. Just… the loss of a tree. It’s painful. Oh, I’m sure a dead tree just hanging out there on the steep edge of the yard, where it suddenly drops off just past the fence, was a hazard of some sort, to something, but… fucking hell. I’m getting a little sick of people just taking my fucking trees away every-fucking-where that I move. Irksome.

There’s much to learn from contemplating this change. Trees fall. Trees are cut. Impermanence is. Non-attachment helps with the pain of circumstantial misfortunes. We have choices. Trees can be planted. Trees sprout. Trees grow.

I sip a delicious afternoon coffee – a perk of having a 3-day weekend, afternoon coffee always feels like luxury to me. 🙂 I contemplate impermanence, and change – and choices. I think about seeing. I mean, really seeing – eyes and mind both open to what may be new and changed. I contemplate acceptance; change can be hard. Recognizing what has changed is not without it’s own challenges. I breathe. Relax, and consider what I am practicing, and what I want to achieve. I think over conversations with my Traveling Partner; this last visit was rich with thought-provoking, inspiring, observations, and discussion. Connected. Insightful. Loving.

We become what we practice. (Remember, “trees take a long time” 😉 )

We become what we practice. I keep saying it. It’s a thing you can learn more about. There are even actual experts in the field of becoming happy. No kidding. Right here. You’ve got this. There are just some verbs involved. A path. Some choices. A lot of practice. A bunch of beginning again. It’s a journey, and the journey itself is the destination.

You don’t have to choose to endure endless relentless misery. You. Yes, you. However bleak things feel in this moment right here, you can choose differently. Your results will vary – and incremental change over time can feel infernally slow, but you can choose to practice practices that improve your experience of life (and self), overtime, and maintain it long term. No kidding. This is real. Doing it. It works.

Maybe read a book? Got an entire reading list for you right here. 🙂 Watch a video? How about this one? (Be sure to also watch the less tongue in cheek follow up, though… 😉 )

You have choices. Maybe you chose poorly some recent day and you’re feeling sort of defeated. even now? Maybe you haven’t yet understood just how much of your misery you are not only choosing, but also working very hard to carefully craft and maintain it? Just begin again – please. Give yourself that chance. Be your own best friend on this one.

Be real with yourself. Be who you are. Be authentic about where you are in your life right now. It’s a place to begin. Now?

Begin again.