Archives for posts with tag: we’re each having our own experience

This morning, before I quite realized what I’d done, I’d gotten lost in my newsfeed within moments of sitting down to write. I didn’t write. Well, I did write – but I wasn’t writing in a rational, purposeful, helpful way that supports me as a human, or shares something of value. I was mad. I was… posting replies. Oh my.

Once I noticed I was putting myself at risk of an angry screed, I pushed my chair back, sat fully upright, and took a couple deep deep cleansing breaths, and let myself relax. I held on to the awareness of that moment, breaking free of the tantalizing sticky trap of opinion, pulling myself free of the outrage machinery. (There is so much to be outraged about this days, no lie, that’s real.) Differences of opinion so easily become anger. We each feel so certain we are “right“, and that if only we could share the nuances of our personal perspective, everyone else would get it, too! While that may be true, now and then, it mostly just isn’t, at all. We are each having our own experience. It’s not actually fully share-able.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a “relativist“. While I do recognize that context, culture, and variations in human understanding and experience can change the truth of a proposition, I also understand the nature of reality to have unchanging elements (that I may or may not be fully able to recognize or understand, myself). I think how we define the terms we use matters a great deal, and definitely affects our ability to have meaning dialogue, generally, every bit as much as “the nature of reality”. I have an ethical framework, as an individual, that suggests to me that some actions and choices are “wrong” – meaning, not consistent with my ethics, as an individual. So far so good. Where things get messy, and I think this is true for a great many of us, is when my own sense of “wrongness” pressures me from within to make a point of calling it out when I see others taking those actions, or making those choices. Do I really get to decide right vs wrong for anyone but me?

Yes.

…Also, no.

So… “yes”, in the limited sense that I’m utterly free to express my opinion on the matter. However, in doing so, I’m a wiser happier human if I can also remain aware that my opinion on such things is not likely to a) change anyone else’s opinion (or actions) or b) have any great persuasive weight in the world, generally, and also… c) it’s not for me to decide what everyone else will think or do. I’m just saying. I mean that – I’m literally merely, simply, only, and “just” saying words. Someone may hear my words and change. Someone else may hear my words and double-down out of pure resentment and fury, because in their view I am clearly wrong. Still someone else will disregard my words without ever hearing me out,. We are each having our own experience. I don’t really get to decide what anyone else understands right or wrong to be – but I am not required to respect, value, share, or appreciate their perspective, beyond hearing them out, and accepting their agency.

I don’t personally take any of this to be an expression of futility, or as a reason to “stand down” or “keep my opinion to myself”, because humanity’s culture has formed around our opinions and understanding of the world. Our shared ethical commitments become our shared understanding of right vs wrong, and ultimately informs entire communities, and whole nations, allowing society to enact change. We do need to share our individual sense of right vs. wrong with each other to help steer this cultural ship through the waters of change and growth over time. It’s the anger and outrage of social media specifically (before coffee) that is problematic; too much noise, not enough signal. So, I give myself a break, sip my coffee, and bring my moment closer to home. I have plenty to do to make change happen right here. I have work to do to be the woman I most want to be. That’s a project I have real influence over – every day. My example, as an individual, has meaning without extending my reach “to the world” by replying to all manner of media detritus in a reactive moment. Hell, I don’t even respect the opinions of 100% of every human; some are worth far more than others (this is likely true for you as well), and we each “rate” the value of another person’s opinion on different criteria!! (Totally true, too.) So… another good moment to practice non-attachment. lol

I finish my coffee and begin again.

That’s a simple enough observation to share on a quiet morning; it gets easier with practice. It’s true of nearly anything one might practice, and would go without saying for that reason, only… I don’t know about  you, but I regularly forget that. I’m not looking to achieve perfection through practicing; it’s enough that practicing helps. I’m delighted that both the practicing and applying the skill, task, process, or practice I am practicing does get easier. With practice. 🙂

Like pictures of flowers, it's worth it to practice.

Like pictures of flowers, it’s worth it to practice.

Yesterday had all the potential in the world to go very wrong. I had taken my dose of Rx pain relief the night before, and rather carelessly just toss the bottle back into its place without being particularly mindful that I had just taken the last dose. As in, I had run out. I work hard to prevent that from happening because the outcome of unexpectedly withdrawing from it is not pleasant. I didn’t really think I was at risk – there was another whole bottled right there…only… there wasn’t. That was an entirely different medication, and the re-fill of my pain-killer hadn’t yet arrived in the mail. That seemed no big deal in the morning, at least initially. I was in a great mood and not much pain. So I shrugged it off and went on with my day. Before I even got to work, my mood started to turn, and I felt this simmering anger in the background that I couldn’t explain – it was a lovely day and I felt great when the day started.

By the time I got to work I felt inexplicably resentful, cross, short-tempered and hostile. Being ever so human, my brain started to craft explanations that seemed reasonable, which – since there wasn’t anything wrong to cause the feelings I was having, didn’t bode well for the future of the day, or my mood.  Later, some juxtaposition of thoughts and observations drove me to take a ‘time out’ in a quiet corner and meditate for a moment or two, and as I gently considered my being, I realized I was in a lot of pain. A lot. That’s when the smile broke through, and my shoulders relaxed, and the ferocity building in my heart died away; of course I was in pain, I hadn’t taken my pain medication. The last piece slipped into place and I recognized that the medication I hadn’t taken easily accounted for the entire experience. My experience immediately improved. I still hurt. I spent the day in a lot of pain. I still had that headache, and withdrawing from a pain-killer unexpectedly does suck – but it’s totally survivable, only mildly unpleasant. Certainly, it does not amount to an emotional betrayal of any sort, and there’s no call to allow it to ruin a productive work day.

I spent the rest of the day almost merry. I phoned my physician, asked to have the Rx refilled at the local pharmacy. My at-home partner offered to pick it up on her way home so it would be waiting for me when I arrived. Emotional crisis averted. I even thought to pay myself on the back for not allowing my emotions to rule – or ruin – the day, and enjoyed a moment of quite celebration – practicing the practices definitely making an every day difference.

Yoga is harder when I’m in pain, but getting through a sequence that addresses that pain reduces the pain I’m in.  That’s one practice I definitely intend to keep.

Meditation doesn’t come naturally during an emotional storm, or an angry moment, or dark despair; that’s why it requires practice, and making that commitment has resulted [for me] in more emotional resilience, more awareness and presence, less fearfulness and anxiety, better sleep, and a deep sense of calm that is easier to reach. Another practice I’m fully committed to; it’s the most powerful Rx I’ve ever had for some of what ails me.

Self-care practices go unnoticed in the lives of so many people. Observation in my own experience tells me, sadly, that much of what is wrong with the world is how poorly we treat ourselves, care for ourselves (or don’t), and tend to our own needs; we are rarely able to do better for others than we can do for ourselves. I’m fairly strict with myself these days, in a loving way, about being on time with medication, getting enough sleep, eating right, and staying on track with fitness goals – because when I treat myself well, I treat the world well, and enjoy my experience more.

A lovely day to treat myself well, and enjoy my experience more.

A lovely day to treat myself well, and enjoy my experience more.

Today seems ordinary enough, in a very pleasant way. Today I’ll take my time, savor the moments, and enjoy my experience. Today is a good day to enjoy the world.