Archives for posts with tag: what are you practicing?

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”. 😉

Just a reminder; regardless whether it “looks easy”, it probably took work. Just saying, it’s rare that things are truly “easy” or without effort, however effortless some other human primate is making it look. 😉 Don’t let the appearance of someone else’s mastery dissuade you from making your own choices, following your own path, or embracing the very real likelihood that learning something new and becoming great at it will require considerable work. 🙂

We’re all working at something.

I have no idea why we’ve ended up with the notion that things need to look easy. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it?

That thing you want to do or learn? It’s worth the work involved. 🙂 Go ahead, go for it – begin! 🙂

…Be prepared to begin, again, a fair few times along the way. 😉

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” 😉 )

It’s a question worth asking, I think. It’s at least worth reflecting upon it, asking it of yourself, and perhaps even being prepared that this could eventually be a thing you have to wrap your head around; what if you had to completely start over – with nothing?

Where you would begin in life, if you had to begin again on an entirely different level? What if you lost everything, even losing your “way”, your sense of place in the world, your job, your home, your standing in the community? How to start over…? Where to begin…? What matters most?

What matters most?

If you’ve “lost everything”, it’s likely you still have something precious to count on… this moment. Here. Now. Maybe some choices? If you’ve already lost everything, you’ve also lost reasons to turn away from choices that could take you somewhere really new… that’s something. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, by itself, just the freedom to choose. Choose anything. To start from nothing and rebuild doesn’t sound at all pleasant, but once we’re on the other side of that “rip off the band-aid” moment of loss, isn’t it, potentially, all forward momentum?

For fuck’s sake, though, grieve if you’re hurting! Don’t mistake loss – and the emotions that it evokes – for anything more permanent than any other emotional experience, but do give yourself – and take – the time you need to heal and be okay! Impermanence is one thing, but please, oh please, don’t treat yourself harshly when you’re hurting. Feel your feelings. Be the best friend you may not feel you have, right now. Treat yourself with the consideration you’d give anyone else who is hurting. There’s no magic happy pill (no, really really there isn’t). Maybe it’ll be slow going to pull yourself out of whatever you are mired in right now… but you can.

Where would you begin, if it were you? A cup of coffee and a good book? A few minutes on a meditation cushion, a lovely view, the sound of breezes through tree tops? A few hours playing video games? A walk alone through a beautiful forest? I don’t know where you’d begin again… that one’s on you. I’ve gone without more than a few times. I lost a lot in life, and rebuilt a time or two; it’s why I refer to my lives in the plural, and reference “past lifetimes” – it really feels that way. lol I’m here, now, though, and I’m okay. Choices.

Yeah, but… circumstances, too. Don’t forget about the circumstances, right? Unavoidable, undebatable, immutable circumstances. Well, shit…

…Nah, I’m going to argue that one. Not gonna let that go. It’s an excuse to fail. Circumstances are circumstances; you still choose your adventure, still decide who you are as a human being, and you still have choices – how to act, how to react, what to say, how to treat people, how to treat yourself, where to go in life… all choices. Are you going to get handed some tiles in this game? Yep. It’s true. Starting points. From there; choices.

Choose wisely.

There’s much suffering in the world (and in my feeds), and I don’t much want to call it out, but some of it appears to be based on… choices. You can choose so much of your experience, and yes, even the suffering. Why choose to suffer?

We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

Damn, look at the time! It’s time to begin again. That’s a choice. ❤

Sipping coffee and thinking about cautions and warnings and good advice at the last possible minute, and strong recommendations against very foolhardy actions. All of that? Don’t do those things! lol From the earliest “don’t put that in your mouth” observations from childhood to the latest-in-life reminders to “wrap it up”, “vaccinate”, “don’t drive drunk” or “don’t reheat reheated leftovers again, especially after they’ve been out on the counter for hours”… and the lingering, oft-repeated, equally often disregarded “what the fuck are you doing??” – Don’t do the thing!!

I’m just noticing, I guess, how frequently the cautionary advice in life is seriously fucking basic.

It makes sense to refrain from just picking shit up off the floor or the ground and sticking it your mouth. Just saying, we generally grow out of that impulse fairly young, but… I do actually know folks who are “bare backing” their casual sexual encounters and don’t seem to realize how stupid “aw, hell, I mean, they don’t look like they have vd…” actually sounds. Excuses about not getting the flu shot don’t sound more reasoned. People still choose – deliberately choose – to drive while intoxicated, or exhausted. People still disregard the basics of kitchen hygiene at home and make themselves or their loved ones sick with food borne illnesses, regularly (they’d never pay money to eat in that kitchen, though, and they’d raise hell if they got food poisoning from a restaurant).

Take care of yourself. Skillfully done, good self-care enhances a lifetime – potentially a longer one. I’m not sure it even takes more effort to heed wise cautions, and to care for ourselves with the same attention we bring to our jobs. Isn’t it mostly a matter of choices? Of listening? Of acting in our own best (long-term) interests?

What’s stopping you? What’s holding you back from a life well-lived, and from enjoying the results of good decision-making?

I reflect on my own failures to take my own best advice to heart. I reflect on how my emotional qualify of life can influence my practical decision-making. I consider where I can improve, and what choices I can make differently, every day. I find myself wondering if taking steps to practice the very best, most skillful, self-care has any positive outcome for the world… or just for me…

…Soon enough, I notice it is already time to begin again. 🙂