Archives for posts with tag: Wheaton’s Law

I guess it does not “go without saying” that we can care for ourselves well, and also treat others well. There are certainly some moments in humanity’s “blooper reel” that highlight how easily we lose sight of that in practice; we can be well and also do good. Apparently Marriott’s slip and fall moment involved a passenger ship, and an opportunity to rescue human beings from an island after a hurricane devastated it, with another on the way. Instead of rescuing everyone they could, they rescued only their own hotel guests, and left with capacity for hundreds of other human beings, also in dire need of rescue. Go ahead. Google it. I’ll wait.

The justification for leaving human beings behind, stranded, without support, services, and in some cases without even shelter was… “policy”. Yep. Their hands were tied by “policy”.  Their own policy. Let’s just admit right now that we all recognize what bullshit that is, most particular in times of humanitarian crisis. “Policies” are entirely arbitrary rules made up by people to account for most circumstances, and enforced through a filter of ordinary biases and willful exception-making (when it seems expedient). Using a “policy” to justify mistreating people isn’t okay. It is, in fact, cruel bullshit. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be one of the Marriott’s of the world. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t helpful, it isn’t kind, and it has no value to anyone outside the shareholder class, who (surprise!) may profit from it financially. Fuck that bullshit. Do better. Do good.

Take care of yourself. Definitely do this. Treat yourself well – and do it because you matter, too. I found it more challenging to learn to treat myself well than I expected to; I fought myself every step of the way. I didn’t understand that mistreating myself undermined my ability to treat others well, and also limited my compassion for others. It’s been an interesting journey with the woman in the mirror. We weren’t exactly friends 5 years ago. I put up with her bullshit. She put up with mine. We treated each other badly.  It was a daily battle to get through all of my self-imposed obligations, responsibilities, tasks and chores, and… I had nothing left for me, and wasn’t doing much of value for anyone else, as it turned out. Awkward. I was just working hard at going through the motions. Life felt pretty empty, and chasing happiness wasn’t getting me any closer to it.

Let go of a few self-imposed “rules” and “policies”! Treat yourself and others truly well (shit, that sounds like a rule, or a policy, right there… lol). No guarantees that “happiness” will follow, although I find helping people fairly gratifying personally, maybe that isn’t you (yet). We become what we practice; if you practice treating people badly, you become a bad person. Just saying.

Too many of us Marriott our way through our lives. Managing clear boundaries becomes living by a set of restrictive rules used to exclude others from our experience pretty easily. Refusing to help because it is inconvenient, or may have some potential for personal risk, says a lot about how we feel about our fellow human being – and how we feel about ourselves. How tightly swaddled in your privilege are you? Do you know the names of the cleaning crew at your office? If you’re part of the cleaning crew at an office, is it comfortable to smile and make eye contact with “the suits”? When was the last time you reached across a social or economic chasm to say hello to another human being, without regard to what they can do for you? Are you making a practice of averting your eyes from the homeless? Do you turn your back on uncomfortable strangers riding public transit so you don’t feel the pain of not giving up your seat to someone who needs it more?

No one can do “everything” for everyone. Most of us have resources enough for our own needs, our families, perhaps if we are fortunate, for our extended families as well. I get it; it feels like there isn’t enough to go around. There is though – because small gestures matter, too. Ask people in distress if they are okay. That’s a good beginning. Then listen. That’s some great follow through. Maybe you can help. Maybe you can’t help. Sometimes people need a connection more than a solution. 🙂 Sometimes though, you will have the solution, and the resources, and the time, and it’s all right there… don’t be Marriott.

Our choices can change the world. Isn’t it time to begin again?

All of the pain this morning, and a hearty helping of “aggravated with America” besides. Fuck this bullshit. I snarl as I open the windows to the breezes. I hobble around making coffee on my aching ankle, the broken foot experience is largely behind me now, this is just routine, everyday, ceaseless “holy-fuck-is-there-anything-at-all-left-down-there-that-properly-functions-as-an-ankle??” pain. The rain yesterday was a relief. Today my arthritis is acting up. This headache seems worse than usual. I am on the edge of tears and my anger just simmers, waiting for a moment to call its own.

It’s just pain.

The splinter in my finger adds to the experience in an extra frustrating way; every time I hit a key with that index finger, I either feel the stabby irritated inflamed pain of the splinter in my finger, or somehow manage a sloppy assortment of unnecessary letters (mostly “g”) that must then be removed. It’s extremely aggravating. My quirky sense of humor is such that at this point, I wish I’d left all the “g’s” in place for amusement. (You’re welcome.)

It’s just pain.

It’s just physical pain. There are literally more important things going on right now than my individual physical pain.

Again I let it go. Start over. Begin again. I do what I can to support my physical needs along the way. There is work to be done “out there”. The difficult work of seeing past my privilege. The work of using my privilege as an umbrella, rather than as a shield. The work of being considerate. The work of being helpful. The work of being kind. The work of setting a good example by being the change I wish to see in the world. The work of listening past my own biases. The work of recognizing we are each having our own experience. The work of compassion. The work of being the village it takes to raise our children to become the future caretakers of the only world we currently call home. The work of seeking a true truth stripped of provocative buzzwords and catchy slogans, laid bare of ideological bias. The work of being a better human being today than I was yesterday – every day.

Fuck… that’s a lot to do. I could say “I hurt too much, today, I’ll get on it tomorrow…”, only… they seem the sort of tasks that would quickly pile up, get out of hand and… oh. That’s right where we are. Now. Shit.

Well. I guess I’ll begin again. Will you?

The time is now.

 

Sipping my coffee thinking about this lovely holiday season. Thinking about the people who make it possible. The job. My delightful neighbors. My Traveling Partner. Family. Friends. Oh – and all the people who are stuck working while I am enjoying some time at home, them too. I mean… seriously, quite a lot of people do not have the luxury of taking time off for the holidays. Some of those don’t earn much in the way of holiday pay, most likely don’t see any kind of perks or bonuses, and they’re still out there. They’re commuting to and from work on the transit system. They’re serving coffee, waiting tables, cooking food, stocking shelves, standing at cash registers, fulfilling orders in warehouses, moving packages from point A to point B… all the things. You may be one of them. If you are – thank you. Thank you for doing all of the things.

If you aren’t one of these people, if you do get to “go home for the holidays” – even if that’s just a block or two you are not commuting for a few days – please take a moment of consideration for all of the folks who are working. They probably have to. Be kind. Be generous – or at least good-hearted. Be gracious and well-mannered. Be helpful. Be appreciative. Be your best self. Why? Well, why the hell not? It’s a mockery of our potential as human beings when we sink to our worst, is it not? Happy Holidays? Merry Giftmas? Sure – make it happen, and with a few choices in a handful of tense or tired moments, make it happen not at the expense of the people who are actually the ones making it happen with you, or for you.

I’m just saying, we all have opportunities to treat each other well. It doesn’t have to be seasonal. 🙂

Today is a good day to take a few minutes to be there for someone – even if it inconveniences you. Today is a good day to listen, to really listen, and be someone’s lighthouse in their dark and stormy night. Today is a good day to remember that the holidays don’t really feel good to everyone; we are each having our own experience, and “sharing the magic” of the holidays may be a complicated offering for people who are hurting, or grieving, or sad. Today is a good day for connecting, for conversation, for asking “how can I help?” and taking a moment to share the journey.

City lights, and a horizon full of traveler's tales.

City lights, and a horizon full of traveler’s tales.

What a lovely moment to begin again.

I got off work yesterday in a good mood, tired, enthusiastic about the walk through town and over the bridge at twilight, and looking forward to a quiet evening at home. The commute wasn’t merely uneventful, it was also a miracle of coincidence and great timing. I arrived home, still smiling.

Some enchanted evening...

Some enchanted evening…

What follows is a cautionary tale about emotional health.

As I waited for dinner to cook, not wanting to wander off or be distracted, I picked up my phone, and opened my news feed. I noticed there seem to a be lot of articles about hate, hate crimes, and the general mistreatment of human beings toward one another. I dove right in and read one, then another, and another… over minutes, I read several. I was also cooking, and pretty focused on that. As minutes passed, I found myself no longer smiling. Feeling somewhat discontent. Generally a bit aggravated. A few minutes further on, I was feeling annoyed. Irritable actually. I sat down with dinner, finding fault with small things that typically don’t bother me at all. (Damn, are the guys next door going to be so noisy all evening? Seriously? Is that a leaf on the floor from where I came in, earlier??)

I ate my dinner in a mood of aggravation and discontent. It seemed a mysterious change, and it was some minutes before I connected my roiling stew of negative emotions looking for a fight with reading the news some time earlier. Then I did make the connection. I put down my device. I tidied up the dinner dishes feeling a bit thoughtful and pre-occupied. Had I really made a point of willfully turning a lovely mood sour by my own hand? What was I thinking? I sigh, recognizing the temptation of turning my negative emotions on myself, rather than helping myself into a better emotional place with at least the same effort I brought to wrecking the pleasant mood I was in, in the first place; it’s easier to be hard on myself than it is to change.

I gave the news a rest, and renewed my commitment to not treating myself so badly in the first place. News retailers are in business, and business is focused on profit, and what is profitable is holding consumer attention, and what holds consumer attention is… outrage. Yep. We gobble up news about hate, about fear, about the outrageous and “what is wrong with the world” – and then wonder why we’re angry, outraged, or frightened. We’re some fancy fucking primates – not all that smart about some things, but damn, we’re fancy. We write news, put it in front of other primates, sell what we can – and write more of that. Think about that for a minute – if the point is sales, and profitability, and what sells are the stories about hate, doesn’t it seem quite obvious that more stories about hate will be written? I’m not saying that the world isn’t full up on hate these days, but I am saying that whether or not it were, if stories about hate are what sells the most views, clicks, and subscriptions, then aren’t there going to be just a whole bunch more stories about hate? To read. To be consumed. To set an impression of the world we live in, generally?

I put myself in a gentle time out and spent much of the evening meditating. It was a significant improvement over reading the news. I ended the evening feeling soothed and balanced. Hate in the world is not eased or relieved by fear, or anger, or more hate. Awareness that hate in the world is an issue is something to cultivate, but succumbing to it myself is to be avoided. That seems practical and obvious (to me). I don’t need to read even one more article about some human being treating another badly “because Trump” – I am aware that human beings mistreating each other is a problem. It was a problem before the election, and it will likely continue to be a problem after the next four years is behind us; some people choose some really vile verbs. Hate exists. Fear exists. Anger exists. People having those experiences are probably having them in fashion that seems justified, reasonable, or even appropriate to them in the moment. There are some hateful things going on. There are some scary circumstances (and scarier people) in the world. There are good reasons to be angry, and things worthy of being angry about.  It remains a worthy endeavor to treat people well, nonetheless – including the person in the mirror.

This morning I woke to the alarm. A new day. A chance to begin again. I don’t start with the news. I renew my commitment to myself to choose what I read with great care. Sensational headlines get my attention; that’s why they work, that’s why they are written that way. It’s generally enough to read the headline, sass it silently, and move on. Advertising and color commentary masquerading as actual news can be distracting – and emotive. I remind myself to avoid it. Hell, at some point, continuing to read and reread the same tired bullet points spread across media outlets, being used to stoke new outrage and keep reader engagement high, actually takes time away from taking action on causes that matter… in some cases, the very causes that are so engaging to read about. (How many news stories have you read about DAPL? Have you taken a leave from work to get out there and help? Donated money? Written letters to congress? Any verbs at all – or just reading along? How about the lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan? Local homelessness? Foreign wars? Just saying; there’s plenty in the world that could use some well-chosen verbs.)

I’ll point out that all the same choices and practices that soured my mood could be made more selectively, more skillfully, and used to build a great mood from a bad one: intellectual distraction, investment in a specific emotion by choosing experiences that tend to reinforce and enhance it, repetition, and mindfully engaging that emotional experience deeply.

Today is a good day to put down the news, set aside the outrage machinery, and choose some verbs. If the point of life is to live it… why would I be spending my precious limited lifetime reading the news, anyway? 😉

I had taken notes yesterday for a very different blog post. It’s something I experience rather regularly; my thinking changed, my mood changed, my experience changed, and the my awareness of context and my perspective changed along with them. I woke this morning in “a very different place” though I am in my usual surroundings. My notes no longer “make sense” – oh, I get where I was going with those observations, but… no. Not today.

Another perspective on the day

Another perspective on the day

My perspective changed. Perspective shifts are a pretty wonderful “natural resource”, when I allow them. Last night’s concert, for example, was actually pretty dreadful – unexpectedly so, although after-the-fact, looking back, I knew when I purchased the tickets that the artist was working the trailing end of a lifelong career, and “tired” probably doesn’t describe the end result in appropriate terms. The artist attracted a bizarre mix of elders, middle-aged rockers, and rather peculiarly – some real creepers, actually frightening “do not talk to me, sir, I don’t know you” sorts of creepers. The smell of booze, body odor, and heavy perfume was thick in the air. Ick.

My traveling partner caught up with me in line, and we went to our seats. It was clear in minutes that the seats behind us were occupied by stereotypically entitled rude douchebags, demonstrated primarily by such loud talking that it was difficult to hear my partner seated immediately next to me, and it was highly distracting. I expected they would stop when the show started, but that wasn’t going to happen – when did everyday people become so incredibly rude and inconsiderate? It irked me most especially that they’d probably go about quite proudly on Veteran’s Day thanking Veterans for their service without even once thinking about the contradiction implied by being so heinously rude in a concert venue that they were potentially ruining the quality of the experience for the Veterans who may be attending. Dicks.

After the show started, I turned around and asked them politely if they could lower their voices. I’m a woman. They ignored me with smirks that told me it wasn’t an oversight that they were blowing me off. My partner turned next and straight up, quite firmly, told them to stop talking. Heads turned. There were approving murmurs to my right, and heads nodding in the seats on the other side of the aisle. The two loud-talking dick bags did stop talking loudly – instead, they kicked the backs of our seats regularly, like vengeful children on an airplane. It would be funny if it weren’t so demonstrative of “the state of things” that seems so common and scary in people’s behavior these days. Certainly, it is inappropriate behavior for an adult.

Intermission came. With it, our shared admission that the jack asses seated behind us weren’t really all that… just people being annoying. For a really stellar show, we agreed we’d both endure that, and shrug it off having made our point politely… only… The show was actually quite dreadful. That’s enough to say about that, I’m not a reviewer or a critic, and there is so much in the world I do not know. We mutually agreed, with some relief, that our perspective was shared and neither of us was feeling hurt over the other’s disappointment in the event. We left during intermission, talking and laughing and enjoying the night out. The drive home was pleasant and unhurried. We hung out late into the evening, sharing each other’s company – really that’s what the evening was all about, anyway. Being authentically who we each are saved our evening from an evening enduring a mediocre concert event in the company of children masquerading as adults.

Damn. I sound all sorts of judgmental this morning… and that’s what I was actually going to write about, from my notes yesterday! We do have and use our judgment. It’s so easy to turn that critical voice on ourselves – and then on each other. On the other hand, I don’t see being non-judgmental as requiring me to accept mistreatment, or tolerate indefinitely an unpleasant experience. It can be a matter of judgment to choose to speak up, or to walk on; I see that differently from “being judgmental”. I realized this morning, I’m not sure I have the words to explain why… so… maybe I am incorrect in an assumption somewhere, and this requires further thought? I’m okay with that. There’s time. This is a journey – and the destination is not the point of it.

I slept quite late this morning after the late night. I woke up in pain. I remind myself again to call the doctor’s office this morning. My traveling partner checks in with me about doing something today. Doing things is good – I have today off. I just hurt today, and don’t really care about doing anything. I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee, and suddenly I feel cross. Oh! I’m hungry. I chuckle at myself; I’m not yet awake enough to really understand that my self-care is thrown off by sleeping in. I’m prone to misunderstanding myself, my surroundings, the context of my experience, and more than usually reactive. Another coffee, then, some yoga, a hot shower… maybe later doing things. lol

Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to enjoy the moment that is… and another cup of coffee. 😉