Archives for posts with tag: where does this path lead?

The sunlight is beginning to fade – early evening, approaching sunset, and still another couple hours (guessing) of day light before dusk settles. This is a favorite time of day, for me. I love the light, in the evenings. I enjoy the way the peach and gold and amber tones give a moment a certain luster it might otherwise lack.

…The election is approaching… Yeah, I know, me too; no real desire to talk about, struggle to avoid the inevitable next news story, talking head, or conversation in which the election is the topic of conversation. I mean, for fucks’ sake, vote. Please take at least that quite seriously. There’s no point in attempting to sway your individual viewpoint; we’ve all “shown up” and we’ve all attempted to make our point very clear over the past four years, with little success most of the time, and we’re all exhausted, frustrated, and saddened by the friendships ended by the divisiveness of the current administration. It’s been ugly. Let’s just get this shit over with, and just maybe begin life anew, sometime in November, rebuilding relationships, reaching across divides, maybe even “unburning” some bridges? I mean… we could. We so easily could begin again. 😉

Where will your path take you?

It can be so tempting to hang the entire future on a moment. Election or otherwise, there is so much more potential to an entire future than one moment. Just saying.

I’ve stopped reading news articles that lead with a headline of some doomsday scenario that is 100% pure imagination and potential, with nothing actually supporting the likelihood. I mean… I could tumble into a nearby creek after being struck by lightening while being bitten by a snake… but it seems unlikely. If I plan my day around that potential, or imagine a future that is dependent on the outcomes that could only result from that happenstance, I haven’t done anything particularly useful for my emotional wellness, my outlook on life, or even managed to be adequately prepared for what may actually be in my probable possible futures. lol I’m taking this thought farther than a “don’t catastrophize” reminder…

…It wasn’t so long ago that I was reading the news so compulsively, and so often, that my “state of mind” was adversely affected. I was anxious to the point of madness – and mostly over shit that had neither truth to it, nor noteworthy probability of actually occurring. I’ve stopped doing that, figuring that “falling behind on current events” by hours or days is a small price to pay for enjoying my life, and maintaining my sanity. 🙂 It’s already difficult enough to know how to be effective in the world… trying to do that on the basis of a bunch of alarming made up shit makes it just that much less likely that I’ll do anything besides become spun out and exhausted with frustration and outrage. (Perhaps that is truly the point of that style of “news” reporting? Render us captivated… but ineffective…?)

Reminder: COVID-19 – the pandemic? Remember that? Yeah. That’s not “made up shit”. That’s real. Just saying. Your choices matter. Protect each other. Practice social distancing. Wear a mask. Stay home when you’re sick and work on getting well. The pandemic is not a wholesale attack on our fucking civil liberties, and yes, it can “get to you” too. The lockdowns are a drag, I know. People are bored and eager to get out again. It’s hard. I get it. Fine. Do you. The death toll is climbing. Your choices affect other people – people who matter to you, not just far away strangers. (If you don’t believe that, I won’t convince you, now, I just don’t want to be that person who didn’t point it out when it came up in conversation. I guess I’m literally “just saying…”)

Weird time. The pandemic has been part of this entire year… I take a moment to consider that. I let myself begin again, new moment, new thoughts.

It’s quiet here in my studio. I hear the sound of a saw in my Traveling Partner’s wood shop in the garage. Sounds of home. I smile. Contentment may not be “the same as” happiness… still, I like it very much… and at this point, the line between feeling “happy” and feeling “contented” is rather blurry. I’m okay with that. I can so easily practice contentment, through sufficiency, observation, presence, acceptance, and non-attachment. Contentment builds over time. Practice by practice, moment by moment. Chasing happiness was neither satisfying, nor, as it turns out, was it particularly achievable. 🙂 I’m pretty okay where I stand in my life, today. It’s enough. 😀

What does it take to be “happy”? Sometimes autumn pears are enough… sometimes it takes a bit more work (and patience, and practice).

I think over the day. The week. The summer. The move. This peculiar year. Life in the time of pandemic…

…Then I begin again.

Not for consumption. Do not take internally.

Seriously; human beings can be mean, callous, insensitive, rude, inconsiderate, and yes, even deliberately hurtful. Don’t drink the poison just because it’s offered to you. 🙂 It can be quite difficult in the moment, when we’re feeling the emotional sting of something mean, cruel, hurtful, or just factually incorrect (based on our own also very human recollection), to remember that it isn’t actually personal at all; those hurtful words are a reflection of the thinking (and values, and intent, and practices) of the person saying them. Nothing to do with you, actually, unless you accept it, and internalize it, and make it your own. Why do that? Let it go.

We’re each human. Each having our own experience. Each writing our own narrative in our heads, cobbled together from our recollections, assumptions, expectations, values – and things we think we understand, about which we generally know far less than we assume we do. Even when we’re certain? Even when we’re “quite expert” in the field? Yep. Maybe especially then. We’re human. Thinking errors are built right in. I’m just saying, it’s very likely for any one of us that we are far less correct than we tend to assume, far more of the time than we’d ideally want to be, and waaaaaaay too willing to attempt to force our assumptions and thinking on others without even asking the simplest clarifying questions.¯\_()_/¯

…We could do better. I mean… I know I could.

recommended summer reading

I sip my coffee and let the day begin. Nothing fancy about it, although it feels very different. My workstation is in the dining room, and my fingers on the keys “feel loud”. I’m temporarily “kicked out” of my studio due to a leak my Traveling Partner spotted Friday (I’m damned glad he did!), and although we’ve gotten that fixed, there is some damage that needs repair, and some mold remediation required, too. Rather not sicken myself working in a potentially unhealthy environment, so with my partner’s help, a temporary workstation is set up. Homeowner stuff. :-\ It’s hard to grouse about it too much; it’s one of the things I signed up for, right? Taking care of everything that ever goes wrong? Yep. That’s on us now. LOL Fuuuuuuuuuuck.

Friday, when we spotted the damage being caused by the leak we later identified, was much harder. Paintings were damaged. I wept. There’s still a weight to the grief of that piece of this situation. It’s possible those paintings will have to be destroyed. 😦 The pain of it comes and goes, but seems mostly behind me, now. (I’m at the “paintings are just things” stage, this morning…) To get through it, to process the enormity of the emotional ache, I’ve spent rather a lot of time this weekend meditating on non-attachment (and how many of the things and experiences we become attached to in life serve only to cause us pain – because of the attachment, itself). I found it helpful, and rather more obvious, after all, that seems reasonable, when I do feel so much hurt. Letting go of some things is far easier than letting go others. Just being real.

I sip my coffee and contemplate all the many things I’ve let go of over a lifetime – often with considerable emotional resistance, sometimes because I’ve been literally forced to let them go by circumstances. I think about the pain of loss, and the relief involved in letting go of attachment. I consider how very many of life’s most painful disappointments feel that way because of the sudden severing of some unnoticed attachment to a thing, person, experience, or outcome. I wonder at the slow progression of healthy attachment toward unhealthy attachment that sometimes occurs in a relationship. I replay things my therapist has said about non-attachment, and practices useful for avoiding becoming “fused” with someone else’s emotional experience. The pre-dawn darkness slowly becomes morning light, and a new day. I finish my coffee. There’s a day ahead, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

Where does this path lead?

*addendum and a wee follow-up note: I’m fully made of human. I really struggle with this one, like, nearly every day. Avoiding the pitfall of taking other people’s words, or experience, or emotions, personally – becoming attached to the feelings that causes me, and fused with someone else’s emotional experience is a shitty way to treat myself. So, I really work on this… a lot. Tons of new beginnings. Tons of self-compassionate reminders. A lot of moments to reflect on handling life more skillfully, and more comfortably. My results vary. That’s why I write about it. 😉

I’m sipping my coffee, quietly reading some news. I give up on it quickly; most of the news is at best a bit of a downer, and at worst holds some amount of potential to be a significant mood-wrecker. I stifle a sneeze, and wonder why I haven’t put a box of tissues in my studio, yet? No, I’m not ill. It’s just a stray sneeze. Dust? Or allergens of some sort. I return to my coffee and my thoughts.

Where does this path lead?

I took my first walk in the countryside since the move, on Saturday. It was a lovely day for it. The entire weekend was sunny. Saturday was pleasantly warm and somewhat mild. Sunday was ferociously hot for the area. I enjoyed both days quite a lot. The walk was lovely, and I am glad I got out on the trail, although most of the walk was simply around and about the new neighborhood. 🙂 Plenty to see, all of it new, most of it entirely ordinary. 🙂 Small pleasures still count as pleasant.

There is the usual assortment of roadside flowers in bloom to be seen along the way.

I walked a bit more than a mile. Far enough to walk a new path, to see some new points of view, and to wave at new neighbors.

I crossed a small foot bridge passing over a small branch of the creek that flows past our house.

The walk was enough to make my ankle ache, by the time I had returned home. Still, I wasn’t in much pain this weekend, and as improvements in quality of life go, a reduction in pain is a good one to enjoy. So, I spent the weekend enjoying that. 🙂

I sip my coffee, now, enjoying my recollections of the weekend just past, and thinking about the day ahead. Later on, I’ll drive “into the city”, which I’m not looking forward to at all. It’s just a necessary errand. Portland is seriously “stirred up” right now, and I’ve no interest in becoming mixed up in that chaos. I looked over my route, yesterday evening, and verified it does not need to take me through the heart of things, down near the courthouse, before confirming my plans. Portland, Oregon, has a lively protest culture, and I have long respected and valued the willingness of Portland’s citizens to take a stand against injustice. That feeling does not diminish the experiences of profound inconvenience and considerable risk that go along with attempting to pass through an area filled with protesters, counter-protesters, and aggressive law enforcement. I make a point of keeping my distance, unless I am intending to be an active participant. Safer.

I notice that thoughts of protests, protesters, and conflict, have caused my heart to pound and my breathing to become shallow. I take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and relax. There is no threat here, just me and this cup of coffee, which I am enjoying very much. I think about my Saturday morning walk, instead, and feel my shoulders relax, and my heartbeat slow down. I sip my coffee and begin to plan my day.

…Pretty routine stuff, but I’ll point out that generally speaking, on the average, things tend to be pretty routine, day-to-day, most particularly if I allow them to be so. I could keep myself constantly in a state of tension, ready for a fight, poised on the edge of drama, constantly examining my experience for threat of danger, or revisiting past conversations looking for an enemy to confront… I know people who do. I once did, myself. It’s not actually a pleasant or comfortable way to live, and it didn’t seem to enhance my quality of life at all – and it didn’t reduce the danger or drama in my life, or do much to actually prepare me to deal with those sorts of things, in fact. It was just uncomfortable and emotionally messy. I’m glad I gave up those practices (and they are experiences that do require practice) in favor of practices that tend to tilt life more in the direction of contentment, joy, ease, and satisfaction in life. Turned out that life itself did not need to change much – it was more about my perspective on life needing a change (and how I treated myself in the context of the events of my life). 🙂

I finish this cup of coffee, on an ordinary enough Monday, beginning a routine sort of day. It’s enough. I begin again. 🙂

It’s a lovely drizzly Saturday in the Pacific Northwest. I ventured out for a walk along the bank of the Columbia, this morning. Lovely. First decently long walk at 57 years of age.

I’ve walked this path before, but may never walk it again. Somehow that makes the journey feel significant. 🙂

My birthday was yesterday. 57. Not a “fancy” sort of birthday, and it didn’t need to be at all. It was quite special without a lot of frills or elaborate plans. It was warm and intimate and joyful. I hung out at home with my Traveling Partner, who made his schedule work out specifically to be home with me to share the day. We talked about the upcoming move… Different community. Different views from new windows. Different view from a different deck. Different walks to be taken, down unexplored paths and unfamiliar streets. In 14 days we get the keys to a different house, we move to a different address. 🙂 I’m more excited than anxious, more eager than fretful. This is a change I’m delighted to embrace. A new home. Our home. At long last, a place that is truly ours (mortgage and all). It’s very exciting, and very busy. 🙂

…So much paperwork…

I look over my “to do list” for the weekend. I’ve committed to packing up the studio this weekend, and preparing the container garden on the deck for one more move. I’ve moved, now, 3 times in 5 years. 5 times in 9 years. Too much moving. lol. This move, coming up, though, amounts to “a promise kept” – to myself. I won’t need to move again for a long while, maybe not ever (although, change is, and one never knows where life’s path may lead). I hear my Traveling Partner’s voice in the other room, playing a video game online with his son. I smile. I enjoy the sound of his voice. I feel wrapped in love, and the promise of a shared future, together, feels safe and warm and full of fond conversation, affectionate teasing, and shared moments.

I think of the cynical 14-year-old young woman I once was and shake my head with a sad, tender, forgiving smile; she knew nothing of love, and could not have fathomed this feeling – or this moment. Her life was mostly about pain, and survival, and her bitter resentment was only exceeded by her impotent rage. There was little room for love to find a foothold in her wounded heart. I find myself wishing I could have “been there for her” then, as the woman I have become, now… She could have used some compassion, and empathy, some real concern, some reliable emotional support… from the woman staring back at her from her mirror. I’m still smiling; we enjoy this moment together. I’ve come a long fucking way from 14…

…57 feels very different indeed.

The shoreline has been lost to recent rains. Change is.

I walked along what was left of the riverbank. Most of the soft sandy beaches are lost to high water, after weeks of rain. I’m okay with that. Water levels rise and fall. Seasons change. Flowers bloom, then fade away. I walk, with my camera and my thoughts, enjoying a view I may never see quite this way again. I ponder how often that’s true, and I think about change.

I see blackberries blooming and think about the summer fruit that will result.

I smell the wild roses blooming on the bank, and wonder for a moment specifically which species they are, and whether they are native flora, or later arrivals, brought by travelers.

I sit for a few minutes on a damp log at the top of the bank, watching a passing barge.

I took time for me, to breathe, to reflect, to consider changes to come, and the relative value of preparedness (in moving, and in life). Nothing complicated, although there were verbs involved (and choices). Safely home once more, showered, and dressed in soft comfy clothes, I sit smiling with my thoughts and pictures. It’s enough. 🙂

 

Sipping my coffee this morning, and giving thought to yesterday. A good day at work. A weird, fairly alarming commute home by light rail (lots of feral humans, acting out, it was a bit scary at times). I think about how productive I felt, in the new location. I think about how many colleagues were smiling, that I don’t recall seeing smile so much, before. The thought has me smiling, now. 🙂

…Sometimes a change of perspective makes a real difference. Walk a new path. Take a different approach. View things through a different lens. Ask new questions. Hell, just step from here, to over there, and take another look. Perspective can change how things look, so much. 🙂

I think about the weekend, and the fresh bit of trail walking I’ve been doing. Where to, next? I’m eager to tackle a certain “loop” I have in mind (it is not particularly loop shaped, it simply does not require me to double back to get home). It will test my renewed endurance, although it is approximately the same length as the longest walk I’ve recently taken, at 3 miles. Nonetheless, it has one daunting feature, due to the lay of the land; it is very hilly, with several steep bits that mock the hill in front of the house (well… one of the steep bits is the hill in front of the house). Am I up to it? Regardless which direction I start off in, I’m facing serious inclines, or declines, and throughout the walk, an assortment of both. lol I’m still excited to give it a try.

…No expectation of “easy”. I just have it in mind to take this lovely walk I’ve never taken before. 🙂 That’s enough.

I sip my coffee and think about walks, and paths, and journeys, and trails, and hikes… and realize I am ready, so ready, to begin again. 😀

Where does this path lead?