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The first time I heard “YOLO”, I remember being rather struck by it in a positive way, which was before I was fully aware how often it is attached to a level of foolhardiness or stupidity so vast as to be quite noteworthy, and… on purpose. Wild. Kinda scary. Definitely not at all what I might mean were I to observe that “you only live once“. Not at all. I’d be saying “live your life – truly live it, awake, and aware, and willful, you may not get another shot at this, so do your best”.

I try, every day, to take my own best advice. Sometimes I even succeed.

I am enjoying a relaxed quiet evening, but it isn’t “everything”. I plan the weekend, making sure my needs over time are considered ahead of the needs of the moment (which often aren’t truly needs at all, but instead some distraction or alluring momentary fancy). I smile when I realize how excited I am to have two days in a row to sleep in, and no driving. I feel that twist, and become a pang of regret and loneliness; I won’t see my Traveling Partner this weekend. I do need some real down time, though, a chance to rest, and a chance to take care of this space I live in, and some time to finish moving into my studio, so that days I am inspired to paint are as effortless as days I am inspired to write. These are things I need. πŸ™‚

My mind wanders to that dark corner labeled “all the shit you forgot to take care of”, and instead of a panic attack, I find myself just sort of mentally “tidying up”, letting myself consider a large number of very assorted sorts of loose-end-y kinds of things I am prone to forgetting, just generally. I moved in July. Did I account for 100% of everything? Did I pack something, forget about it, and continue to overlook it because I don’t recall it even exists? So many distracting weekends away. How does a person rediscover what they have entirely forgotten, when that is a needful thing? That’s only sort of rhetorical; I do manage it, but I couldn’t explain in a million years quite how, and it’s very hit or miss. So… I guess I only sort of manage it. LOL Nice that such things don’t set off a storm of anxiety these days. The fear made it terribly difficult to catch things up, fix them, or complete them, or address whatever had or might go wrong with any skill. Now it generally just feels like another thing that needs doing, and once done, I’m done with it completely. I check off a few things, an address or two to update, things like that.

Strange night. I’m in a lot of pain, and the headache is just… extra. I’m managing a good mood in spite of that.Β  I’m still smiling from a few minutes of chat with my Traveling Partner. It’s a nice evening. It’s… a nice life. I frown, remembering how my every day moments “now” had been so thoroughly tainted by past events… when did that change? Will it stay like this? I feel the weight of my frown become stress in my shoulders and pause, breathe deeply, and sit more erect as I exhale. I’m okay right now. Right now isn’t something that needs troubleshooting. Right now I’m okay, and that’s enough. πŸ™‚

Tomorrow I’ll begin again. πŸ™‚

This right here? Just a placeholder. I didn’t really realize until I arrived home that it has been several days since I’ve written; I’ve been busy living full-time. πŸ™‚ I am well – and it’s a whole new year, filled with renewed promise, endless potential, and plentiful unknowns.

I’ll likely write more later today, sometime this evening. I need to sort out my thoughts. Process my experiences of the holidays, and the New Year’s celebration weekend. But… in case I just keel over at some point, exhausted, contented, and relaxed, and just don’t get around to putting my thoughts into words suitable for sharing, some expectation-setting for friends who read regularly but are not in touch. πŸ™‚ I’d hate to start your new year off with worrisome mysterious silences. ❀

Say hello to 2018 – isn’t she lovely? πŸ˜€ A promising start to a whole new year. I’m ready to begin again – are you?

What if you died today and had to give feedback to yourself on your life, or defend, justify, or excuse it, after-the-fact? How would well would you rate yourself?

What if you could try again? Would you make any changes?

It’s an interesting thought exercise… I’m inclined to follow through on this one very soon, perhaps over some solo weekend during the holiday season. I did it once before, purely by chance, years ago. It mattered a great deal and gave me new perspective on my life. It’s a tough one, though, and can really mire one in sadness – it’s not for the timid, the faint of heart (nor the inauthentic). Taking it lightly is neither useful nor helpful. I do hope you find it either useful, or helpful, or at least a thought-provoking read over your coffee, or tea.

Ready? Let’s begin…

Imagine this; you’ve died. It doesn’t matter at all how, you are dead. No opportunity for one more please, thank you, I’m sorry, or I love you. You are done. Game over. Right now. Okay, so now let the death part of the scenario just go; you know nothing of it, and can’t. You’re dead. Nothing new to remember. Let’s look at your life instead – or more to the point, you look at it. That’s right. You had your chance. It’s done. Game over. You are only a collection of memories – your own, and those that others left behind have of you.

Look at your words, and actions, and the outcomes of your choices, andΒ  your baggage, – your free will brought you to these ends. What were your actual, no bullshit, real values – based on your actions, your decisions, what you chased in life, what mattered most to you in fact (what you said you valued has no meaning now, you’re dead and those were just words) – what were your real true actual values? (Don’t rush this, you’ve got plenty of time; you’re dead.)

“Why those?” is maybe not the correct next question, more to the point; is this what you wanted of your life, and your choices? Is this end result “enough”, or “what you wanted”? Are you okay with this being your legacy?

Are the things that were stressing you, truly, now that you’re dead and can look back unafraid and unashamed, were they truly stress-worthy? The times you snapped at loved ones over petty annoyances – worth it? Justifiable? (I mean, you can’t change it now, and all they have to look back on is who you actually were, and how you really treated them.) The stress about work, all that potentially wasted time grinding away on someone else’s agenda – was it worth it in the end? Was there ever “enough” money? Was being “right” worth the agita of forcing someone else to say that you were right – even if they only did so to shut you up? Was it ever finally the “right time” to do something about what you wanted most to do?

Ask the hard questions. Gnothi seauton. No bullshit. Turn and face yourself, naked and revealed. Look into the mirror. Who were you? Is that who you wanted to be? Who you expected to be? Who you thought you were?

Could you have done “better” or “more”? Who defined those qualities for you in life? Why wasn’t it your call, your definitions, your free will reaching out to enact your own choices? Why did you settle? Why were you “chasing” happiness… money… pretty lovers…a better high…a more perfect romance…? Whatever it was… the curtain has fallen. You’re done. Was it worth it? Are you content with the person you were? Will you be remembered? How will you be remembered? What is your legacy?

There may be other questions, too, that matter to you particularly, that hold you back right now, questions I can’t possible know – but you know them. So ask those too. Who were you? Is this truly what you want to leave behind when death overtakes you?

Take your time – I’ve got work to get to, can’t stay with you while you work through the details on this one, and really… It’s all about you. When you are finished with being finished with being you… what then? When you allow yourself to understand and fully accept that a time will come when indeed “you had your chance” and now it has passed you by… will you think you have wasted that precious limited life time? Will you feel a moment of regret for the shitty choices, poor values, lack of ethics, lack of conscience, cruelty, carelessness, regrettable loss of control, the hurt you have done to loved ones, and yes, even strangers? I sort of hope that you do, or that, if nothing else, you feel something that moves you to make some change or other that takes your journey somewhere new – somewhere you really want to go, but hadn’t yet gotten to. Because death doesn’t seem to hold a ton of potential to change who you were, you know?

…Well… At least in this instance… you get a do-over. You get to begin again. Are you ready for your second chance to be the person you most want to be?

Here it is. Right now. It begins right here, right now, and with each choice that follows this moment.

What will you do with it?

Beautiful weekend. The sort of beautiful weekend I mark on a calendar, look back on frequently, contemplate, wonder over, and reference in the future. So… I’ve marked it on my calendar. I’ve been looking back on it, already, contemplating it, wondering over it, and here I am in my own “future” (at least, I’m one day beyond the weekend) referencing it. It represents change. It whispers to me about love, family, and contentment. It was weird. Beautiful. Unexpected. Relaxed. Delightful. Peaceful. It was filled with the company of friends, defined by long moments of joy and contentment. It was easy to find stillness – and to enjoy companionship.

I spent the weekend with my Traveling Partner, down at his place, which he shares with his other partner, who was an ex of mine. I put that in the past tense, because I use the term “ex” very specifically, and sparingly, to refer to former (and now discontinued) partnerships and relationships which have been firmly, permanently, completely, entirely, and without any potential future, ended. No continuing contact. “I’m done with that.” She definitely doesn’t fit that definition, now, although I lack language to define our current… situation.

I had a great weekend at her place. I enjoyed her company and her conversation. I realized that there are things I have missed about her (duh, we were in a relationship, once). She was a gracious and delightful hostess this weekend. We had a good time (I say, based on my own experience, from my perspective, without any cause to assume she feels differently, and having heard her affirm the same in her own words). I’ve been invited back, and not just by my Traveling Partner. Wow. I feel so welcomed. I felt so very much at home, in my relationships, as well as wrapped in the gorgeous landscape of Southern Oregon’s Oak Savanna. Beautiful sunrises. The warmth and connection of dear friends and family. It was a wonderful weekend.

It was a splendid autumn weekend, it’s only fitting that it came with a wonderful view. πŸ™‚

The flora and fauna are lovely down there… I want to say “at home” or “back home” or… Yes, I liked it there that much, and for the quality of the company as much as for the landscape. Relationships matter. There was no hint of tension or animus between her and I, and that was lovely. Recognizing that one can indeed “begin again” allows me to do so, even with relationships. It’s a little scary; it could go very wrong (this, whispered to me by the hurt child lurking within, who is, frankly, no judge of good quality relationships at all). The big challenge of new beginnings, by far, is letting go of old baggage… so…

…I begin again. πŸ™‚

Let me circle back on one detail; this was all her. I didn’t take the step across that firm moment of having ended things years ago. I don’t know that I would have. I’m not sure I’m that skilled as an adult. I experienced a moment of powerful respect for this woman who did put her fears and baggage aside, stepped up to me and started a new conversation. “I’d like to start over.” She couldn’t have chosen better words – aren’t I all about beginning again? Wow. How could I not agree? Still, though, this was her moment. I’m still pretty blown away. Nicely done, Woman. Hell of a teachable moment. πŸ™‚ I’m still smiling.

It was a lovely weekend spent with my Traveling Partner, and his lovely Other (who clearly needs a better nickname, here), walking the land, and talking about the future. Our future. (Wow.)

Now here it is Tuesday. The long weekend is over. It’s time to face a new work week. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I’m not telling you what to do, just suggesting that if you happen to notice you are being programmed, whether by “the media”, or an advertiser, or an authority figure, or a cultish workplace, or a religion, or a school, or really whatever is pinging on your consciousness with a specific agenda-driven outcome in mind that profits some entity that is not you… Change the channel. Seriously. Walk on. Move out of view, out of reach, out of range. Choose a different activity, a different focal point, another perspective.

I’m not really sure what else to say about this one. My consciousness is my own, right up until that point at which I hand it over to someone else. My will is involved here – so is my awareness. There are verbs involved in de-bunking the bunk, and revealing the many frauds perpetrated on our consciousness each day (often by precisely those agencies purporting to tell us the “truth”).

I try to choose what content I consume with the same care that I choose the food I eat, the water I drink, and the moments I share with others. It’s harder than it looks, sometimes. πŸ™‚

One commonplace example of what I am talking about is Facebook. How many times have you scrolled through the newsfeed multiple times without noticing most of the content is repeated, and also “sponsored”, rather than actual posts from chosen friends? Programming. Just saying. Maybe don’t choose that – or don’t choose it so often. Do you even have any clear idea who Facebook is programming you to be? We become what we practice. Repetition is learning. Who are we becoming? Why are we allowing it?

Something to think about. There’s only one you, until you become one of many cookie cutter people all stamped out from the limited content broadly shared (and filtered) by an agency you have no control over, and which does not reveal its method or goals to you. Then, you become copies of one another, all nodding along politely as you grouse about the same things, using the same language, sharing the same appropriately polarized dichotomies approved for use that year. Yuck. We have more to offer each other, ourselves, and the world.

Facebook isn’t “the bad guy”, they are merely providing a requested service to which we happily succumb. There are others. Lots of others. We choose those, too, and in choosing who we allow to program our consciousness, we have at least some small choice over what fills our consciousness… but we can be free even of that. It’s also a choice. I’m not even saying “give it all up”, though surely that’s one choice that holds great promise. I’m just saying, be aware, be awake, and choose. Make that choice your own.

I guess I’m sort of grumpy this morning. It’s early. The work day is ahead of me. I’m very human. πŸ™‚ My coffee is super yummy, and in general I am content. I smile at my crossness, recognizing that this morning words are from me, to… me. I need to stop looking at Facebook (or the news) first thing in the morning. Fuck those bitches. lol There are better things to do with mornings, and my cognitive liberty has great value to me, personally.

I take my coffee out to the deck, into the pre-dawn darkness. It’s a lovely morning to begin again. πŸ™‚ It’s a lovely morning to change my world. I have choices.