A Rejection of the ‘Reactionary Self’

Uncertain and quiet, I still just don’t know.

Lately I feel like I have no authority to be espousing my opinion on the internet, to post blogs, or even to write privately because I feel contaminated.

A deep-seated feeling of perpetuating something that’s not genuine. Of creating something that’s not bore of myself but merely a reaction of external and incongruous things. Something that in the end is just word garbage.

(And as I pointed out in my first blog post here, this was one of my prominent reservations that held me back when I started blogging.)

We all know that pure and unadulterated “reactions” are not always virtuous or the right idea/thought/feeling to hold onto or to emulate.

Perhaps this explains my relative lack of blogging and writing, perhaps not. But it does explain why I have started and stopped MANY different essays, none of which are posted here, and helps to explain why I never felt comfortable doing so.

A lot of my thoughts lately have resembled ‘rants’ of some kind and have been rather depressing and deflating to re-read (even to myself).

In a large sense, they are pure reactions to the pain and grief and anxiety and frustration of the people and situations that surround me and share this life. I’m mixed up in them and these myriad worlds of feeling right now, and therefore do not feel a ‘divinity’ or true connection to my writing space as of late.

The other ‘Me’ that catches words – not creates them.

When I’m writing for myself, I’m elated – because this means I have no agenda but to push my own buttons. But when the world is constantly pushing my buttons for me, I am stuck reacting to them and not my own. I have no thought energy or emotion left for the good stuff: The personal and inner journey.

This one takes effort, too. Much more effort than off-the-cuff reactionary thought.

And after crying and fretting at the news all day, sometimes I don’t want to delve down to the inner recesses of my being. I don’t relish opening up a crisp notebook with empty, white pages staring back at me.

Instead I just want distraction.

I think many of us are feeling this right now. Like a suffocation under chaotic clouds. Disbelief and bewilderment of the swirling, vaudevillian world we are suddenly witness to, manifesting before our eyes and before our children’s eyes.

But my inner voice keeps telling me that my reaction to all this is my choice – and that it is so, so, so important. I’m not sure how, but it is.

My heart swells and whispers to stop reacting and start Being. To stop getting caught in the swirl around me, and to create my own swirl. My own message. My own energy.

To connect to the message and energy that reside at the heart.

This or that tragedy. This or that anarchy. This or that doomsday proclamation of pressure and sadness. This is not you. It is not me. It is not Us.

This isn’t what we truly want. It’s energy gone wild. And I’m reminding myself – and maybe you – not to fall into it.

Be the rock in the swirl. The loving rock that observes and sees all things, accepts them as they are, and lifts them up to know the love that you feel so deeply. The love that exists so infinitely and without condition or borders or feelings or thought.

We are all so cataclysmically loved that we feel torn apart sometimes. But maybe that is ok.

The seams are coming undone. Power for power’s sake is getting ripped with cracks and slivers of truth, and is buckling under the weight.

We crave honesty. We crave connection and spirit. No more fakery. No more facades.

Feel the seams rip and love them all the same. Whether apart in pieces or together as a whole, we need to cover it all in love and fly.

Q+A: A Conversation with the Scales

Where am I?  I whisper into the night. Why am I here, in this place, at this time?

I wring my hands and crack my neck and stay worried all the same. Nothing feels grounded, nothing feels right about this place, this ephemera – this ME.

The constant swirl of dogma. The constant berating threads from social media and how EVERY fucking person needs to express to the world their feelings, and have them legitimized in some fashion.

And, of course, every single fucking person is RIGHT about what they feel because, well, it’s what THEY feel. WE don’t feel it, so how in the world are we supposed to tell them how NOT to feel it. Insensitive, right?

“Ugh.” Inner critic chimes in and scoffs at this thought. “These people are just expressing themselves. The problem is that every expression gets amplified and routed around like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. People will have opinions – this is fucking normal! – what is NOT normal is how we are bombarded with every single one at one time and then expected to nod our heads and tell everyone ‘I respect your viewpoint.’ Because we don’t, really. Not our inner selves. Not our heart.”

{ Inner critic has a point. }  Yes. I see it. So what about these other people’s opinions that we don’t respect? What’s going on there?

“If their opinions differ from yours, it will be a challenge – difficult even – to hear their side of things. You will have to exercise good listening skills and empathy –things that do not exist in great numbers! And are not supported or encouraged by social media and sound bite data streams. People these days listen to speak and react – not listen to learn. Listen to observe.

“But back to topic: you are certainly not going to agree with everyone – it will NEVER be Kumbaya and hugs all the time because there are billions of people with all shades and shadows of disagreement to what you think and what you believe. You will never find solace really.

“But somehow we convince ourselves that it is possible. That maybe – just maybe! – if we create a nice safe box to live in, where everyone looks and acts the same way, then we can finally be at peace. We can finally feel safe in our own skin and our own comfortable canon. But that’s just because people these days don’t know how to have disagreements with others and not feel existentially threatened. A shame really.”

Whoa, Inner critic. On a roll there!

“Yeah, well – needed to get that off my chest. Whew! Felt good. You’re not going to broadcast this on social media now, are you?”

What! And let this gem sit in a Word doc forever?

{ I am causing my Inner critic to deal with hypocrisy, and it makes me snicker so what the hell. }

*

{ But….. I linger on the conversation a bit. I can’t leave it alone. Picking the scab open further, I keep at it. }

So what was that part about not respecting people and that coming from the heart – what in the world does that mean? Because what I have been led to believe by my own heart-searching is that all people are of unfathomable worth and equal in the eyes of God. Why in the world would my heart not respect some of these people, brothers and sisters that share this planet?

“Oh I never said the heart does not respect the PEOPLE, I just said viewpoint.” Inner critic jumps back in with zealous rigor. “People don’t equal their viewpoint. Viewpoints change.

“But yet, to find a viewpoint that the heart truly and deeply disagrees with is a difficult one. I imagine the figure of Lady Justice inside of the heart, mother of the Fates, blindfolded and holding the scales and sword. That is her true home. If you weigh something against your heart and the scales don’t measure right, that is the sign that the heart will find it difficult to respect, because it will weigh against the heart of humanity. The wrongness will ring, and make it difficult to ignore.”

But….what? How do I know if this is the case? I am troubled by this train of thought, it sounds a little religious-right to me. Like, “I feel this is morally wrong because my heart/religion/God told me so, and so I cannot respect you.” A little bullshitty and hive-mind and not intellectually sound.

Inner critic pipes back, “Ah – but that is the hard part to discern. Was it truly the heart we are weighing against – or the words of man interpreted though another mouthpiece and mistaken as heart?

“If it is truly the heart, then you will know it as truth. If they are words you have heard or been reflected to from another source, then it’s not truly the heart. It might be something that aligns with your heart-logic, but it might also be something that aligns with your “safe little box” guidelines, and so they FEEL right. Heart-logic informed solely from mind-logic, which is easily influenced by “safe little box” logic. An erroneous place to start from. Remember that these visceral feelings are fleeting, and should not define a person.

“Also, you inferred that you cannot respect a person if their opinions offend your heart-logic; that is incorrect. They are still fallible human beings that are capable and deserving of love. Sometimes they know not of what they are doing. They just want to be safe in their boxes. And just because you don’t really respect their opinions doesn’t mean you can’t love them and hope they will find unconditional love for all beings.”

Yeah… sorry Inner critic, but I’m having trouble getting on board with radiating love to all people if they are spouting horrible hate-rhetoric, even if they “know not of what they do.” That sounds like it would feel weird and horrible.

“But it is not a silent love – it is a noisy love, a love in disagreement. Because you care. And it will feel weird and horrible maybe. But it will also weigh right against your heart and against humanity. “

OK, shit.

That is true. It feels true.

Thanks Inner critic for this dialogue. Didn’t know you were into love and stuff on top of questioning everything I do.

“Yes, I am 100% dialed in. And remember: if things are done in the name of good, but are detrimental or demeaning to others, then they are not wholly good. 100% goodness is a rarity. Just be comfortable with loving on your fellow people and doing it more noisily. Because you care. That is a wonderful goodness. Just be sure to self-examine once in a while to ensure you are not getting swallowed up in “safe little box” logic.”

Ok – but I’m an introvert sooooo…… can I love noisily on a blog?

“Oh absolutely.”

Wait – are you really my Inner critic, or are you a brand of heart logic that I wasn’t recognizing?

“You’ll have to weigh me against those scales and see where I fall.”
😉

 

Um seriously? A winky-face?

“I’m funny sometimes. Just you wait.”

“You Exist Because You are Loved”

“You exist because you are loved.”

These words popped into my head after work one day, out of the blue.

I remember right where it happened: I was starting the first leg of my pedestrian commute, walking block one out of eight. Headphones on, music loudly playing. And right as I was passing a giant, red-neon, laughing Buddha at the Asian fusion restaurant across the street – BAM!

“You exist because you are loved.”

So for me, this phrase of insight that came to me so unannounced and sudden is intricately bound with the image of a red, laughing, neon Buddha.

And now it is for you as well.

The meaning of these words might seem a bit backwards at first take. A little voice in our head reasons with us: “We can be born to a family and not loved,” or, even more sadly, “I’m/she/he/them are not particularly wanted or loved, but I/he/she/they exist!”

If I hold these statements in my heart, though, I don’t think they can be true. My heart offers a different interpretation.

“You exist because you are loved.”

IF you are here or have been here, and you are reading this, or if you are existing elsewhere and not reading this – my heart posits that you were meant to be there in that moment. Therefore, you are loved infinitely more than we can fathom.

This is a world of creation, and what is creation but a form of love?

That voice of reason, the shoulder man, is there again interrupting. Reminding me that we exist because of reproduction – a biological imperative. Nothing more and nothing less.

But I think there’s more to it than that, and the girl on the other shoulder implores me to hesitate in coming to conclusions. She is wary, skeptical – but tells me to listen to my heart.

So I chase the seemingly reasonable, logical, and analytical voice away. This voice of mine is rooted firmly into the realm of what can be seen and concretely measured. Palpably observed. And these words that I am contemplating defy a logic that could ever be measured, graphed, or perhaps even fathomed –  let alone scientifically analyzed and promptly debunked.

“You exist because you are loved.”

There is so much in this world that we don’t know, yet so much here that we DO know, if we would just open up. Recognize it. Imagine the unimaginable. See a world without divisions and separations.

Life – ALL of life – is here because it IS love; therefore, it is loved. It is all connected, and we are an integral part of it.

The shoulder voices ask me many things at once: Will we ever rise up and realize these truths? Will we let our hearts guide us as much as our mind? Can we pause our logic for a moment to imagine the unseen?

I hope these words catch you in your heart as they did mine. A little stumble, a double-take at the laughing Buddha. Opening your eyes a little wider, and an offering of peace of mind – and peace of heart.

May it be a little freer, and more loved, than it was before.

“You exist because you are loved.” And you love because you exist.

In ‘Recognition’ of Happiness

Why do we need to apply conditions to our perceived state of happiness?

Can you be happy always, anytime?

I was confronted with these thoughts recently, and finally saw them for what they were: illusion breakers.

Undoubtedly, the first time I saw a quote or meme that stated something along the lines of “Happiness is Unconditional,” I didn’t get it. A line like this evokes one of those mystic, woo-woo Buddhist concepts, spoken from the master to the pupil. In one ear and out the other. A part of me pipes up: “I’m not a monk, I’m a regular person!”

But more and more these words wormed their way in deep. Wriggled and wrought to my heart. I get them now so much more fully and deeply than I ever expected to. A pleasant surprise.

*

A while back, after the birth of my daughter, I was going through a hard time. I wasn’t depressed per se – I was just despairing a little. Feeling unfulfilled at work. Tight on bills and uncertain of financial security. Unwilling to work harder to make said needed money as I now wanted to be home more and not at the office. Plus, I happened to be blessed with a micro-manager who liked to provoke and push – the very opposite of what I wanted and thought I needed. And to top it all off, a lot of my neuroticisms transferred to my husband, who carried the weight of those residual damages.

I didn’t know what to do.

So for whatever reason, I started writing after hearing a speech at work. And about a year ago, for whatever reason, I felt a pull to blogging. The ‘whys’ of such decisions I still cannot fully articulate, but I went for it.

After starting this writing practice on a regular basis, I finally started seeing and thinking and feeling what this misty concept of ‘unconditional’ really means. About what it means to be happy and satisfied unconditionally.

To have no condition or state of being or thing or person or job or money dictate my state of happiness. And to think this could even happen.

Lately, even with long days at the office, shitty traffic, messy houses and emotional toddlers in my life pretty much every day, I am able to see small moments. To slow down. To breathe.

None of these things or situations cause my unhappiness. Their presence or lack thereof does not determine my state of Being.

For if I tied my happiness to any of these conditions, my happiness has the potential of being yanked away at a moment’s notice. My happiness would be tied to this world, and all the ephemeral things that move in and out of it. My happiness would ultimately be elusive.

These things that we typically tie happiness to – people, jobs, money, health, children, cars, time off, social circles, etc – are things that change in life. They change all the time. They are conditions, and our charge is to exist beyond them.

To BE unconditionally.

So back in my tough days (and they are far from over) I had trouble with this line of thinking. It was so clear to me that money and a more satisfying job would solve everything. Right?

Currently I am still at said job, making the same amount of money, and I am happier than I was.

There might be other reasons for this, but a major part is that I’ve now realized that my happiness isn’t tied to those things. If I based my level of satisfaction on earning more dollars, then my happiness would have the potential to never come – and there is nothing further from the truth.

I have power over my happiness.

*

Everyday, I sit in amazement and stare at my dog sleeping so soundly on the floor at my feet, ears twitching at small noises.

I kiss my daughter’s head with fervor even if she’s screaming and I’m losing my grip on patience.

I think fondly of my husband and his zest for life that sometimes lies buried underneath self-criticism and doubt.

I recognize my ridiculous wallowing and give myself some space and forgiveness.

I am in awe of this life and all it contains in this perfectly imperfect moment.

And that is my happiness. ❤

Writing to be Whole, or Being Whole to Write?

I guess I inadvertently took a blogging hiatus, as it’s been a MONTH since my last post. I didn’t mean to, but life got in the way, and I by no means had any kind of blog ‘schedule’ to speak of.

However, in the past month, I have come to realize just how important writing and time to reflect is in my life for my sanity and self-preservation. I have had very little of this in the past few weeks, and I have been paying the price mentally and physically. But now I know how important it is, and I will fight to keep it at the top of my priority list.

If your cup is full, you can pour it out to everyone freely, knowing it will be refilled. Reflection and writing is how I fill that cup – if I don’t get to do this, then I cannot pour out onto others and give as freely as I want. My psyche and body will pay for it.

That being said…. I don’t want to get ‘attached’ to the idea that without blogging or reflection time that I will be miserable – because to believe that will make it so. Coming at it from this frame of mind, I can more easily let go of expectations and frustrations if I somehow don’t get time one week to do it.

Maybe there is another way of filling your cup?

Maybe it is acknowledging that your cup is filled always, if you just ask and intend for it to be that way?

*

I enjoy poking holes in my rhetoric sometimes, and asking myself if I’m getting too attached or averse to certain ideas or concepts. In the end my writing and reflection is just a timely reminder that ideas, concepts and expectations in life do not define me – I am the one who defines them.

Cheers for more reflection time, if it comes or if it does not. Neither one will necessarily make you happier or more blessed. Neither one will make your cup ‘fuller.’ Because you already are!

Writing and reflection just serve as mechanisms to more readily recognize that fact and catapult it. For example: I don’t think I would have come to that conclusion if I hadn’t started writing this. There’s a catch 22 if I ever saw one!

And such is life; a confusing, circular conundrum. I love it.

A Day in the Life

February 16th, 2016

The alarm rings, and I slowly convince myself to get out of bed. It’s later than expected, so I hurry out of the house, skipping breakfast. Daughter and husband are still asleep.

I rush up the sidewalk as fast as I can towards the bus stop. I see the top of the bus coming over the hill, and I run full tilt to get there in time, lugging my ball and chain laptop over my shoulder. I make it to the bus and check work emails and Facebook and personal email and Instagram while the bus drives downtown.

Twenty minutes later, I exit the bus and walk 6 blocks to work. I notice the time and walk a little faster. I stop to buy a coffee and yogurt – not enough time for anything special. I make it to my desk in time to take off my coat and run to a meeting. Thirty minutes later, I eat my yogurt at my desk and scroll through new emails before another meeting begins.

After some work time, I go to buy lunch. Sometimes I get a moment to write or peruse online articles, but today is not one of those days. I eat at my desk and prep for a 1pm conference call. I put myself on mute and finish my lunch while listening to the call.

A few more hours of work trickle by, while answering urgent emails. An important one comes through: A project I was working on was suddenly delayed. I feel thwarted, as I had been working on it all day. I shift gears and start to work on something else. I get hungry, but am too absorbed in my tasks to get up from my desk.

My phone rings – it’s my husband. My daughter is crying in the background. “When are you leaving work?” he asks. “Could you swing by the store on your way? What do I make for dinner?” I frown as I look at the clock. It’s already 5pm.

“I’m leaving soon, don’t worry,” I say. “Yes, I’ll stop at the store.”

I try to get through the rest of what I was working on, but a few emails pop in that I need to answer. I remember I promised to send an email at the end of the day, but it’s already 5:25, and I need to leave. I decide to write the email from home. I pack up and leave the office.

I walk six blocks back to the bus stop. The next bus comes in 8 minutes. I scroll through email and Facebook and Instagram until the bus comes. I get on and continue scrolling. The bus slowly packs full of commuters and students for 20 minutes. I turn off my phone and rest my eyes.

I ride the bus one stop further than I usually do, and grab some groceries from the store up the street. “Double bag them please,” I say, “I’m walking home.” They oblige. The milk is heavy, but not as heavy as my laptop. I put on my gloves and head out the door.

I walk the four blocks to my house down the street. It’s a little icy, so I take it slow. It’s after 6pm. I’ve been out of the house since 8am. I stop and look up at my house from the street and take a deep breath. I know this is my last silent moment before crossing the threshold into chaos again. My daughter wanting to spend time with me. My husband ready to leave and get out. The dog demanding to play.

Breathe in. Breathe out. The moon was out and shining already.

I climb the stairs, open the door and smile. My time will wait. My life is for them at this moment. I will have to answer and send that email later. I will have time to write and read my book later. I can watch Netflix later. I can run to the store later. I will see my friends later.

My daughter’s face lights up when I come in the house. The dog runs around excitedly in circles. My husband looks relieved.

These days are busy and full and exhausting. It’s hard to be mindful. It’s hard to stay present. But I try. I do it for them, and I do it for me. I can’t do anything else.

The world peers in with loving glances. I am suddenly grateful for my exhausting days. Grateful for my husband and daughter and demanding dog. Grateful I have a moment to stand still in the moonlight. On the outside looking in. Grateful for the world. Grateful for this life.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Love.

Sediments of Self

I’ve finally come out the other side of a week-long flu purgatory with my husband and daughter, and things are getting normal again. Last Wednesday – my first day back at work after being stuck at home in a fever-haze for almost five days – I couldn’t find my shoes.

I looked everywhere. I didn’t leave the house in five days, how could I not find them?!

I knew in the back of my absent-professor mind that they must be right in front of my very eyes somewhere, but still… I couldn’t find them. After rummaging for a while, already late for work and knowing I was swamped with email catch-up, I gave up and pulled out the first pair of shoes in our closet that I could feasibly wear with the wool socks I already had on: my chuck taylors from high school. I laced them up and ran to catch my bus.

I expected them to be tighter or smaller than my presently lost shoes, but no – they fit as reliably as they always have. A little worn-out, not a lot of arch support, but they did the job.

It felt weird to wear them after such a long time – I marveled that I still hung onto them.

I recently watched the strange Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler, where he becomes other people by putting on their shoes. I was feeling like the character in the movie – that I was encountering a magical portal, slipping into my high school self for but a moment, seeing things through her eyes.

What would she see? How was I different from that past period in my life? What would I be thinking and making of my life right now?

Who was that person?

*

They say you essentially change personas every seven or so years. Given it has been almost 15 years since I first bought those shoes, my Self I imagined I was slipping into was two personas ago. Two whole phases of my life ago. My, how things have changed.

But not all things.

I am still too self-critcal. I still spend most of the time in the clouds, and then assume I don’t possess the analytical thinking prowess of my peers because of it. I still get freaked out when faced with situations that are not what I planned out in my head. I wallow. My main mode of dealing with conflict is still guilt-trips, self-pity and avoidance. I’m still a slob.

But back then, in these past personas, I wasn’t aware of all these things. Now, I am much more self-aware.

I am still messy, but at least I recognize it and try harder. I recognize that I’m stubborn, and in the past didn’t step out of my mind-box willingly. I was just going with the ebbs and tides of social expectation. Floating along. Now I recognize that passivity, and perhaps try to direct with intention. Interact. Remind myself to engage and step out of the box.

I am at the core that same quiet day-dreamer as I’ve always been. Unchanged.  But yet, as with all things, constantly becoming.

Like an agate I have been polished by the grains of time – to proudly wear my stripes and unique striations as clearly and colorfully as I can.

I am still made of the rough rock and minerals – the same as all the others around me. Originating at the same bedrock, made of the same igneous and sedimentary stardust.

Only now, polished and gleaming, battered and worn beautiful by the elements – I can more clearly see these colors at the core and let them shine through. And I’m only just beginning.