Being Reasonable

It can feel like we don’t hear enough reasonable voices, voices of people able to think through and share complicated dynamics and issues. And in a quiet, confident way. Emotions like anger and verbal tools like hammers seem to be the public media discourse we are exposed. Do those voices help us learn, better understand, or have a sense of how to help? To witness a reasonable, informed person who is also serving at the USA Federal level, oh my, what a treat. It can feel like a mini oasis to find a reasonable voice in the sea of noise, debris and clutter.

We post this because it seems important. Listening to the first part of this link, of Peter Buttigieg’s speaking, for us it provided a way to rein in our emotions and powerlessness. He speaks to history, context, the bigger picture, what justice of all kinds might look like and where we find ourselves right now. We are grateful for this reasonable voice at this time.

Friendship Musings

 This Blogger respects the Stoic Philosophy and continues to learn. The idea of friendship, and how it is practiced and defined by Stoics is fascinating to consider. And as we age deliciously, new friendships can still be found, grown and blossom to be meaningful. Many of us witnessed our parents, in their 80s and 90s start new friendships that were mutually enjoyable, supportive and life changing. Perhaps we see friendships we have made and are making that vary, and serve us differently and at different times?

Here’s an excerpt from the Daily Stoic Blog (April 12, 2022) that we thought worth sharing:

“….from what we do know, we can gather Seneca was social and had a large circle of friends and acquaintances with whom he spent a lot of time.

Which begs the question: How did he choose these friends? We can hope—and expect—that Seneca’s many friendships adhered to the rule he put down to Lucilius in one of those famous letters:

“Associate with those who will make a better person of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve.”

Seneca

It’s an impossible thing to know really—even for ourselves—how we came to know most of the people in our lives. But how they stayed in our lives? How our acquaintances evolved into friendships, that should be easier to figure out. And Seneca’s rule is a wonderful guide, because what he’s describing is what friendship is about. A process of mutual improvement, benefit and enjoyment.

We become like the people we spend the most time with…so we should choose wisely. And we should choose widely, because life is too short to live lonely or narrowly—even for a Stoic.”

Getting Along

The idea and practice of getting along can sound simple. Many of us heard it often growing up, especially in families with kids. Yet telling children or anyone to just get along might not actually help them know how to get along. It might “teach” us we have to stop yelling, or wanting something, or clam up, but what really is at the core of getting along?

What does it feel like to come through a small friction or larger conflict, and actually be getting along with yourself and those involved? Sometimes, to get along or keep the peace in a family, or at a dinner or some tense situation, might we submerge what we want or need in an effort to have the appearance of getting along? And what happens over time if we never really are dealing with the issues, but keep smoothing or covering them over so that a “moment” looks good? What is the cost to all involved over time? We bite our tongue? We dumb down? We avoid or stay away? We make jokes? Much gets swept under the carpet. We might become aware of the “land mines” we need to avoid if we want to “get along” ? Then are we really getting along?

Has conflict or difference of opinion become scary for most of us westerners? What is the worst that can happen? Are we trying to get along or scared to really try? Do many of us skim the surface and have a life with less true feeling, vibrancy and connection because we want to keep the peace? Do we deny ourselves the full palette of color and emotion in an effort to “protect” others and to get along? Can we have peace AND listen AND be curious AND not feel attacked but rather find a new way through based on the different points of view, be it in our family, relationships, community or this world? Who are our role models for getting along while being their best selves and shining their light?

Getting along can sound simple. There are of course times to not rock the boat, to listen, to consider, and do what needs doing in that moment or period of time. Yet then once that situation or crisis is averted, can we not go back and revisit what happened especially if some involved gave up what they might have needed or wanted for the common good at that time? Do some of us expect others in our orbit to go along to get along, at a cost to themselves we rarely inquire about in order for us to feel okay?

In these large world moments of observing, it can look like few of us on the world stage get along. What are we really fighting for? And what happens if we get it? Does the world (meaning us) really want to get along if we’d have to change some aspect of ourselves? What does peace and getting along and working together really feel and look like? How many of us have that feeling in our micro world? How do we help plant those seeds if peace and getting along is what we truly want more of? What happens when some want it and others don’t want to get along?

Guess this entry is just a bunch of questions to noodle on.

Social Justice

“In every age, no matter how cruel the oppression carried on by those in power, there have been those who struggled for a different world. I believe this is the genius of humankind, the thing that makes us half divine: the fact that some human beings can envision a world that has never existed.”
– Anne Braden, anti-racist activist (1924-2006)

New Story

Letting go of the “old stories” we tell ourselves, those stories that might have us stuck in an earlier perception or habit of who we are or how we have always been…well we can let that go it if isn’t working for us. That is the beauty and strength of being a human. We can change our minds which in turn changes our story.

What do we mean by story? Well, it might be whether we feel we have the right to be happy, or whether we see ourselves as someone who could have been a carpenter, but now it is too late. Is it? Isn’t that a story we tell ourselves? Why is it too late if there is something we might enjoy more or be better at or wish we had tried, or always wanted to experience?

If our story is limited or weighing us down, draining, hard, lacks support or goodness, what is the fear or harm in considering changing it? The shift to a new story may not even be noticed by anyone but ourselves, yet inside us, in our core, we might feel a lightness, an absence of weight or being dragged down, even if we appear to be living similarly as before. It could mean waking up with energy and feeling happy or contented about doing chores, versus resistant and dragging one’s feet. It could be about joining forces with a person or organization to take part in an initiative that makes us excitedly scared yet our new story would be “We can do this. Why not?”

Creating a new story is particular and personal to each of us. In these amazing, weird, scary, uncertain times it seems good to consider what matters, what we might regret not doing or being, and choose to do or be that. Choosing new stories takes practice and daily attention.

As we look at the global horizon, it seems an ideal time to revisit our individual stories. If our old story is not serving us in the here and now, we have the capability to write a new story for ourselves which better fits where we find ourselves, and lightens our hearts.

Maybe our whole planet is in the process of finding a new story.

Keep The Gifts Not The Pain

Life, as some teachings say of our day-to-day living   ” carry water, chop wood ” can provide personal learning and growth. What do we mean by that?  Anything we do can have meaning and opportunity for checking in with ourselves, about our day and how we lived it.   Did we live up to our own expectations or standards for ourselves?  Some people may look at life as an opportunity in each encounter and choice they make, to pay attention, be present in order to learn from it. Some may call it checking in with their “inner compass”. Some people say they have standards or expectations for themselves to live up to, that seem innate, coming from their inner core. Others may look to the outside world to get their bearings of how to be. No matter where we look, pain seems a part of this life. Physical or emotional pain gets our attention. Pain may stop us in our tracks. Maybe the pain forces us to change course in life, to move, quit a job, or slow down. In retrospect we might understand the painful time could also have brought gifts or shifts that altered our life for the better.

Along this journey of life there are joyous moments, heartbreaking ones, small hurts, big challenges, and unexpected surprises. How we interpret, process and behave determines a lot of what we experience. And as humans, we can change our minds and look at our interpretations to better line up with our inner compass. Some of the hardest and most challenging times in our lives can be full of pain. Yet the gift in that experience when we are “awake at the wheel” is inner growth and an open heart. We can keep the gift and let go of the pain.

2022 Here We Are

Many ideas, intentions and thoughts circulate at the beginning of a calendar year in western culture, and often some reflection is given to important acknowledgments of the year just passed. New years are a time to review, reflect, recharge, and ideally look to new beginnings, no matter what occurs. Naturally, in the throes of personal crisis or grief, we need be present to that in the healthiest of ways. In those times it may provide us the opportunity to be more certain as to what comforts or soothes us, or even who. Belonging, connection and community seem to matter more and more when we face a crisis, or feel separated from others, or perhaps lose direction.

So many species in nature understand the cycles of living, of being able to adapt when food becomes scarce, or weather conditions alter their course, or they lose some from their herd or flock. Sandhill cranes are other worldly to watch. They generally travel long distances in a chevron shape, and circling if they need wait for others to catch up. To see them in the air, or coming in for a landing or standing in fields munching as part of the north/south migration, it can be inspiring. Inspiring by the rarity for many of us to get to see these birds, but also to witness their community, and nature doing what nature knows to do no matter the threats, most not of nature’s making, but nature continues doing what she has always done.

There is a true awe feeling to hear the slow sound of flapping wings as a crane passes overhead, or the deep trill purring sound cranes make to alert, locate, communicate with one another. Depending on the numbers of cranes in a group on the ground, one or more will have the role of sentry or look out, so the others can eat and explore. They take turns.

When we look up to see cranes in flight we may be seeing a couple, or a couple with their offspring, or any additional configuration of that, but rarely do they fly alone. They are a community, being together in this new year, doing what they always have done, heading south to feed, and soon headed north. Together they fly, look out for each other, and go in the same direction. They do this now and every year. There is a beauty to constancy, and moving in a forward direction together. 2022, here we are.

(Photo credit LLZ)

New Day’s Lyric

May this be the day
We come together.
Mourning, we come to mend,
Withered, we come to weather,
Torn, we come to tend,
Battered, we come to better.
Tethered by this year of yearning,
We are learning
That though we weren’t ready for this,
We have been readied by it.
We steadily vow that no matter
How we are weighed down,
We must always pave a way forward.

This hope is our door, our portal.
Even if we never get back to normal,
Someday we can venture beyond it,
To leave the known and take the first steps.
So let us not return to what was normal,
But reach toward what is next.

What was cursed, we will cure.
What was plagued, we will prove pure.
Where we tend to argue, we will try to agree,
Those fortunes we forswore, now the future we foresee,
Where we weren’t aware, we’re now awake;

Those moments we missed
Are now these moments we make,
The moments we meet,
And our hearts, once all together beaten,
Now all together beat.

Come, look up with kindness yet,
For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.
We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,
But to take on tomorrow.

We heed this old spirit,
In a new day’s lyric,
In our hearts, we hear it:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.

Be bold, sang Time this year,
Be bold, sang Time,
For when you honor yesterday,
Tomorrow ye will find.
Know what we’ve fought
Need not be forgotten nor for none.
It defines us, binds us as one,
Come over, join this day just begun.
For wherever we come together,
We will forever overcome.

Poet Amanda Gorman wrote this poem with the “aim to celebrate the new year and honor both the hurt and humanity of the last one.”

Impatience

Author and Mindfulness teacher/practitioner Jon Kabat-Zinn is part of the Master Class series currently online. In watching, he mentioned different attitudes or habits that can get in our way of being mindful, of being fully aware in the present moment or experience. One attitude he mentioned that can get in the way is impatience. He spoke of impatience as the attitude or feeling that communicates “let’s hurry and get through this now “. Sometimes it can seem to others, that this moment for the impatient person isn’t as good as something coming up after this. It can feel like the future is more enjoyable than this right now moment, which if we spend a lot of time with an impatient person, they are rarely satisfied.That doesn’t feel too good to be around. It seems always about what is “next”.

Jon described impatience as a form of abuse, to ourselves, and the others in our orbit who are on the receiving end. That was a fresh way of thinking about impatience. He mentioned impatience can be harsh for others to experience, especially in a repetitive way, when that is someone’s habitual attitude. It is hard to relax around impatient people. We can get triggered. We may feel rushed so we do not ask the questions we need to ask or take the time needed to fully understand something or have the time to savor the unexpected because impatience doesn’t allow for that. Kabat-Zinn suggested there can be a type of violence in the impatience, as an attitude in terms of how it lands on others. He was asking us to be aware and notice when we might feel impatient, or be with someone impatient, and how did that attitude affect our ability to be present in the moment.

It is interesting to be thinking about impatience in this way. Some of us have moments of impatience, but it might not be our primary response and attitude. A more constantly impatient person may see themselves as quicker to comprehend things or faster to get something accomplished. And that attitude brings in judgment and comparison of the moment and experience. We all judge, yet it is how we respond. Do we act on it? One way would be impatience.

Reflecting on impatience, might come some sense of “I know. I know”. Maybe the “expert” gets impatient with those learning on a subject they have been immersed for years. Jon Kabat-Zinn said he doesn’t consider himself a Master. This is a non-Master class in his mind. He spoke to the idea of an expert can get limited and closed off to new ideas or considering new information or maybe even seeing what is right there because they have shut the door on some things figuring they know versus keeping open curiosity. That is beginners mind. We look and experience as though a beginner and our first thoughts. And in that place there is less room for impatience.

In Uncertain Times

In uncertain times, as a way to find wisdom and possible guidance, we can look to insightful mentors or texts for reflection and comfort. We need not be alone in our uncertainty or struggle. We can be reminded that others have been through this and found their way through.

There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind;

A time for being in motion, a time for being in rest;

A time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted;

A time for being safe, a time for being in danger.

The Tao

The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them.

She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle.

Jack Kornfield