I learned last night that a very special person in my life passed away. Alex was my first girlfriend and the source of countless smiles in the 17-year-old me. She taught me to have a sense of style and an appreciation for high culture, but most importantly not to take myself too seriously. She and I drifted apart after I went to college, and I never knew her adult mom-of-4-kids version, but I’ll always cherish who we were and who she was.
I drove out into the country this morning to reflect a bit and the universe gave me this sky. A bit turbulent, but full of beauty.
Rest In Peace, AM. Will always love you.
This has been one of those weeks where living a superficial life, free of both empathy and awareness, starts to sounds appealing. But there’s a problem with ignoring what ails us. It doesn’t go away. It continues to eat away at our health and well-being, until one day we’re laying there surprised we’re on life support.
Always have at least a couple of people around you who will call you on your B.S. When those people abandon you, you lose your ability to navigate your inevitable self-delusion.
“It is very interesting how the human mind works. We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe. We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe. This is why we make assumptions…We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions…We have agreed that it is not safe to ask questions; we have agreed that if people love us, they should know what we want or how we feel. When we believe something, we assume we are right about it to the point that we will destroy relationships in order to defend our position.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
Amazing how this cuts across so many different aspects of life.
I recently read Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh cover to cover on a flight from Chicago to Austin. Its basic premise is that clearing the noise from our hearts and minds is the only way to be truly present and find the greatest joy in our lives.
Achieving this presence is also the way to healthier relationships that can be expressed in four mantras:
- I am here for you.
- I know you are there, and I am very happy.
- I know you suffer; that’s why I’m here for you.
- I suffer, please help.
I woke up thinking about the fourth mantra and the author’s words surrounding it.
“Don’t rush into saying this mantra. When you’re ready, go to the other person, breathe in and breathe out deeply, and become yourself 100 percent. Then say the mantra with all your heart. You may not want to do it. You may want to say you don’t need the other person. Your pride has been deeply hurt, after all. But don’t let pride stand between you and the person you love. In true love there is no room for pride.”
I read this poem my Mary Oliver several weeks ago, and it’s been resonating in me since.
The Journey, by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
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I spent our lunch break yesterday sitting by myself along the river, the chatter of scouts within earshot but not distinguishable. My mind raced through all that has happened this year, as I watched the water swirl in eddies and around obstacles. The challenges change our direction, sometimes alter us in irreversible — often beautiful — ways. Our journey, our own persistent river, is our beauty, isn’t it?
In the weeks following the presidential election, I felt unhinged. I tried to find my words in posts about being an ally and being told I wasn’t doing enough. My daily stress levels, partially self-inflicted, were unsustainable. I walked away from social media because I couldn’t see straight through the fear that saturated my feeds.
I needed some quiet.
I needed to be quiet.
I needed to let the silence answer a question for me. Where do I go from here? How do I find my voice in our national discourse? Read More →
Despite the tumultuous year, my inkling was right. This piece hangs in the hallway outside my bedroom, and I feel its power every day and night.
I still feel hope. I always will.
I need to kill my optimist.
This epiphany hit me early this morning in the form of Maggie Puniewska’s article “Optimism Is the Enemy of Action.”
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