I read this this weekend: responsibility is the ability to respond (i.e. not panic). That resonated so deeply with me--the simplicity and the profound truth of it. That's all leadership of any kind is (including the ability to lead and master oneself) isn't it? The ability to respond. Beyond that, or to unpack that a bit, it's the ability to pause long enough to parse out the most prudent response called for in that moment.
The ability to pause--maybe that's the heart of it. That pause is necessary for any decision in any moment, but even more so in a situation requiring immediate action and immediate attention. A pause to take stock, a pause to note any fear or hesitation and to move forward anyway. A pause to keep us away from the long, treacherous fall into panic which, once stumbled into, there's no (easy) way out of that free-fall.
Maybe that's the only skill we need in this life--the ability to pause. From there, all roads clear.
It's so not easy being human, and I think it all comes down to the absolutely exquisite pain of knowing time is passing. It's that knowledge that trips us up, makes us desperate, makes us hasty. And, of course, nothing good comes from desperate hastiness.
But the beauty of being human is that we *can* learn from those mistakes; we *can* alter our reactions in the future. Sure. We CAN, but do we? It usually takes a few turns around the sun (more time passing...) before we assimilate those lessons. That's the steel-toed irony, isn't it? If we could stay in the moment, we'd no longer fret so much about all this time passing and, of course, we'd make fewer so-called mistakes.
So, I don't know. It's hard--all of it. But it's lovely, too, when you can BE in that moment. When, occasionally (until it's more than occasionally), you can call yourself back to center, back to the moment. And when you drift, when you flap, forgive yourself, and just come home.
I think I might be ready to look up and around for once. You know? It becomes such habit to walk, head down, watching our feet, as if they don't know what they're doing, as if they need our constant coaching. It becomes a crutch, this false sense of being needed, and we hang onto it--our perfect "I can't; I'm busy" excuse.
But I think we miss a lot, sacrificing to this inward focus. And it's not even constructive inward focus--this isn't introspection; this isn't growth. This is pure head-in-the-sand avoidance, and it's a skill we've honed to shiny perfection.
The thing about shoving one's head in the sand, however, is that it's dark, and it's hard to get any enthusiasm, any kind of groove kindled in the dark. But, you know, I think we're due for some sun. And I don't think any of us would come to any harm by pausing, looking around--not to see what we've missed, because that's an exercise in deliberate self-sabotage--but to see how far we've come, to see how close we are to the incred...
I talk to myself all the time. All. The. Time. It's a habit that began in childhood, which I think is pretty common. I'm sure there are far fewer kiddos who don't talk to themselves than those who do. Actually, I'm sure most of us probably still talk to ourselves on a daily basis. I know, for me, it comes in quite handy whenever maths are involved. Or editing (my jobby-job)--reading out loud is an essential aspect of my work.
But I also find that I spend more time than I ever imagined talking myself out of/down from x or y, peppered here and there with a much-needed pep talk or the so-very-tired, go-to mantra, 'you can do anything for an hour.' (Thanks for that one, btw, Amy G--it's been of enormous use).
Beyond those rather obvious applications of conferencing with oneself is this: I think cultivating a deep friendship, a trusted relationship with oneself is vital to wellbeing. Keeping information about ourselves to ourselves serves as a vital buffer between us and the rest of the world...
Pattern is not the same as routine--I just want to put that out there for all my Type-A brothers and sisters who love a good, steady, reliable, comfortable routine, amen and hallelujah. No, patterns are altogether different creatures. While routine is a conscious choice, a lifestyle choice over which we have control, patterns are habits we fall into, universal maps of criteria that we seem, more often than not, doomed to repeat, consciously or subconsciously. A good therapist would probably call it self-sabotage.
Too, more often than not, we're unaware of them or aware of them only after the fact--after we realize we're in the *same* relationship *again,* or that we snapped at our spouse/partner/loved one *again* even though we told ourselves we wouldn't. Or we ate the cake, smoked the cigarette, drank the beer and made a fool of ourselves *again.* It's that dreaded "again" that's our first clue, as in, "I can't believe I did that AGAIN."
I think for most of us there's probably only one place at which we feel at peace. I just don't think we're evolved enough to carry that peace with us, and finally, finally, I think that's okay; I think that's acceptable. I think if we have one place, then we are incredibly lucky. So what if it's inconvenient, seasonally unavailable/challenging, unexpected, or mundane? No one can dictate your place of peace, so we can stop apologizing for the need to recharge, escape, find center.
I'm beginning to see that the point isn't enlightenment, isn't perpetual balance, empathy, understanding, compassion. Those are products of peace, not individual boxes on our checklist toward being a good person. We can't force emotion or, sometimes, even understanding. What we can do is step back, recede, and let space do our understanding for us.
Eventually, I think we become that space, that pause. But in the meantime, why not take ourselves toward peace and let space build up around us--a savings...
It's one of those mind-bending mysteries of life--sometimes these days (and nights) are so very, very long. How is this the same currency as the years that pass so quickly that an off-handed 'ma'am' in a shop has me wanting to protest that, surely, my 21st birthday (or my 31st, for that matter) was only last year.
I don't mind getting older, not at all, not anymore. But I'd really like an audit to account for how all of those years could possibly pass so quickly.
I used to say I was an ocean girl, but I realized that brought to mind tan, blonde, California surfer girls (the badass, big wave girls). And while in my teenage years and my 20's, I desperately wanted to be that, I am not that.
What I am is a shore girl, a borderland girl. I love the wind and the salt and the dichotomy of incremental and immediate change that the shore evokes and displays. I'll go out on the water, show off my lousy sailing skills (in truth, I'm a better surfer than sailor, but I do row a mean scull), but I'm happiest in the salt and the wind and the sound that comes when there is no thought, only old, old blood and salt memory.
Nonetheless, across the astrological spectrum (If you vibe that way, that is; if not, no worries. Same-same, only different), space is important. Give space, take space. Claim space. Space = sanity. Every time.
But more important than finding pockets of space throughout the day (bathrooms and I are well acquainted; closets, too), is having a space of your own. One you can spill anything in and it doesn't matter (material, cosmic, or emotional spills--all are welcome; none are cried over in the spilling). One where you can shut the door--where others have to knock for entry. This is physical space, literal space, not metaphysical, meditative space.
I've not mastered that skill yet. Maybe when I do, doors won't matter so much.
But for now, I'm talking about space for letting down defenses, whispering much longed-for wishes, dumping regrets and lamentations, watching them s...
I think of fractals as the unknown made known. If you could fathom the correct equation for creating a fern leaf, for example, and plug it into a computer of some kind, you would end up with the Platonic ideal of a fern leaf (like this).
And there's such beauty there--both in the math and outside of it (and I know nothing about math; I still add things on my fingers), such a simplifying (so to speak) of something endlessly complicated.
I often wish I could approach my own emotions that way, you know? Plug my brain into a computer, beam the mess of it over the wires, and have it distill itself into a perfect image, the perfect illumination.
But I'm not sure I have to *see* it with my brain parts, although I'd prefer that (or shall I say, I'm more comfortable with that); I think the heart speaks fractal, sees fractal. If we could short wire our brains directly into our hearts, it would all be good.
So, until then, I'll quite literally follow my heart---close my eyes and do what the beats...