The quote from one of my meditations this week was: “The bad news is nothing lasts forever. The good news is nothing lasts forever” (J. Cole).
After the initial “holy crap that is terrifying to think of” wore off I started to think about what it really meant. To me it is speaking to the nature of change. How nothing remains, good or not so good.
I have spent a significant portion of my life fighting change. Fighting hard, spending a ton of energy trying to keep everything the same. Treating “change” as a four-letter word.
My guess is that was mostly out of fear from what “might be”. Not understanding what “might be” might be good. Might be better. Not realizing that even if it was worse, it could still be better. Not sure that makes sense, but the point is the known, no matter what it was, it was better than the unknown.
Now I think, for me, that was not the best way to approach change. If I really think about it, I can beat myself up pretty good over that lost energy, the lost time. But instead I am trying to be positive and realize that its not too late. That embracing the change, turning into the skid if you will, is the better option.
Maybe it’s never too late. Because good or not so good, it will not last. Why not be mindful, stay focused on the moment, and understand this too shall pass? If that’s true (and boy, do I hope it is) then the not so good will pass, the good will pass, and I get the chance to grow from both.
Recently I have been going to bookstores. Not really to buy a particular book, but because my good friend reminded me how much I really, really love books. I’ve come back with an old hymnal my mother loved, books on writing, and short stories, etc.
But my favorite so far has been a children’s book called Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake. My friend pointed out how fun it was to read children’s books, and originally, I scoffed and went back to looking at a civil war history that weighed roughly 80 pounds. But the more we went to bookstores the more I thought about books from my childhood, books my son read, and how happy they made me.
It struck me the happiness was based at least in part upon imagination and level of concentration both easy and hard. I started to think about reading the book, and how it might help me use another part of my brain. And guess what? It did.
I started to slow down. To focus on the story. To really look at the artwork. To imagine what it might be like to be a stodgy badger living with an outgoing skunk. Not that I would identify with a stodgy badger….The point is this: it was another way to be mindful. To wake up that part of my brain I don’t get to use as much because of television or the internet. This required work, but it was relaxing enough it did not require work, if that makes sense.
So, if you are looking for something different, something to help your mind relax, you might think about a children’s book next time you are at a bookstore. Or better yet, go down to the basement or up to the attic and see what is just waiting for you to remember. I’m really, really glad I did. Thanks for the suggestion, Corrie.
I really like music. Really like it. And not just one genre. My music collection looks like a buy one get 100 free sale at Columbia Music. You younger kids can ask your parents about that reference.
Of all that music I really do not have a favorite, favorite song, but I do have one that stands out. I am not going to write what it is because a) it’s my song and you really should have your own; and 2) I am afraid if I say it aloud FATE will take it from me. But that is another psychosis for another day.
My point is when I hear that song, I literally stop what I am doing if I did not put it on myself. Or, if I did put it on, I’m already in that place. You know? When I hear that song all the crap clouding my thought process goes away for a moment. And if I try, I can actually keep it away for a time, or at least turn it down enough to focus. To take a few minutes to get myself where I want to be.
I think that is part of being mindful. Remembering from time to time to tune out everything (and I do mean everything) else. Maybe not to quiet the mind completely, but to at least turn down the noise enough so I can appreciate that moment.
Maybe for some it’s smell, maybe it’s looking at a picture, or feeling a fabric. For me though, it’s that song. Whatever it is for you, I hope you take a minute with it today and have some time to yourself.
I don’t do very well when someone tells me to do something. Ask me? Sure. Ask me and say please? Absolutely. But tell me, or worse, tell me and not explain why? Yeah, not so much. In fact, not only no, but now we are arguing.
Frustrating, but I have been thinking lately that maybe this is another chance to be mindful. Maybe there is a compromise. Not doing the ask and feeling resentment, but not not doing it and arguing.
Instead of starting to form my argument showing how the ask is the dumbest thing ever suggested in the history of suggestions I should take a breath, try to see the ask from their perspective, and see if we can talk about why. Maybe the explanation will make sense and I’m on board. Maybe it won’t and I can explain why I don’t want to do it and something can be worked out. Either way, some clarity is bound to come out, right? Yeah, that’s got to be it….
I have been up since about 1:30 a.m. as I write this. Not sure why I woke up, but as soon as I did it was clear I was not going back to sleep. So if this does not make sense, chalk it up to sleep deprivation.
Normally I do yoga at the Y on Saturdays. Today, since my brain thought I did not need any sleep, I got the chance to go downtown early. Really, really early. To walk around, looking at buildings, architecture, and watching the light change everything around me. I am so thankful for the experience because I was able to look at things completely differently. Buildings I have driven past dozens of times took on character I could not see in the light.
It slowly occurred to me this is what mindfulness is truly about. Taking time to slow down, to look at something I have done dozens of times. Look at it differently. “See” it, pay attention, try and determine if what I knew was true. And finding out it wasn’t.
I’m not saying you should get up at 1:30 a.m. and go for a walk. But maybe well before sunrise. Really look at what is around you. Take a deep breath and see what you see. Maybe it will be the same building, tree or sign. Maybe nothing will come of it. But for me, in the still of the morning and the muted light, I saw more clearly than I have for some time.
Here’s the thing about asking for help: I used to think is really sucked. Still do to a certain extent, but I am slowly (glacially) coming to realize I have been wrong. Maybe there’s still hope for me.
The thing is none of us can do this alone. We need help from time to time and there isn’t (or in a perfect world shouldn’t be) any shame in asking. What I did not understand is the person I was asking for help was just waiting for me to ask. Me asking made them feel better.
I failed to understand they feel the same way I do. Asking for help is really hard, but giving it makes me feel good. So, if it makes me feel good, and makes them feel good, they why is this such an issue?
Probably could spend hours on a counselor’s couch figuring that out, but in the end, I think the point is we all want to be helpful. If that’s right, then asking for that help should be easy. Otherwise, by not asking I am keeping that person from feeling as good as I want to feel. That’s seems selfish in the end, and probably is.
Sometimes I really hate being an adult.
This weekend I was pushed into a swimming pool while I was wearing my clothes. It was a surprise that turned out not to be surprising. That probably doesn’t make sense.
My point is the time between going from the solid side of the pool to the water seemed like an instant and an eternity at the same time. I wasn’t worried about anything other than the usual “this is not normal” feeling I get when something different happens, but the surprise was enough to make me fully present.
In that instant it occurred to me life is made up of these small moments. Bits of time when what happens to us is so different it wakes us up and helps us to see clearly. After considering it I think the trick is to take those moments, be mindful, and try to remember them going forward so I am ‘awake’.
Can’t remember a time I was so happy to be wearing soaked underwear.
Yesterday I was thinking about how time flies. Well, actually, I was talking to our office manager about a new phone system, the somewhat shocking price, and how I almost lost a childhood friend because we had a rotary phone and his number had two 9s and a 0 and it just took too long to call him.
But to my point, time does not fly. Time is constant; probably the most constant thing in my life. What happens is I focus on what will happen in the future, or what just happened in the past, and am not present for the present. I am not mindful, so I miss out.
Maybe it’s how everything seems to move quickly. But I don’t think so. Again, time is time. I think it is up to me to use the time so it does not slip by. To stop, think, and focus on what is actually happening around me. To just dial both 9s and the 0, and be patient.
Our dogs are not the best at meditation.
For a while now I have been trying to devote at least 15 minutes a day to meditate. Without fail both dogs choose that time to be as close to me as possible, constantly moving and most likely wrestling or chewing on a bone seemingly made out of heavy metal music. Distracting.
It occurred to me this morning maybe this is the challenge. Maybe I am “gifted” with chance to really focus my attention. Meditate on the hardest setting if you will. And, carry that lesson over in my day-to-day work. Not that I am continually meditating, but there are times some focus would really help. To be able to tune out the chewing and wrestling and concentrate, really concentrate, on what I am trying to accomplish.
So maybe I should thank the dogs. Or, maybe they are just jerks. Right now the odds seem roughly equal for both choices.
I saw someone with a t-shirt that said, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body”. Being a long-time sayer of dumb things I can say that is just dumb. I understand the sentiment, but I think it is misplaced.
First, pain is not weakness. Pain is a way we know something is happening to us. Maybe good, maybe bad, but pain is a change in our physical or mental being telling us something we need to know.
Second, pain is a chance to be mindful. Pain is an opportunity to stop and think about what we are doing in that moment that is causing the pain, and hopefully learn from it.
I don’t want to get all “unicorns and rainbows” here, but maybe pain is only good. It hurts, its frustrating, even infuriating, but its purpose is to help us. To make us stop, think about what we are doing, and maybe be better versions of ourselves. Sort of like eating Brussel sprouts.
Maybe the shirt should be “Pain is my friend”. Or maybe just buddy. Not sure I want to be too close with pain.