Imitation

Many things imitate something better, and find the original isn’t always easy.  Work on not believing the reality of what’s right in front of you; don’t believe anything you hear about someone else.  In this way, separate from a need for truth, step back and honor yourself and your right to be fully you, without the influence of another.

I have been both imitated and taken in by an impostor.  I have spent far too much money or found my greatest treasures sold to for a low bid under someone else’s name. One thing I know for sure: there is karma.

In all things let the middle way be your guide and listen to that high pitched sound just beyond hearing that comes from the inner ear.

Saying No

The courage to say no is something I’m working on. I have a new standard rule, that when I’m asked to do something extra, I give myself 48 hours to respond. I can respond immediately and say, thanks for this opportunity, and let me think about it, if there is indeed a need for an answer or reply right away. Nothing in this fast-paced world operates on an emergency basis except a 911 call, so be suspicious if there is a need for a quicker turnaround.  You may be pressured for a reason.

Like, no one else would do it.

Anyway, I’ve found that usually after 48 hours, someone else has already chimed in and volunteered. And my tendency is to work about two weeks more than my salaried contract requires, already.  So I have a lot to work on, and most requests should probably meet with a no, thank you, I’m already booked.

Yet I don’t want to be a naysayer, and I know that if I say no to everything, I’ll get passed over for something that might be juicier.  But passed over isn’t bad, if you happen to be the one still standing at the end of the ritual.

Glory to spring

The beauty of the season takes us in, but sometimes, it can be hard to look at.  Such glory is almost blinding, depending on our inner landscape, and all the happiness of wind and weather, the ravens and geese squabbling over nesting territory, and the day can seem overmuch.  Pace yourself by focusing on one thing only. Pick one flower or one rainbow and climb in. You’ve got this.

Don’t change anything, just let the mind rest there. Give it space.  If it wanders into the words said by a coworker or the phone call with a family member, bring it back. Let it rest in naturalness for one little space of time on one thing.  You don’t have to taste everything.

Bootstraps

Bootstraps are a community thing. We all pull each other up.  The best feeling in the world is helping somebody else get a start, one foot at a time, in those boots.  Sometimes I wonder how many times I’ve walked the same stretch of sidewalk, the same path to work. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I’m here now, for you all.  Let me help you with that.

Bird Song

My first disclaimer is that I am not a birder. I’m not an ornithologist. However, I have experienced a shift in perception when I listen to the birds as they sing. Hawks have a piercing cry, ravens a warbling laugh. Each kind of bird sees us, hears us, and communicates with us and each other through sound.

We’re so busy being plugged into everything. Ear buds. Inner turmoil. Bringing the visual focal point to the diaphragm as we breathe, inhale bird song from your porch or on a neighborhood ramble. No need to go far.

Take a pedestrian walk along the river trail, across a foot bridge. Go to the boat launch and watch the fishermen put in.  Stand there and do the bird song exercise.

Bird song meditations can be accomplished several times a day, once per hour if need be.  Pretend it’s a cigarette break. Everybody’s doing it.  Maybe that’s why the smokers do this! (I’m not a smoker, either — I’d probably be dead by now if I were, like most of my smoker friends.)

No one has to know what you are doing. If you become curious, look up the birds and learn them by their songs. The Audobon Society has great web-sounds.  Let me conclude with a link to the raven’s “low honks near nest.” These are the sounds of contentment, home and family. They pierce the gloom of human misery.

Don’t panic

I love thinking about Monty Python: “Just a flesh wound.” Many of my thoughts in an ordinary day can border on overly dramatic, and I’ve been learning to call up images of movies that offer take-downs of these dramas.

Do I have to panic about who is saying what during the aftermath of gun violence? Do I have to get all hot about it, when I could continue to keep my position of calm? Many people feel they must respond by getting hyper and panicked and hitting the streets. I am one of them.

I’ll be the first to say we need training and leadership, and we need to get rid of assault rifles in the hands of teenagers.  It’s not likely to be a flesh wound if I get shot by somebody with one of those, so I’m not sure how the Constitution will protect me. And if I shoot someone, it better be for legal reasons.  I’ll simply keep with the idea that murder is wrong, no matter who does it or why.

And I’ll engage my sense of humor if I can. And I’ll grieve with my fellow citizens. We’ve got to figure this out.  Thanks to the kids from Parkland, we might get moving on a few key points. Meanwhile, I’ll use my turn signal at the light, and I’ll continue to eat all my vegetables.  Keep calm, and take care.

 

Nature Reset — Take a Walk and Jot

Nature will walk beside us if we let her. I’ve seen lots of local people taking to the trails recently, and the general advice around here is to walk with someone. High crime rates everywhere, the danger of the black bear or the mountain lion. Everyone I know has a rattlesnake story, mostly sightings, a few dramatic runs to the ER after a bite. What I observe and want to share is that we should be noisy now and then but not chatter constantly, in order to gather the benefit of peaceful surroundings.

We need to be quiet a while to capture the benefit.

If we are naturally afraid of nature in all its unromantic perils (real stuff), then perhaps paved trails with benches are better.

I want to encourage people to try twenty minutes of silence on a bench by the river or on a rock in the forest. I know twenty minutes seems a long spell. We give twenty minutes to our computer screen, but not twenty minutes to finding out who we are.  The walking to the spot should also take about twenty minutes.

This is a forty-minute reset that works, as far as I can tell. If you have a companion with you, do not discuss the day’s stresses.  That requires adding another twenty minutes to the walk. Once you sit or stand, make sure you each have a private time.  Sharing afterwards can increase intimacy.  What’s really on your deep mind?

I thought it was all that trouble at work — the emails! The crazy way people like to drop insults and feel superior! It turns out, when I become quiet, what’s really bothering me seems more existential. I’ve been thinking about why I’m here in this place. Am I really suited to the climate? Do I like the people I’m interacting with? Do they like me? Beyond all these doubts, when the twenty minute timer chimes its nice chime (iPhone magic), I understand that once again, I’m not sure I’m able to make a contribution that matters.

I take a brief moment to write down what I’m willing and able to contribute today. Some of the rest of what I’m worried about isn’t mine to do anything about: I cannot fix what others think of me. I probably cannot be better than willing to contribute, generous with others, and willing to forgive. As a result, I have a list of what I’m able to do, a list of what the day has to accomplish for itself, with the help of others, or God, or Buddha nature, or the Universe.  Raven’s laughter.  I hear it.  There is a small bunch of lavender in front of me.  I see it.

Then I can release. My list can appear on my iPhone or on a pad of paper.  I can delete it or burn it.  The point is, I’m finally congruent with myself. That matters enough. I’m close to my true nature, and the bugs, the snakes, and the bears cannot take that away.