As a human being, this kind of silence is impossible to create and exist in at the same time.
There is always the heartbeat.
There is always the breath.
An absence of machine sounds?
As I have done since the birth of this blog, I continue in my attempt to change my perception of things in order to decrease suffering. One tool I’m exploring is silence.
As a mom of a six-year-old, finding silence is nearly impossible. As a 21st century human being; doubly so.
If finding silence, an age-old tradition of hermits and spiritual seekers, is not possible in my very normal thirty-something world, how then do I rethink the concept of silence so I can find it in my life?
So you can find it in yours.
Silence in a noisy world.
The benefits are numerous and well documented.
The how; not so much.
What are your thoughts, dear readers; and your advice, as I move forward into this new rethink life project?
Last week, I asked what people thought of Purpose; the idea that we each have a single Purpose. I received truly lovely feedback, much of which was at odds with what I think is the current overwhelming view of Life Purpose, ie:
Finding Your Purpose = Winning Life
I am obviously tinged with a certain ire, if you cannot tell from the above statement, for I believe that this focus on Purpose has been incredibly detrimental for many people, including myself. Rather than helping, I have come to wonder if this search for Purpose hurts people’s psyches more times than not. And why? Because, to put it bluntly, many of us are unable to discover that Passion, that Idea, that Thing that will bring our lives meaning and so we feel that we are somehow failing.
This idea is so huge; so encompassing; so IMPORTANT, I have fallen under the weight of it; as have others I have spoken with, all with the same weary, hallowed-eye look.
Then I realized something, something key:
Purpose is based entirely on Faith.
Faith that there is a higher being; that there is a plan; and that Something is influencing our lives and ourselves.
What do I mean? Well, Purpose must come from somewhere.
God and Purpose
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
“And I did not create the Jinn and mankind except to worship Me…” (Quran, 51:56-58).
Oprah and Purpose
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become truly alive.”
** HAHAHA! **
Did I just put Oprah and God on the same level?
I am pointing out that one most have Faith in God to believe His words on Purpose (whether it is a Lord’s Purpose, or the Sole Purpose of worshiping Him).
Just the same, one most also have Faith in the intelligence and wisdom of Oprah to believe what she says as well.
Now, I came to the conclusion some time ago that faith is a choice. For example, we can choose to believe that God exists, or we can choose to believe that he does not exist. (Side note, Oprah does exist, in case you were wondering).
Personally, I decided to not make a decision on the matter. After studying for years, I came to the conclusion that there is no undeniable indication there is a God; just as much as there is no undeniable indication that there is Not a God.
It is up to Humans to decide on what we believe. Sure, society and family have key roles in belief a lot of the time… we believe in what those around us believe more times than not… but, it is still us choosing one thing or something else.
We get to decide.
And I think that is very much the same way with Purpose. I have spent hours in deep and dark depressions because I was trying to find my Purpose. I am not a passionate person (Passion, apparently, being the road map to Purpose); so I do not have anything that I am passionate about. I enjoy things. I like to read… some of the times. I like to watch movies… some of the times. I find archetypes and symbolism interesting… but I would not label those interests as passion.
(Even now, I am tempted to wonder if my interest in archetypes and symbolism is something Purposeful… even after hours and hours and hours of trying to retrain my brain from thinking in this way)
In the end, albeit not as thoroughly as I wish, I have come to the conclusion that Purpose is as much based on faith and choice, as believing in anything. And as such, it is a choice to believe that Purpose is a hyped up term that is propagated to help the human masses feel like there is something more to their lives and the world that they live in.
It is a choice to believe that there is a Purpose for everyone.
I tend to believe the former; which is bleak. But, it is like a story I once heard about Christian missionaries traveling to the far reaches of Denmark. The missionaries met with these pagan worshipers as they huddled around roaring fires inside their halls, darkness howling with deep ice and frigid cold outside windows shuttered to protect against nature; and the missionaries told these Norsemen and women that the frozen wasteland out beyond their warm halls was like their pagan religion.
It was cold. Unknown. Blackness.
But Jesus Christ brought light.
The missionaries told them if they believe in the light and the warmth of Jesus Christ, that no matter the hardships of their lives, they would be met with peace and rest in the afterlife.
From what I understand, many Norse decided to believe in Christ.
They chose to believe in something that brought them comfort; and there is absolutely, positively nothing at all wrong with this choice.
As today, in the face of terrorism, and globalism, and most importantly ease of life in the first world especially, there exists a need to feel as if there is a reason for living. Any reason. And that is NOT a terrible thing.
Sometimes people really do seem to find that Purpose. I have seen it; that all encompassing joy in what they are doing in their lives.
Kudos to them (said only with a tiny itty bit of sarcasm).
But then there are the Others… cough cough… me. I start to think about Purpose and I spiral into depression because I am WASTING TIME!
I AM NOT LIVING MY POTENTIAL!
I am FAILING!
So I choose not to go down that path.
In this day and age it is sometimes hard to remember that we have choices. When working the jobs we work, we think we HAVE to be there because we have to pay bills, and we have to support our families. Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if we have a choice when dealing with difficult family relationships, or hard friendships, or illness, or pain.
Trapped and shackled.
I am achingly familiar with these two feelings.
But, despite the risk of sounding trite and new-agey… there is always a choice in how we approach anything and all things.
For instance, lately, the fact that the U.S. President Elect is who it is, feels like a choice that has been taken away from me. But honestly, I can choose to fight him and his administration by getting involved. Or , I can decide to try to give him a chance, or attempt to change how I view him (yeah, no).
Or I can decide to do something else.
There are always choices. And this, more than finding a purpose or believing in a God, gives me hope. I get to decide how I want to live my life. Sometimes it feels like there is something working against me, but that again is only a belief, a thought, and I can work to change that thought into something more productive, or more…hopeful.
My PERSONAL conclusion, then, is that Purpose does not exist, not for me at least, and that I will live in the moment, not worrying about if I am living Right or if I am walking the Right Path; rather, only focusing on whether or not I am living well, and by those rules that I have placed upon myself… to be kind, giving, and to never cease asking questions in attempt to understand.
And that is my choice.
Be well, lovely readers, in this Holiday season and beyond… and remember, there is ALWAYS a choice.
Like so many in the wake of the presidential election, as an American, a liberal, and a democrat, I am left to wonder what I should do now. I have an almost overwhelming need to do something, but I am not yet certain what that will look like or how it will manifest.
The irony of this situation is that I have been rudderless the last several years. I have poked around and done different things. Many of these pursuits have been passing interests that have sputtered into nothing at all; others have been gigantic shipwrecks that I am still trying to avoid drowning from (and succeeding at for the most part).
To have a direction, a goal, is something I have searched for, and longed for, since becoming a stay at home mom. Though raising a human being is, arguably, one of the most important jobs in the entirety of history and the world, I (most ashamedly on certain days), wanted something a little different, something that I felt had a direct impact on the world, rather than a secondary impact based on how well I raised my child (though that too is important, obviously).
I wanted to have my cake and eat it too… and as most people with similar situations, I never did much about it.
And then the election. Before the election I would have avoided speaking about my political and ideological views. The flagship of my stance was my avoidance in telling people who I supported in the election and why; however, since the election, I have realized that my voice, though limited to those few I know and the few readers I have here, is a powerful one, and by not speaking up, there is a possibility that I had a hand (no matter how small) in our current political (national) situation.
Therefor *deep breath*:
I support Hillary Clinton.
Not only am I #withher, but I am #stillwithher.
I doubt very much that she will ever again be as central in politics as she was these last two years, but what she does and what she has done, continues to inspire me.
When the going is incredibly tough and bordering on impossible, she continued(s) to fight. I know the tiredness that stems from being a woman in a male-centric world. A week ago, I would have never talked about the sexism that I have known and seen my whole life… put on a happy face, understand there is progress etc…. but I am done with that way of approaching this world.
I am done with being a people-pleaser.
Because, I AM exhausted.
I am so tired of fighting against social norms and expectations, but, because we as a nation and world are nowhere near where I thought we were in regards to equal rights for women, or African Americans, or Latinos, or *fill in the blank here, you know who you are*… I am going to keep fighting in hopes that one day I can stop being tired.
Because if Hillary can continue fighting, then, damnit, so can I.
The Yellow Brick Road
But what does that look like?
Therein lies that most important question.
Do I start speaking out? Do I start posting things on my twitter? Do I go back to facebook (after a year away) and start engaging with others… including those whose views are, at times, violently opposed to mine?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am beyond scared to stir the pot. I have read the stories of doxing and that shit is terrifying. I have a young son! The mama instinct in me roars at the thought that my political viewpoints, or social viewpoints, will be expressed at the expense of my son’s safety.
And then I hear what I am saying (or read what I am typing in this case), and I am horrified. Sickened. Disgusted.
Because the very fact that I am scared to voice an opinion because of the possibility of a negative fallout is the exact opposite of the very ideology that created this country.
In other words: unacceptable.
Because my message is simple: all humans matter and love trumps hate.
That kind of message shouldn’t cause violence or stalking or internet trolls, but it does… as I am sure you all are aware. Of course, deciding to come out of the shadows is not really doing anything… yet, but it is a first step towards something.
Where do I go from here, then?
I have fluttered on and off of the idea of going back to journalism, in a grassroots way at least. I am a news junky, so perhaps I could take what I am reading, analyze it and put it in historical perspectives. I don’t know if that will make any difference in changing people’s minds towards inclusiveness and understanding, but maybe it will?
Of course, I realize that kind of blogging is hardly be popular.
I know, through interacting with online blogs for awhile, that most people want messages of hope… they want to feel good after reading a post.The uplifting stuff gets clicks, ask any blogger out there. The negative is largely ignored.
Unfortunately, sometimes that feel good moment is at the expense of thinking.
(Ouch. That was hard to write… still haven’t gotten rid of the “I don’t want to offend people stigma yet.”)
So, if I was to follow a path of journalism in the way that I am imagining it, likely, I will lose a few of you in the process, but maybe I will gain a few more. I honestly don’t know. I DO know I want to do something to promote critical thinking, thereby leading (as it always has and will), to acceptance and understanding. That is the direction I want to help our country move towards (after being shown we have such a very far way to go).
The next step is figuring out how my contribution will look.
What about you, dear readers? Do you find yourself called to action, and if so, in what way? How are you doing it? What is your reality like now?
And if not a call to action, what is your reaction to this post 11/9 world?
Plopping. That is an accurate description. A faceless mass plopping down into life, sliding and slipping and settling into all the cracks.
Plopping. To suggest: putty; play dough; poop.
Plop down onto the couch and stare at the television.
Or the wall.
Stare at a wall for long enough and the white starts fading into shadows, which starts fading into faces, and then my mind is off somewhere else and I am thinking about the future.
To be in the present, rather than moving into the future. This is not a bad thing. The future and all its uncertainties is what causes the plopping to begin with; as such being in the present is a good thing. To plop is to anchor, to settle down into, to move towards the point of contact (the floor, the couch, the cracks).
The feeling curls around my neck. Starting somewhere in the shoulder blades, moving upwards towards the shoulder muscles, then sneaking, slowly, stealthily, along the edges until wrapping around and around the neck column to that indention at the base of my skull.
It stabs at that throat chakra, restricting communication, shutting down the ability to express myself. The controlling aspect of my personality — the ultra logical, precise aspect of myself — likes to examine the stress as if it were a lab animal. Poking, prodding, adding stimuli to create reaction, I work my way through the restrictive tentacles.
This morning, the experimentation and the poking are not really required. I know exactly where the stress stems from, and other than attempting to distance myself from the outcome of the cause, there is not much I can do about it.
My logical self hates this kind of stress. “Nothing can be done!?!?,” my logic screams at me, and then doesn’t believe me and thinks I am lying for fun, and then goes in to the corner for a good sulk.
But truly, and honestly, sometimes there is nothing that can be done.
I mean, there is yoga, deep breathing, meditation.
All of these are ways of coping with the symptoms. And yes, those things often help; but occasionally it doesn’t matter what you do, or how you try to handle it; sometimes it can’t be handled.
And then, you have to be okay with that too.
My mom has cancer.
Now wait, before you wonder where I am going with this, trust me.
My mom has cancer. She has chronic myeloid leukemia. If you’ll notice, the chronic suggests that this is something she will have to deal with for the rest of her life. My mom is young, super young (we are only 16 years apart), so to have a disease that will dog her step forever is a scary, mind-numbing, hard thought to process through.
She wakes up every morning and the cancer is still there. No amount of treatment or therapy will get rid of that chronic disease.
There is nothing to do but deal with the symptoms.
And I not only speak of the physical symptoms of exhaustion and migraines, but the emotional ones as well. These symptoms include defeatism, pessimism, and depression. She deals with sadness, frustration, and paranoia. Every day she has to prove over and over that she can do her job, be a mom and grandmother, and be a friend. Every day she has to remind everyone else… and herself, that she is not cancer.
And she does. Every day.
Are there days that it is harder than others? Absolutely. Sometimes she wakes up and doesn’t want to deal with any of that shit. Sometimes she wakes up and wants to go back to sleep.
But she doesn’t.
She wakes up. And keeps going.
And that is what we all have to do. Keep going.
The stress this morning is choking me. I actually feel it like a pressure in my throat, pushing down at my windpipe, closing expressions, words, thoughts, and ability.
And what is causing the stress is entirely out of my control.
I treat the symptoms. I will get a good workout in today to add some happy-hormone. I will make sure to get extra cuddles from my little man. I will do things to decrease the pressure of that python squeezing the living breath out of my body.
And I will keep going. Because, in the end, sometimes that is all you can do.
So, friends, here’s to the process of moving through the day, despite what that day brings. May you find peace, contentment, and the ability to put one foot in front of the other.
An interesting thing has happened the last several weeks. It does not have to do with what I am posting, the exploration I’ve done in order to look into the shadows and shine a light; rather, it is the reading that I am doing as I peruse the countless blogs associated with wordpress.
I often despair at the interactions around me. The grumpiness. The hurry. The sheer frustration that peels off of people in chips bigger than my thumbnail.
There is something going on in these blogs that is amazing. I sound cheesy perhaps, but it is truth. People are searching out truth.
It is amazing.
I have read blogs about women trying to find their sexuality in a world that works against that very sexuality. I have read about men doing the exact same thing with aching detail that shows, without a single limiting factor, that they too are moving against some limiting sexual construct.
There are blogs about people coming back from depression, anxiety, self-harm through all sorts of different avenues, but always with this blanketed feeling of hope.
There are those whose journey is physical. A wandering of wonder as they move from continent to continent, always with this idea of looking, examining, feeling the world in their bones and under the soles of their feet.
So much searching.
So many questions and attempted answers.
But so much hope as well.
It is this that I have come away from in my couple of weeks of being and seeing this community. I have issues. Serious and dark ones. Isolating factors that have created personality quirks that no one would want; however, I have found that there is a solidarity that exists. It does exist. These people might live in India, London, Scotland, Canada, or Brazil, but the commonality exists.
The world is a huge place.
Humans scattered all about it.
But we are so much the same. All of us.
I suppose I should have known that already, and I have, at some point… this thought is not unfamiliar.
It is awfully nice to be reminded though.
So, my dear, lovely readers out there who write your souls and who share your worlds, thank you!
*Note…after I wrote this, my son woke up. With blankies and his juice, he curled up at my side and we sat together in the silence of the house. Lying his head on my shoulder, he said “love you, mom,” and in that moment, there was not a single black ooze in sight. He reminds me almost every day that amidst the darkness is a light so pure as to burn the rest away…and it doesn’t even matter if it is only for a little while.
Something to be pondered for later. For now… the demons:
This is the Way the Morning Arrived
What is your capacity for kindness?
Are you kind to strangers? To people that you know? Coworkers? Family?
Are you kind to yourself?
I have lost my capacity for kindness. I am not sure where it went or when it went, but the soul-kind has left the building. I’m not saying I am a terrible person to people (though I do have that ability), but rather that the underlying kind is gone.
I used to be nice.
Was there a time I did not see the dark in everything that goes on around me?
Perhaps there was a time that not everything was met with a snarky thought or an awareness of banality. I am not talking about truth, in all of its variable and changing versions, but a kind of permeation that saturates everything with insincerity and surface application.
I have done so much to tackle and try to tame the beast that is my personality and depression. I have books and books on spiritual Christain, Jew and Muslin thought. On yoga. On meditation. Mindfulness. I have worked with people on how to be nicer. I have stood in a Tree Pose. I have prayed. I have meditated.
I have worked on how to see the world with a glow rather than with a black that drips from everything in a slow ooze.
I sound like an angsty teenager.
Have I never grown up?
I am not sure where.
Why do I bring this up today?
A couple of things.
First. I was a complete and terrible human being to my husband this morning. I had dreams all night about him and his mum going off on me ala what happened this summer when we visited her for two weeks. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say that those masks I talked about, well mine was forced onto my face whilst kicking and screaming. It took me months after we returned to even be somewhat okay, and apparently I am not okay if last night’s dreams are any indication.
Second. I went on and did my usual peruse of wordpress, twitter, facebook etc. and there were so many quotes from Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Jesus that I shut my computer with a slam. Quotes about the way we think is the way we are. Quotes about filling every step with peace, love, and joy.
All of those things that sound wonderful, that people subscribe to, that I have subscribed to on numerous occasions… but yet have not done a damn thing to disappear the darkness that I see every damn day.
I know, and I have worked, and I have meditated on my way of thinking. I have worked to change the negative to positive. I have tried, so very, very hard to create a positive outlook.
And I can’t do it.
I would like to think that once upon a time I was kind.
The way we think is the way we are.
I would like to think that once upon a time I had ability to see pureness in people.
The way we are.
Demons. Dark. Deep.
They can’t be pulled out with a tweezer of thought.
Happy. Happiness. Being content in life. Even when we are not content or are not happy, we wouldn’t dare admit such a thing on a blog or a website. Blog posts are how to be happy, how to be content, how to find peace and contentment. Self help books are about the same thing. Websites dedicated to mindfulness, meditation, yoga, peace and happiness. So much happiness.
Those things. They exist because an amazing amount of people… like in most of the population… are not all happy and content; yet, always, we attempt to get to that place.
At first glance, this is pretty self explanatory. Who wants to be unhappy? Who wants to be miserable?! Not me, which is the purpose of rethinklifeproject. I want to figure out why I am miserable and write it out because I can, because perhaps others will find sparks of familiarity and not feel quite so screwed up when confronted with my screwed up self.
There are a lot of us out there. And the unhappiness continues, even with all the self help and the relentless pursuits of happiness.
I went to Albertsons yesterday. For those not of the northwest United States region, Albertsons is a grocery store. I had picked up my pizza at Papa Murphy’s and was at the grocery store for a bottle of wine and a “fancy” beer for the husband. Those two items were the only two items I purchased. The lady checking me out (tall, robust, in her late 40s) appeared to be greatly affronted by my purchase. She asked for my ID. Yeah yeah yeah. It’s the law that you have to be older than God to not have your ID checked, but, I will tell you, I look much much much older than 21. Much.
She did it because she was being ornery. She looked at my ID, looked at me, looked at my ID again.
I will repeat, I AM MUCH OLDER THAN 21.
She was being mean. Or ornery. Or unpleasant, or who knows what… but not nice.
I know when someone is not being nice. I think we all do on some level. You walk into a grocery store, let’s say, and suddenly your irritated, almost angry though moments before you were in a fine mood. You get your bread, and as you are walking out of the bread aisle you run into a woman with her hair perfectly fixed and her nails perfectly done, and you realize that she was the one that you cut off in the parking lot. She is glaring you daggers. She wants to take your throat out with her perfectly white teeth.
Moments before, you had no idea she was standing there, you just felt the effect of her hating you. On some level you had picked up on the woman’s emotions towards you. You knew before you actually knew, that she was being a bitch to you.
Humans have this talent. When we are unaware of this talent, there is a lot of bad mojo going around unchecked (think of a bus full of grumpy people; walk on that bus, instant bad mood). When we are aware… well, then we are just aware that everyone else is in a shite mood and we have to work to not be in one as well.
Anyway. Back to my story. The cashier lady. She thought my buying alcohol at noon on a Tuesday was a great offense. Who knows why, I didn’t much care or think about it. Instead, I walked away muttering under my breath about her sure being friendly (sarcastic tone implied).
And then I paused. Literally. I stopped walking for a moment as I was leaving the grocery store.
I have been writing this little blog for a couple of days now. I have talked about misery and about unhappiness and about feeling like I was dying.
This woman likely felt all those things.
I almost went back and asked her if she was miserable in her life.
I am not that… yeah, I don’t even know the word for someone that could turn and around and ask a stranger that question. So, I don’t know for sure that she was miserable in life, but let’s say she likely was, and then I started looking around.
The lady at the bank who scowled. Miserable.
The guy at Big 5 asking me listlessly if I needed help. Miserable.
The dude in the huge black truck riding my ass as I go five over the speed limit.
Yeaaah. Ok. He probably was just a dick.
My point in all of this?
I don’t really know. Is there comfort in knowing that everyone around you is miserable? I suppose in a way. What it does do, however, is explain the multi-million dollar business of self help and therapy.
As I type, I sit on my couch. My son is playing Minecraft. He is currently killing a zombie will simultaneously trying to save his best friend. In an hour I will take him to karate. He is four. He has a red-stripe belt and is very proud that he is the youngest, but highest ranking belt in his class.
Tomorrow, I will take him to four hours of preschool. I will go for a run while he is in school. I will go to the grocery store. I will do the random chores I have to do to keep the house running. It might include picking up a Papa Murphy’s pizza, or it might not. This depends entirely on whether or not the husband is feeling fat. If his stomach is protruding too far past his pants then pizza is out. I am not sure what is for dinner then.
Saturday I will go camping with my son and husband along with another father and his two boys. I will effectively be the mom of the weekend, which means that I must ensure that everyone has food, is somewhat clean, and in general does not die.
On Monday, I will take my son to school for his fours hours. I will come home and do laundry, go to the grocery store, vacuum, and clean the bathroom.
Tuesday there is no school. I will try very hard to keep my son from watching too much television and playing video games all day. I will take him to the store. I will take him to the park. He will end up watching too much television and playing too many hours of video games anyway.
I will take him to karate.
I do our families finances. I cook our family food. I do our family laundry. I clean the family home.
I occasionally golf.
I try not to gain weight by running and doing the elliptical.
I cry almost every single day while standing in the shower because I am ashamed at how terrible I feel about the privileged life I lead.
I suppose, my dear reader, you saw that one coming.
The dichotomy between having the privilege that so many women covet, and the terrible, horrible guilt of being miserable in it. Not because it is hard, though it can be a challenge, but rather, because it is not hard.
My brain has atrophied.
I am dying.
And I have no answers.
I have chosen this life because it the best for my son. He does not have to go to a daycare. I am raising him, not someone else. He has someone who can take him to whatever extracurricular activity he wants to be involved in with no worries. I don’t have to juggle work and school schedules, or work and sickness. I am on call 100 percent of the time, and not just for my son. My husband works continuously. He has a one track mind. The only thing he is able to accomplish is work. I allow him the space to work like that by taking care of everything else. The world would cease to turn if he had to do anything more than work.
I have PURPOSEFULLY and with FULL UNDERSTANDING made the decision to have this life.
I am dying.
Not in a real physical sense. I am in good health. We all are, thankfully. I would never consider suicide because of my son. But it doesn’t change the feeling. The soul-sucking, I am becoming less and less and less of who I am. I losing. I am lost.
And I have no solution.
I went to a therapist the other day. She essentially told me to stop complaining about my awesome life. Ha! That’s the thing. I KNOW about my awesome life.
Why can’t my brain get with the program.
What can I do to change? I don’t like being miserable.
This is anonymous. I don’t want the vultures to come down on me, reminding me of how much I should be thankful for… my husband reminds me constantly, wanting to know what the f*ck my problem is… if I knew, I would change the problem.
It is identifying the problem. Figuring out the solution.