Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: life Page 1 of 4

The Tao of…Me

What is Tao? My understanding comes only from my initial reading of The Tao of Pooh, so it’s pretty limited, but Wikipedia says, “Tao is the natural order of the universe whose character one’s intuition must discern to realize the potential for individual wisdom, as conceived in the context of East Asian philosophy, East Asian religions, or any other philosophy or religion that aligns to this principle. This intuitive knowing of life cannot be grasped as a concept. Rather, it is known through actual living experience of one’s everyday being. Its name, Tao, came from Chinese, where it signifies the way, path, route, road, or sometimes more loosely doctrine, principle, or holistic belief.”

I can be translated as “The Way” and I find it fascinating.

Yesterday’s epic adventure was unexpected, but highly satisfying. It started with a simple breakfast date and Target run but ended up with seeing my boys again, experiencing a bit of engine trouble (no worries, we got this), and getting home FAR later than expected. That last part, the driving home in the dark part, needs to not happen again until I get new glasses. Yikes!

The best part was…

Wait for it…

I have found my purpose!

Let me tell the story. Short version? Sure.

My son needed me, and I was available. That’s it. As we sat there in their kitchen eating burritos we’d picked up across the street, I told them, “I found my purpose.” My oldest chimes in, “Your Tao?”

Hmm…yes! I’ve been wondering for years, maybe my whole life, floating from one thing to the next, not really seeing the big picture. But yesterday, when my son called and I offered to come down and lend moral support, all the pieces fell into place.

I’m the friend that hosts the party. I’m the one that calls and texts to ask what you’re up to and if you’d like to meet for lunch or a hike. I’m the one that picks up the phone when you call and drops everything to make some cookies and visit. I’m here.

My youngest son says, “You’re Pooh, mom. You visit.”

I sighed and smiled. I guess I am. My copy of The Tao of Pooh that they had borrowed was sitting on the table nearby. They’d been reading it.

You’d think that wouldn’t be much of a purpose, but it is. It’s very important. And from now on, instead of grumbling that I have no real mission in this existence when I’m at home alone reading a book or working in the yard, I’ll sit back and realize that I’m resting between projects. At any moment, I may be called into action.

And what about this blog? Is it part of my purpose?

Yes. Listening to The Knowledge Project podcast on the way down to my breakfast date (which is a regular thing I very much look forward to), I heard Sarah Jones Simmer interviewed. I had such a plethora of notes on this podcast, but there were three that stood out to me as somehow connected. Before I went inside, I took a moment to capture the idea with some added commentary.

Note #1 “Just because you question things, doesn’t mean you have the answers or think you know better than others.”

I’ve withheld my thoughts, limited what I write here, because I don’t have the answers, but I question things. Curiosity and questioning (contrary to popular opinion right now) is a good thing. Gender identity, politics, war, public education, Covid…the list goes on and on, I have questions and concerns. Asking out loud things like, “Why are we doing this?” “Is this right?” “What will be the outcome of this kind of thinking?” “Is there some other way?” is not a subversive or malicious activity. The day we all just go along with everything that is happening around us and NOT question it, is the day we begin to lose everything.

New slogan: “Questions and curiosity are not a crime!”

Note #2 “Let’s not let the craziest and loudest of us take over all the conversation in the world. Keep speaking your thoughts and quit hiding your light.”

It’s terrifying to speak your mind (especially online) these days and more of us (including myself) need to start facing our fears. We cannot let the lunatics run this asylum.

Another podcast I was listening to last week mentioned “fringe ideas” and related them to garage bands. 99.99% of garage bands suck, but garage bands are where the great new music comes from. It’s the same with ideas. If we ban them, silence voices because we disagree, shut down people we don’t like, we miss discovering the .01% that results in awesome innovation. We need to allow people to speak their minds, throw ideas around, and be crazy, but we also need to know most of those ideas won’t work, they may even be really bad ideas, but if we ban them, ban books, ban speech, ban blogs, we end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I speak/write from a place of curiosity, empathy for others, and with positive intent to understand and respect others. Yes, sometimes I’ll hurt feelings, make someone mad, or even make a mistake in judgement. I am still a good person, and so are you.

Note #3 “Do I have coaches? Coaches help you arrive at your own decisions and create a safe space to talk thoughts and ideas out.”

If coaches can be books, magazines, blogs, and podcasts, yes, I do. For me, this blog counts as a relatively safe space to talk out some ideas. And I have a few very close friends and family that I can bounce ideas around with face to face and they mean the world to me.

These ideas are in no way fully formed, but they led me closer to understanding my Tao, my own personal way of taking up space in this world. So, even though things did not go as I had expected them to yesterday, it ended up being a very productive day and all because my son needed me.

Before I get the look from people about kids becoming adults… He didn’t call me because he isn’t smart, mature, or capable of taking care of himself, but because together is always better than alone. Interdependence is what works best. Community is more efficient. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Today I’m relaxing in the peaceful quiet of home and reading more of Disneyanity by Douglas Brode. I may even watch a Disney movie!

Letting Go of Expectations and Results

Letting go of expectations means there doesn’t need to be a destination picked out to have a great life filled the happiness and peace. We can simply pick a direction and see what happens.

Listening to Secular Buddhism on the way to have breakfast with a friend yesterday, I learned about The Three Doors of Liberation. He used these three quotes to describe the three doors:

“This is because that is.”
No self. Or emptiness.

“The symbol of the thing is not the same as the thing itself.”
Signlessness.

“Having no destination, I am never lost.”
Aimlessness.

My favorite was the last. “Having no destination, I am never lost.” I smiled as drove down the highway. It’s a sense of a lack of attachment to the result of anything I do, and it feels like freedom. I’m not letting go of the wheel and letting life take me anywhere, I’m heading in a direction and experiencing whatever happens along the way.

Letting go of expectations is something you can apply to any aspect of your life.

From a project to a career, even a relationship, we can release the expectations and simply experience what is happening in the moment. That doesn’t mean that we don’t direct our lives. Letting go means we make choices, take risks, see where things go and then make adjustments. Where we end up exactly doesn’t matter as much as the journey.

I have lived most of my life the same way my husband and I have traveled. We decide to do something and then see what happens. There are no hard and fast plans, there are no reservations, no tickets bought. There is only a full tank of gas and a direction. We usually have the first destination picked out. We want to drive so many miles that day and get to this area before dark, but other than that, things just play out the way they do. And we’ve had some amazing adventures.

How can letting go of expectations relate to relationships?

By not setting expectations for people. And by “relationship” I mean any kind: friendships, familial, romantic. I should not expect anyone to act, behave, or respond in a specific way. I simply relate to them and see what happens. That doesn’t mean that I let go of being respected or treated fairly. It means I put my effort in and see what they do. If I am enjoying that response, I continue. If I am not, I communicate with that person and/or try something else.

Letting go of the destination, means wherever I am, I’m not lost. I am simply where I am. That lets me experience the place more fully. I’m sitting in my car looking the map, feeling like a failure. I’m looking out the window, stopping the car, and going for a walk in the place I find myself. If it turns out that it’s not to my liking, I move on. No judgement. No failure. No destination. Just peace and experience.

The best part about all of it is that anyone can start right where they are. Put the map down, look around you, and immerse yourself in the experience.

Peace in The Motion of the Waves

Peace in the motion of the waves.
Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Peace comes and goes, like the waves, I guess. Maybe I’m just watching for stories in the clouds, but it seems that things just come together in impossible ways if you just sit back and wait a bit.

This photo is in honor of my youngest son, whose wave is building up again. May he ride it well, accept the break, and rise again with tide.

So may we all.

“At the first bend he lost sight of the sea with its labouring waves for ever rising, sinking, and vanishing to rise again – the very image of struggling mankind – and faced the immovable forests rooted deep in the soil, soaring towards the sunshine, everlasting in the shadowy might of their tradition, like life itself.”

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Did you find peace in that quote the way I did?

We think mankind is always moving forward, but in reality, over the thousands of years our kind has been on this planet, we rise, sink, vanish, over and over again. Individuals, families, clans, and civilizations, nations all have come and gone, only to build up and rise again. The next time I see the waves, I’ll think of that.

There’s no need to lose our minds over the state of society. We do what we can to enjoy the time we have here, to leave our space a little bit nicer than how we found it, if we can. And then we’re gone.

The only thing that continues is life itself, that immovable forest. People talk about humans destroying the earth, but really, we can only destroy the environment to the extent that we finally go extinct. And if humans are gone, the earth remains, life goes on as it always has since the beginning of time.

No one person’s life is that important in the grand scheme of things. It reminds me where to put my own focus. The place any of us can make the biggest impact is right at home. It starts with our relationship with ourselves, moves into that of our family and friends, and into our co-workers (or in my case, those people I see at the grocery store, or you).

If we all spent our days making our immediate surroundings more pleasant, wouldn’t the whole world be a bit more pleasant? What if we stopped fighting the crashing of our waves on the shore and enjoyed the ride, found peace in the cycle? Life will go on no matter what you choose to do.

If you want to read more posts based on quotes from “Lord Jim”, you’ll find a list of them at the bottom of my first post, “Joseph Conrad is my Next Read: Lord Jim”

All Characters Are Important to the Story

All characters are important quote from the book on a desert background.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that you just can’t subtract a human from the story, no matter how hard you try. Even death doesn’t do that.”

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

In fiction and reality,
all characters are important to the story.

Yes, even the minor ones, the angels and demons, the good guys and bad guys. Everyone leaves a mark on your life, moves the story along, or simply creates depth to a moment in time.

My grandfather died. He was 86. Dementia took nearly ten years to fully claim his mind and he had been living in a memory care facility for the past year. So…to many of us…he was already gone. To those closest to him physically, his caregivers and my Mom, he was still a main character and his loss is strongly felt. To some of his family, he had faded into the background of their story long ago. And to others, he had been deleted completely, or so they think.

This quote reminded me of him and many other characters in my own life story, all of which are important and can’t be subtracted, even those I really wish could be. The cruel teacher from elementary school, the mean girl in junior high, the abusive boyfriend; heaven knows I’ve tried to erase those memories. Even if I were successful in erasing the memory of an event, I would still feel its effect on my life, like the way we “see” a blackhole in space. The event isn’t seen, it’s felt. To ignore that feeling, those clues, and continue your journey is a recipe for disaster.

The people in our past, the choices we’ve made, the opportunities we’ve taken or let pass, those memories aren’t all we have.

We have the imprint of those things on our life story. If we subtract people or events from our lives, the story is inconsistent. When we try to effectively work our way through the life we have today, we can feel like pages are missing. Things just don’t make sense. It’s extremely difficult, I’d say impossible, to work through a story with missing chapters or characters; to complete a puzzle with missing pieces.

He’s been gone from my daily life for many years now, but I still miss my Pop, more so now that he is physically missing from the world.

My grandfather was a major character in my life story, one of my biggest influencers growing up.

The older I get, the more I see him in myself. We both suffer from anxiety, a deep need to control the world around us, not to be in charge or the boss, but to make things easier for ourselves and hopefully the people in our lives. Our response to the overwhelming stress of trying to control outcomes typically results in anger and frustration, sometimes violence. We both feel things deeply and are known for our passionate responses. From the awe of a beautiful garden or majestic scene to the love of our families, from the excitement of a new experience to the frustration of dealing with troubles, neither of us has moderate feelings, only big, sometimes scary ones. In my case, I’m told that it’s part of my charm. In my Pop’s case, it was a demerit against him. I guess it just depends on who is judging, whether you are a positive or negative, a major or minor character in their story.

Characters, humans, cannot be subtracted from your story.

When you try to do so, you leave holes big and small. Holes are a mess to work around. A story with characters, paragraphs, chapters, or pages missing does nothing for anyone. Leave the bad parts, the rough parts, and the scary parts right where you can see and use them. Those people are part of you. For better or for worse, they made you who you are today.


Want to read this book? You can find it at Amazon HERE.
Want to read more quotes from this book?

Will We Lose Ourselves in the Virtual Reality?
Anxiety: The Lies My Brain Tells Me
Would You Want to Come Back for a Day?
Do We Have the Ability to Change the Meaning of Our Life Story?

A Recorded Life: Restored Memories – a short story

Nearly five-hundred years ago there was a book that came across my path. I know you’re thinking I’m speaking figuratively here but I’m not. A book literally came across my path. I was walking in the woods along a well-worn and shaded path when a book stumbled out from the underbrush.

Yes, I was taken aback, astonished you might even say. This kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, you know. What kind of a book keeps itself in a wooded underbrush? It’s fraught with danger even for the hardiest books! Dampness being the least of his problems, there were mice looking for nesting material (they can’t read you know) and hungry beetles looking for a good snack (book bindings are nutritious).

This book had obviously been neglected. As it pulled itself out into the path, I could see its binding had indeed been recently chewed. Its cover, once pristine and gold pressed, was faded, and so worn I could not make out the title. Its pages dragged along the ground as it used its cover to pull itself to a slightly upright position directly in front of my feet.

I stopped, and withdrew in disgust, blindly blaming the book for its condition. What degeneracy could bring a once proud book to this level? But then it sighed and slumped to the ground as if dead right before my eyes. My heart softened at the sight. Stooping to the ground, I gently gathered the poor weak thing into my arms. As I stood and brought the book up, it nestled to my chest like a lost and exhausted child and sighed its covers shut.

I resolved to bring it home immediately, in the hope of restoring it to health. I didn’t have much hope for it though. It seemed so weak and frail, possibly already expiring in my arms as I hurried my step. By the time I got home, all that would be left to do was cremate the poor thing, use it as a fire starter to keep my cabin warm. At least it would be useful one last time.

I quickened my pace further at the thought and got home as fast as my feet could carry me. I tried my best not to shake or jostle the (hopefully) sleeping book in my arms as I went. It shifted its weight and rustled its pages in response each time I stumbled or jerked too suddenly to avoid a low branch or diving bird.

When I reached my cabin door, I knocked gently with my foot, hoping my elves would be alert to my presence and come pattering in to help me. The book was completely asleep in my arms and its dead weight needed both my arms to carry it. I didn’t want to shift its weight and disturb it.

They came running as I had hoped they would, and seeing me with the poor tattered and torn book fainted dead away in my arms, both were moved to compassion and jumped to assist me as best they could. Being so small, it took both to open the door, but they achieved the task as quiet as mice. They instinctively knew what to do and bustled about the cabin, stoking the fire and getting a good strong broth going on the stove.

I moved toward the couch and gently laid the book down upon the cushion so as not to wake it. Arranging a few small throw pillows so that if it did stir as it rested it might not roll off the couch to further injure it, I set myself up in the chair across the room to start my vigil.

“What could I do?” I thought to myself as I sat in rapt attention to its every ragged breath. “Is there something it needs? Some spell I could use to insure its quick recovery, or at least its peace?” My elves knew my thoughts, they always did. It wasn’t that they had some extra special sense, a telepathy to read my mind. They’d simply spent their whole lives in my presence and in several hundred years, you learn things. But they, being older than I, seemed to have seen this kind of thing before. They knew what the poor thing needed; a quiet, safe rest for now, and some attention once it had gathered some strength.

My watch dragged on into hours. I was already exhausted from my travels and was looking forward to a long and quiet rest myself when all this trouble began. What trouble, you ask? I mean, really, how much trouble can an old book be? You obviously haven’t read many books. One book can change your life, lead you to another that changes you yet again. One well-written line, one finely crafted paragraph, one poignant and timely chapter, can change the world. And this book looked like it had seen some action in its past. Why was it even here?

I sighed a tired breath as I watched it rest upon my couch, my sweet and worried elves bustling quietly in the kitchen and pattering back and forth between us and their duties about the cabin. “Where could it have been? What brought it to my path? And what would be in store for both of us?” My eyes fluttered, I leaned back in my chair, resting my head on as I pondered, and drifted off into sleep.

I dreamt some sweet and pleasant dreams of my early childhood. A fishing pond with my long since passed grandfather. My mother’s face as she presented my birthday cake. My father’s kiss on my head as drifted off to sleep. The dreams got darker as my mind went deeper into my subconscious. The man that broke my heart. The teacher that hurt my feelings. The friend that betrayed me. I shifted in my seat, opening my eyes a bit to gaze upon the book. The sun had finally set, the room had grown darker, but it was still there.

With a pat of a small elvish hand upon my knee and the smell of a strong kettle of stew in my nostrils, my mind went back to the past in my dreams once more.

Witchery school pranks and antics, lover’s spats, children born and raised or passed on before me; my life continued to roll by in pictures like a flickering film on a silver screen before my mind’s eye.

I suddenly woke with a start. What had happened? How long have I been asleep?

The cabin room was filled with morning light diffused by the gauzy curtains I had hung over the windows last year when the morning sun had begun to shift and blind me with its brilliance. Birds twittered outside and I could hear the chattering of my elves in the kitchen, the smell of breakfast wafting in.

Was it a dream that I found the book in the path yesterday afternoon? Had I imagined the whole affair? I was exhausted from my travels. I’m not as young as I used to be. Maybe I should start traveling with a companion for safety’s sake. And then I heard a soft sigh from the couch.

There it was, sitting up on my couch with a hot cup of tea sitting next to it as if it belonged there, as if it wasn’t breathing its last just a few hours previous. I sat up and stared and it stared back. It shook its covers and fluttered its pages in response to my stare, as if to say, “What did you expect? You can’t leave a story in the cold brush forever and expect it not to come crawling back for help!”

Confused by its signs of indignation, I quietly rose and approached it. Standing over it, it shrunk back into the couch. Did it sense my confusion as hostility? A rustling in the doorway alerted me to the presence of my elves. They had come when they heard the commotion. Worried about my state of mind, how I might react to the presence and attitude of the book, they came to reassure and console me in the hopes of…what?

I looked at them. I looked at the book. Why should I feel such confusion? It’s just a book with faded cover and tattered…wait a minute.

I sat down on the couch beside the book and took a closer look. It seemed that in the night the elves had ministered to the thing in a way I had not thought to do. Its cover was clean. The dirt gently brushed away. Its leaves shaken out and smoothed over. Its dampness dried out. It didn’t smell half bad either.

I smiled at it and it straightened itself back up, almost seeming to reach for me. My heart softened. I had known from the start that this was no ordinary book, but my exhaustion, the darkness, had started my imagination and fear had set in instead of curiosity.

What was so familiar about this book? I couldn’t put my finger on it. We sat across from each other almost as friends would when something strange began to happen. The longer I sat, the slower and deeper my breath became. The book seemed to “breathe” with me, the front cover gently rising and falling like a chest. I couldn’t tell who was affecting whom. Was the book relaxing and copying me or was it the other way around?

Time seemed to slow, as if I were dreaming, when images began to flicker through my mind. Far distant childhood memories, adolescent dreams and plans, more of the same, like my dreams the night before. The images startled me, and I looked back at the book beside me. For the first time since I had found it, I could almost make out the letters of its title. I reached for it and it came into my arms and settled down into my lap.

It lay closed upon my lap, warm and heavy like a cat. I still could not quite make out the letters on the cover, so I opened it and began leafing through its pages. The images that came to me were far more vivid now. Whole scenes played out in my mind. The time I fell in a well and was stuck there all night. The moment I first fell in love. The day my father passed away. It all played out, not in real time, we’d have been stuck there forever, but like I simply remembered every moment all at once.

When I looked at the pages and began to read the words, I realized they were my memories written out word for word. The first chapters were the most faded and the hardest to decipher. Some pieces were bold and in a large font, some smaller and printed more like a romantic script.

I flipped through the pages. Hundreds of years all written here. Was everything here? Would I find memories written here that were so far back in my subconscious that they seemed like someone else’s story? And what about the future? Was my life already written out? Was there such a thing as fate?

I started to thumb through the pages faster and the book, stiffening in my lap, tried to shut its covers against my curious eyes. My hands grasped it tighter and brought me to this moment, holding the book and turning a page.

The next words were there but faint and shimmering, getting more and more faint with every page I turned until there was nothing but blank paper.

My hands loosened their grip and the book quietly closed itself. It sighed in my lap. I looked up from it and my elves were there beside me. They were curious too, but not about what was in the book. I think they knew the whole time. I sensed their tension the moment we had come into the house. No, I believe they were more worried about my reaction. What did they think I would do?

When I looked back at the book, the cover was pristine as if it had just then been created. The leather cover was soft and the binding clean and tight. The letters of the title were once again embossed with gold and I could clearly read the title now.

“Your Life”

Changing the World

“You don’t necessarily need to change the whole world. But you are capable of changing someone else’s world.”

13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin

Damn skippy! I’d like to add that when you change someone else’s world, you ARE actually changing the whole world.

It’s something I realized when I became a Mom, and a feeling that grew in me over the years. Every interaction you have in this world, no matter how small creates a ripple effect. From a smile in the parking lot as you walk into the grocery store, all the way to doing a kindness for the people you live with, we have the ability to change something for the better every moment of every day.

Watering my plants, putting in a load of laundry, making up the bed, I mutter to myself, “What’s the point of being on this damn planet, if THIS is all I ever do?” I’m sure I’m not the only one. In this day and age when you can see what people are doing all over the world, you start to think that maybe you’re slacking as a human being.

My brother called me one day to tell me all about a Supreme Court judge’s accomplishments. “We look like idiots compared to these people! What have we done to make the world a better place?” It’s daunting looking at some people’s lists of glorious achievements. But…

We can’t all be out there as frontrunners. I mean…look how crowded the internet is with people vying for attention! Think about a stage with everyone out front trying to get the spotlight and deliver their lines. It would be a mess. There have to be some background characters, set builders, writers, soundboard operators, and don’t forget the audience!

We’re all part of the show called life and we all have a job to do, and all those jobs are important. Even the jobs no one ever sees. Even the jobs you think you completely messed up beyond all recognition (cleaned up version).

The picture of the flower in my yard that I send to my Mom, the dinner I make for my husband, the joke I send to my kids, the lunch I have with my Dad, the book I read, every tiny thing is part of the show. Do it with intention, love, and gratitude, and know that when someone pulls back the camera on this scene, the whole spectacle is glorious because you’re a part of it.

Complete Out of the Box – No Accessories Needed to Play

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Photo by Robbin Wong on Unsplash

You know how some toys are kind of boring if you just buy one part and so you have to keep buying accessories? The car, the clothes, the house, the spouse, the kids, the career. It just goes on and on.

There are video games like that too. Sure, you can download it and play for free, but you only get two levels and then you have to pay to upgrade. You play more but now you see that you have to buy a couple extras, charms that help you rack up the points and levels faster.

Humans aren’t like that at all. We’re a whole, functioning human being right from birth. We do need a bit of extra care at first, but we learn and grow quickly with good support and before you know it, we’re out in the world on our own, doing our thing whatever that is.

But lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people that look like they are searching for their missing piece. They wander from job to job, adventure to adventure, and relationship to relationship, never really getting anything from the experience and lamenting that the whole thing even happened while they transition to the next. They proclaim loudly that they won’t give up, they’ll find that career, place, or person that will complete them and make their lives better. That job wasn’t right for me. This place doesn’t have what I need. This person didn’t give me their all and left, so they suck.

I don’t think you need any of that to be complete. You do have the power inside you to live on your own terms, for your own ends.

Every time we start a new job, try out a new location, or enter into a new relationship, we could be learning more about ourselves and the world around us. We could be using that information to make our lives more interesting and more comfortable for ourselves and for those around us. It doesn’t matter what the job is or how long the relationship lasts. It doesn’t matter what kind of a relationship you have: long or short term, purely sexual or platonic. It doesn’t matter if you buy a house and live there for ten years or rent out a basement and live there for three months. It doesn’t matter if you go to college right out of high school, wait until you’re 45, or ever go at all.

What does matter?

It matters that we learn something about ourselves and that we connect with other humans in as many ways as possible, that we live every day no matter what’s going on.

The Stoics have a decent idea, “Memento Mori.” Remember, we die. We don’t live forever and (as far as we know) we only have one life. We need to stop wasting time.

Nothing is a waste of time if you learn something from the experience. That one night stand you had with that hot babe you met? Not a waste of time if you enjoyed it and look back on the moment fondly. That two years you spent at an expensive university, only to drop out and work at an amusement park? Not a waste of time or money. You gained experience, you met people, and you had fun in ways you never knew existed. And money? You can always make more. Money was created to spend. And what about that “failed” marriage? Did it “fail?” Or did it just serve its purpose and now you’re both moving on to something else? That job you spent five years at and then switched careers gave you fresh insight about your abilities and a set of skills that you can use anywhere.

What exactly do we think we’re working toward? What are we stockpiling for the future? What will we do with all of this shit we’ve accumulated? We’ll die. That’s it. And all your stuff will be redistributed.

So why not stop working toward anything and just enjoy what you have? If you don’t like the job you are in, find another one. If you don’t like the area you live in, move. If you don’t like the relationship you’re in, move on. Stop collecting things and start experiencing things. If you have no friends or family to experience it with, do it alone! Maybe you’d find it more fun or fulfilling if you had someone to share it with? Then blog about it and post pictures on Instagram! Or start dating…anyone, right off OKCupid! Or join a club online or in person!

You are a complete package all by yourself. You don’t need anything to start living and experiencing the world around you. Just live, damn it! Why not?

Yes, We’re ALL Going to Die…Eventually, And Some Sooner Than Others

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“Memento Mori – Remember death,” the Stoics say, “for tomorrow is promised to no one.”

Death is always lurking nearby, no matter your health or situation. It matters not where or when you live. We all die.

Death does not discriminate. It comes but once for all of us and it’s distinct for each individual, like the proverbial fingerprint or snowflake. Each of us perceives the experience in our own way, and all of us face it alone.

Your feelings about death, your own and of others, are no more valid than anyone else’s, regardless of risk.

It sounds so gloomy, but is it?

“Remember Death” means to remember life.

Go and live today. Love as much as possible. Fully experience this life and share that experience with others; the ups and the downs, the boring and the exciting. Let others experience your version of this world.

For tomorrow we die and all that will be left is the memory of our existence.

Make it a good one.

All of Life is One Long Story

It’s an old story. The fates spinning their yarn and cutting off pieces. We tell yarns by the fireside, fantastic stories about people and places. Life is one continuous story, with no beginning or end, only chapters.

Wool is an amazing thing. Thousands of tiny strands are woven into one long piece of yarn. Each fuzzy piece is brushed and lined up with others. As it’s twisted, each piece reaches out to the ones next to it and bonds to the next, and the next. It can go on forever if you kept feeding it.

Watching a video showing how wool yarn is made reminded me of this quote from Orson Wells, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

Humanity just keeps stretching out over time like one long piece of yarn. Each new human is added to the spindle and it touches the lives next to it and the next, going on into the future. Only in fiction or history books does a story start and end. We create it in our minds. This is the story of X and it starts here with this and ends here with that. It’s up to us whether or not the story has a happy ending.

Reality, or at least the reality that we perceive, doesn’t work that way. Life is one long story, never-starting and never-ending, a chicken or the egg thing. With every event that happens in this world we can ask, “What happened before that?” and “What happened after that?”

I used to believe my Grandmother’s story had a tragic ending until I zoomed out to see the bigger picture and found that her story never really ended at all.

My Grandma was the center of our family, the key to all our gatherings until suddenly she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her health faded quickly and within a few months, she was gone. She was 70 years old. I don’t think any of had ever even begun to think she could be leaving us any time soon. It was a big shock to our whole family. A shock that, 15 years later, we’re all still recovering from in some way.

Did her story have a tragic end? Only if you end it there, but you’d be creating that ending, manufacturing it in your mind. In reality, her story is still being told. It’s being told in how her family reacted to her death and how her children and grandchildren adjusted without her physical presence. It’s still being told in family photos, holidays where we talk about her, and how we all, including her great-grandchildren, still feel the effects of her presence in our lives.

And if you zoom out, she is simply another small piece of wool in the yarn being spun, a thread in a tapestry that continues to be woven. We all are. We all die but no matter how far we zoom out, the picture never ends. No matter how far we zoom in, we keep seeing more of the details that make up our universe.

When things seem scary and overwhelming, I like to imagine zooming the lens out and make those things smaller, tiny details in an otherwise beautiful story. Suddenly, I’m not so worried.

My belief, my hope really, is that when we die, when we leave this physical world, we can zoom out even farther and see an even bigger, more glorious picture than we can imagine from this perspective. Life is one long story, each new human, each event, creates new color, texture, and depth.

In East of the Mountains by by David Guterson, I felt like he also had this closed story sense of himself, as if he wasn’t a part of the bigger picture.

A Few Grey Hairs

Why do we try to hide the fact that we’re getting older?

What is the shame in grey hair or wrinkles?

What are we afraid of?

Why not take it as a sign to get busy if we haven’t already?

And if we have gotten busy, why not take it as a sign of maturity and grace?

It’s far more attractive than pretending we’re young.

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