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

Tag: nonfiction Page 1 of 10

The History of the Russian Revolution

It’s been over a year since I started looking into this subject and had to put it away, but I think I’m ready to dive into The History of the Russian Revolution by Leon Trotsky. I said I THINK I’m ready. I’m not 100% sure. I have a few reservations.

history of the russian revolution

Remember when I started my last book and mentioned that I’d probably with that book for quite some time? Well, this time I mean it. This book is over two inches thick and 1400 pages long!

Back in July of 2020, I started reading A People’s Tragedy – The Russian Revolution by Orland Figes because my son and I were watching Trotsky on Netflix. We were fascinated by the show, and I wanted to know more, so I did a quick search for “best book on the Russian Revolution” and Figes’ book was highly recommended in several articles.

I was not disappointed, but I was highly affected. The revolution, and Russia in general, has such a complicated history. There really is no place like it. The tragedy of it all, so many millions of people dead from war, famine, political bullshit. It’s terrifying. And there is so much we don’t know, so much was hidden from the rest of the world for so long.

Some of my friends have mentioned my “obsession with Russian culture,” but I’m not so much interested in the people as the era, what led up to it, and what really happened. Why? Because what I’m reading, about the Russian Revolution and the Nazi’s in Germany, feels eerily like events unfolding around the world today.

THAT’S the reason I hesitate to dive in again. Last time I did, it felt terrible, like I had watched a scary movie and kept seeing monsters everywhere for weeks. The truth is that the monsters are always around, and they don’t always attack. If we could see clearly which events led exactly to what, we could easily avoid the bad times. One thing doesn’t always lead to another. The world is far more intricate.

I am looking forward to reading this book, but I’m curious what I’ll find, or if I’ll even understand what I’m reading. I read the introduction and preface this morning and already have questions. Everything I’ve seen or read about Trotsky leads me to believe he was a very interesting and deep character. People are rarely evil incarnate. They all have several sides, reasons for what they do, backgrounds and personalities that lead them. This is one person on my list that I’d love to go back and talk to if I had a time machine. I want to see this man for myself, have a cup of tea with him, and ask him a bunch of questions.

He wrote this history of the Russian revolution himself while he was hiding in exile from Stalin. I’m curious what he has to say to me.

The Vanishing Hitchhiker

the vanishing hitchhiker

I have this sudden need to create a pie chart of my reading data, so this year I have started an excel spreadsheet and I’m adding books as I read. This morning, after I finished The Vanishing Hitchhiker by Jan Harold Brunvand, I opened up my file and added my latest book. And then I spent thirty minutes trying to intuitively add a pie chart of the books I’ve read so far. I didn’t get anywhere. Excel is not “intuitive” to me at all. I’ll need to look up a how-to article.

I’m so obsessed with it that I am considering spending time entering last year’s data and making charts, just for fun. Yeah, I have a problem. I’m a geek when it comes to data charts. Last week, I took a screen shot of gas prices from Simply Auto, an app I use every time I fill up my truck. Check it out.

This is five years of gas prices all in one picture. No rumor, my actual data.

Back to business!

Yes, I finished reading The Vanishing Hitchhiker. It was a short book and a little old but not outdated (1981). There were a lot of the classic stories I heard as a kid, brought back some great memories. I think what struck me most was the fact that those stories are so universal across the country. It feels like a bond between us.

Urban legends are cautionary tales warning us to about the dangers our society faces, well…we THINK we face anyway. The old ones were about young women staying away from strange men, babysitters lacking in focus, technology or big business fears, and keeping an eye on your children. They are the same now, but they spread in different ways. Some of us believe them as real more than others.

There are a few that have circulated around social media: they’ll take your data if you don’t copy paste this statement, random violence acts against specific people, poisoned Halloween candy, etc. I used to love going over to Snopes and seeing what they had uncovered about these so called “reports,” but recently I haven’t felt like they were that credible either. There were so many pop-up ads and shared articles from other sources, it made me feel like they weren’t doing the work.

I’d also heard that Snopes had become biased politically, leaning to one side or another depending on who was telling me the story. So maybe that’s an urban legend as well.

I spent some time searching the internet for “modern urban legends” but found only the old ones I heard as a kid; pop-rocks and diet pepsi, grandma died on vacation and they had to get rid of the body, and ghost stories about a person that died in the area harassing the neighborhood. What about the crazy stuff that’s passed around social media? The so-called “fake news” and “misinformation?”

This book reminded me that this kind of stuff has always been going around. Rumors and gossip, even when shared by a reputable source, are not something we should be basing our decisions on. They are just stories. The internet only shares them faster and more widely. It makes even the real and most isolated incident feel as if it’s happening everywhere, all the time, and we should take immediate action.

What can we do? I like to presume that anything I read online is probably not based on fact. I also don’t “copy, paste, and share if you care” or “pass along a warning I heard from…” I don’t lament the invention of the internet or argue that the world is going to hell in a handbasket because people just don’t have the common sense they used to.

I take that part back. I have lamented and argued, but I know I’m only being dramatic. Reading books all these years has shown me that human nature has not changed much in thousands of years. The fact that we can now speak to each other all over the world, instantly and constantly, only speeds up and emphasizes what we already know: we’re all a bit irrational and crazy. We love a good scare story, no matter the source. And we all think the other side is out to destroy us all.

Do you know any modern urban legends? Can you remember any recent posts that might be considered an urban legend if researched? Do you still use Snopes?

If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on The Vanishing Hitchhiker, I posted a little about it in Lunch Date Leads to Self-Discovery and One Big Life Lesson?

What’s next?! I’ll have to find a new book off my TBR shelf before tomorrow morning comes!

One Big Life Lesson?

It’s Saturday morning, my dear readers, and I get to participate in another Bloganuary post! Yeah, I made my own rules and am jumping in where I can instead of every day. Sorry!

AND I have wonderful news! My husband fixed my WordPress problem…that is, after I decided to stop acting like an exhausted child and use my words, I asked him to take a look at it when he had time, and he did because he DOES love me after all. It turns out that he’s not a mind reader. We’ve been married 23 years. How could I have missed this fact?

life lesson

What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?

How about this crazy idea? There is no lesson that everyone can benefit from learning. Sure, there are wonderful things we could each be doing, lessons we can take to heart: be kind, don’t eat yellow snow, put your grocery cart back, don’t follow so closely on the road, etc. But not everyone needs to learn every lesson. Many of my vital lessons may not apply to anyone else.

But then, hold on…isn’t “there is no lesson” a lesson? It’s one of those contradictions like, there is no wanting “nothing,” wanting nothing is wanting something.

So, there’s the lesson we can all learn. Leave people alone to learn what’s important and beneficial to them specifically. Your needs are not theirs.

A small side note: In response to my statement over lunch that I was certainly NOT a people person, a close friend told me that she thinks I get so upset with people because I love so much, and I get disappointed. I rolled my eyes at her and changed the subject.

Thinking about it more (because that’s what I do, I repeat conversations in my head over and over and over again until I die), I’m starting to see her point. I do have high hopes for almost everyone I meet. I think everyone has this awesome potential and to think otherwise is just cynical and mean. And then they do things…and I get mad at them. How could they not be what I think they should be?!

Which leads me to that lesson I mentioned above. It’s something I need to learn. Everyone is on a different timeline toward different goals. My place is not to judge them, but to let them be. I feel like I do that, in general, most of the time.

But if I’m honest with myself, really take a good look, I judge people. You didn’t return my phone call the way I wanted you to. You didn’t read that book. You didn’t watch that movie. You didn’t make the same choices I would. That leads me to believe that you’re clearly not doing life right. What’s wrong with you?

I’ve got work to do, haven’t I? Good thing, too. If I didn’t, I’d be dead, right? The price of life is growth.

On another note, I’m still reading The Vanishing Hitchhiker by Jan Harold Brunvand. You’ll hear more about that when I finish it tomorrow.

Lunch Date Leads to Self-Discovery

Let’s see here…what do I want to talk about…everything! Yep, that’s me. I’m a compulsive communicator, and this blog gives my mental health a huge lift. There’s just so much to tell the world. Maybe if I still worked at an amusement park, I’d have plenty of people to harass with my random thoughts every hour, but YOU, my dear reader, will receive the brunt of my self-discovery now (insert evil laugh here).

That fact that I can have to find my laptop, think, type out and then post what I want to communicate is a good thing. It slows me down and makes me think about what I want to say, if only for a few minutes. In person, I tend to talk off the top of my head, say whatever comes to mind. If I weren’t in the awesome circumstances I am in right now (i.e., far fewer people to talk to on a daily basis), my mental health would probably benefit much from working on my mouth filter.

This is one of the reasons I took social media off my phone and leave my laptop off. I found it far too easy to post a thought for the world to see and that led to some awkward situations. Text is far too subjective. If I were standing next to you telling you a joke or laughingly grumping about a situation, you’d be less likely to smack me for my behavior because I’m pretty cute. But in text…well…sarcasm just doesn’t work that well.

self-discovery
What kind of “seasoned” are we talking about? Taco? Italian?

But I digress. Some self-discovery is what I really came to tell you about.

Yesterday, I was not feeling well, mentally well. Lately, I’ve often found myself in a sad funk, like nothing matters, wanting to hide away, disappear. I’m tired of everything. It sucks. It’s not a new feeling. My closest friends and family know my pattern of despair. It passes and nothing is lacking or wrong, not really. Note to family: Do not read my journals. They will terrify you.

And, yes, I’m working on some better choices, eating better, less alcohol (don’t cry, a good tequila is still on the table, just not so many, so often), and getting some exercise. I fell away from a lot of that the past couple of years and it’s starting to show.

Yesterday, I had a lunch date with a dear friend scheduled, but I woke up thinking, “I should not share this shitty feeling with a friend. I am wasting my time and theirs trying to be sociable.” I texted to cancel and then promptly started crying…again. I moved on to my yoga practice but couldn’t focus. She replied, but then I immediately asked if I could change my mind. I needed to get out and do something. I jumped in the shower and headed out the door.

As I drove, I noticed something important. There are two ways my feelings can go when I cancel something I planned on doing: relieved or hurt. When I cancel something and feel relief, set the phone down, move on with my day or evening, that tells me that it was the right thing to do for ME. What I had planned was not something I wanted to do. When I cancel something and feel hurt or sad, set the phone down and cry, that means it was the wrong thing to do. My plans were hard, or I was not in good mood, so I was giving up.

One of the biggest things I get sad about when I attempt to give up is this stupid blog. It means the world to me and I’m not sure exactly why. Every time I get frustrated with technical problems, grow sad about a lack of readers or growth, get angry at myself for my lack of consistency, I start to think about deleting the whole thing and walking away.

You should have heard me this week. “It’s a waste of time,” I told myself. “Just think how much more housework I could get done, yard work, maybe I can get chickens, if I weren’t spending so much time tapping out words on a screen.” Then the sad moved in on me and I felt like I’d lost my best friend.

It was ugly, trust me.

So, I’m afraid the internet is stuck with me.

My VW bus looks like it would
be in one of these Urban Legends!

That being said, that book I started reading yesterday, The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings by Jan Harold Brunvand, is so good. It was written in 1981 and it has all those oldies we loved as kids: the hook in the car door of the kids making out, the alligators in the sewer, pop rocks candy exploding in a kid’s stomach and killing them. There are more, and ones I hadn’t heard before, like the cat dies and they package it up to take it somewhere to bury it, but it gets stolen by shoplifters.

It makes me wonder. With the invention of the internet and social media, I’m sure there are new versions of these old tales, wild stories we swear are true because it happened to a friend of a friend, or it was in the paper, so we share them to warn others. Do you know any?

Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you the OTHER thing I discovered yesterday! I wasn’t in the mood for podcasts yesterday while I drove, so I turned on the radio and stumbled across a “New Country” music station…and liked it. I know! It’s crazy. I’m a classic country fan: Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Alabama, and others. I grew up in the 80’s so I’m also a fan of Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks. I’d heard some new country years ago and HATED it, but this was different, or I was. I fell in love, wrote down snips of song lyrics so I could look it up later (stupid radio), and added them all to my Spotify playlist when I got home. “You Time” by Scotty McCreery and “Like a Lady” by Lady A are the two that I loved most yesterday.

Housekeeping & Some Final Thoughts on my Latest Read

A little housekeeping this morning: I’ve been having some technical issues with my website lately, so while I take some time considering what to do, (where to host, whether I should keep my domain name, or just use the free wordpress site), I’m going to be posting to both for safety.

For my followers on the Roadrunner Musings, I’m back! I don’t have time to sit and play with it today, but I’ll be back to update the site in a couple days. Stay tuned!

And for those who have found me on michellehuelle.com, you might want to follow at Roadrunner Musings. I may end up keeping only that site in the future.

The sun is starting to show itself. How’s that for a special start to the day?

housekeeping

I have a confession. I’m not feeling it today. Feeling what? “It.” You know…that special pull that makes you want to get out of bed and attack the world with a smile. I’m feeling a little lost these days. But that’s normal for me. I’m typically cycle through great highs and pretty deep lows. The rhythm changes though, or maybe “frequency” is a better word. I’m thinking electronics here.

Remember when I started reading How to Take Smart Notes a few days ago and was considering not bothering to finish it? I finished it yesterday. What can I say? I’m afraid I’ll miss something grand if I quit. It’s probably the same reason I keep on living through the downs. If I quit life now…on purpose…I might miss something. Can’t have that!

It wasn’t a boring book, and it wasn’t super long, so I went ahead and steamed through. And I found something interesting.

“We reinvent and rewrite our memory every time we try to retrieve information. The brain works with rules of thumb and makes things look like they fit, even if they don’t. It remembers events that never happened, connects unrelated episodes to convincing narratives and completes incomplete images. It cannot help but see patterns and meaning everywhere, even in the most random things.”

From How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

Why are human minds so damn complicated? Sometimes it just seems like overkill. How in the world did we evolve this way? What purpose does it serve to make memory so unreliable?

Maybe it’s the thing that makes us “in the image of god,” this brain that sees patterns and meaning in everything. Is this what separates us from other animals? Is this the thing that gave us the edge and helped us to create our civilization?

All I do know is that my memory is not reliable. And that’s not just a getting older thing. Unless I take pictures or write things down, it will be lost. Even then, I know that much of what I believe I remember is distorted and warped by time. It’s part of why this blog is so important to me. Sometimes I read old posts of mine and have a hard time believing that I wrote them. I can’t count how many times I’ve come across pictures and stories of my past that I have no memory of happening. And don’t get me started on other people’s version of events we both experienced.

It makes me wonder. If we’re all like this, why do we fight over what we believe to be true? Why can’t we be slightly more rational and think, “You know…maybe I’m wrong” and live and let live?

Here’s another little gem I dug up.

“Learning itself requires deliberate practice, and I mean actual learning that helps to increase our understanding of the world, not just the learning that makes us pass a test.”

From How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

Personal effort. Sigh. Why is everything so hard?

Sorry for the down mood today, my friends. I considered not writing, or at least not posting, today but then I thought, “That’s not very authentic of you, Michelle. You should share the real you.” Back to the electronics analogy, I don’t have a limiter on my signal. You get the intact original signal here.

The good thing is that I know myself pretty well. I’ll be back on the upswing in no time. Nothing gets me down for long.

To end this post on an even better note, I started reading The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings by Jan Harold Brunvand this morning. You’re going to LOVE this one!

Real Learning is Connecting Dots Yourself

Real learning is connecting the dots between experience and information you encounter everywhere you go, all on your own. There is no age limit. From birth to death, this is how humans learn best.

Since I have a couple hot dates today, I’m heading out the door early, so I’ll have to keep these short and sweet today. That’s a good thing because I tried writing about this idea yesterday and it came out all preachy and annoying.

real learning

“But we know today that the more connected information we already have, the easier it is to learn, because new information can dock to that information.” From How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

This quote reminded me of why we homeschooled our boys the way we did. My husband and I didn’t do well in school in different ways, for different reasons. When the boys were very young, we started looking into alternative education models and found that people learn best from simply experiencing things. We decided to live without any kind of school for the first few years to see how it would work and the model stuck.

Instead of school, we lived with the boys right along side us. We went on adventures, read books, watched movies, and played. As parents, we were deliberately setting up the network of ideas and experiences that they would later hang all their learning on.

The older they got, the more involved they became with the direction we took. Which led to this quote.

Learning itself requires deliberate practice, and I mean actual learning that helps us increase our understanding of the world, not just the learning that makes us pass a test.” From How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

Once they got to a certain age, they took to deliberate practice like ducks to water. I couldn’t stop them from diving deeper into anything that caught their eye. Music, dirt bikes, languages, and then cars, travel, and jobs. Now I find them reading classic literature and listening to podcasts.

College was a priority for one and travel for the other. Both have been done in ways it never occurred to me were possible.

Yeah, I’m taking the moment to plug the whole “life without school” idea. How can I not, especially now? Our lives were so much more beautiful because we took that step toward freedom. And when I read things like this, I’m reminded of how awesome it all was.

Go back to my first post, How to Take Smart Notes, for more thoughts inspired by this book.

How to Take Smart Notes

I started reading How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens yesterday. I picked it up months ago because it promised to help me better use a notecard system that I heard of last year.

how to take smart notes

You guys, I have to admit something. Choosing a new book to read off a very full set of TBR shelves is hard. What do you do if none of those books sound interesting at the moment you need to choose? They’re great books, all of them. At some point I wanted to read them so badly that I bought them and set them there like soldiers ready for battle.

I promised myself that I would not buy a book this month, and I’m hoping to not buy a book next month. My thinking is, if I restrict myself, maybe I’ll be forced to read the ones I have and begin emptying those shelves. I don’t like that many unread books sitting there. It makes me sad to see them waiting like that. Passed over and abandoned for no other reason than my capriciousness.

But then…what if I die next month?! Then I’ll be laying on my deathbed wondering why I wasted my last reading days on books I didn’t really want to read. I’ll be headed to the other side with regrets on my heart, books unpurchased and unread. It’s a conundrum for sure.

Don’t worry too much. I did choose one and started reading it yesterday morning. It’s called “How to Take Smart Notes” by Sönke Ahrens. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? I doubt I’ll be sending out many inspirational quotes from this one. What will I even come up with to comment on?

Hold on a moment. Is that why I read anything? Do I pick books in the hopes of getting your attention and admiration? I haven’t in the past. I usually read the books that grab my attention, the ones that move me closer to understanding the world or help me to learn new skills and ideas. THAT’S why it has been harder to pick a book from the TBR shelf lately. I’m choosing what might be interesting to YOU instead of me.

Like Mickey Mouse says in Fantasmic, “This is MY dream!”

I bought this little self-published book because it promised to help me better understand a note taking method that I had heard of and had been trying to use. I haven’t been very successful at it, but it looks like a brilliant way to organize all these seemingly random thoughts and I ideas I have while I read and listen to podcasts. It should help me write better articles in the future.

I feel bad saying this but…I’m not liking it. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t a bad book. There is useful information in it. It is encouraging me to refine and continue using the note card system, but the writing isn’t grabbing me. I feel like they are repeating themselves and rambling too much. It could have been a nice long article, but as a book it feels stretched out.

I hate to give up on a book. There may be gems buried inside. Sometimes reading can be like hard rock mining, there is a cost to keep going. Will it be worth my time and effort? Will the resources I spend to get deeper result in finding the motherlode? I’ve decided to skim it instead of reading it too deeply. I’ll keep my eye out for gems and minimize my energy and time output.

I’m halfway through How to Take Smart Notes right now. Even if I don’t get what I came for, I’m sure I’ll find some small spark of inspiration. Let’s see what happens.

Want to read more posts inspired by this book? Check out,
Real Learning is Connecting Dots Yourself

The Way is Yours to Choose

The Way? The Path? Sound so cliché, but how else do you write about our lives? The last line I’m going to share from this book set my heart free.

the way

“To follow the Way is not what we might think; it does not mean that there is a narrow path to follow, like a little brick road leading to the end of the rainbow. Your way is the Way, and your life is the Path.” From The Path of the Human Being by Dennis Genpo Merzel

The way I think, is the way. My life, my choices, are the path. There is no set destination. There is no finish line. My only goal while I move through this existence is to experience it, learn from it, and keep going. My hope each day is that I may learn to experience all the ups and downs, lefts and rights, more peacefully. In this way, I can share this life with others, maybe pull them along with me for a part of their journey.

It feels like freedom.

The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking of The Matrix. And, no I haven’t seen the new movie yet, but I am going to this week. It’s one of my favorite stories. In the movie, Neo comes to the realization that he is inside a program and his physical self is trapped elsewhere. You know the story, right? The point of the movie is to escape the program and live real lives.

Zen Buddhism is similar, except that it seems that the point is that we realize we are living in a program and then accept it, relish it, and keep living without the drama and stress of escaping. We don’t bend the spoon to our will, we simply know there is no spoon and let it go.

Sounds crazy. In The Matrix, Neo learns to see the code behind what he is experiencing and change it. We see the code, the fact that we are all atoms arranged in different patterns and then move in it as part of it, instead of struggling against it.

Pieces cut for new table napkins.

Yesterday, I was able to see the code and move through it. It felt good to (even if fleetingly) see a feeling for what it was, passing and ephemeral. “I’m feeling a bit of sadness, anxiety, a little put out by my circumstances at the moment.” And then I sat in it for a bit, gave it some love, and then chose to let go of it. I asked my husband for a hug (and didn’t grump about having to ask) and we made some plans for the day.

The result? A peaceful day, a project I’d had on standby for a couple years got started, a chili dog dinner, and a game of Pinochle with his brother and nephew. My way. My path.

Click back to my first post on “The Path of the Human Being” for more posts inspired by this book.

Keep Moving and Let Go

Keep moving and let go are the two ideas I want to share, but I’ll keep this short and sweet this morning. I’m nursing a carb hangover! Friday nights (except when it is exceptionally cold) are spent with friends and family, shooting pool, drinking home brewed beer, and eating the delicious food we all come up with each week. Last night I made lasagna, a neighborhood favorite. My neighbor made cheese bread that slayed us all. Yeah…I’m justifying the following words.

I cannot express how much I am enjoying learning from The Path of the Human Being. These few quotes and posts don’t do it justice. If you’re exploring Zen Buddhism, I’d highly recommend reading this. It’s the most helpful book I’ve found yet.

keep moving

“We only have to remember one thing: keep moving! Never stop letting of your understandings and views.” From The Path of the Human Being by Dennis Genpo Merzel

We strive everyday to understand the world around us and our place in it. We read, we discuss, we ask questions, and then we make a model to explain our understanding. Now here comes the hard part…let it go and keep moving down the path. The moment we hold onto a point of view, we stop looking for more meaning. We can’t receive and we can’t give. Our hands are too full. Let go.

“Yet when you let go of your mind, you do function more freely. You lighten up and have more fun playing the game. Before we realize that life is a game, we take the whole thing too seriously.” From The Path of the Human Being by Dennis Genpo Merzel

I love this one. I am continually guilty of taking things way too seriously. My mind is so busy trying to work out the next best step, putting myself in the least vulnerable position, trying to get ahead. All the while, I’m missing out on what is happening. I’m not playing the game. The game is playing me. And then, to quote Curious George, “All the fun is gone.”

Instead of the Force, see Darth Vader saying, “The ego is strong in this one.”

Yeah, last night I could have had one less shot of whiskey, one less bite of cheese bread, maybe said a few less colorful words around the table, but we were having fun. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve really made a mess of by overthinking things. My typical response is, “I HAVE to overthink because no one else is thinking at all!”

Last night, I let go of the things I thought were bothering me. I sat with friends and enjoyed the evening. Today, I’m enjoying a slow start to my day, and I’ll enjoy a nap later. Life is too short to take everything too seriously.

Click back to my first post on “The Path of the Human Being” for more posts inspired by this book.

The Space Between Impulse and Choice

What do you do when you feel an impulse to act? My personal space between impulse and choice has always been pretty small. I typically feel it and immediately jump at it. If it’s a pleasurable feeling, I’m the first to run screaming into the street, “Isn’t this the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” If it’s not pleasurable, I’ll be running to hurt you before you can hurt me more.

impulse and choice

“The moment a thought or desire pops up, we can choose to respond in a way that is different from our habitual, self-serving response. Mindfulness allows us to seize the moment between the impulse to act and the action itself.” From The Path of the Human by Dennis Genpo Merzel

The reason I was persuaded to try meditation in the first place was the hope that I could increase that space between impulse and choice. It has worked. I’m slowly (oh, so damn slowly) starting to…Oh, who am I kidding? It’s us, right? I’ll be honest. I’ve been stuck for years on simply noticing that there IS a stimulus. But that’s progress, right?

Oh, G.I. Joe. You taught me so much, so young.

And this past year, I have found another gem. I can see where I dropped the ball, after the fact. I’ve been working hard at forgiving myself when I screw up but it’s coming even slower than my last small insight. Will it ever get there?

I’m starting to learn that I won’t. There is nowhere to get. This is life. All connected, circling back on itself and out again. I’m born, I live, and I die.

Jalapeno…in your taco…

“We can choose to respond in a new and creative way, or we can choose to simply watch as the impulse fades away. Either way, we have claimed our freedom.” From The Path of the Human by Dennis Genpo Merzel

impulse and choice

Choice. That’s what we think we lack, but it’s illusion. We CAN chose how we react to things once we realize there are things we are reacting to. I used to think that my reactiveness (positive and negative) was who I was, part of my personality. Some past trauma has taught me to behave this way and now I can’t help it, so you just deal with it or move on, buddy!

I’m starting to see that is an identity I created. If I created it, I can also be the one to let it go. The connections make letting my identity go slightly easier. It’s like…we’re all molecules in this universe and I’m only one of them. I’m over here shaking and crying, “I’m important! An individual! Respect me!” When I really should be relaxing and going with the flow.

Sorry, I’m a tad all over the place today. I’m feeling distracted. We’re having a potluck tonight and there is so much to do. The weather is nice though, no more freezing cold wind. What gets done, gets done. The point is to enjoy the time with friends and family. Can’t lose sight of that.

One thing before I go. There’s something making me sad on social media. I know. Big surprise. Since no one is actually READING anything there, I’ll throw out my thoughts here, real quick, and then let it go.

Every year since I’ve been on Facebook, January comes around and we get all the posts about how much the previous year sucked and how much the new year will suck in new ways. Occasionally there is a post about planting seeds of positivity. But I have an idea.

The moment you are in is the only one you get. We don’t get to relive the past. We don’t get to save up and spend our joy in a better year. That saying, “You only live once.” That’s some serious shit. Don’t waste it waiting for better times. Live well right now.

Click back to my first post on “The Path of the Human Being” for more posts inspired by this book.

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