When looking through my photos of 2021 they didn’t reflect the heaviness of the world I was often feeling. I noticed that I captured the creativity, playfulness, people, and extraordinary beauty I was experiencing on a daily basis. What sparked and amused me helped me manage all of the stuff I couldn’t photograph.
This year we’ve all been greatly affected by the pandemic, the January 6th attack on our democracy and all of the events and circumstances our family, friends (and the world) have been through. Today on the first day of 2022 I see one zig zaggy path forward for me…a motto I will need to remind myself of frequently.
Life is absurd. Enjoy the ride.
This is one of my favorite photographs this year was taken at Halverson’s on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont in April. Willa had just dyed her hair…just imagine a world without color?
I don’t see this guitar in any shape or form except when I preview this page. Instead of wasting more time when I want to take a walk and a dip, I’m leaving this ghost guitar drawing.
sparked, amused & embracing the absurd:
“Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable.” ― Albert Camus
I realize that TV shows from comic books (even the genius of the MARVEL world) don’t work for everyone. So, I wanted to just share a few passages of dialogue from the FX show LEGION that really made me think about how we think. I recorded this passage on my phone while watching the show and I’ve listened to it a few times. Today, I finally transcribed it.
“So what have we learned? That a delusion is an idea. That an idea can be contagious. That human beings are pattern-seeking animals. By which, I mean we prefer ideas that fit a pattern.
In other words, we don’t believe what we see. We see what we believe. And when we are stressed or our beliefs are challenged… When we feel threatened… The ideas we have can become irrational, one delusion leading to another, and another, as the human mind struggles to maintain its identity. And when this occurs, what starts as an egg can become a monster.”
—LEGION Season 2 Episode 7 on FX
APOPHENIA is the tendency to perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things. Apophenia has come to imply a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information, such as gambling.
After seeing episode 7 of LEGION, I realized that I was wasting a lot of time trying to make ideas & events fit a certain pattern of thought. I committed to noticing when I was pattern seeking. It’s really challenging at first. However, with practice, I now feel more in control of my mind. I haven’t eliminated the tendency, but I’ve increased my ability to notice more quickly when it’s happening.
“And now we come to the most alarming delusion of all. The idea that other people don’t matter. Their feelings. Their needs. Imagine a cave where those inside never see the outside world. Instead, they see shadows of that world projected on the cave wall. The world they see in the shadows is not the real world. But it’s real to them. If you were to show them the world as it actually is, they would reject it as incomprehensible.”
LEGION (David Charles Haller) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, part of the X-Men series. He is the mutant son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. Legion takes the role of an antihero who has a severe mental illness including a form of dissociative identity disorder, in which each of his alternate personas controls one of his many superpowers.
The television series Legion premiered on FX network in 2017. The lead character is portrayed by Dan Stevens (Matthew on Downton Abbey). The series is developed, written, directed, and produced by Noah Hawley.
This week I read that forgiveness will only occur when we recognize that we can no longer change our past. That’s a relatively simple concept. I’m able to intellectually grasp it and yet…why am I wasting time with would of, could of & should of thoughts? If thinking about my past can give me the blues and worrying about the future causes anxiety, why am I doing it? I don’t have to feel this way. I have a choice.
My past is my life’s circumstance.
I cannot possibly change one thing.
My future is uncertain.
The only certainty is that my life will contain both joy & some devastating heartbreak.
I’m neglecting my NOW.
What can I do?
I tried saying to myself what I’m doing at any given moment.
“I’m calling the dentist now.”
“I’m watching a video my daughter wants to share with me.”
“I’m checking my email now.”
“I’m listening to (insert the name of everyone you encounter) now.”
You know what? This really helps. It slows time down and reminds me that I’m doing this one thing right now. When I practice this, I feel more in control and less manipulated by those lousy would of, could of & should of thoughts.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”
It seems damn near revolutionary to try to be more present is our distracted world.
I’m going to work on my judgement and I would really appreciate your support. My stated goal for the new year is to practice some radical acceptance of myself and others. I heard this term somewhere recently and it really resonated for me.
acceptance defined: the act of accepting something or someone
It’s actually pretty simple according to Merriam Webster…simple in definition only. Not in practice. It will require training, diligence and literally biting my tongue sometimes…and I will fail often and try again.
Is acceptance the polar opposite of judgement?
Don’t we all want the same things—to be loved, feel safe and possess some sense of belonging in this crazy world. The world seems to be crying out for more connection, not more judgement.
I’ve noticed that my curiosity can smooth the jagged edges of my judgement. When I get curious about people, ideas, choices, places, well…everything, I’m far less likely to judge, because I jazzed about my new knowledge. Dear 2018, please help me remember to utilize the power of my curiosity. MORE CURIOSITY = LESS JUDGEMENT
Here’s to 2018 & whatever you choose to do with it…it’s none of my business.
This morning I woke up with the word “mend”on my mind. What a simply beautiful word. I kept thinking about it while I actually mended a few things.
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A suede jacket I inherited from my paternal grandmother.
My daughter’s blue jeans…not a rip in a fashionable spot.
I realized that mend somehow uniquely seems more feminine to me than its masculine cousin, repair.
Mending and sewing connects me to the ancient wisdom of mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and friends. Women have been sitting together stitching, solving problems, laughing and crying in gardens, front porches, church basements, adobes, tents and huts throughout the history of the world. This is a part of all of us, even if it hasn’t necessarily been our personal experience. We mend in the way I did today, but we also mend broken hearts, bones & skin, relationships, nervous systems, false narratives and so much more.
Here’s to mending whatever is in your literal or emotional stack of damaged goods.
There is a unique beauty the prairie possesses. The starkness out here is as rugged as the frontier spirit. This is a part of the world that would prefer things stay known, steady and traditional. It never does. Shifts occur.
I’m visiting my family in South Dakota now. I can see both the independence I reveled in as a teenager AND the uncertainty about how the world is changing. Understanding this duality fosters my curiosity about things unknown. I like that. I’m grateful for both my independence and my deep roots here.
Life is a puzzle, people are puzzling and sometimes all we can do is keep looking between the cushions or under the couch for the piece we’re missing.
Let’s all keep seeking understanding and looking for the missing pieces folks. Let’s ask more questions of eachother than lecture. I do believe a little curiosity can change the world or at least your holiday table. It will be a much shorter drive home from Grandma’s if everyone felt heard and respected.
and modeling that for my children is really important to me. I find this concept to be really crucial in my adult development. I didn’t really understand this until I was entering middle-age. As an introvert, I’ve always loved my time alone. However, the concept of really being my own best friend took years to fully integrate. Thankfully, Lisa and I finally have this all pretty well figured out now…even though she can be a total pain in the ass sometimes. I love her in spite of her flaws.
My Positive Psychology teacher Tal Ben-Shahar frequently reiterates that we have to give ourselves “permission to be human”. This doesn’t mean that we have to accept every one of our behaviors as—”oh well, that’s me” and not even try to self correct. It does mean however, that when we screw up, we can take notice, mend the damage, alter our behavior, move on and try to do it a little bit differently next time.
As our own BFF we have to encourage ourselves just as we would encourage a friend who is going through some of life’s trials.
I would love to cut short some of these challenging years for my three children. The hard years when we often aren’t so kind to ourselves…teens and early twenties. I guess some lessons are like learning to walk before we crawl though. We simply can’t shortchange the steps.
Some of our growth requires more years of life’s joys and sorrows coupled with the experience and wisdom that follows. Regardless, I believe we can start talking to our children at a very young age about being their own best friend, enjoying their own company and knocking back negative self talk.
This morning over coffee I asked my husband, Jeff what needed his attention the most today? “slowing down” he said. Then we sang John Prine’s “Sound of the Speed of Loneliness” which has some great lyrics and a theme kept emerging for my day.
You’ve broken the speed of the sound of loneliness You’re out there running just to be on the run
Later, I went to a dance class at the South End Studio and as we cooled down and stretched, our instructor, Linda said, “surrender to gravity”. I’m not usually a big fan of gravity, but it felt really great—quiet, surrendering to gravity and stretching my spine.
In this era of BUSY being a badge of honor…I want to act dishonorably, get quiet and slow down.
When I am smart enough slow down and accept some quiet (which isn’t quite often enough): I work smarter. I’m more creative and deliberate. I’m less reactive. I see my options. I’m more productive. This got me wondering what Confucius, Whitman and others had to say about this quiet. Turns out quite a bit actually. Of course they did.
Walt Whitman/Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun “GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;…Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars;…”
“If he who does not know kept silent, discord would cease.” —Socrates
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” ―Will Rogers
It isn’t easy to find time for quiet other than sleep in our days. However, it might be necessary when the world is just too loud all the time. Here’s to quiet. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh