11/18/2021

Sorry

The only way out is through1.

This, of course, is a hard truth to stomach. When the going gets tough, finding a solution — usually something that we can do that will solve the problem — makes a ton of sense. The thing is, if the thing to do is to be presenet with some seriously difficult stuff, well, that’s where it gets tricky.

And there’s no way around. It says it right there, in the saying:

The only way out is through.

There’s more to say about this, to be sure. And there’s really not that much of a point, as just grocking this can take a lifetime.

I can attest from experience.


  1. Doing some research on the origin of this overused, but quite accurate, piece of advice led me to [this Quora page]](https://www.quora.com/Who-said-the-only-way-out-is-through?share=1) which attributes it to Dante, Robert Frost, Shakespear, and The Swamp Thing, among others.↩︎

11/8/2021

Expectations

What are yours?

(I’ll tell you mine if you…)

It’s all too easy for me to assume that by posting (or not posting) I fulfill some kind of quota. And sometimes a quota is what you need. Merlin Mann sometimes says that what you need to do is sit down at the keyboard and make the clicking sound.” I’ve heard others say that if you show up, so will the muse.

Mostly, I think it’s about creating rhythm, and figuring out how that aligns with what the world needs from you. That’s what I’m finding my way to.

And, man, do my expectations get in the way1.


  1. I’d hate to tell you how many different words were scrapped on the way to this quote fulfillment.↩︎

11/1/2021

Joy

Sometimes I worry that I get so caught up in thinking about the challenges of the world (or of the folks that I’m supporting in one way or another) tha I forget about joy.

J O Y !

It’s that (often allusive) visitor that reminds us that being alive is kind of great. That points out that we only get one go at this life, and that at its heart lies this thing called pleasure. Oh…pleasure! that’s another one that’s easy to forget.

Pardon me while I find joy in this rain.

10/28/2021

Diving in…fully

Last night in my men’s group, we were talking about grief. About it is to lose someone, and to allow oneself to fully inhabit the experience of that loss. Francis Weller talks about how grief is more than an experience; it’s a practice. It’s something that we do again and again. At different levels, for different reasons.

In his book The Wild Edge of Sorrow, Weller outlines five gates’ of grief. It’s really a brilliant perspective on what can be an elusive practice — elusive, at least, in our culture. A culture that tries to brush grief and anything like it under the rug.

During the conversation, one of the men asked me about what is different about Jewish funerals. It was kind of an interesting question, one I don’t really feel qualified to answer, as I’m not exactly the most devout Jew you’ve ever met. But I found myself reflecting on some of the practices that are considered to be more traditional in the Jewish faith.

One of those practices is to take a year off of life. I’m not sure of the full extent of this (e.g. do you still work?), but what I understand about the tradition is you stop shopping for pleasure, you don’t go to movies, plays, or concerts. You don’t really entertain yourself. You don’t do much of anything that brings pleasure (I’m quite uncertain about the role of sex in this grieving practice). Many folks will wear all black, or at least a black armband (or maybe the torn black cloth donned at the funeral). There’s more to this, I’m sure, but this is what I understand.

Another practice is Sitting Shiva’. This is one most folks are familiar with. In this practice, the family invites their community into their home. The Shiva’s that I’ve been present at have felt kind of like parties. There’s food, there’s drink. People hang out and talk. Sure, there is memory, and crying, but the overall vibe is one of a house party (well, not a college house party).

But there is more to this practice traditionally as well. The more devout would cover all of the mirrors and hide all photos. People sit on the floor. The family is to not be approached, but can approach others. They are brought food, and left to eat it. And it’s not just an afternoon, it’s a week (I think).

As I was reflecting on these practices (which I believe are just the tip of the iceberg for this three thousand year old tradition), I realized that what they share in common is really embracing the fullness of grief–giving people the opportunity to dive all the way in, without distraction. You are given the freedom to fully experience the loss that is before you.

How many of us do that? How many of us are given the space to do that? In fact, how many of us are really capable of doing that? I’m not entirely sure that I am. But I’m feeling grateful to connect back to traditions that come out of the culture that brought me into the world (well, one of the cultures, any way).

What does it mean to connect into grief? What does it mean to be in practices that support us in that grief? What helps us dive in fully?

10/27/2021

All I got

Today was a packed one. Early dentist appointment (have you ever had the hygenist oversleep? Well, I have now). Back-to-back Zoom meetings. And I mean back-to-back — like, from 8:30a to 4:30. Oh, and one more at 6. And I didn’t sleep well. And I’ve been processing a very challenging call from last night.

Packed, I tell ya.

I know that in a lot of ways, I’m lucky. This was a rare day for me. For many, it’s the reality of man (if not most) days.

That said, my capacity is basically shot. And this is all I had in me to write. But I did it! And I can check it off my to do list for the day.

#HighFIve

10/26/2021

It’s not ideal

It never is. The calendar is basically full (whoever had the idea of inventing video meetings is both the hero of the pandemic and the enemy of basically everything else). Back to back. Moment-to-moment. This screen. This desk. This room. Day-in. Day-out.

Now, this can feel like a complaint. In all honesty, it is in some ways, but it’s more about wanting to point to the reality that our lives are not going to hand us the perfect moment. The perfect moment to meditate. The perfect moment to write. The perfect moment to reflect. The perfect moment to take a few minutes staring out the window. If we are waiting for the perfect moment, we’re going to wait for a long time.

We all know the phrase, I’ll make time.” Like somehow, we can pry open the gates of a day and create some time out of the space. The truth is that we have to take time. We have to carve it out ourselves. We have to stand up and take a stand for our well being.

And, yes, even during the work day. If you work in a place where you have no control over your calendar — where folks can just put an hour long meeting on your day and you have no say about it — you work in an unhealthy environment. I’d say that’s true, full stop.

At my last full time job, I started to create meetings on my calendar, some for thirty minutes some for up to ninety. They were meetings with myself. Some of them were about doing — knocking things off of my to do list. But some of them were about resting, reconnecting, rejuvenating. Hell, every now and then I’d book a conference room.

It’s easy to come up with excuses (and some of those excuses are really valid), but I do think it’s worth interrogating what’s behind them. What is it that allows us to give away part of our birthright — to have space for our thoughts, unencumbered by the thoughts of others? What are we committed to when we don’t make a commitment to our own well being?

The answers to the questions that we ask ourselves might very well point to the environment that we are in, to larger systemic issues (I’m not going to pretend that my positionality as a white, cis, man had nothing to do with my ability to carve out time for myself, surely it did), to other factors that are beyond our control. It’s true. But I’d be willing to bet that there are things that float under the surface — that only reveal themselves when we really dig in and ask the question — that, once revealed, could help us make some different choices.

This isn’t an easy thing, of course. If it was, we’d all be doing it (hell, I’d be doing it a lot more). Like mindfulness meditation, it’s a practice that we return to — again, and again, and again–

The perfect moment isn’t going to come find us. That shouldn’t stop us from reveling in the intentional, if imperfect, one.