Kids in the Bux
For a while now, I’ve been going to a particular Starbucks to get work done. Primarily, it’s because it’s very close to the place where my wife and I have our mailbox. There was a period where it just made sense. I knew a package would be going there, so I’d park at that Starbucks, work for a while; eventually, I’d get notice that a package had arrived. When I was done working, I’d pick up the package and head home. Going there became kind of a habit.
Here’s the thing, though: It’s a busy Starbucks. And when the kids come, it gets loud. What I mean by kids is, well, kids. High school kids, to be exact. They come in three waves, generally stating at a bit after 11am. They get out for lunch, and swarm this particular shopping center. You can imagine that Starbucks is a popular haunt for them. It’s kind of nutes.
The habit of going to this Starbucks has pretty much always trumped the fact that it’s so freaking loud in there when they come. I’m not sure, but it has. Until today.
Today, I decided to get some work done — a particular piece of work that’s been on my mind all weekend. I started to type, and boom. I was struck by the almost inability to do anything. It wasn’t just loud, their energy was disruptive. I couldn’t do squat. I decided that I need to make a shift. In fact, I need to make a pretty big shift. I need to find a different place to get this work done. Indeed, a different way to get it done.
All of this is to say that I can feel in my being a need to do some of these things differently. In differnet spaces. At different times. With different intentions. There is something about the way the energy from those kids hit me that told me that I need to adjust. It’s as much an internal energetic adjustment as it is about the location that I’m trying to write.
This is a thread to follow. Let’s see where it goes.
Here we are, at the end of another week. It’s tempting to want to know how the week went. What got done? Was it productive? Being tired on a Friday is like a badge of honor. For many of us, we’re saying things like, “Well, I have to do some work this weekend, but not much.” For some, we see the weekend as a different kind of doing. Housework. Errands. Perhaps it’s a ton of socializing. Perhaps all of the above.
The Jewish tradition invites us into a different kind of weekend. It invites us into a restful space right away. We are barely done with the last weekday email when we are invited to put away our technology, to step away from commerce, and to settle down into a restful state. I’m horrible at it, but I like to try. To lean toward it. Fridays are hard, I tell myself. I’m tired I don’t generally want to drive across town to go to synagogue. I’d like to watch a movie with my wife. But the invitation is pretty tempting. Slow down. Remember what was true before the world of work existed. Remember the connection to your life.
Different traditions do this differently. This is how we do it. However people choose to find their deeper connection is amazing. Let’s honor them all. But let’s for sure let it happen. Let’s find a way to connect to those deeper things. Those deeper spaces. Sabbath can simply be rest. Or day off. Or down time. Or whatever.
Imagine if we all let that wash over us at some point in our week. I’d love a world like that.
There’s a proposal out there. We put it together over the course of a week or so. The turn around was fast. That was five weeks ago. We’ve been waiting ever since. Honestly, I’ve been surprised that we’ve had to wait, as I figured that the fast turn around indicated that they wanted to move on it quickly. That said, it is a government project.
So, we wait.
I did a small amount of work for a client. There is some possible work that could continue out of what we did together. I put together my thoughts and sent it over to him. There are a number of things on his plate right now, some of which require his immediate attention, so his not getting back to me yet isn’t surprising.
So, I wait.
Right now feels like a waiting time. It feels like most of what I can do to affect change on the things before me has been done. There isn’t much on my plate to do. I notice a kind of panic peak its head into my awareness: having nothing to do isn’t valued. What is valued is a mile-long to-do list. What is valued is being so busy that you can’t think straight. Having too many emails to respond to. Not getting enough rest.
That’s not my reality at the moment. What is is the space of waiting.
I was talking with my friend Tara the other day. I mentioned this waiting to her, and she said, “Well, we can wait, and we can wait engaged.” These words flowed into me. To be engaged in our waiting feels quite relevant. Here’s what I think it doesn’t mean: I think it doesn’t mean checking your (my) email every two minutes to see if there’s word on the proposal. I think it doesn’t mean crafting stories in your (my) head about why the email hasn’t been responded to; why the phone hasn’t rung.
I think that to wait engaged means that we stay connected to the energy we have sent into the universe, while noticing what is in front of us now. What is called for? What is the next step for us to take in our being? Is it to read? Is it to make another call? We stay present. We stay, as Tara would say, close to the bone. We stay connected with ourselves. Myself.
We live in a culture that prizes the doing. The waiting pulls us toward the being side of this particular polarity. This is a part of my current practice. Where is my waiting? How do I remain engaged?
Where is yours? How do you?
I’m kind of acquiring a number of things to spend more time writing about. This time, it’s a reflection on the role of ceremony and initiation in the creation of a meaningful life. Once again, I find myself influenced by Charles Eisenstein, as well as his occasional dialogue partner, Orland BIshop. In the recent discussions between them that I’ve been listening to, they’ve talked about how important initiation is to the full liberation of the creative potential within a person. Any person.
In a new essay, Eisenstein writes about how ceremony can help us move into a life that is full of a greater spirituality. I’m struck by his distinction between ritual and ceremony. It has me re-thinking my own definition of ritual.
Ok. That’s about all I have for the moment. I’m going to prioritize digging more deeply into all of this soon.
Think about it
What is the contemplative life? What does it mean to reflect? These two questions are moving through me right now.
Is this an intellectual exercise? Is it spiritual? Emotional? Psychological? Ontological?
Yes, I suppose.
I just listened to pt 1 of this three part conversation between Charles Eisenstein and Orland Bishop, and they kind of end on a thread about the role of contemplation in life. It’s not quite what you think it might be. I’m going to listen to the discussion again, as I don’t think it fully penetrated. What I can say is that it has me thinking even more deeply about what it means to listen.
An interesting thing to sit with — contemplation and listening as being synonyms of one another.
Sitting here, I notice that my body rests in the chair. That my belly rises and falls with the breath. I feel a tightness in the jaw. The shoulders. My wallet feels a bit large, sitting on it tilts my pelvis. There is a desire to cry in my chest and just behind my eyes. There is a couple sitting across from me (not exactly, but easier to say this than to explain the seating arrangement I find myself in). She is reading on a tablet. His tablet rests on his chest as he eats his snack. Kitty-corner is a man with his laptop open on his lap, looking at his phone. He reminds me of me. The students just arrived, which means it’s louder in here now than it was a few minutes ago. They keep coming. This will last for another 20 minutes. And then they’ll be gone. Same as an hour ago. I can’t find a place to put my journal that’s comfortable. I should really move my wallet
The livingness of this place is undeniable. Of this experience. Of life. Life pulses around all the corners. It brings us to each moment. I’m noticing that the urge to cry isn’t attached to anything. It’s just there. Same with the man who is eating his snack. He just is. The students are. The man’s phone is. My wallet, which I can no longer really feel, is.
It’s hard to explain how there can be so much love for life, for the experience of it all, while also fear of what’s going to come next. What might come next. What might not. I don’t know that any of us will ever be able to fully grasp it. There are those who are supposedly enlightened who may be able to speak to these things, but I’m less inclined to believe that these days. I think it’s a mystery. And it’s best that it’s a mystery.
What, exactly, am I trying to get at? I think it’s this: life is remarkable. We all know that, at the very least, deep down. Doing what we can to experience it that way is a spiritual practice. A practice that’s available to all of us, in every moment. A practice of life.
Dipping my toe into purpose
I’ve been thinking about purpose. I see it everywhere these days. Most notably, it is central to the messaging by some folks I’ve connected with that are consultants in organizations, talking about purpose as something that should be behind our work in the world. I couldn’t agree more, but (there it is…you knew it was coming) I’d say that the way we think about something like purpose, especially in relationship to our work, is incredibly surface level, and it doesn’t get to what is actually possible. In fact, it doesn’t get to what is already true.
Truth be told, I don’t have much time today to explore this, unfortunately. I started to write about it in my journal this morning, and it’s clear there’s a lot to explore. But I wanted to introduce the thinking here.
Etymologically, it seems that there are a couple of branches in relationship to the word purpose. My favorite (which, in some ways, is cheating a bit) is:
Porposer - to put forth
I like this because it brings the notion of purpose from being about something we are going to do to being about the very fact that we are. This is the distinction that, to me, could profoundly shift the way we talk about purpose at all in the world.
But I think I might be getting ahead of myself. Hopefully I’ll dig into this more soon.
To be continued.
Liminal spaces can occur in any part of our lives.
They can show up without warning. Or we can realize we’ve been occupying them for some time, unwittingly.
No one promises that liminal spaces will be pleasant.
They are what they are.
The way out is through.
It’s been a few days since I posted here. This past week turned out to be quite full. In the fullness, I’ve noticed myself drift away a bit. A way from, well, myself. I was traveling for much of the time I’ve been away, and I told myself that it’s okay to let my routines go while I was on the road. It’s easier, you see. I was staying with family, so why bother people with the things that I need to do to take care of myself? I’m in their house, so why bother with the exercises I do, or the need for down time, etc.? The thing is, I’m seeing pretty clearly, that what I truly gain in the routines I’ve established for myself, is myself. This is true care. To not care for what is closest to me is to not be able to show up in the world in the ways I know I can be impactful.
I saw a good friend today, one I haven’t seen in quite a while. She looked great. I told her so. “Nurturing the conditions of health,” she said to me with a smile. These conditions, it occurs to me, are the ones that really matter. In many ways, the rest is irrelevant. And those conditions are nurtured close in — through the feeling senses of the body.
The path of healing becomes clearer and clearer.
The gratitude in trauma
I’m more and more fascinated by the ways that reactions show up in my body. A constriction in the chest or belly, rush of blood to the head, a sinking feeling in the belly. What’s really interesting is when the reactions are out of step with what’s actually happening. For example, I get some feedback that something could have been different and/or better in some work I did (when I asked for the feedback), and it lands like I’ve been written up. Or someone emails me a month after I’d sent them an email, asking something rather vulnerable, and they don’t even mention it, and the reaction is as if someone died.
These are kind of extreme examples, but they are also real. What I find is that my body, my system is wired toward a kind of catastrophic feeling. In this, I don’t think I’m alone. Indeed, I think that from this lens, a number of things make more sense in the world. Some call this “trauma informed,” I think.
We all experience some levels of trauma, and our reactions can look very similar, even if the cause is way different. Bringing a trauma informed approach can help us navigate some rather tricky situations. How smart are our bodies? How much have they protected us from? This adds another dimension, one that my friend Tara likes to point to: there’s a deep wisdom in how our bodies have organized. For me, this generates a deep gratitude.
Imagine what things might look like if we bring these ideas in front of us in what we are doing. Imagine.
A bit on this being human
I was going to write about the end of NaPoWriMo today. But I find myself wanting to let that be for the moment. I suppose there will be something to say about it sooner or later.
What’s on my mind right now is this: sometimes we have to weigh what is ours. We also sometimes have to way our sense of what is right. I find both of these things before me as I consider making a couple of moves in my life.
The question of what is mine has floated around me before. It’s surfaced at times not unlike the one that I’m in currently. What I mean by this is that I believe that we can introject the visions, ideas, even passions of others. This can set us on a course that doesn’t really belong to us. There is probably a lot written about this (indeed, David Whyte has written about it some), and I could certainly go deeper on this idea, but for now this will have to suffice.
What can make it challenging, in my experience, is that the question often arises in times of stress. This is not necessarily helpful. But, it’s what is. At least for now.
As far as what is right…we’ll, this question can be viewed from a number of different angles. For me, at this moment, it has to do with what I might to choose to support, even a bit indirectly.
All of this can lead to some paralysis if I’m not careful. I’m learning a lot more about this paralysis and how to work with and through it. One thing I’m learning: we are some fragile creatures, us humans.
Remembering this, I hope, might bring us all a bit more peace.
Fin — NaPoWriMo Day 30
Impermanence is the kiss of a moment
one after the other — a lifetime worth
the cumulation of all things
A bit on outcomes
There is, I think, another piece to the dropping our expertise thing. That is : letting go of outcomes. Our idea of what “should” happen, or if what we want to happen (maybe especially this), is tied up in our knowing. The only way we could predict what success looks like is if we know where we are going. To let go of the knowing where we are going is to let go of the knowing of the outcome.
I’m going to take it a step further, though. Let go of the idea of outcome.
Let that sink in for a moment.
What if we opened ourselves to not knowing so much that we were willing to enter into whatever experience was before us, trusting that it would prove itself to be what was required of the moment?
Funny, even that statement sneaks in an outcome, doesn’t it? This is some kind of tricky stuff we’re playing with. The depths of programming within us — to look, at all times, for “what I’ll get out of this” — are quickly revealed.
Sitting here now, looking back at what has come through, I can see how I’m wrestling with something — an inner-knowing, and a desire to share that which isn’t fully integrated. This wrestling is, I think, what makes up the space between knowing and not knowing. A space that pulls us forward toward something we can’t define until we get there. And by then, we’re likely off to a new place once again.
This one’s hard to title for some reason — NaPoWriMo Day 29
What’s the hardest work?
Perhaps the invisible.
Straightening the chairs,
the garbage doesn’t empty
itself. We believe that
some things are meant to
be “out grown.” Yet many
take pride in their
dirty nails, callouses,
strength. This is a hard
world to live in. Perhaps
more gratitude can soften
it a bit.
A bit on expertise
The need to know — to present as an expert — is really driving me crazy. It’s something that is central to the LinkedIn platform, but it’s also seen in just about every other corner of life. We are expected to show up to work knowing. We are certainly asked to come into interviews with an aura of deep expertise. As if we could tell you the future.
I’ve done some stuff.
Some of it’s good. Some less good. Maybe even a couple of things that were “bad.”
All of the stuff, one might say, leaves me with an expertise of sorts. But I’m not so sure. THe more I’ve learned, the more I see I don’t know. That is a space I feel interested in cultivating.
After all, we can’t get there from here. Knowing is the here.
We can’t make change using the tools we know.
We need to do new things. What are they?
Say it with me: I don’t know.
Let’s try something new. Let’s not organize a conference that literally looks like all of the other conferences. Especially if we are gathering people who expressly want to make change.
Let’s not apply strategies we’ve used in other areas to the thing we are currently doing.
Let’s get into rooms and get messy. TRy new things. Be willing to fall down. To collapse inot the question: Who do we need to be?
We can get there together, but only if we’re willing to release what we think we know and develop a new expertise: not knowing.
(definition) — NaPoWriMo Day 28
I realized, we already have
enough words for this,
do we really need more?
Instead, explain thorough shapes
and sounds, through an
One expression before another.
Let the one who holds this
loosely in awareness become
the lone interpreter — a direct
experience. Perhaps then we
will (see) that words are full
of the greatest depths. Of Love.
Sabbath — NaPoWriMo Day 27
For those impacted by the Poway Chabad shooting today, April 27th, 2019.
Quiet. Stillness. These
words mark the seventh
day. A day of rest and
connection. A day we can
take outside of the
thing we call time. Yet
when quiet is interrupted
by the trauma brought
forth by hate, a contraction
– movement away from the
heart, the need for
that seventh day becomes
all the more apparent.
A day isn’t holy just
because a god said it
was. No, a day is holy
when it is seen as a
gateway to the Love that
dissolves the contraction — makes
it so no hate could possibly
stand. In this: Quiet.
(Untitled) — NaPoWriMo Day 26
“What if it doesn’t feel the way
you think it should?”
Frozen. The world still passes.
The day-to-day is tended to
through putting one foot in
front of the other.
“Perhaps this is a gift. Perhaps
this is what’s asked of you.”
Sometimes there’s movement,
a sense of knowing. That can
fall away, toward a gravitational
center that seems so far
“This may be the thing you
have been waiting for. What
would it be like to be with it?”
The tension is physical. It lives
in the body. In the nerves. It’s
alive, almost a part.
“Maybe this is what you’ve said
Coherence is what tells us what
is true. Coherence is what tells
us where to look for our path.
Coherence is what tells us about
Rob Bell says something along the lines of:
We all have faith in something. Regardless of statements to the contrary, those who don’t believe in the idea of faith hold a faith in something that they aren’t seeing. We can have faith that there is no God.
Goodness, that’s such a horrible paraphrase of his quote, but I hope the point comes across. The thing is, we are all saying “Yes” to something. Sometimes it’s a very clear “yes,” one that is conscious and goes with some external expression. For example, I’ve said “Yes” to my wife. We are in a committed relationship that is called marriage. Indeed, we said “Yes” to each other in front of other people, which is part of what makes marriage a powerful thing. We’ve both also said “Yes” to our dog, Buckley. He’s a big part of our lives, and by allowing that to be, we both said, “Yes.”
This is on my mind because I was talking to a friend today about the experience I’ve been having lately as I get clearer in thinking about my work. I notice various tensions playing out. I said to him, “To do that would be, in a way, to betray a part of myself.” He responded, “Well, at least you know what you’re faithful to. What you’ve said ‘Yes’ to.” That struck me as really being true.
Saying “Yes” doesn’t mean that things will flow easily. In fact, it can mean the exact opposite. Especailly when the thing we said “Yes” to goes against the conventional approach to things. This can create a significant experience of dissonance in our systems. It would especially create dissonance if we are surrounded by people who believe strongly that the thing we are talking about or trying to do isn’t going to work, or real, or that it matters. This, unfortunately, is a common reaction to things. Especially new things.
So, it’s this “Yes” that I’m working with right now. Something that i’m trying to feel more deeply into. Where can it lead me? What if following it means that the tension and dissonance only increase? I suppose there’s really only one way to know. Keep saying “Yes.”
I was in a conversation today that ended up in the question, what matters? We talked a bit about this word, matter. How it seems to permeate. First, it’s a description of what makes up the universe. It was pointed out that its matter that makes it all possible. It connects everything.
And it’s a driver of how and who we are. What matters to us? What matters to others, and how do we respond accordingly? In my own inquiries, I think it might be a missing question — what matters? How can what matters at the deepest level inform my actions?
Just a few light questions for a Thursday afternoon.
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