Musings

Slowing Down

… while everything else speeds up

I broke a bone in my foot a while back.

 

Have had to slow wayyyyy down, & you know,

I thought I already had!

(& I had!)

 

But it’s all relative, as they say.

 

Now I can’t run up & down the stairs a bunch of times a day.

Can’t run at all!

 

So … I’m retired now.

66 years old.

Apart from the foot, I’m in pretty decent health, I think.

Been an environmental activist for 30+ years now. As it happens, I twigged to climate change back in the late 1980s (the term then mostly in use, as I recall, was “the greenhouse effect”).

I’ll just be 100% honest here & admit that I basically felt “called” to dive in on environmental issues. (I had young children; what kind of world was there going to be for them?? That kind of thing. You know.) So, I did.

So I’ve spent 30+ years now trying to ward off the un-ward-off-able. (If you will. On many different fronts, in many different ways, & on many different issues.) Trying to put the breaks on a trajectory toward disaster that human beings have been on for a very, very long, long, long, long time – though I kind of didn’t really grasp that piece of it in my early days as an activist.

What looked in 1989 to be a slow-moving disaster has picked up an awful lot of speed in the intervening years. To put it mildly. 🙁 🙁

We were warned! We were warned.

Coal Burning & Climate-.jpg

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity (1992)

But though I’ve done (& still do) a lot of lamenting (&, in my own case, feeling both sad & angry about it all), & also quite a bit of activism…

I think I may be moving into a new phase.

The foot situation may be helping bring it on.

Now I lie in bed in the morning for quite a while, & smile at the cardinal song I hear coming through my bedroom window. Just lying there. Peaceful.

I just love cardinals. That glorious, glorious red! … & their lovely, somehow sort of liquid-sounding song! (Admittedly, they get going a little too early for my taste, some mornings. Ah well, eh? You gives & you takes.)

Cardinal+2nd+Image.jpg

Now, too, I see I can almost watch the buds growing on the scrawny tree outside my window. (I’ll often notice branches on this kind of feeble tree shaking & look out to see a squirrel running up it, or a bird landing in it. Nice. 🙂)

Once my foot is a bit further along in the healing process, maybe I’ll go down to the lake in the mornings with my coffee, & just sit a while & gawk out at it. 

I can & will continue actively enjoying the gifts of both Nature & humanity. (I have a great fondness for a great many individual human beings, of course – strangers can often be quite lovely too! – but as a species I find us rather appalling. To put it politely. 🙁)

Doing helpful things for those of us who are still here, too, I might add.

… & remembering to take lots of deep breaths.

Hmmmm?

(This old story keeps coming up. I’m reminded of it now.)

Listen… I know we can’t all lie around in the morning with a cup of coffee, listening to cardinals sing (& not just cardinals, either! I figure I heard at least 5 or 6 different species of birds out there the other morning, chattering away at different times. Several I could identify, a few I could not).

I get that.

I’m a very fortunate, very blessed person.

I know it!

Still, I’m pretty sure we can all work miracles by putting a little more effort into the being-actively-grateful thing (there are many helpful quotations/postings about gratitude here).

“In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Albert Clarke, quoted in Speak Peace in a World of Conflict – What You Say Next Will Change Your World, by Marshall B. Rosenberg

These reminders can be helpful too:

 “Hoard each joyous moment that comes to you. No one knows how it will all end.” – Háfiz

“Just to live is holy. To be is a blessing.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel

“Love life. Take great pleasure in small offerings. Believe that the world owes you nothing. Understand that every gift given to you is just that.” – Maya Angelou

“Each day we are born again to start our life anew.  What we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha

 

We need to be on the lookout for moments when we can say

If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!”, à la Kurt Vonnegut.

I think we’re embarking upon very uncertain times. (Well, okay, we’re already pretty deeply into them. But things are liable to get a little … uh, nastier, I think, down the road.)

There is no way of knowing how things are going to go down.

 

Me, I’m determined to remember this, NOW:

Life is a wondrous, precious, gracious gift.

& since I am liable to be a (very) long time dead (once that time comes)

Best to really enjoy those cardinals (& the budding trees, & the sunshine, & many-many other things)…

NOW … while I can!

QED.

Janet

p.s. I guess what I’m really getting at here is this: I think it’s a good idea to learn to be calm. Grateful. To live in the moment. Cut down on all the dramas, if at all possible. (They just take up too much energy! Too much of our brain power – our psychic energy. They wind up exhausting us. Who needs it??)

p.p.s. Here’s the other thing: this foot injury of mine has MADE me slow down, against my will, basically. The great benefit of it is that it’s taught me (yet again! I seem to need endless reminders!) not to take things for granted. It’s amazing how much you can appreciate a simple thing like going to the laundromat to do laundry – or over to the grocery store – when these simple things were not possible for a while. (I’m writing this p.s. after a triumphant outing to do those 2 very things. 🙂) What a relief it was, to be able to do them! How much we generally take for granted! We all need endless reminders to be grateful for so-called “small” things – & to slow down & really appreciate things. Here is an old posting of mine on how to develop a gratitude habit (I apologize in advance for the fact that the links inside the posting probably don’t work anymore. Chalk it up to the blog migration a few years back). Lots more on gratitude at this spot.

p.p.p.s. I’ve said this elsewhere. I find the YouTubes of Alan Watts very helpful. Listening to AW helps me put things in perspective. As does Buddhist thought in general (which I’ve been interested in for a number of years now). Eckhart Tolle can be helpful on learning to be in the moment, cut down on drama, etc. I’m a big fan too of Pema Chödrön (some quotes from her here). & Nature!! Which I guess I’ve made clear in my repeated assertions about how much I love cardinals! I do do my best to live in the moment … but I also look forward to getting out in a canoe again. & Hey, walking! (Walking is my very sanity!))

Algonquin Park. My favourite place…

Algonquin Park. My favourite place…

Nature+Therapy.jpg
S’true…..

S’true…..

Happiness is due to thoughts copy.jpg
Small deeds of kindness-Gandalf copy.jpg
Pema on Chaos.jpg
Pema Present Moment.jpg
Human Guest House.jpg
Gandalf & Frodo.jpg

Shabby (& not so shabby)

The word “shabby” came into my mind the other night when I was musing about my apartment, & the building it’s in.

Then the thought jumped in that there have been people in my life who have treated me rather shabbily, over the years.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to name any names.

Funny how we may forgive, but … forget? Hmmmm. Not quite so easily, eh? Once in a while up shoots a memory of some crappy things So-and-So did. Then that person falls completely out of my mind again, & yay for that! 🙂 What an endless parade up there in our “drunken monkey” minds, eh? Sheesh.)

As it happens, I do live in a somewhat shabby apartment building (ever the downwardly-socially mobile person, that’s me! Funny … & also true!).

Centipedes. Broken landings on stairs. Appalling electrical inadequacies. Filthy windows. (Excessively) dope-smoking (& seemingly) nutbar neighbours… etc. etc. etc.

🙁

But hey!

Today I got my teeth flossed. I even had a shower!! (This latter more of an achievement than you might think, what with the broken bone in the foot & all. Ms. Gimp in the shower, I tellya.)

& hey! I also swept the floors, & (mostly) did not feel sorry for myself today.

I even went out to do an errand (on foot) & see a movie with a friend. Big day!!

Tomorrow I hope (well, plan) to wash out some underwear (the laundromat’s a bit of a stretch at this point) &, let’s see – return books to the library? Okay. Not likely. More of a rest day, likely.

&, in spite of the ongoing dope-smoking-neighbour hassles (how ANYbody’s lungs can deal with that much dope – he’s a cigarette smoker, too – or how anyone’s BUDGET can be up to that much dope consumption, is beyond me; this guy does it as many as 5 x a day!? & up it wafts, of course, right into my bedroom, bathroom & kitchen…) & this darn boot I have to wear on my foot for weeks or months (argh) …

It just so happens that cardinals sing outside my window in the mornings – & I do dearly love cardinal song. 🙂🙂🙂

And, given what I believe about the state of the world

🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

(I think we’re on a run-away train that is really gathering steam)

… this not a small thing in the great scheme of things – in my little world, anyway.

 

Trees are budding, the ice on the sidewalk is FINALLY gone, & … sure!

A no-doubt brutal summer lies ahead ... but we’ll deal with that when the time comes, no??

  • Present moment

  • Present moment

  • Present moment 

My goals are becoming ever more modest.

  • Don’t waste hours & hours watching ‘Arrested Development’ (fun though it can be at times 🙂 & of course the world doesn’t end when I do it - when it’s all I have the energy for…)

  • Don’t go too long without flossing my teeth

  • Get the dishes done before going to bed, if at all possible (& if not, no big deal. Tomorrow is another day!!)

And hey!

Be sure to listen to the cardinals (& other birds) sing!

Janet

p.s. & enjoy the view! I have a lake view! Of course it’s not exactly what most people think of when they hear the words “lake view” – & I only have it until the leaves come out on the trees, & it’s only visible from the window in the shower, not from the living room, and, well, here is a picture of my lake view so you can see it for yourself!

My Lake View.JPG

& it is a whole lot better than no lake view at all!! Even just knowing the lake is so close by is an enormous comfort to me... truly!

Zen Poem:

A man travelling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge.

The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man then saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.

How sweet it tasted.

As Good As It Gets

<March 13/19>

I watched the old movie by that name last night.

(the one with Jack Nicholson & Helen Hunt?)

 

& this morning I thought

“Yeah.

Things are kinda shitty lately.”

 

In the world “at large”

… & in several ways

in my own “little” life.

 

Details not important.

(I suspect many can relate.)

 

Corporate malfeasance is at surely historic levels?

End of world cartoon.jpg

Government shenanigans (far too polite a term, of course) also.

(talk about the Mistress of Understatement!

Whoa.

& Hey. I worked for government agencies in the now-rather-distant past. Don’t get me started...)

 

The weather SUCKS.

 

And climate change continues to gallop apace.

It will morph soon, I think, into climate CHAOS.

(If it hasn’t already??)

 

The issues on which I continue to be an activist

(which btw simply means that I am not passive: I give a shit, & I speak out)

& which, for the record, are nukes & vaccines

 

The corruption/collusion/lies

Are at virtually fever pitch.

(another essay altogether…)

And…

My (apartment building) neighbours are driving me nuts.

Downstairs Dude smokes weed 4-5 times a day

(morning, noon, night, even the middle of the night on occasion)

&, as I have learned

It is not merely hot air that rises

But also, whatever that “hot air” contains.

You see what I’m saying?

 

Listen: I smoked my fair share of weed in my younger days

(Lately? Not so much.)

But just ‘cos my neighbour wants to get stoned

does not mean I want to get stoned.

Or be forced to breathe in his weed-y air.

Shouldn’t I get to have a choice about the matter???

 

Means the windows gotta be wide open

Almost all the darn time.

(& with weather concerns – unseasonable rain & wind, say

& air quality concerns lately – yet another whole topic eh?)

Well geez.

🙁 🙁 🙁

Upstairs neighbour? She likes rocks.

Apparently.

She seems to roll some heavy ones across her floor (my ceiling)

A few times a day.

Very early, then kind of late. (& well, other times too.)

Lately she’s added in having a creature chase a bouncing ball around her apartment. Thump thump thump thump.

 

(just guessing about Ms. Upstairs Person here, ok?

Got my theories.

Might be interesting to be a fly on the wall up there, eh??

But…  I’m not.

I’m just “monkey in the middle” down here.)

 

Last night it was really quite the show, between the two of them.

Holy crap.

🙁🙁🙁🙁

Sigh.

(I ought to add here, I fear this situation is making me a little bit mean. Gotta watch that…)

 

And the weather SUCKS.

Did I already mention that the weather sucks?

(although Tuesday morning, early, was simply brilliantly beautiful!!! 🙂 🙂 Had an utterly wonderful walk down by the lake. 🙂 🙂 )

 

Well. I heard a great interview today on CBC Radio’s Tapestry show.

On grudges.

 

It was a delight! It really was.

Quite enlightening.

I have my fair share of grudges, I reckon – some of which, clearly, based on my new learning

might better have been handled a little bit differently along the way.

(Cool to hear this, actually. Gonna let it percolate a bit.)

& you know what?

The state of the world is making me pretty nearly crazy lately, at times.

Not to mention that a variety of things (both “public” & “personal”) are breaking my heart on a pretty regular basis, too.

 

& you know what I am realizing?

This may be about as good as it gets.

Given the state of everything taking place

on Planet Earth

at this particular point in time.

🙁 🙂

As Kurt Vonnegut might say,

So it goes.

Janet

p.s. I still love that old curmudgeon, Kurt Vonnegut. Been reading, & re-reading, his books for more than 40 years!?

p.p.s. just to be quite clear here, this quotation resonates for me, utterly.

“My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” Oliver Sacks, M.D., neurologist, prolific author, in his book Gratitude – essays written during his last 2 years of life

 Listen: I have a shitload of things in life to be grateful for. Believe me, I know! I keep working away all the time at being grateful (except for when I forget. Which I do on occasion). Today it occurred to me to make a list of things I am grateful to my parents for. & you know? It was a pretty seriously dysfunctional childhood. But still. They did some stuff right. & I am grateful. Still. Truly.

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” Cormac McCarthy, Nonconformist Hall of Famer

p.p.p.s. things seem to be getting crazier by the day. (Ya think??). It is taking more & more effort to stay “positive” (though I am not at all attached to the necessity of always staying positive. I am not a New Ager.) I am still reading (OMG thank Goddess for good books!!!!!), walking, raising heck still, & am also a hospice volunteer now. These things are still “working” for me. They keep me tethered to the ground. As it were.

& I am grateful for these nuggets of … well. Sanity. In the midst of its ramping opposite.

 

A Few Quotations that Spring To Mind**

** which btw sometimes just means that these quotations are hanging out close to one another in the 137-page Word document I store some of my collection in – so when I go on a search for a particular one that has percolated to the top of my mind, I wind up finding these other gems along the way, huddling in the same general area

“The philosopher seeks to hear within himself the echoes of the world symphony, and to re-project them in the form of concepts.” – Nietzsche (quoted in Oliver Sacks’ book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales)

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” – Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times ** more Pema here

“4 Rules for Life

Show up.

Pay attention.

Tell the truth.

Don’t be attached to the results.” – Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – ) 

 “So long as I breathe and have the strength to do it, I will not cease philosophizing, exhorting you, indicting whichever of you I happen to meet, telling him in my customary way: Esteemed friend, citizen of Athens, the greatest city in the world, so outstanding in both intelligence and power, aren’t you ashamed to care so much to make all the money you can, and to advance your reputation and prestige – while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no care or worry?” – Socrates, Greek philosopher, 469-399 B.C.

“In helping others we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” – Flora Edwards

“Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world.” – Joanna Macy & Molly Young Brown in Coming Back to Life – Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (New Society Publishers, 1998).

“Yes, it looks bleak. But you are still alive now. You are alive with all the others, in this present moment. And because the truth is speaking in the work, it unlocks the heart. And there’s such a feeling and experience of adventure. It’s like a trumpet call to a great adventure. In all great adventures there comes a time when the little band of heroes feels totally outnumbered and bleak, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings or Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress. You learn to say ‘It looks bleak. Big deal, it looks bleak.’” ~ Joanna Macy [harvested from this page ]

“Thoughts become words. Words become actions. Actions become character. Character is everything.” – Source unknown (seen on the wall at Scarborough Hospital in December 2011.)

“We are grateful for you,” she said. She meant her words of gratitude toward the man standing in the rain, but she also meant that very often the world is cruel, as he must know, and decorating the world does not disguise its cruelty; it simply digs its foundations deeper.” – a character in the novel A Shout in the Ruins, by Kevin Powers

“He was glad to be out of the wind, though, and eventually the claustrophobia passed and instead with the stars and the water’s constant roar came a sense that everyone on earth was irrelevant, that if the world were emptied of people tomorrow they would not be missed at all, not by bird nor beast, or God up in heaven or the devil down in hell. It took a bit of getting used to, but he was surprised how comforting it was to feel that this was so.” – thoughts of the character George in the novel A Shout in the Ruins, by Kevin Powers (mightily worth the read, in my opinion!)

** irrelevantly, perhaps (or maybe just wine-inspired??), more quotations about character here.

** I think I need to go wandering through the postings in my Collections posting. Some about grief. Some about, well, this & that, in these difficult, challenging times. They certainly ARE uniquely difficult & challenging times…