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What Are We Doing?

The more life I live, the more it all seems so pointless really.  The world continues to spin and things happen but it really has stopped feeling like any kind of progress.  I mean, not like where we are isn't good, it is just that whatever is coming I fear is worse.  I find myself wishing, wanting and planning for a reality for myself and my loved ones that does not require the support of a great many others.  

I know, we are all interdependent.  The pandemic showed us that.  We cannot exist in the world without others, and yet, we behave, (myself included) as though we can somehow live without the contributions of others.  And we can’t.  And I don’t really want to...but I do find myself straining under the current climate issues, the political crisis in America and the complete lack of leadership in the world.  I find it really distasteful this whole evolutionary humanity.  We (and I absolutely include myself in all of this) are totally fucking it up.  And this is not a new phenomena, we have been doing this for centuries, but with the digital age it feels, at least to me, like we are fucking it up faster and with far greater reaching consequences.  It is alarming...I mean if you are paying attention at all, we should all be terrified about where we are going because of what we are doing, and not doing...

I have no solutions.  So I am just as much to blame as anyone else.  I have the same apathy, self centeredness and wish to do as little as possible that I do not want to do.  I, too, would like to collect a paycheck and do as little work as possible.  I would like my house to get clean and remain clean without my efforts.  I want the dog poop eliminated from the backyard and I would really like someone else to do that.  But, for me, I believe that some of the issue is this outsourcing of living.  Many of us have someone else tend to our yards, our homes, our pets, our children.  The work of living has largely been outsourced to others all so we can earn more money to pay for more outsourcing and well, also material goods and travel.  We want all the things but have we ever stopped to ask ourselves if we can actually handle all the things?  What if getting all the things is the worst thing to ever happen to us?

As I age, I find myself less and less able to manage the stuff of living.  Getting things fixed when they break, getting the car serviced, getting the pets to the vet, my own doctor’s appointments (don’t even get me started on the dentist!). It all becomes too much...and couple that with a very strong distaste for doing any of it, and it is a recipe for disaster.  I can’t keep up.  Finding the time that I am idle to be so rare that it feels like I have to enjoy it and stop the upkeep just so we can rest awhile.

But for me, the resting becomes just another avenue of escapism.  I disappear into books, movies, Netflix, Apple TV and endless scrolling.  I willingly give away hours of my life to things that really do not matter to me at all (except books and reading, those things matter to me a great deal).  

I feel a great deal of the time I have outsourced my life so much that I am no longer really living it.  The pains and frustrations of daily life seem like some great imposition.  Like I am being put out and put on when I have to attend to things that require I just spoiled?  Um, yes.  Am I just tired?  Absolutely.  But there is also something else going on which is this ever growing sense that I just don’t know what I am doing it all FOR anymore.

I made a list.  I made of list of things that are important to me...

1. Breathing clean air.

2. Eating good food that I know where it comes from.

3. Spending time in nature.

4. Spending time with the people I love.

5. Books.

6. Meaningful work.

7. Maintaining a spiritual life with meditation and prayer.

8. Exercise and attention to healthy living.

9. Staying sober.

10. Writing.

11. Time with my animals where I am calm and interested in them and take the time to care for them.

12. Rest.

And then I really looked at my life.  I mean how much do I really do in a day to meet these self described important things?

1. I live in a place with clean air - unless there is a fire.  I am not sure why this landed for me first.  I just know that it is really, really important to me.  The ability to breathe in and out air that is clean, fresh and life affirming.  Breathing is the foundation of perhaps that is why it crept onto this page when I began this inventory.

2. I do not eat well - I mean I am not horrible but there is a lot I could do to improve my engagement with food and eating.  But I do not dedicate the time to it.  Instead this is something I relegate to hurry and quick fixes. Not fast food, but food fast. I am a very good food warmer...I can't really call it cooking.

3. I do spend time in nature every single day.  The dogs and I walk the meadow or the river bottom pretty much every day. And I am not sure who I would be without this time. There is this part of me that needs to be in nature, alone (or at least without people - dog companions are acceptable).

4. I am having a great deal of trouble spending time with people I love.  I feel this almost insatiable desire to be alone and it is pulling me away from people I care about.  I am not sure how to honor myself and stay engaged.  I want two completely divergent things - to be alone and to be with people I care about. It is reaching a very high point lately and I tend to just default to being alone. I can manage me, it is you that I am completely unclear about what to do with...

5. I read every single day - and I often have at least 3 books going at any one time - a fiction, a non-fiction and something educational or spiritual.

6. I do meaningful work.  But it is wearing on me.  I am tired.  I feel like I can’t effectuate meaningful change in the lives of the people I am attempting to help. They are too caught up in their own trauma, pain, addictions and the like.  It feels like I am pouring water into a bucket with many holes.  I am not sure how to align myself and my life with my work.  I am trying, I really am but I would be lying if I didn’t own that while I am grateful for purpose and skill, I find it hard to keep my head above the waters daily.

7. Yeah, I abandoned this awhile ago.  My yoga and meditation practice lost to me.  I think about it every single day but there is this invisible but effective barrier between it and me.  Some forcefield that I find between me and the cushion or the mat.  I am not sure what it is, an unwillingness to be still.  Terror of what I may find if I don’t keep trying to outrun it.  I am not sure but I know I am grossly lacking in this area and it is showing.

8. I exercise every day.  I am a faithful gym goer.  I like how I feel inside my body when I take care of it.  And so I do with zeal and dedication.

9. Man, I want to stay sober.  But I am finding the recovery community a challenge as of late.  The last couple years have been hard for me.  I try different groups, and I take service positions but I am finding that my life long aversion to groups is growing larger and more pervasive.  One on one - I am GREAT!  I LOVE it and I crave it.  But 40 people shuffled together, ego’s (again my own included) blaring giving off noxious fumes of self-centered idealism and I am just out.  I just can’t do it.  So I am maintaining a commitment to a small group and individual contact or listening to speakers.  I can hear from one what I seem to lose when I have to hear it from the many.

10. I write daily.  However, lately, lack of routine and work have interfered with that and so I feel somewhat disconnected from myself because of it.  Writing is the way I come to accept that I feel, what I feel and what I should do about the pesky and overwhelming things I feel.  If I am not writing, I am lying, mostly to myself but also you.  Writing is how I maintain an honest dialog with my own interiority...if I am not writing my gratitude list every day, writing a note to my children, taking my 10/11 inventory and then putting down the raw emotional clutter that crowds my brain...I am a goner for sure!

11. The dogs and I commune with nature every day.  The cats and I, well, that is a love affair of the highest order.  I just adore them all and spend a great deal of my every day, taking care of them, laughing at them and snuggling them.  The cats really are my salvation.  My horses I have relegated to my daughter.  But I am working to change that.  Our mare is 20 and she isn’t really wanting to do all the things anymore but she is healthy and full of piss and vinegar.  So I am finding myself wanting to spend more time with her, and our other horse.  Coming to know them, and care for them.  I really believe horses are some of the most sensitive animals and it is perhaps this fact that makes me somewhat standoffish.  That and they can kill me.  Really what I fear is the intimacy required to really relate to them.  I know they know me, they see me, and I often feel quite naked in their presence.  There are no airs or aloofness where horses are concerned which is what concerns me most about them.  They see me whether I want to be seen or not...and that is often an overwhelming ask for me.  But I find myself, nevertheless pulled in their direction, so I am just going to follow...animals have never let me down so far, unlike people who it feels let me down all the damn time.

12. I don’t think I learned to rest until I got divorced.  I was so busy taking care of everyone, I was always last on my list and then there just never seemed to be enough time.  When I left my marriage, I changed that.  I started having a life of my own.  And one of the things that happened, almost without my permission or consent, is rest.  I now spend afternoons in my backyard, starting at the sky.  Watching clouds meander by.  Listening to the birds or music.  I just sit there.  Sometimes I read or listen to an audible. But often I just sit there.  And that is something that was missing from my life for a very long time.  And also sleep.  I have been at war with sleep for, well, ever.  I think I was a binge sleeper for the early part of my life.  Taking in great amounts for long periods and then going for equal, if not longer, periods of time without it.  It did not work out to any kind of balance.  Instead it was a great destabilizing force in my life that I was 100% responsible for...and I have worked hard to right this crater in my life.    Aging has helped and hindered this process because now I CAN’T go without good sleep which makes it a priority for me.  But also, aging has made sleeping harder and more fitful so that seems to erode my otherwise stellar commitment to getting 8 hours a day.  I always set out with the intention, but my subconscious, bladder, animals, children sometimes seem like they conspire against me and sleep, putting us at odds with each other and thereby eroding an otherwise stable basis.

This IS what I am doing.  This IS how I am living my life.  It is good to check in with yourself from time to time.  To write out your priorities.  And then to match them to how you are actually living.  Inventory is one of the best skills I have ever been given, followed up with grace.  Without grace inventory is just a self directed bludgeoning.  But inventory with grace, that is what makes the magic happen.

I don’t know how to fix the world, or others and hell I am fucked six ways from Sunday on so many areas of my life.  But I am clear, now, about the congruency in my life or the lack thereof.  And because I am aware, I can not accept it and then perhaps move into action to more closer to alignment for myself than I am currently living.

See nowhere on that list is endless scrolling, meaningless relating, compulsive shopping, mindless eating.  Nowhere.  So if I want to live in alignment and congruency with myself, I have to see where I am off, where I lost course, fallen away from my stated objectives.

I also see now that service is missing on my list.  I feel like I have lost my way where serving others is concerned.  I have so overdone the care of others that I now feel broken as to others in so very many ways.  I do not know how to serve with boundaries.  I know how to disappear into others, hiding from my own life and problems.  I know how to be selfish and self that one down for sure! So apparently I need to do some further reflection on service.  I know that I have an illness that requires me to do certain things and one of those things is to give it away to others.  And in this regard, I feel like I am towing the line, I mean, there is always more I can do, but doing it with a free, loving and open heart is another matter.  And if I can’t give it freely and lovingly, am I really giving it at all?

I know I lack balance in service.  Again this tends to be reactive and an all or nothing proposition.  I also have to admit that I really do give to get a great deal of the time.  Not a tit for tat, but I do give with this nebulous idea that I will be rewarded for my efforts somehow.  I give with strings...and I fucking know it.  So there is some more work to do...

Well this is what I am doing.  All in all, a decent effort at living.  Improvements are needed for sure, but believe me when I tell you that this same inventory taken at other times in my life has been way father out of balance than it is now.  I am really trying to sit with myself and you and not look away.  Not hide.  Not fail to reveal all that lurks beneath my exterior...again, still.

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