An old friend, who I hadn’t seen for some years, died suddenly yesterday. Today’s Daily Stoic captures the mood:
None of us own anything. Everything is constantly in flux. What we have today may be gone tomorrow—we ourselves may be gone tomorrow. Understand that. Appreciate everything accordingly. Be grateful and humble…or life will rebuke you. Fate will remind you who is in charge and nature will reclaim what is hers.
The Daily Stoic
Enjoy the little things today folks. Just take a few moments to notice what’s about you.
Avast ye. Every day, every wee hour, every conversation, ye navigate tricky waters. One sigh, one abrupt email, one inconsiderate car driving pirate, and the waters can begin to leach in. Sometimes a mere trickle, at other times a cascade.
I’m currently finding the acronym RAIN helpful. R = Recognise thoughts and feelings. A = Allow them to be – don’t fight or dismiss them I = Investigate their source and explore what’s truly going and N = Next – what’s my next step going to be? What do I now need to do?
I’ve changed the ‘N’ to next, as I find that a more worthy sea dog at this time of my being. Some versions say ‘nurture’ or ‘normalise,’ but I’m finding taking action exhilarating right now.
Here’s to whatever work for you in keeping those waters out.
Yes. How I have the next conversation. How I treat people in this moment – starting with myself. How I listen to others – is it with kindness, with curiosity or with criticism and ego? How I look after myself today – what I eat, drink, read, take in via social media, exercise, learning and what I choose to appreciate. How I observe the world about me…and importantly, how I choose to act.
I’m learning that the act of patience comes rather easily to me, it’s the art of action that I have found difficult over the years. I’m at the age now where I’m quite enjoying taking risks, getting involved, being proactive and getting shit done. But geez, it’s taken a long time to do that.
When I forget to pack chocolate and lollies for life’s grand adventure, I get cranky. When I spend too much time taking my thoughts and emotions seriously…I get cranky. When I stop consciously taking in and appreciating nature, even the tiniest ant or flower, I get cranky.
As a personality type who has spent much of my life avoiding conflict, it is hilarious to me that my youngest son (turns 11 next week) is the complete opposite. (I’m a 9type on the Enneagram and I’m pretty sure he will be an 8)
His passion, anger, quick to act approach to life, often with unhelpful repercussions, has been a gift for me. It’s not the gift that I wanted, but it is shaping up to be the gift I need.
These days I am more comfortable with yelling and holding my ground and being honest and upfront. It’s taken me years to get here, and without him, it would have taken longer. As the quote says, I just need to own my ‘shit’ and not take out on him or anyone else.
As for being a little crazy…arent we all? Finally, I can embrace it openly and revel in it.
“Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, simply welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace.”
Our job is not to try to dictate the rhythm of events but to respond to them to the best of our ability. Our job is not to anticipate each thing that might happen or to dwell on what has happened in the past but to look at what’s in front of us right at this moment and deal with it. Our job is not to work ourselves to the bone crossing off item on some long to-do list.
Nope, our job today is just to take things as they come.
No more, no less.
The Daily Stoic
If you haven’t checked out ‘The Daily Stoic’, I highly recommend it. Ryan Holiday is doing great work with reviving Stoicism and making it relevant once again. Not that it ever really went away. I think recovering addicts have long applied the philosophy to our lives. It’s our classic mantra – ‘one day at a time.’ And that is enough to deal with…at least for me.
We don’t “deserve” anything, anything! It’s all a gift. Until we have begun to live in the ‘Kingdom’ of the Divine, instead of the kingdoms of this world, we will think exactly like the world. To understand true Wisdom in its radical, transformative power, we have to stop counting, measuring, and weighing. We have to stop saying “I deserve” and deciding who does not deserve. None of us deserves! This daily conversion is hard to do unless we’ve experienced infinite mercy and realized that it’s all a gift—all the time.
This time last year, I forgot that sobriety is a gift. I took it for granted and quickly demanded ‘it’ give me something in return. As a result, I started drinking and nearly five months later I found myself back in murky, alcohol fuelled waters. Following seven years sobriety, alcohol was my kingdom once more. The ‘world’, ‘the dirty rotten system’ as Dorothy Day called it, had triumphed again. It happened so quickly.
Today I try and take nothing for granted. Its all a gift. However the ‘gift’ requires work. Everyday, every hour, every conversation. It requires all of us to show up. We don’t have to be perfect, far from it. We just need to do what we know is the right thing to do.
I took a blog break. A refresher. Perhaps I drifted into a winters hibernation. And it was a cold and wet winter where I am. Today, Spring is shining bright and the wild flowers are rejoicing, as am I.
Covid continues to wreak havoc. Work is sporadic, my mental health fluctuates, my parenting has been inconsistent and yet, my sobriety holds true.
Three steps forward, two steps back. It’s been a consistent pattern in my life and yet lately, I have neglected it’s teachings. Instead, the first sign of a backward step has struck me angry and distracted. It has not been helpful. So many Wrang Wrangs! We are indeed a strange and wonderful ‘process.’
Fathers day tomorrow and the family are taking me on a surprise bushwalk. I’ll endeavour to be present for it. More learning, as I step out of my head and oddball thoughts and lunge into nature.
Etty Hillesum (1914–1943) died at Auschwitz at the age of 29, but her deepening relationship with the Divine in the last two years of her life led her into great solidarity with those who suffered.
Given the Covid shit storm of suffering that has engulfed our planet this past 14 months, Etty’s words still ring true today. Personally, they give me courage. I’ve never been particularly worried by the idea of death, (easy to say when you are not faced with it I know) and Etty’s wisdom helps guide me each passing day.
As the war continued, she fully accepted her awful situation and chose to love ever more consciously:
By “coming to terms with life” I mean: the reality of death has become a definite part of my life; my life has, so to speak, been extended by death, by my looking death in the eye and accepting it, by accepting destruction as part of life and no longer wasting my energies on fear of death or the refusal to acknowledge its inevitability. It sounds paradoxical: by excluding death from our life we cannot live a full life, and by admitting death into our life we enlarge and enrich life…
This pandemic continues to wreak suffering upon the world, but Etty reminds me that every day, we have many opportunities in which to take action to make a difference in the world, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant that difference may be. May I love a little more consciously today.