Summer is more or less over. It passed quickly for me. Summer is when I feel most alive, because it’s such a sensory, sensual time of year. So much to see and do! And here, I don’t mean anything grand as much as the connection to the outside world, the natural world – sun on your skin, breezes in the air, hummingbirds, dragonflies, and butterflies. Water; pools, oceans, rivers, lakes, tall cold drinks of it. Rain nurturing the flowers, the vegetables, the perennials. Baby animals; birds, squirrels, chipmunks, ducklings, fawns. Windows open, long days, blue skies, summer clothes. It’s my time.
Beyond the pleasures of the natural world, more activities are possible and people tend to congregate, slowing down to relate, be it in formal settings (picnics, parties, weddings, festivals, reunions, etc) or casual ones, where they’re just more willing to interact when their paths cross. (They’re not cold-as-shit hustling to their next destination. Or maybe that’s just me.)
I’m immersed in both my micro and macro lives. In the micro, I’ve continued on my path of mild self-improvement in 2018. I have but two more lake visits to finish off what I planned. I am reading – books – again. Nonfiction has dominated. I hadn’t planned that and somehow vaguely thought fiction would be the bulk of it but that’s not how it’s been. Maybe because I feel (or felt) this need to jump-start to mind, I’m drawn more to nonfiction. Not sure. I still have this nagging sense of trying to catch up, to read books I missed. I continue to be taken aback – chagrinned – that I’m picking up titles from years ago, ones I never read. I’ve switched back and forth between older and newer books.
As a middle-aged person, I am very, very interested in keeping my mind sharp as I age, for as long as I can. Not only do I love reading, but I miss challenging my mind. The years in which the internet has been in my life have changed how I spend my time and where I put my focus. Many good things have come to me because of the internet, but I lament those I dropped or gave less time to. I’m working to remedy that primarily by reading but not only.
WordPress – blogging and interacting with other bloggers – still is very important to me. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: WordPress is one of, if not the most valuable way I spend time online. It isn’t frivolous. It isn’t a waste of time. It isn’t a mindless diversion. It isn’t something I have nothing to show for after participating. WordPress has depth.
Oh – I’m off coffee for the last 3 (almost 4) weeks. I was a moderate but habituated drinker. I drank some coffee every day for decades. For many recent years I’ve had no more than one cup per day and frequently less than that (I always start with only half a cup but sometimes allow myself a tad more). Because of how I’m wired, even one cup packs a wallop. I never drink coffee out. I hadn’t planned to give it up but I got sick for a couple days and didn’t drink it (or eat anything much either). Once off it, I decided to see how it would be to try to stay off. A main reason is I want nothing between me and my sleep. Residual coffee can affect a person many hours after drinking it and I have to figure, with my makeup, that must certainly be true for me. Quieting my busy mind to sleep soundly all night is a struggle. Yet I know that sleep or lack thereof rules my personality. I don’t take anything stronger to help me sleep than an occasional Valerian (an herb) and I don’t want to. I miss coffee – the little ritual and the little buzz – and can’t say I’ll stay off but right now, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself, particularly when I replace it with a healthy drink.
Giving myself permission to treat myself well is the singular best thing I’m doing in my life at this moment. It’s a struggle and does not come naturally to me. But I’m better, undeniably so. I’m a bit more generous with myself. I’ve stopped taking crap from other people and I’ve mostly stopped from taking it from myself. This is an ongoing theme. Other people might not like it – the ways I consider myself improved – because it may not be to their advantage (if they’re looking for advantage). I’m less tolerant, waste less time, and don’t offer as much, and not as quickly, not where it isn’t merited.
Also– I’d like to believe that when you start living better and treating yourself better, the people who aren’t interested in much the same no longer enter your orbit or if they do, they don’t stay or you don’t keep them. And– you’re freed up to draw people who also are choosing or trying to live better lives, who want meaning and substance and validity. And please know, if you don’t know me, that I’m not talking about any kind of fake, quoting, affected, pollyanish, faux, passing, insincere, flash-in-the-pan, b.s. but those things which are genuine, true, and withstand time. Give me the people who are headed up, not spiraling down. And if my theory is wrong, well, I’ll just keep putting my energy into myself because I’m damn sure a far way from being anything near self-indulgent.
I have pushed myself and importantly, I have something to show for it. That’s how it feels.
So far as the macro world, let me give you an analogy. When Barack Obama was elected president, I told a friend that I felt like a kid does when their father is behind the wheel on a family road trip; safe and in good hands, free to sit in the back seat, look out the window, play games or look at books, relaxed and unworried. Now however, I feel tense and constantly vigilant with this new fellow behind the wheel. The car is careening around on mountainous roads, speeding and out of control. I am stomping the floor boards trying to hit the imaginary breaks in the back seat, gripping the arm rest fiercely, as if that would do any good. Road rage with other drivers could escalate on a dime and lead to something very ugly. I can’t take my eyes away. I know this won’t last but I’m afraid of what could happen before there’s a new driver. I have never felt quite this way about a president before.
In the end – or the middle or wherever – it always comes down to controlling what you can control. Doing what you can to make your life and the lives of the people you care about, good or better. To draw meaning from the ways you spend your waking hours, however that might be. What’s important to you? This is what I ask myself, this is where I constantly direct (and redirect when necessary) my attention. They say we have many competitors for our attention now. I am susceptible, at times too easily distracted. I’ve gotten better at noticing when it happens and pulling myself up short: Do I really care about this? Is it important? Is this a good way to spend my time? Why am I getting involved in this?
A key part is not letting other people’s priorities become my priorities. Not unless I choose it. EVERYBODY WANTS YOU TO TAKE UP AND INVEST IN THEIR CAUSE. Be it with your attention, your time, or your cash. And I DON’T CARE. More often than not, I just don’t. People who know nothing or very little about you are so certain that what’s important to them – whatever they’re promoting – should also be important to you. It’s hard to get away from this so long as you’re a nice member of society and continue to interact with others (which I am and I do! Maybe on my own terms but still).
So, I guess it’s fair to say I am liking where my head is at but I do have some gripes. Or I have some gripes but I am liking where my head is at. I can work with this.