If We Were Having Coffee // Hello July, I Have Goals

Hello, dear readers and happy Sunday to you all. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up on this weird weather, hot and gloomy afternoon. Warm coffee sounds awful right now, so of course, it will be cold brew instead. I need the higher caffeine content anyway. As usual I had plans of cleaning the entire house and writing the tons of blog posts and essays plus reading and drawing and being generally awesome all over the internet, but instead, I’m fighting the urge to lay on the couch, watch Netflix, and drift in and out of naps until dinner time.

“A little coffee. A little sunlight. Your troubles will get smaller.”

— Richard Webber, Grey’s Anatomy

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that this past week was much more productive than the week before, and the week before that, but no nearly as productive as I had hoped it would be. I’m not all that disappointed though, I’m never as productive as I want to be. I don’t think anyone does as much as they would like to do, ever. We’d all be dead from exhaustion if we were. Laziness does have its evolutionary benefits I suppose.

I ended up having to do more work at my actual work which left me a lot less time for writing than I had hoped. I wrote about letting go of what I haven’t accomplished and start working from where I am. I took some inspiration from Kahlil Gibran and contemplated confronted the recent silence in my soul. And I shared everything I am currently doing and think as the month of June and the first half of the year, came to an end.

I did better than I have all month, but I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped on my, not so secret side project and I didn’t get my latest newsletter out despite having written at least half of it. It is a top priority for the coming week.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that one thing I am proud of is my first attempts at catching up on comments around here. I have been harboring so much guilt for being such a bad blogger. I’ve said it before but for the new followers, I’m already a little awkward socially, but I’m especially so online. I’m probably the only person in the world who thinks it easier to interact with other in real life than on the internet. BUT I’m working on it.

I don’t want to go one feeling like this, and I don’t want any of you to think I don’t appreciate each and every one of you. I don’t want you to think even for a second that every comment left here doesn;t mean the world to me.

All of you have been so supportive and kind, and I probably would have given up long ago if it weren’t for your encouragement. The least I can do is get over myself and say something! Even if it’s just a simple thank you.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m a little bummed the first half of the year flew by so quickly. I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to (story of my life), but I’m hopeful for the second half.

I don’t like to look too far ahead, that’s been part of my problem lately, but I’m taking a moment to think about what 2018 is going to mean. I want next year to be the year I do all the things I’ve wanted to but have been horrible at planning in advance for.

This year I missed the Write On challenge, I failed the A to Z challenge, and I didn’t create any artwork. I figure if I spend a little time every week starting now I can get these project set up and hit the ground running in 2018. A little time every week doesn’t sound like too much at all…I think.

I’m also working on setting up small monthly goals. You may be surprised to learn that I am not very good at all at setting up goals, not the kind that are detailed, clear, or have deadlines. I’ve seen other bloggers sharing their “small goals” every month, and I thought I’d give it a try:

  1. Finish a writing sample for the Bitch Media Fellowship for Writers
  2. Complete 5 pieces for the first issue of Zen and Pi the zine
  3. Gather tutorials and supplies for beginning a lino printing project
  4. Start cleaning out the basement for bulk trash pick up

***

 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the highlight of my week was date night with my girlfriend. As usual, we went to the movies, a very late night showing of The Beguiled. The film is about an all girls school in the south during the civil war. The girls—and the teachers too—seem to have been a bit sheltered when a wounded Union soldier shows up, and they all go crazy from the testosterone and manliness trust into their presence. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad either. I’d advise waiting until it’s on Amazon or Netflix to check it out.

The reason this was the highlight of my week was that it was the first time in a long time that we’ve had an entire theater to ourselves. We spread out across a few seats, ordered french fries and a couple of old fashions, and giggled and talked through the whole thing. We were the last ones to leave the theater and in fact, couldn’t find one staff member as we made our way out to the parking lot at one in the morning. It was great!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I enjoyed this chance to talk exclusively about myself I had better get up and get going. The dishes are waiting to be washed, and there are loads of laundry that need washing and folding. I’m hoping there may still be a nap I can take too if I time everything right.

Thank you for stopping by. I hope your week was more productive than mine and your weekend was as relaxing as you needed it to be. And to my fellow Americans, please stay safe this week as we celebrate being the land of the free and, at least in our own minds, being the best at everything ever.

Until next time…

 

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

Featured image via Unsplash

 

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If We Were Having Coffee // My Littlest Sister and Me

Hello, dear readers! Thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up. I’m in a slow mood today. I have been all week, to be honest. I’m using today to get back on track, but I’m having a hell of a time finding motivation. I feel scattered and lazy, apathetic and kind of down.

There is little voice somewhere below all of that squeaking out “Come on Lisa, come on! Get up, get going! Get writing and learning and doing while you have the time!” but my body won’t listen. I’ve opened the blinds to let the sun in, and I am praying the coffee and conversation helps.

“I love coffee. I sometimes get excited at night thinking of the coffee I’ll get to drink in the morning. Coffee is reason to wake up. There are other reasons, of course. But coffee is the incentive, at the very least.”

— Annie Clark

 

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have missed you all and I am very sorry that I missed our chat last week. I missed you all, but I had big plans with my mother. Also, I am terrible at writing anything in advance.

My girlfriend and I planned a brunch for both our mothers at one of our favorite places, her father, brother, and my littlest sister came along too. The food was delicious, I had monkey bread french toast. There were drinks and gifts and laughs. Afterward, we walked over to a cute little ice cream place, I had goat cheese and black pepper, and then we did a little shopping nearby. Of course, no amount of food or gifts can pay a mother back, but I hope our’s at least had a good time.

I hope all my readers who are mothers did too. I hope your kids did their best, and that you had at least a little time to be the center of attention, to be catered to, and to be appreciated. I hope you know you deserve it all and so much more. I hope my mother knows it too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the highlight of my week was my littlest sister’s high school awards ceremony. My mother, my brother and his little family, and my girlfriend and I all showed up for her, and I am so glad we did. Whenever my family gets together, we act like damn fools. We talk too loud, laugh too loud, we eat too much, we’re entirely inappropriate, and we make everyone around us a little uncomfortable, but we don’t care. We have a good time wherever we go, and while my sister may have been a little embarrassed, she laughed right along with us too, and she knows her family supports her.

For her part, my little sister did us proud. She walked away with a couple of plaques and the biggest award of the night, STUDENT OF THE YEAR! My sister has gone from nearly all F’s, hating school and refusing to go to all A’s and B’s and STUDENT OF THE YEAR y’all. I am so damn proud of her.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am so proud of my sister I decided to treat her to a lunch and a bit of shopping yesterday. She’s been wanting to try sushi, so I took her to a place on the other side of town. I’m not sure raw fish is her thing, but we made sure to stop by a couple of make-up stores and did some thrift shopping for clothing bargains.

Sadly, my sister didn’t find much, but I sure did! I picked up six new books from Goodwill and ARC thrift stores and four new shirts from a new place I found called Uptown Cheapskate. This store is my new favorite place, and I already have plans to return for all my summer fashion needs.

All in all, the day was just about perfect. My little sister and I were born 15 years apart, but we get along so well, which makes me feel good. Maybe I’m not getting so old and boring after all. If you can make a 16-year-old laugh, then you are still young, exciting, and relevant at heart. At least that’s how I feel whenever my little sister laughs at my jokes.

***

 

If we were having coffee, I would refrain from boring you with details of the rest of my week. Te weather was crap, and I was in a foul mood. I will tell you that because of that, it was an exceptionally bad writing week.

I submitted a piece for Femsplain’s last ever prompt. I am afraid it won’t be chosen though. I’ve had since the beginning of May to write it, but instead of taking advantage of that I procrastinated all month and lost track of time. Next thing I knew it was this week and I had only days left to turn my notes into something coherent and interesting. I’m afraid my foul mood prevented me from writing well, and I am sure my crappy piece will be rejected. Femsplain has meant a lot to me, as an online publication and a community and I wish I had tried harder to make this last submission something really worth reading.

Other than that there hasn’t been much. A blog post on doing something even when you can only do a little, a post on believing you have a right to be here, and a newsletter on becoming our mothers, for better and for worse.

I’m hoping this coming week will be better.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the motivation and enthusiasm I was able to pull together has run out, and so has my coffee. Whatever energy is left I have to use for laundry, dishes, and getting ready for tomorrow. Oh, wait! I just remembered I don’t have to work tomorrow! This week is already looking up.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. I hope you had a wonderful week and that your weekend was a relaxing one. I hope in the coming week you will take more steps forward than you take backward.

Until next time…

Sophia stays looking grouchy, and she talks a lot of shit too, but I still love her bitchy ass lol

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for some existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering + some interesting reads from others. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

Featured image via Unsplash

 

 

You Have a Right to Be Here

“It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.”

― James Baldwin, Collected Essays

I’m working on being honest about all the bad things I think about myself and how damaging those thoughts are. It’s taken a lot of work, but I’ve gone from the bad thoughts occurring to me and me just accepting them as truth, to being able to see them for what they are. They are thoughts that come from somewhere that is not me, somewhere in my mind where I have less control and so, and am less responsible.

Understanding that has made a huge difference. What I hear in my head is an echo of my past that has become a habit, a habit so ingrained that it takes real effort and strength to fight. The more I remember this, the more I fight, the easier it gets, but old habits are hard to break and sometimes, I still believe that I have less right to life than anyone else on this Earth.

When I was young, I was told I was stupid a lot.

Now, as an adult, I believe that my mind works in some defective way and that the ways it is defective are somehow my fault. If only I would be better, think better, learn to grasp something obvious and easy then I could finally stop being such a burden and a hindrance to everyone around me. I believe that I am the reason that the people around me are frustrated, angry, sad or stressed. I believe that my stupidity it the cause of all the problems around me, even the ones that aren’t mine.

I believe that this, and my many other flaws and deficiencies mean I don’t deserve to be here. I don’t deserve to be loved or to love myself. I don’t deserve to be successful or to feel pride in my accomplishments. I have no right to look another human in the eye or to demand respect, to be heard, to be counted among the beautiful, the intelligent, the “normals”.

These thoughts live in the back of my mind and subtly influence the way I walk through the world, the way I carry myself and speak to people. These thoughts make me small and quiet and cautious. They make me feel sad and serious, and constantly anxious. I worry about overstepping my place or lowering myself further by saying or doing more stupid things every day.

It’s hard to live this way, and it’s wrong.

There is part of me that knows none of this is true. There is a part of my that genuinely knows that I am smart and good and worthy of all the good this world has to offer and so much more. I am strong and talented and capable. I am loved and deserving of that love. I am something special, and I am just as normal as everyone else.

I have the right to live and breathe and make my life into something I can go to my grave satisfied with, same as anyone else. No one else has the right to hinder that, but we often forget the ways we can hinder a life and a pursuit of happiness. We put our shit on other people and forget how our own wounds never closed and how a few words can break a person.

I have been a victim of other people putting their shit on me when I was vulnerable, like many of you.

So many of us carry around false ideas of who we are and what we are and are not worthy of. So many of us were told by someone who’s opinion we held dear that some part of ourselves was “bad”. So many of us have internalized this filth, and we are having the damnedest time letting it go.

We think we are ugly and stupid. We think that we never have and never will get it right. We think that we are broken and beyond repair. We think that we were set apart and built wrong from the beginning. We spend our lives hiding, making ourselves small, putting ourselves lower than anyone else because we think it is our place.

We all have it so wrong. I’ve never met a person who wasn’t fighting a battle, who hadn’t been hurt, who was suffering and struggling same as me. Every person I have ever met, even if we had nothing in common, even if I didn’t like them, even if I thought they were mean, or hateful, or toxic, I have never met a person who I thought didn’t deserve to be on this Earth.

This week, I want you to know that you that you deserve to be here, and I want you to practice saying that to yourself.

Try talking to yourself like someone you love and respect, someone you think the world of, or simply someone who has done you no harm and whom you have no desire to do harm to in return. Remind yourself that no one is perfect, that no one has all the answers that not one of us is inherently better than any other. Each and every one of us is lucky to be here and that lucky accident should never be wasted on believing such filth about ourselves.

This week, I’m asking you to tell yourself that all the bad things you think about yourself are not your own thoughts, they are the result of other people being people and forgetting that their words can hurt too. I’m asking you to remember that every person matters, and that means you too.

It isn’t easy but I’m asking you to believe, a little more every day, that you have the right to every breath, every step, and every bit of happiness and peace you can get your hands on because it is the truth.

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for some existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering + some interesting reads from others. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

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If We Were Having Coffee // A Follow-up and a Bit of Bad News

Hello, dear readers! Thank you for stopping by for a lot of coffee and a little catching up. I’ve already had a few cups, and that is about all I can handle, so I’ll be having some refreshing iced peppermint tea. You are welcome to either, or something else entirely.

“The first step on my journey of personal growth is getting a cup of coffee.”

Death Wish Coffee

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the weather around here has been a bit crazy. We’ve been swinging wildly between cold and heat, snow, and rain, and the sun. That means that lately, my moods and energy levels are all over the place too.

But I am happy that thunderstorms are returning to Colorado. I love how they seem to roll in at the same time every afternoon to give us a break from the intense heat. The clouds cue us all to relax and settle in for the evening and the sounds of rain and thunder lull you to the best sleep you will have all year.

I’m not looking forward to the heat I know is only weeks away. Our old swamp cooler is out of commission, and we haven’t really come up with a plan for getting a new one. It’s hard when both parties in a relationship are chronic procrastinators.

***

If we were having coffee, I suppose I would tell you the bad news. I had another doctor’s appointment this week, a follow-up to the last follow-up that was all bad news too. For those who don’t know, earlier this year I got really sick, and after a round of tests, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I was put on a steroid to stop my symptoms quickly but the steroid is awful for me so I can’t take it forever. So, I was put on another medication that takes some weeks to work but can be taken long-term.

So, when I went to check in with the doc, she tells me that she doesn’t think this other long-term medication is going to work at all—she never did!—but we have to let it fail before we can move on to something else. So, I am coming off of the steroid—which is awful because of withdrawal—and we are going to just wait and see if I get super sick again. If I get sick, we move on to some harsher and scarier medications. If the pills I’m on now do work my doctor said I should “thank God and choke down those pills every day.”

Even though I’m freaking out I’m glad I have a doctor that is thinking about the next steps before I start feeling shitty again and have to make decisions about what to try next.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it wasn’t a good writing week, not really. I didn’t post here as much as I wanted to here. On Monday I wrote about not being okay and posted my end of the month check in for April, that was it. I had hoped for a review of Orlando by Virginia Woolf and another poem on Thursday, but I felt really run down. I did work on my zine project, and a submission for Femsplain’s last prompt, and I got a newsletter out, so all wasn’t lost.

I did spend a lot of time reading. I’m just passed the halfway point in The Mind’s I which feels like quite an accomplishment considering its intimidating size and subject matter. This is the second time I have attempted to read this book, and I’m already further than the first time. I may need a third to fully understand it all though.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend was a good one. Friday night I asked my girlfriend out for a date night. We had dinner at Noodles and Company and then walked over to our favorite theater for a few drinks and a late showing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which we both slept through because we are getting old.

Saturday we took our very nervous dog out for a car ride and a trip to Petco, and she did so well guys! I am so proud of her. She was still very nervous, but she followed her commands and even let us try a new harness on her in the store without freaking out. We are working on socializing her and letting her know that we will keep her safe so she can relax but it is going to be a long process.

Then we went thrift store shopping where I picked up a couple of books, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. My girlfriend found a Polaroid camera on for just $3. Urban Outfitters sells the same one for $160! We got a few other knickknacks for the house and came home to pizza and hard cider and settled in to watch the new season of Sense8 on Netflix.

***I

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I am enjoying our visit, I have to cut it short here. There is so much to be done around the house and in preparation for tomorrow, just thinking about it is making me anxious! I better start now before it’s too late and I’m overwhelmed and upset and incapable of anything.

I hope you had a productive week and a relaxing weekend too, and I hope you’ll stop by the comments below and say hi. Let me know what you’ve been up to. I do love hearing from you all.

Until next time :)

My 3-year-old niece drew a picture of me and it's my new favorite thing 😂😂😂 #kids #drawing #art

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + some of my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or share a cup of coffee perhaps?

Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

Featured image via Clear Polka Dots

We are Not Okay, and That’s Okay

“I do not believe anyone can be perfectly well, who has a brain and a heart”

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’ve struggled my whole life with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and a general sense of guilt for just about every wrong ever committed. I’ve believed I didn’t deserve love, or happiness, or even my life. The weight of who I am and who I was is heavy on my heart while the weight of who I will be and when I will die weighs heavily on my mind.

I think about how time is running out, and I’ve made so many mistakes, and I’m not sure if this life I’ve is better than another life I could have had.

I don’t know whether to step this way or that, quite my job or stay, move to a new state or learn to love the one I am in. I don’t know if people like me or why I should care. I don’t know if this political party is right or the other and I don’t know how to fix myself or the world. So I am frozen, and I have no way to work through it or even know if I am alone.

I am not okay.

I feel so much, every moment of every day that in order to focus and move forward in life I’ve had to learn to shut it off, to zone out, to numb myself. We all do it. When we work, when we are with family and friends, when we are posting selfies, when we are posting witty comments on the timeline, and especially when we are alone. We shut off all that emotion, we do it our whole lives, and we forget how to cope with what it means to be alive.

I am a thinking, feeling, wanting human being, and it hurts. It’s confusing and scary and damn hard. It’s humiliating and terribly unfair, and I’m tired of trying to pretend it isn’t.

I can get through my day with a smile. I have to because to bring all the baggage of the human condition to work, or home to my girlfriend, or dump it on my friends, seems cruel. But if I am shutting off my “humanness”” just to get through my day, my life, then who or what am I? And why am I here at all?

I am not okay, at all, and but I don’t think very many of us are.

Billions and billions of us of us are going to and fro working our little jobs and connecting. We talk, meet for coffee, hold meetings, network, and update our statuses, but none of it seems to get to all that anxiety and fear we carry. We never admit that just inside ourselves below the facade, we show the world is an ocean of panic.

And it only seems to be getting worse. All this technology, bringing us together, they say, but I only ever feel pulled further and further away from who I really am. I mean, if the selves we are bringing together are only shells, pretending to be happy, pretending everything is fine, then we are only going to get lonelier and lonelier, and we will never learn to cope with what it means to be human. In the end, pushing it all down is only going to make the ocean of anxiety below the surface bubble and rise, wholly out of your control.

So, this week, take a few furtive glances inside yourself and ask, are you dealing with your fear, your pain, your uncertainty? Are you letting yourself feel human? Get below the surface, deep down, in the parts of ourselves we never visit, where all the deep questions are asked and never answered.

Get uncomfortable with what is down there and with who you are, and admit you are not okay.

We are not okay, but that’s okay. If you aren’t okay, it means you are alive, and aware, and feeling. It means you are human and functioning just the way you should. Don’t ever be ashamed of that. Don’t ever hide it and don’t ask others to either. Instead, talk to someone about it, and let them talk too. Maybe if we say it out loud, that life is hard, and we have no idea what we are doing, and that we are afraid, we’ll feel a little less not okay, or at least a little less alone.

Life will still hurt. You will still suffer and be afraid, but at least we won’t be pretending.

At least we won’t be afraid of who we are.

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + some of my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image via Unsplash

If This Were Your Last Moment

“Stop, breathe, look around
and embrace the miracle of each day,
the miracle of life.”

— Jeffrey A. White

Sometimes I like to pretend that I was popped into existence just in this moment and in only a few seconds, I am going to pop back out. This moment and whatever setting I am in, whatever people are around, and whatever thoughts and feeling I have are all I am ever going to have.

I look around and wonder if this was the last moment I was ever going to have, would it be enough?

It may sound like a strange or even morbid practice but it forces me to be mindful and to take quick stock of my life and where I am at. Every time I have done this I have found that instead of being disappointed by wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I feel grateful and I can see so much more beauty around me than I otherwise would.

I realize what is important to me, and it is always surprising. It doesn’t matter as much how many adventures I have had because if I were to pop out of existence just now, none of it would matter to me anymore. What matters is who and what I am leaving behind and who and what I will spend my last moments seeing. I thank the universe I got to be alive at all and hope the people who will live after know I loved them with every part of my being.

Then I pop back into being regular old me, feeling my regular old feelings about my life. I still feel guilt, and shame, and regret, and jealousy only now it’s a little less.

It’s a useful practice and gives me a bit of perspective, but it would probably be exhausting to live every moment of your life that way. For all the woo-woo talk of the “enlightened,” I don’t think the average person can or should. What I think this practice does is teaches your brain that it is okay not to spend so much time “elsewhere.” On what you wish you had, or what you hope you have, or what you shouldn’t have done, or what others think. None of this is now, and none of it is helping you.

None of this will matter when your last moment comes.

What matters, what I think and what I hope will matter in the last moments is the beauty and miracle and love of it all, and all of that surrounds you every day, you only have to get outside of yourself and the bullshit. Sometimes you have to see a patch of grass, or a cloud crossing the sky as the miracles they are. Hear your breath, feel your heartbeat, listen to the voices around you and remember how rare it all is. This world, you, and whatever you are doing, are some of the rarest things in the universe.

Of course, life isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. This sink full of dirty dishes, this pile of work on my desk, and the complaints and critiques we hear in meetings and at home don’t feel much like miracles or wonders of the universe, but they are. You don’t have to love them, in fact, I encourage you to do what you can to change what you don’t like, but you still must acknowledge the beauty of every moment and the privilege you have to be there to experience it.

These unpleasant moments usually come and go either unnoticed or unwanted. I moan about my life too and wish it were something else until I force the realization that this is the only life I have and it is a very beautiful and special one, especially when you consider that there are so many who get no life at all.

There are vast stretches of the universe where no life exists. There are some who had life yesterday and don’t today, and there are many who aren’t alive today to see what you do but will be another day when you no longer are.

This week, just take a few moments from time to time, to look up from your screen and find some beauty and wonder around you. It is there, I promise, no matter how much you hate work, or your commute, or coming home to dirty houses, grouchy spouses, or demanding children or pets. I promise there is are wonder and beauty to be found, in this moment and throughout your life.

Take time to find the good, and work on making more of it, slowly, every day, every minute, when you can. Imagine what would matter, how would you feel, or what you would look to if this moment was all you had.

Maybe another day at the office isn’t the worst thing. Maybe a patch of grass is a miracle. Maybe the swirling dish water is beautiful. And maybe every human you know is the most important thing in the universe and you should feel grateful, special, honored, to be a witness to such marvelous and transient moments.

Attention must only be paid to what is around you, now.

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + some of my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image via Unsplash

 

 

People are People, Just Like You

Hello, and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is a reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

People are simple, and stupid, and complex, and feeling, and wise, and fallible, and beautiful, and dark, and ugly, and so much more than we can ever convey with words. We know this because we know ourselves and deep down we know other people feel and think and go through what do, even though we rarely act like it.

We know we have rich inner lives, profound thoughts and feelings, shades of emotions, wants, and needs that language can scratch the surface of. We know there are reasons behind everything we do that rarely ever fall fully to one side of good or bad, selfless or selfish. There are more shades of human motivation and reason than there are stars in the universe or grains of sand on every beach but humans aren’t good with subtle shades of being or thinking.

We know that our psyches are deep and varied and we know that because of this, because every thought and action and all that we are is a product of all we have been through and sometimes all that many generations before us have been through, we know we are deserving of understanding and patience. Somehow, we know this, but at the same time, we know that other people are simple beings with simple and often nefarious motivations for doing what they do.

We forget that people are people, all over the world and all throughout time, same as we are.

They have the same thoughts, the same questions, the same failings and triumphs, the same daily, grueling, inner struggle between who they are and who they ought to be. They share the same complex inner life and painfully vague understanding of why they do what they do. They are hurt and hoping and fucking up, and we should be working harder to understand their needs and motivations, the way we would ask them to do for us.

We are too quick categorize and condemn each other in ways that are radically different from how we think of ourselves. They are mean. They don’t care. They aren’t good enough. They are stupid. They are trying intentionally to sabotage and set me back. They are the enemy, but it isn’t so simple. They are human, and so are we, and they do all the things they do for the same reasons as us. Because they don’t know any better.

 

Of course, in all the ways we are the same, there are as many ways in which we are different, and that is where the work of understanding happens. Besides the fact that we all come from different places and were born in different times, besides the fact that each of our parents was raised in a time with different struggles and different values, besides the fact that no two perspectives can ever be the same, we all simply have very different brains. We have different thoughts, needs, motivations, wants, and ideas about right and wrong and every shade in between.

Even on our best days, when we are listening well and using language as precisely as we can, no human language is articulate or exact enough to ever explain who we are, what we feel, and what our motivations and reasons may be. Each of us no matter how we reach out and to how many is alone within our own minds. We can never be understood and we can never fully understand, but we can try harder, and do better, and stop treating each other like simple beings and react with simpler solutions and emotions.

This week, before you judge who is right and who is wrong, who is worth listening to, and who is worth compassionate understanding, or friendship, just know that each person you encounter is a complex mix of history, culture, experience, emotion, and wisdom that you will never fully comprehend.

We owe it to ourselves to treat one another better. To owe it to each other to understand each other better. To step into each other’s shoes isn’t so hard when you stop acting as if you are the only one who can be right, who can be hurt, who can have needs, or can make mistakes.

This week, try to understand that you have no right to presume to know who a person is, why they do what they do, how they ought to act, or what help they need or don’t. Get to know people and do the hard work of letting them exist on a spectrum rather than at the easy to categorize extremes.

This world has become far too black and white, I’d love to see some grays, and one day, when we are better people than we are now, we might even be comfortable with color and hue and brightness too.

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