For the last few weeks, I’ve been walking round saying that I’m just going to spend 2019 getting over 2018. If that is all I managed then that is enough. It’s more about keeping an even keel than it is about making progress. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. How do we overcome ourselves when everything is a mess. Or we are moving backwards and forwards at the same time. When it feels like Karma is deeply influencing your Dharma. When that Dharma is endless in this lifetime. Sitting down to check on yourself and make sure you are all right, is as much as anybody can do on any given day to keep things on a straight timeline. What can we do for ourselves when life is chaotic?
This weekend I’ve been checking out youtube figuring out trauma and trying to get my head round the things that I am still trying to drag into future, keep in my present and file in my past. They say that staying present in this very moment is all we ever need. Yet how do we get to all those accumulated past projects when staying in your present is literally taking up sooo much time. It’s a crazy idea. And what is it that you just need to let go of. Fuuuuuuuck that might be the longest list in the world if you really wanted to sit down and keep it going. All those things that are left unresolved.
I used to believe that life was just a to-do list and the quicker you could do it the quicker that you could relax. Now I wonder if that is true? If keeping busy is a distraction from the deeper work. My ideas for the future, always seem to be caught up in the past. How long have I been thinking about this? This is a dream, a long time in the making. Will this ever happen? Do I dream too big? Am I kidding myself, when personal circumstances just seem to swamp you? What is this swamp all about? I certainly can’t seem to find Yoda. There are some great sign posts that seem to be leading into the either. I wonder how all those unresolved things that we let slide affect your Karma. Is that what Karma is? All that stuff that you send out into the either that never gets done. Fuck me that’s a mental idea that if you can stay permanently in the present that you might be able to resolve everything right then and there, as it turns up. Is this possible? Is this something I’ve thought or written before?
Maybe I have enough. That being right here in this year is all that is required of me. That getting from one moment, one task, one day to the next is all that is required. That we must slow down and embrace what is. That it is good enough. It is all we know that there truly is. That we embrace the breath, the sweetness of time and the wonder of it all.
You may have guessed I’m trying to up my game, be deeply authentic, pretend that I know what the fuck I’m doing with my life in order to be able to guide you in yours. Yes really. So I’ve been reading some pretty awesome blogs of late where funny women with high standards and a heavy dose of reality are literally recording their daily fails to serve as an inspiration to us all. Me, Baby & The Beard.
My life which is very comfortable revolves round dysfunction that I’m still figuring out. In the last week or so I’ve been having flashbacks to my 24-year-old self who seemed very together and super capable of fitting into the capitalist dream. I was even using my anti-wrinkle cream a year early. I was soooo together and then whoops that millennial life crisis or should I say xennial life crisis hit. Since then it’s been a whole load of figuring out who you’re brushing your hair for? If Mrs Flemming isn’t going to scream at you? Equally well who are you brushing your hair for if everyone isn’t going to fawn over you? Do you really have to pretend to look this good to get a job? To be noticed? To be valued? Is the amount of care I put into my appearance really representative of how much I love of value myself? Or am I really just buying into a value system that has been imposed on me rather than ascertained for myself? Or am I forcing myself to question something that should just be universally accepted? Would this idea then be dogma? Praise and blame they’re all the same. So that question [Who am I brushing my hair for?] alone has lead me down some long winding passages and thought trains, that have ultimately lead me back to the idea of nurturance. That we have to be able to invest in ourselves enough in order to create our own growth. It’s a step beyond caring. It’s practical love. At first, I thought of it as self-parenting. Lately, I was introduced to the idea that nurturance might be the process of learning how to mother. I think in many ways that nurturance is more radical than mothering. It’s a step beyond, as it releases the obligation of a perceived role that we may never have experienced. Why should we be mothering ourselves if we never had a mother? Why should we be re-mothering ourselves if the lead female in our lives didn’t meet up to the perceived norms of “mothering”. Or that we should know how to parent when the truth of the matter is that anybody with an ounce of self-reflection will admit that parenting is nothing more than terrifying, experiment with no clear outcomes. Self-parenting leaves us with nothing more than unpacking a parental programme that we have most likely survived rather than thrived through (that is certainly true for me, I’m open to the idea that I am projecting). Nurturance gives us an opportunity to ask a question of ourselves. What do I need right now? If I wanted to grow what would I provide for myself? If thriving looked a certain way, what would it look like? How would I feel? All these questions help us figure out what is true for us and find deeper alignment with ourselves. Making our lives easier in the long run.
Last year I thought I’d cracked it with a course in Dharma (My own personal course) which involved largely getting water in my mouth first thing in the morning. Resolving situations as they arrive and then realising that largely I was doing a very good job of doing an all singing all dancing performance of sweep it under the carpet. Humans -they don’t do what they say they will even the one you actually control.
Getting married will do that. Then, of course, the minor shit storm becomes a major one and oh well. Back to Dharma, Carry Water, Chopping Wood. Pay Attention to your feelings. They are fucking wild and take you on the craziest adventures without even leaving the room. The stories that we tell ourselves.
Following along on the Dharma theme I’ve been doing my best to to stay focused and complete each task as it arises. This small errand can be far more complicated than it might seem. Especially when we know that emails make babies. So tackling the email list as your entry level task for the day can seem like sitting on a fast moving treadmill and getting hit in the face by the floor. Personal Development can be very far from graceful. The great news is that every time we fail, we learn something. So with each attempt we are creating small and substantial victories.
Double handle? What does it actually mean? Way back when in another time, another life and a totally different trajectory I used to be a Fine Art Handler among other things….true story. The process of Handling Art is an Art Form in and of itself. Imagine you had the responsibility of picking up priceless objects on an a daily basis and how that might inform the way you think about things literally. When something is sooooooo valuable? Holding, carrying, bearing become ways of being rather than merely chopping water and fetching wood. Forgotten, lost or even mishandled become mythical as the checklist pull you back constantly to this moment. The right now. There here. It changes everything.
One false move and you can undo centuries of painstaking work. Lose something irreplaceable. If ever broken, you can’t go back and “fix” it and even if you could it has to accepted as forever changed. That’s the thing with art you you aren’t actually meant to seamlessly repair it. You have to leave the repair visible so that anyone handling it in the future can see the damage. It’s a strange idea right? That the damage no matter how severe has to be accepted and adds value to the art work over all, and proves it’s originality. It’s really quite remarkable to be able to see an art work as an original thing, with a life of it’s own. Then witness the number of restorers, dab hands, forgers and chancers, that have had a go at trying to preserve a treasure. The repairs tell all kinds of stories. You can microscopically examine paint and figure out exactly what it is made from. How it might have been constructed and even who or where it was made. We get insights into whole worlds histories and even daily stories. Repairs gone wrong, disasterous work days, and work extraordinaire. As well as master craftsman’s signatures that far surpass the talents of the original artist. All this painted out for you as the story of an object.
As an Art Handler we need to learn these stories the way that a health professional might take a patients history, so that we are best able to evaluate treatment, movement and transportation. Right down to what we wrap it in, what love it might need, to survive a journey of only a few feet and well it’s individual needs. The real moral of the story is that we always do our best to only pick something up once to minimise impact. As a result incredible planning and care it taken to ensure that each piece is given the best possible care. We always have an extra pair of hands, we always have an extra pair of eyes and we always have an expert there to guide us. We only get to pull this off once and once only. Everyday is a remarkable experience of presence, zen awareness and total focus. There can be no foreseeable mistakes. We talk about double handling as a last resort. Imagine that you only get to do everything once. It’s a lot like those exploding keys of last week.
Lets get real we all love gossip, as graceful or as well meaning as we might all hope to be everybody loves a good story. Nothing better than a love story, then there’s nothing like someone else’s personal tragedy to help you grasp at all your lucky stars, with the tenacity that can keep you holding on to anything in the hope of something, for way to long.
So my self-care routine has been falling apart, my Instagram account is all about lost chronologies. My energy feels like chaos and my mind is a mess. What’s going on? Oh yes life and it’s fluctuations. This week I’m moving homes. I think it’s the 35th time this life time.
How can we make each day a blessing in mindfulness when each task seems to drivel it’s way across time like silly string. Yup it’s a tragedy of dharma. That if we don’t keep all our shit bolted to the walls and tied down nicely how can we possibly find any peace? Meanwhile messy fucked up life is reigning merry mayhem with the things you have apparently manifested. You have to decide that breathing is the best you can do for the next two minutes and if you can find water in the next three days well you are actually winning at life. Are we required to do much more than sustain ourselves anyway?
Drama can bring down dharma in a moment. Drama is the story that we tell ourselves to justify our dharma, pushing through our pain so that we can perceive ourselves as the highly functional being that we are supposed to be really? Really is that the story? To be happier? Is that the story? To be well? Is that the story of fulfillment? Is that the story of Dharma?
For many keeping your keys in the same place every day (even when you are not moving) can feel like chasing kryptonite even though it isn’t that cryptic. All you have to do is stay in the present moment long enough to put your keys in the same place. I have a friend who swears by the practice of visualising that his house keys exploded every time he puts them down somewhere. So he visually ingrains where he last saw them into his brain. After all who could forget a set of exploding keys? It’s so symbolic to forget the keys to our house. In a material world it’s got to herald losing the keys to ourselves. We are disconnected disassociated with our own realities being taken on these magical journeys of mind.
My mind is constantly a flutter and there seems to no way to stop if from fluttering away to the next idea task or social media post even now. When I’ve got several unfinished thoughts of blog posts ahead of this one scheduled unready to go. The mind can be hard to capture sometimes. Like when you you try to use a kids fish net for catching butterflies and who has ever owned a butterfly net anyways? It’s such an extravagant thing. There it was though. That long fleeting memory of trying to catch butterflies that you never could. Sometime that is what mindfulness feels like when you’re all caught up in chasing money, catching abundance or dowsing for water. That anything just beyond your own breath is slipping through the net. Even if it’s all happening in the right way. We spin ourselves out of control when all we need is to drink the water, sleep easy and observe ourselves, then find ourselves in the moment again. With the dishes done. The tasks finished.
Then the onslaughts of to do lists rolling over us again. It’s all a commitment. We have to keep coming back to the discipleship of the every day. The dharma, chopping water and carrying wood, endlessly relearning the material ways for this lifetime.
There is nothing quit like cleaning your house to help get your mind in order “Tidy house tidy mind”. This week I’ve been totally deep cleaning. Pulling out the couch. Getting under the bed. Dusting the picture rails. Just getting fully committed to my dharma. That in order to start fresh each morning we need to have a clean slate to start from.That resetting the clock for what you want from life can start on a 24 hour countdown each day. How very liberating, exhausting and terrifying all that once. That everyday, exactly where you are you have everything you need. All we have to do is get down to the exact science of living. That the what if’s and the what only’s could be actioned in every moment. To live your life fully.
It’s easy to let things stagnate, plonk a whole load of things on the to do list without every really getting round to doing them. Stuff can hold us back. Whether it is things in our head, the endless to do lists or just getting round to doing our dishes.
Even the random things that have crept into the seams of the couch, whether it is a business card or a penny, can absorb our energy as we mull these objects over. Seriously if it doesn’t bring you the ecstatic joy of discovering a lots pound coin. Then get rid of it. Quick smart and pronto. So much mental space can literally be taken up with stuff.
That is exactly what clearing space does. It allows us to live most fully in our present moments. Our richest day in the one we are living right now. Where everything is in order. Yes it’s a lot to aspire to everything in order and in it’s place. Committing to the work, likes it’s groundhog day. Diligently setting aside that which no longer serves us day after day and setting the intention for the next. Inviting in the lovely stuff, that bunch of flowers some incense or your favourite tea. Clarity is sure to bring abundance. After all you can’t take it all with you and we do have all we need to thrive in this world. Creating a space that brings instant joy for the moments we have is clearing space on the deepest level.
We can free ourselves of the emotional baggage and the burdens of limitation in any moment. We only have to change our minds and choose something else. Having a deep clean and a de-cluttering can be as effective way as any of getting clarity in you life and figuring out all those priorities. It can certainly make you feel better to lie out on an open space, free from distractions. It make room creativity and master planning of the best kind. Yes clear space so that abundance can flow.