Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

The view from my Eddy Hall office at CSU

1. Truth: What is easy for some is hard for me. Today I’m thinking in particular of how hard it is for me to simply relax into my truth, to give myself what I need without guilt or shame or anxiety or apology. Every choice I make, every hunger or longing, goes through an exhausting process of how it will affect others, what impact it will have, what other people will think about it and thus about me, whether or not I’ve “earned” it. It’s become a practice for me to simply want something and allow myself to have it, to feel ease or even joy, to relax with myself. It should be automatic, but I have to try, make so much effort to just be.

2. Truth: The turn towards fall feels so peaceful to me. You know how much I love summer, the garden with its blooms and fruit and vegetables and bugs and birds. The longer, lazy days, and all the light. However, fall is really my season. Dusk is also my favorite time of day and this season — the changing light, the cooler temperatures, green turning to gold and orange and red — feels similar, comfortable and calm. Like a dog sigh or the first sip of a cool glass of water when you are thirsty, permission to relax, a sense of relief and ease.

3. Truth: I feel myself slowing down. There were lots of things on the to-do list I made at the beginning of summer that haven’t been done yet. I still need to buy new bras and paint the house, and the new computer that was delivered weeks ago is still in a box. And yet, I know that I’ve spent a lot of years prioritizing doing and accomplishing over rest and contemplation, and that hasn’t served me. I’m tired. I long for rest. As difficult as it is, I’m going to give in to it.

One wish: May we honor our hunger, our longings, our need for rest, and may we thus find ourselves restored and open to ease and joy.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: We went on a short hike this morning. All of us, the whole tiny family. This is a big deal, because Sam hasn’t been able to go since he injured himself almost six months ago. He’s up to walking 3.5 miles a day and his amazing lovely wonderful physical therapy vet told us at our last visit she thought he was ready to try a hike, so this morning we did. We went to Mount Margaret, up by Red Feather Lakes, one of our favorite places. We saw hummingbirds and butterflies, a deer and a marmot, a herd of cattle and lots of chipmunks, and two gorgeous dogs that reminded me of our Obi. It was already warm because it’s going to be close to 100 degrees here today, but it was lovely. The other thing to celebrate about this hike is I did it without wearing my knee braces. I’ve been feeling stronger, and like I could do it without them, and I was right.

2. Truth: As humans we are wired to seek out the danger in our environment. Long ago this was absolutely necessary to our survival. We needed to watch for predators and be careful of various poisonous things and mindful of the weather, etc. There is a small, old, deep part of our brain that is still doing this work even now, which explains some of the mystery anxiety we often feel. That is simply the context you need for what I really want to point out — even though we are wired this way, the tiniest beautiful thing can cheer us up, stay with us for a very long time. The whole world can be going to hell in a hand basket, and yet seeing a hummingbird beating its wings like mad against the blue sky can buoy us, remind us that while nothing is okay, somehow everything is fine.

3. Truth: Mid-summer for me and the beginning of summer according to the calendar is always shadowed by sadness and anxiety. Dexter died five years ago today and I still miss him like crazy. It gets stupid hot here. I’m only just coming out of the funk that lingers after I stop working when the anxiety of having to go back hits me. I have so much to write about and at the same time I want to stay quiet and still, would rather read than publish anything. Not only are things not getting crossed off my to-do list, things have been added. I feel awake enough to my life to know that I’m not doing what I “should,” (although that will be changing). It’s a strange mix of rest and worry.

One wish: No matter where we are or what our obstacles, may we notice the tiny moments of joy, collect them and carry them with us, hold them close and not give up.

The sweetest boy, on his last day

The sweetest boy, on his last day

Three Truths and One Wish

Strawberries from our garden

1. Truth: I am in a strange fugue, a liminal state. This happens every summer vacation, for at least the first two weeks, but if the year was worse (like this one) it can linger. I’ve made the to-do list — things like painting the house and cleaning out the garage and buying new bras and getting a haircut — but only a few things have been done and crossed off. This summer it feels particularly strange because I know when I go back next year, it will be my last (had I told you that yet? It’s not official, but it is for sure), and I already am really clear about what I’m going to to next but can’t start yet. It’s a weird place to exist.

2. Truth: I’m not purposely trying to bum you out, it’s just that everywhere I look things are bad. I can see the good too — I mean just look at that bowl of juicy strawberries that came out of our garden — but I refuse to deny the bad just because it’s difficult or uncomfortable or fucking depressing. The reality is both — tender and terrible, brutal and beautiful. I feel myself tipping towards the dark, feeling the overwhelm of the awful, but I haven’t given up and it doesn’t keep me from seeing the good.

3. Truth: Tomorrow I’m taking my first swimming lesson. Not the first of my life. I took swimming lessons when I was younger, but was a scared, timid, nervous kid who was tormented by teenaged instructors who thought, for example, that it was funny to push a kid who was crying and afraid to jump in the deep end into the water from behind or to meet fear with anger and bullying. I sort of learned to be in the water, but more so learned to be terrified. I’d like to change that, and tomorrow I’m going to start trying.

One wish: That no matter where we find ourselves, we can keep our head above water, keep swimming, keep trying.

Three Truths and One Wish

A flume bridge built by a sugar beet company in Fort Collins to dump waste on the other side of the river, image by Eric

1. Truth: The Universe is pulling me in another direction. It’s the strangest thing to be living your life as usual, pretty much the same as it’s been for years, but to feel a change pulling at you like a strong wind or current in a river. Sure, you can try to go against it if you’d like, but it might pull you apart or even drown you if you do. And the moments that I give in to the pull, allow myself to be carried along by it, I feel a sense of ease I haven’t known in a really really really long time.

2. Truth: My Something Good lists are something else entirely to me. They are a record of all the things I want to dive into more deeply, research and think and write about, but because I don’t have the time or energy for that right now, I share the lists, save the rest for later.

3. Truth: I’m not going to focus on the positive. At a poetry reading I attended last week, poet Ross Gay described joy as something that allowed room for grief, and said it was a practice. I have very little patience right now for those who would have the rest of us ignore the brutal, the terrible in favor of sunshine and puppies. I love those last two things as much as the next person, maybe even more so, but I can’t ignore the suffering that exists. I can’t lie about it or look the other way. Even though it’s tempting, my goal isn’t to feel better or be more comfortable. My mission is to ease suffering, in myself and the world. For that, I have to keep my eyes and heart open, make room for all of it, and help when and where I can.

One wish: May we fully listen and be present for suffering, and do what we can to ease it.

Three Truths and One Wish

Trees and moon

From our walk this morning

1. Truth: Some days I’m worried, and it makes it hard to concentrate. Sam is getting an ultrasound today to see if we can get a clearer picture (literally) of what’s going on with him. He’ll have to be sedated and if they find what they expect, he’ll be getting a platelet injection. The sedation is what worries me, always does. No matter how careful everyone is, there’s risk involved, and it makes it hard to focus on anything else while I wait.

2. Truth: While big things matter, sometimes it’s the little things. I’m thinking in terms of the negatives here, how a collection of small things adds up to something. Like maybe it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal that we shifted from paper forms to an online timeclock for student workers, or because of ongoing construction the closest I can park to my office is half a mile away, or they added chicken to the ingredients of something labeled “Peanut Butter flavor,” or it was windy all night and this morning and will be the rest of the day and tomorrow. Any of those by itself is so small, almost irrelevant, but somehow together they add up to some sort of omen, message, sign.

3. Truth: I love surprising people more than almost anything. Yesterday my nieces were posting on Facebook about Ocean Spray Cran-Pineapple juice, how it sounded good but you could only get it on Amazon. I ordered two jugs and sent it to them. No worries that I’m spoiling the surprise by writing about it here. They don’t read my blog. Another time, a friend was telling me about this Mary Poppins spoon that she’d saved box tops from cereal boxes and sent away for when she was a kid. She ate her cereal with it every morning, but then lost it somehow. I got on Ebay and found one, ordered it and put it in her mailbox at work, anonymously. The surprise didn’t last because when she found it, I was the first person she told, and the joy on my face gave me away. I always eventually confess, just so the surprise doesn’t seem creepy.

One wish: May our worry be eased and our aching hearts soothed by the sweet surprise of love and friendship.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Healing always takes longer than I think it will. This is linked to the habitual way I rush in and try to fix it when anything is wrong. I try to hurry past the discomfort, and I get anxious when I can’t make things right. Like with Sam, I want him to be better as soon as possible, because it’s so hard for me to see him in pain and to deny him some of his favorite things, but his particular injury can take anywhere from two to six months to resolve. And if for some reason he tweaks his muscle again before he’s completely healed, we will have to start all over.

2. Truth: One essential ingredient for healing is rest. In this case, there is nothing to do. It’s all about not doing, being still. I don’t allow enough of it for myself, and that’s part of why I struggle so much — physically, emotionally, and mentally. Even when I’m exhausted, I push myself to keep going, sometimes until the only option is collapse.

3. Truth: We are all living under the shadow of death. When we were sitting on the floor with Sam last night, giving him his cold lazer treatment, Eric remarked that it reminded him of when we had Obi and Dexter put to sleep. We were in similar positions, in almost the same spot where it happened, and I totally understood what he meant. This came right after I was telling Sam we needed to get him better so he could live to be an old dog, and that eight wasn’t old. The whole thing made me think about how death is always right there, for all of us. It doesn’t care what we want, doesn’t concern itself with our schedule or plans.

One wish: May we be patient and gentle and spacious with our healing, allowing the time and effort (or non effort) it takes. And when the time comes, may we have an easy death.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: As a highly sensitive person, it can be hard for me to focus or stay calm. ALL of the information that is floating around in the environment, all the ideas and conversations and emotions and heat (or cold) sticks to me. Rather than being in my own bubble safe from the rest of the world, I’m covered in tiny holes, porous and without clear boundaries, and like a sponge I soak it all in. When I’ve had a day with too much stimulus, I lose my sense of what’s mine and what’s yours. It’s so extreme that if I read a book or watch a TV show where something bad happens, even to a fictional character, I feel it floating just at the edge of my consciousness like a memory of a lived trauma. Let me repeat that — I embody the trauma of others, even when they aren’t real!

2. Truth: This makes service and social justice work incredibly uncomfortable. I can’t easily detach from the suffering of others, and it’s difficult for me to relax or rest when I know someone is hurting, especially if it’s something I could help or even fix. I remind myself of the conventional wisdom of putting your oxygen mask on before helping someone else with theirs, or of that saying “you don’t have to set yourself on fire in order to keep others warm,” but the discomfort doesn’t really go away.

3. Truth: And yet, I don’t shut down, I don’t give up. In fact, I actively do the opposite, continually and regularly practicing to keep my heart soft and open, stay with the discomfort, allow whatever is arising, and cultivate a sense of vulnerability, a willingness to be hurt. I purposefully practice compassion, which is nothing more than being with someone else and their pain, letting it touch you, experiencing it with them. I’d rather be uncomfortable and connected. I’d rather be of some help than none at all. I’d rather make mistakes than not even try.

One wish: May the merit of our practice ease suffering, in ourselves and the world.