A Moment of Zen

I watched as the person they called Guru sat on a hard rock.

“Aren’t you uncomfortable? Why are you sitting there on that hard rock?”

He replied, “You asked me why I’m sitting here for a brief moment, yet you live a life that is entirely founded on discomfort. I can get up from this hard rock. Can you?”

And then he smiled, knowing I would think too long about what he said.

An Exaggerated Truth

One of the ways you know that emotionality has seeped too far into your head is when you find yourself exaggerating. Often, when we’re lashing out, we take a small version of the truth and stretch it ridiculously. If we don’t have such a truth to work with, we either invent one or attribute a motive that we have no way of knowing. We villainize.

All of us hear dozens of vicious encounters in our daily lives, wherein people jab, snark, and exaggerate about the people they are currently upset with. That’s not going to end as long as humans are walking around.

For example, I’ve always had a real problem with fundamentalists or extremists, especially religious ones. Regardless of where I was on the spectrum about the existence of god or the futility of interventionist prayer, I’ve had a stable attitude about the foundation of people’s beliefs.

Any dogma, doctrine, commandment, or rule can be created out of whole cloth. It often is. It’s part of the reason no two religions or denominations agree on everything. Often, the divergence is massive, leaving no recognizable overlap.

My derision has always fallen on those who would demand adherence or obedience to the imposition of their chosen religious beliefs.

I distrust rigid authoritarians about religion; they can’t be trusted to honor the line of observance.

But, in anger or exaggeration, I’ve been accused of having a horrible attitude toward Christians as a category. That’s ridiculous. As with most religions and denominations, the individual observing it has massive leeway in how they treat others against the backdrop of spirituality. Many use it compassionately and intelligently; others would burn the world to get agreement. It is the latter that pisses me off.

It’s a small thing, but one which, if repeated unfairly, can grow to discolor the true nature of how I look at Christians and others.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed this sort of exaggeration in anger more frequently. It’s no great revelation, of course.

L.I.T.S.

To start, L.I.T.S. = “Life Is Too Short.”

Secondly, I may be a person on other people’s lists. I admit that fully. We’re all villains in someone else’s eyes; accept it. Yes, it will feel hurtful.

Since I started seeing a counselor, I’ve probably become more annoying in a few ways. If you missed it in my previous posts, anytime you change, even if entirely for the better or positive reasons, people often don’t welcome the change. Change requires adaptation and often new boundaries. As the difference becomes more substantial, so too does the likelihood that someone will take issue – and probably not directly.

I keep a few of these printed in my wallet. Instead of getting frustrated again, I take one out and hand it to whoever is trying to trap me in a situation with the person on my L.I.T.S. List.

For most people, this opens up a conversation about my motivation. At its most simple, it lets the person know that I take issue with how the other person engages with me as a human being. If the person inquiring is a good person, I will take the time to explain. If not, I short-circuit the encounter as politely as possible.

It’s also possible that handing out these might get me in hot water. But let’s be honest, dealing with narcissists or unkind people often lands us in hot water through no fault of our own. I won’t put someone on my L.I.T.S. List unless I’ve been unsuccessful in getting them to stop mistreating me.

There will be situations in which nothing can be done. Even so, at least people will know that I’d prefer to minimize my exposure to the person in question.

Life is too short, indeed.

A Touch of Color In Springdale

I’m in front of the one of the mural projects on Holcomb Street in Springdale, one of many that the Downtown Springdale Alliance is doing.

It’s been fascinating watching the progress; from initial outline to an increasing number of objects and colors.

It’s exactly like I wish most of the world could look.

For anyone who knows me, they know this is true.

As I walk through the urban landscape, I find more and more things to catch my eye.

Monday

Hi. I’m Monday, here to remind you that we should be friends. If you’re 40, you’ll see me at work about 1,250 more times. If you’re 25, it will be around 2,000 more times. This life, the one that has you grumbling about going to work on Monday? It’s not a dress rehearsal. You know how this all ends, right? Love, Monday

Another Stolen Walk

I stole a walk from the afternoon, one born from a casual glance out my window. The trees behind the house bent and blew with surprising force. Though I sat with heavy legs and with no thought of an excursion, I found myself outside and walking within minutes. The wind howled in my headphones. As I walked along Friendship, I was reminded of how many school buses ran through this corridor in the afternoon. East Springdale, despite its limited number of arteries, has more schools than you would imagine. By the time I reached the long stretch that touches 412, I had realized I would have to consider going back. I looked across at the massive cemetery and the thousands of truncated stories buried there. Once past, I reluctantly turned and walked back. Looking up at the deep blue sky, I took a picture to capture the tenuous magic. Switching to music, I marched my way back, shrugging off the acres of reminders that afternoons like this are fleeting.

The Sum

Because I had a delayed counseling session due to the excessive rain and flooding last week, I took a walk in South Fayetteville today. I listened to TED en EspaƱol. And because I didn’t know the area as well as I thought I did, I went a street too far. As a result, I walked an hour and a half instead of thirty minutes. The breeze and the unfamiliarity of the area made it glorious. I went past Baum Stadium, past the not-yet-completed “Marhsall Place,” as well as another complex whose name escaped me, both uncompleted. I witnessed several exciting events, including a lift operator lowering himself with a surprising weight of siding (even as an excited co-worker shouted at him in Spanish from below), a car speeding through a huge parking lot at 100 mph, passing within ten feet of me, and a man sitting in the abandoned Cobb complex (which I didn’t know existed) smoking pot. And another contractor who broke a 3rd or 4th-floor window with his hammer, presumably accidentally. He looked down at me as I waved. He laughed and waved back, shrugging his shoulders. I gave a man $20, and his smile and surprise were so tangible that I almost failed to keep my composure; his reaction was so genuine that I wondered if I had imagined it. A woman who probably didn’t know someone was approaching exited her car and put her pants on. I’m not sure what proceeded that. She nodded as I looked in her direction. I ate at Mr. Taco Loco, consuming a portion of pico de gallo so immense that I felt guilty for eroding their profit margin. And the counselor? She was so surprised I ordered and read the entire book she recommended. I set my next session earlier for next week, even as I wondered what I might miss by removing the ‘extra’ time between work and my session. While none of these events were momentous, they reminded me of the millions of encounters that comprise the sum of our days.

Stay Simple, Stay Healthy

I don’t use shampoo or conditioner.

On my hair, I mean.

I’ve kept my hair very short for almost all of my adult life. That helps. I don’t have bad hair days as a result. “Bad face” days, perhaps.

I don’t use body wash, either, before you ask.

I despise lotion on my skin, though I will relent and use it a bit in exceptional circumstances. Not “Silence of The Lambs” scenarios, though. I’m eccentric but not crazy. Okay, I’m crazy but not a lunatic. Yet.

I even shave with regular bar soap and use no additional aftershaves, colognes, or other similar things.

I use cheap disposable razors. And not because they are cheap, but because now that I’m accustomed to them, the alleged ‘nicer’ ones cut me like Sarah Silverman at a roast. I keep some sort of beard mostly because I’m lazy. I shave my neck between 1-2 times a week.

Some of the above serve as a reminder that I’m a minimalist at heart.

I use antiperspirant and deodorant, of course, because I’d like to delay excessive body odor as much as possible. If I become more antisocial, I can always stop. That last part is supposed to be funny.

Having said that, I’ve discovered that a particular brand of fiber gummies gives me an INCREDIBLE amount of gas. I consumed a bottle of it a few months ago and attributed it to my healthier diet. This second round confirms my old suspicions: it’s definitely the fiber pills. My physical job helps disguise the aromatic and sonic symptoms. Mostly. My apologies to anyone paying the price of my gastrointestinal choices. Also, yes, I am aware that there are differences between types of fiber, as well as soluble and insoluble. It’s just this particular brand packs a wallop! I’m not mentioning it by name because I don’t want the trolls to pounce on me more than usual.

Sidenote: I’m amazed at how many people don’t eat enough fiber. It seems like something that only old people are concerned about, but probably should be on everyone’s radar. The joke is that it is largely to prevent constipation, but dietary fiber does so many other healthy things for your body.

For people interested in such things, you should search for “glucomannan” on the internet. I don’t have an opinion about it. I’m not supposed to say that, but I don’t. Several people have written to me to insist that I try it. I haven’t simply because I didn’t need anything other than healthy fiber – and I wanted to avoid supplements that I couldn’t sustain for the rest of my life.

It’s fun watching and reading people’s commentary and arguments for or against supplements, trends, diets, and health.

A few days ago, a TikToker commented on a health and fitness video, calling him an idiot. “Blah, blah, blah. Diets don’t work,” the commenter said, among other things. The poster replied, “Diets don’t work – and judging by your appearance, you don’t either.” Oof, that was harsh. Another commenter replied, “Diets don’t work. But neither doesn’t being unhappy or unhealthy. At least it is an effort, even if only 1 in 20 succeed.” I generally avoid perusing the comments. I’d rather have people post their own opinions and put themselves up for criticism and scrutiny. (Most won’t of course, in the same way that people won’t write anything themselves but will hold other’s feet to the fire when they choose to.)

Stay simple and stay healthy out there, whatever that means to each of you.

That includes your mental health, too, even if the circumstances you find yourself in are your fault.