Ten Thousand Days

Trivia Pursuit

July 27, 2018

Photo: Iker Urteaga

Day 1423 -Day 1430

I was recently scrolling through a conversation thread with my close friend CMF and I noticed that a lot of what I talked about was aggravating trivia:  Forms, filings and chasing credits, payments and promises.  Yes, for a business and for an individual these are necessary evils.  But when it takes up too much of one’s time, or one’s focus, it can make us feel like we are hamsters running on the hamster wheel of life.

My friend CMF says that I have a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side view of life.  I may find that the bigger picture of my career was more fulfilling at X company and ignore the fact that all the time I worked there, I was bullied by a middle manager who wasn’t kept in line by his supervisors.  He bullied everyone who worked for him and of 3 favourite ‘girls’ he had working for him, two of us left – largely because he made the work environment so unpleasant.  Yes, I suppose CMF is right – I do still recall this job as the best job I ever hated.

Last night I was driving in Bellingham after a great singing lesson and looked up at the moon.  It isn’t quite full but seeing it nearly full drew my attention to a kind of old way of marking time that I notice myself falling into, this past season.  Again, I am amazed at the inner transformation that I’ve been undergoing in the past lunar cycle.  Having laid to rest the bones of the one from LA, I returned to the original scene of our meeting to reclaim the person that I once was.  Last full moon I said goodbye to the love of my life and while mourning that, this month, I said goodbye to a beloved family pet, as well.  This month,  I’ve recognized that I’ve got a lot of goals that I want to achieve in my personal life in the next few months.  In the last two lunar phases, I’ve traveled to two foreign countries for brief trips but I’ve been profoundly altered by the experiences.  Yet, if you look at what occupies my story that I tell, it would be the refund from Airbnb and the compensation for a cancelled flight.

Maybe its hard to talk about deep transformation – maybe we haven’t got the words or the culture of sharing the changes we are undergoing at the deepest levels of the soul.  Or, maybe it is simply that I am reticent to talk about such things.  I’m really much better at writing but I don’t think these things – sacred movements in our lives –  belong in the small box of a chat window.

Instead of talking about what matters, I get caught up in the pursuit of trivia – expense claims and laundry, grocery shopping and car repairs.  For most of my life, I have secretly thought that if I could just get all my little Lego pieces together, I could construct a life that looks good, at least from the outside,  and that my life would amount to something.  But, Lego is plastic and it is as easily taken apart as it is put together.

I notice that a lot of us have the rosier glasses on when we look at compare out lives to our expectations.  This week I had 3  conversations with friends who recently changed their jobs.   They were great moves but most of what they talked about was how uncomfortable the temperature of the office was (too hot or too cold).  Of course, in this heat wave, it is a topic that regularly comes up in conversations with friends but it was a catalyst for me to reflect that it is the trivial details of our lives and our quest to fulfill our expectations of how things should be if we can just get our Lego pieces in order, that really grabs our attention and take our focus.

I admit that when I get into a zone on working on anything – whether its a painting or a piece of admin, I get laser focused on what is in front of me. What really maters – the passing of relationships, the formation of new ones, the inner transformation of the soul, and deep changes in our sense of self and place in the world – these happen, but they can go unnoticed – or at least un-noted.  My friend AAO once said to me that a common tragedy of our fast paced world and overachiever identity is that we never stop to celebrate the small or big moments in our lives, before we move on to the next.  Soul changes may not be celebrated, but if we don’t mark them, we will never know how far we have journeyed and we run the risk that every wayfarer runs: walking in circles to return to the same point over and over again.

Reflection and laying down markers on our way is an important – if painful – part of the life of one on a spiritual path.

There is a lunar eclipse today on the full moon and its making everyone I know become more reflective on what has passed.  Old pain can be dredged up in this process but it is also an opportunity to let it go, if we are conscious.  Consciousness, is a blessing, even if it can sometimes feel like a curse.

Sometimes  I really do envy those who self-report to ‘swimming in the shallow end of life.’  Ignorance truly is bliss.  When we are not sensitive to the depths of life and when we are not walking a path of soulful mindfulness, I would imagine that each party and each gathering of friends is full of light and frivolity.  And then it is forgotten and the laundry is done, groceries are bought, the car is repaired and we meet up again on Friday for more fun and games.  I’m not sure if that is really how it is for people who are disinterested in or disconnected from the spiritual and soulful side of life.  But with my rose coloured glasses and grass-always-greener perspective, I imagine that it is this kind of simplicity.  Life is fun and light, it would seem.  But, maybe a life that is fun and light also has moments of deep existential angst and wondering: ‘is this all there is?’  I suppose I do forget that there are tribulations as well as the trivial nonsense that goes along with other choices, when I glorify a time gone by or a choice not taken.  Nobody swims in the shallow end throughout life.  I tend to think the admin and aggravation rests only in this particular career or life choice and that everyone else is living a life more carefree and meaningful than my own.

One of the greatest spiritual lessons is to learn to find meaning in the mundane by actively engaging in the moment with purposefulness.  Gardening has been one way in which I can do this.  When I am tending to the soil and to my vegetables and flowers, I am working purposefully for the well being not only of those plants but in service to the planet as well.  I’m grateful for that reminder.  On the other hand, another spiritual task, for all of us, is to cut through the superfluous and get our priorities aligned with what we want to achieve, (spiritually or otherwise) in this lifetime.

Looking back on my messenger chat has helped me see that I’ve put a lot of attention on the aggravating dealings with the misnamed ‘customer service’ call centers of the world, instead of celebrating my first street paintings, my two gallery shows of this year (so far), my new friendships, new skills, the gift of a spiritual teacher and tremendous progress in healing from a traumatizing relationship.

I reflect on the latter when I come here but what I’ve learned by looking at the stories I tell in my daily life is that I need to beef up my daily gratitude practice, and check myself for moments when I’m getting caught up in the unimportant noise of life.  The world is full of meaningless time wasters and we need to wade through them to find those that will enrich or at least keep our lives ticking over functionally.   Yes, we live in a world that is ordered in a certain way and unless we choose to break out of it and live an extremely alternate lifestyle, we still have to pay the electric bill on time.  But, to give these little Lego pieces of life more airtime than is needed is to truly rob ourselves of joy.


Photo: Averie Woodard

For what are you most grateful today?

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