I can see how we can use this idea in our present lives, however it occurred to me today that perhaps it could help us deal with the past as well. I am inclined to believe that we have all had some bad/difficult moments or experiences throughout our childhood, teenage years and beyond. We didn’t have much say over some things and as children may not have had the capacity to reason to the same degree as we do today.
If you are like me, the past can still impact on us today by robbing us of our self-confidence and self-esteem – if we let it. What if we were able to look back with wisdom and realise that our judgements (of ourselves and others) at the time were incorrect or at least inaccurate?
Maybe this would help restore some peace of mind and liberate our thinking about who we are today.
Something worth giving some more thought to, I think!
Epictetus teaches us that each individual is responsible for their own good or their own evil; their own fortune or their own misfortune; their own happiness or their own own anguish. There is no such thing as being the ‘victim.’ Suffering is self-inflicted and can be cured through a discipling of the mind. It is not things that upset us, but our judgements about those things. “When we are frustrated, angry or unhappy,” Epictetus explains, “never hold anyone except ourselves – that is, our judgments – accountable.”
It is weeks since I wrote anything on my blog! Not necessarily a bad thing. Instead I decided to start a hand-written journal to capture some of the experiences of living through a pandemic. A strange experience for all of us and continues to be pervasive one way or another.
As I go about my day I think of things to blog about but before I know it, the day has gone. One thing that struck me recently was the concept of ownership – a new perspective for me. I sometimes ‘google’ the addresses of places I used to live and quite often the houses come up from the most recent real estate listing. You can do a walk-through of at least two of my former homes. I have even found some homes where my grandparents lived in the 1920’s!
Getting back to ‘ownership’ – I look at my former homes with a sense of permanence even though I only lived in them for a short time. One house in Melbourne we only lived in for 12 months – 40 years ago! The people we sold it to still live there. Any yet that house appears in my dreams and has grown in my imagination.
In actual fact these homes were just a roof over our heads for a period of time before the next family moved in and it became ‘theirs’. We can’t lay any claim of ownership on our friends or family either. We are just fortunate to share some parts of our lives with them. Perhaps it is a sign of me getting older and a sense of gratitude for the people I share my time with. Things we purchase can be useful and even beautiful but they do not last forever.
I got hooked on this song 6 or so months ago (it kept turning up wherever I went) and maybe it sums up what I am trying to say …
8. Just for Today, I will have a programme. I will write down just what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I’ll have it. It will save me from the two pests – Hurry and Indecision.
I am finding that having a ‘to do’ list is really helpful in this time of being isolated at home. I have done some really mundane tasks that were at the bottom of my priorities but it felt good to get them done. I also plan some leisure time and exploring hobbies that haven’t progressed much in the past. For example I have tools and guidelines for calligraphy but haven’t invested much time or effort. Today I decided to go back to basics and start afresh – take time to check I have the right pens, ink, instructions etc. It turns out I have all I need so I just need to practise.
Needed to get out of the house today and enjoyed a short break at the beach. I took a few photos with my phone and edited (cropped) each of them a little differently. The bottom right was just taken from a different angle from where I was standing and the sun reappeared. What is it about the beach that is so calming – especially when there’s not many people about?
Since late 2019 I have been preparing to deliver a Course for our local University of the Third Age called “Unleash Your Creative Spirit”. I put myself through the course for the second time and allowed all sorts of creative ideas to flourish. In some ways I turned my house upside down in the process. I have already shared some of those experiences in previous blogs.
Eighteen people enrolled and I divided them into two groups – morning and afternoon. It was due to start this Thursday 26 March and run for eight weeks (2 hours per fortnight).
I don’t think I need to tell you the cause of the cancellation! We can never predict what is going to happen from one day to the next. I am sure that is a lesson we are all coming to terms with in the time of this pandemic. It is really challenging my expectations of how I would like the world to be. I am trying to accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can. I have taken comfort in the Stoic philosophers and the following quote in particular:
THE BEST RETREAT IS IN HERE, NOT OUT THERE!
The Daily Stoic message for 21 March says:
“People seek retreats for themselves in the country, by the sea, or in the mountains. You are very much in the habit of yearning for those same things. But this is entirely the trait of a base person, when you can, at any moment, find such a retreat in yourself. For nowhere can you find a more peaceful and less busy retreat than in your own soul – especially if on close inspection it is filled with ease, which I say is nothing more than being well ordered. Treat yourself often to this retreat and be renewed.’
I started this blog about ten years ago with the idea it would be an avenue for me to write regularly. At times I DO write regularly however it often has quiet spells where I have nothing to much to say. Do you ever get asked “What is blogging anyway?” I try to answer it but I can’t find adequate words to describe the experience.
Last year I was leading a philosophy discussion group so I often felt inclined to share snippets on my blog. This year I am leading a group looking into creativity so that’s why a lot of my recent posts are on that topic.
There I so many people I have “met” through blogging that have become a valued part of my everyday life. I look forward to reading their posts and admiring their photos and stories.
When I first started posting I was very open and shared a lot of personal ideas, feelings and experiences. Today I am a little less adventurous. I have been “found” online by various people who know me personally so it is not anonymous. The world is a small place and I need to be considerate and not write stuff that may hurt or malign anyone (unless of course they are politicians!)
So where does that leave me if I want to share my innermost thoughts and feelings? Perhaps I could disguise them as fiction or go back to an old fashioned journal. I do have an online journal that is confidential and a good space to debrief. However I do like the feedback a blog provides when someone reads and likes a post and understands what I am on about.
What do you say when someone asks you what a blog is? I would love to be able to provide a quick and easy response to that question!
I am thinking about next year and where to focus my interest and my energies. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions or for setting goals but I like to pause and consider what I want to include or change in my year ahead.
2018 was a pretty good year for me. It was very busy and enjoyable year with my U3A (University of the Third Age) commitments. It was one of those years where, at times, I became more of a human-doing rather than a human-being.
For the year ahead I would like to give more attention to my relationships with people in my life. I have moved around a fair bit in my life and have often lost touch with people in the process. I grew up in Victoria and have now lived in West Australia for 36 years. I have lived in the Kimberley region, Pilbara region, MidWest/Gascoyne region, Perth, Goldfields/Esperance region and now the South West. Each time I moved I had to start again and make new friends and set up new networks. It gets to the point that I get itchy feet if I stay in one place too long.
I think 2019 will be about putting down some roots, building relationships and accepting we are here to stay. And being grateful that I can enjoy life in such a pleasant environment.
In the central desert region around Hermannsburg, west of Alice Springs, a hidden 140-year musical legacy of ancient Aboriginal languages and German baroque hymns is being preserved by four generations of song women who form the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir. Singing 14th-century Lutheran hymns – brought to the area by missionaries – in their own western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara tongues, the choir’s efforts to save these sacred songs are boosted by the arrival from Melbourne of a charismatic conductor who orchestrates a historic tour of Germany to bring the hymns back to their homeland.
I found it very moving and had lots of laughs as well. I have lived and worked in Aboriginal communities in remote parts of Australia and these women in the movie reminded me of those I knew. Just as the Hermannsburg Mission is part of their story I realised that my time spent in these communities are part of MY story and I feel much enriched by the experience.
Lately I keep catching myself thinking about some unpleasant things from the past (I am sure we all have them). The other day I objectively looked at it and realised that my thoughts were 40 years in the past! I keep reminding myself to look forward and not backwards. Even better if I can spend my time in the present moment.
Last Semester I ran a course for U3A called Retired:Now What? As part of that course we looked at unhelpful thinking styles by looking at and thinking about a resource I found online. Click HERE for a link to the site and for more information.
I identified that recently I am personalisinganything and everything and thinking it is my fault. I sometimes joke to friends about the extremes I take this to – e.g. conflict in the Middle East!
The point is that I have identified this recent pattern and can be on the alert when these unhelpful thoughts invade my thinking and choose to think differently!