I’ve been learning so much lately. I’ve always had so many questions about myself, people, and life. I dared not hope to find any more wisdom/answers on this trip than I have from my explorations at home, but somehow, I have. I’m seeing that what I once thought were ideas rooted in my strength were actually formed around my inner weaknesses. I see now that what I thought were deep insights were sometimes just reflections of my own limitations*. I’m not sure exactly what’s bringing this flood of insight lately; maybe it’s that I’ve had time and space in my brain to pursue these thoughts; maybe it’s the culmination of my travel experiences; maybe it’s the effect of meditating more regularly; maybe it’s just getting older. Whatever it is, I’m thankful. Meditation is much easier for me with a mantra, and lately I’ve used these two:
“I’m here, I’m open, I’m ready; what wisdom do you have for me, world?”
“I am the warmth of the sun.”
The latter is about how I relate to others: I want to radiate my love, my warmth, my energy with others. Even though I struggle with that, I’m learning that I succeed more than I’ve realized**. And the more I meditate on it, and practice it, the easier it happens. I know that I am Love, and I know that others are Love, and I know that we can all sense that in one another. It’s so interesting that these spiritual, cosmic ideas are now as obvious to me as gravity. I see spirit, Love, magic everywhere!
*Mainly about independence, and being alone. I over-emphasized how important it is to be ok on one’s own, to rely on oneself, to have a deep and profound relationship with oneself, to genuinely appreciate and enjoy time alone, in one’s own company. As important as these things are, these ideas came from my weakness. I was struggling with my relationships with people: with how people made me feel, with how they challenged my ideas, my life, my values, my self-worth; how they made me feel unappreciated, invalid, weird, and excluded. And also how they rarely meet my expectations. So instead of finding a way to deal with it, instead of releasing my expectations of others, instead of validating myself, finding strength and peace from within, instead of washing their insults off of me and thriving despite them – I retreated. And I thought I found “strength” in my cowardly retreat. Now I see that I need to learn how to cultivate that inner peace despite my surroundings. I really do want to be the warmth of the sun. The sun doesn’t retreat when she goes without praise, when she’s ignored, or unappreciated, or taken for granted; she’s ever present, and always bountiful with her loving warm light. I want to be exactly like that: an endless supply of love and warmth, despite surrounding situations. I want to be the friend that’s always happy to see someone, even if I’m hurt that I haven’t heard from them in a while, or if they misunderstand me, or if they’ve hurt me. We are all guilty of that, so I’m letting my judgement of my own and others’ failures go.
**I strive to be positive, open, loving, and nonjudgmental, but at times that is hard for me. During the temazcal, there was a couple next to me being a little lovey-dovey. As I’ve been so focused on independence for the last few years, it bothered me a little. I kept thinking that they should be able to enjoy this experience on their own, and that they can’t be as introspective if they’re focused on one another. But I countered that judgemental thought with another: maybe they are having a different experience together, but I’m sure it’s wonderful and valuable all the same. At the end of the temazcal, the woman told me that she could “really feel my love” during the ceremony. I was amazed that during my inner turmoil/inquietude, my love was still radiating. It was one of the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me, and it came at a time in which I needed to hear it. When I shared this anecdote with George, he said, “your love may be uncommented upon, but it does not go unnoticed.” I feel as if each time I struggle or feel insecure, I receive the most wonderful compliments. The Universe provides.
Saturday morning I had an 8am appointment with my counselor in Lakeview. I had been looking forward to this early morning ride all week, but when the day finally came it was pouring! I hesitated, but headed out into the storm anyway armed with a spare change of clothes and my laptop in a trash bag. Classy!
Afterwards I scooted over to Heritage Bikes for some handlebar tape, a cappuccino, and refuge from the rain. It’s been over a year since I’ve stopped in, and the coffee/bike shop is as cute as ever! I especially loved the chandelier made of bike wheel rims.
Sunday’s weather was much more beautiful! I took a detour on the way back from brunch at a friend’s and ended up finding a small bike path along the Chicago River, near Diversey Ave.
I pulled over in some tall grass and meditated. Ugh. I have mixed feelings about meditating. I like the idea of stillness, being present, and spending time noticing your thoughts and feelings. I just don’t like the emphasis I’m receiving lately on simply observing my thoughts and not getting overly involved with them. We’ll see. The Headspace app is super convenient and great for beginners, if anyone’s curious.
Anyway, I kind of decided that I’ll be going to brunch and on a bikeventure each weekend before I leave Chicago. Keep posted for more!
Top photo from www.heritagebikes.com.
It was easy in Paris to surrender to the moment. But why? What alchemy transmuted ordinary activities, be it a walk across a bridge or the unwrapping of butter, into a pleasure? My default speed in New York is “hurtle,” yet in Paris I dragged the edge of a fork across an oyster with a care better suited to sliding a bow across a violin.
This was not simply because I was in Paris, though it has long held a kind of magic for many Americans. It was because I was there on my own. In a city that has been perfecting beauty since the reign of Napoleon III, there are innumerable sensual details — patterns, textures, colors, sounds — that can be diluted, even missed, when chattering with someone or collaborating on an itinerary. Alone one becomes acutely aware of the hollow clack of pétanque balls in a park; the patina of Maillol’s bronze “Baigneuse se Coiffant” that makes her look wet even on a cloudless day in the Tuileries; how each of the empty wine bottles beside sidewalk recycling bins is the embodiment of someone’s good time. There is a Paris that deeply rewards the solo traveler.
I found some extra time for a date with myself today! Haven’t done this in a long time… quality time for me&me!
Dates with myself are about following my interests and passions, usually in a way that fosters self-growth, with a bit of learning but a focus on fun!
It can be a trip to a museum where I can linger as long as I want, reading in a park, practicing my photography skills, hunting for crafting ideas and materials, etc. I recommend it!
Today I biked to the Container Store, and ogled over neat storage solutions in rainbow colors….
I stopped at a bagel shop and got caught in the Saturday morning hustle…
And admired the flowers as I ate breakfast in the sunlight.
I used to say, “You’re never alone if you’re with yourself”. To me, there’s a big difference between those two terms. The idea is to focus on your presence instead of the lack of another’s presence. You get to hear your thoughts instead of the thoughts of others. You get to see where your mind takes you, which is often incredibly entertaining. You’re more zoomed into your feelings, and how you react to things. You can make connections and learn about yourself.
Being alone can be restorative. You can relax in a way you can’t with others. You can let go, shake your ass to old Britney Spears songs, and nobody will care. You can stop behaving, stop talking, stop acting, stop serving others. And just be you. And just relax. You are able to return to yourself after giving yourself to others all day.
Sometimes being alone is really really special. Every now and then, it brings a lightness and a sense of wonder. I feel like a child again, and everything around me honestly amazes and delights me. I see things for the first time. Mundane encounters are hilarious. People-watching brings tears to my eyes, often simultaneously happy and sad tears. And the world, both natural and manmade, glistens. The air is fresher, colors are brighter, and I can feel my cosmic connection to life past and present. For me, this is almost guaranteed to happen if I walk alone outside while it rains or snows. But it is rare, so I hold these moments very fondly.
I’ve always felt that until I spend a decent chunk of time alone (months), I’ll never truly know myself. I need to be away from people in order for their impact on me to fade, so that I can see things the way I see things – think my own thoughts, form my own opinions, understand my own morality, and see how I really want to live my life. It is so easy to get lost in the world, to fall off your own path and onto the path of many. To do your own thing and make your own choices, you have to be very in tune with You so that you can differentiate You from others.
I want to live alone because I feel like I may learn something about myself. We are always influenced by our surroundings, and removing people from my living situation may be very enlightening on how I am when others are not around. For example, I tend to adjust to the cleanliness levels and habits around me, so how do I know how clean I truly am?
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