Lost in the world

Are You Lost In The World Like Me? from Steve Cutts on Vimeo.

One of the best things a therapist told me to do a number of years ago was to stop watching the news. It’s overwhelming and depressing and not usually anything you have control over, though it may affect you directly: the very definition of stress.

It also directs your attention away from where you are in the present moment, and flings you headlong into a faraway place in the past. The news has already happened. It’s not now. It was then, even if that then was 10 minutes ago. It’s over. And it’s there, not here. Not right in front of you in this present moment, where you should be focusing your attention. Be here now. Not there then.

What I did, actually, was stop watching TV altogether for the most part. I watched hockey (Go Wings!) and cycling fairly often, and I loved Big Bang Theory, reruns of which my local CBS affiliate played during dinner time on weeknights. After dinner, if there wasn’t a hockey game I cared about I turned off the TV. I read, or wrote, or went for a bike ride or a walk, or something. I never lacked for things to do.

Now, living with my mother, I don’t watch TV much at all. We watch DVDs mostly, of old British mysteries, and old US detective shows like NYPD Blue or Homicide: Life on the Street. She likes Naked and Afraid, and we watch that on Sundays. Sometimes movies or a series like Outlander on one of the premium channels. That’s it. No news, no reality shows. No current weekly comedies or dramas.

I don’t have a moral objection to TV nor do I judge people who watch and enjoy a lot of TV. Whatever floats your boat is fine by me – your business.

I simply discovered that I felt better about myself if I wasn’t comparing myself and my life to people on TV, and that I worried less about what was going on in the world if I didn’t know about it every minute of every single day. It’s really that simple. Self-preservation. I also found that I liked other people more, and was more tolerant and less likely to judge if I took them at face value and wasn’t influenced by the ways in which certain people are demonized on TV.

So now I’m feeling the same way about social media. It’s partly what I do for a living, so I’m on FB alot during the day for work, but as for my personal feed, I pay less and less attention to it, for the same reasons that I don’t watch TV. Ditto Instagram. Everyone on my Friends list is someone I know and most are people I’ve known a long time and really care about. Some live far away, so I’m happy for the opportunity to connect with them easily.

I find, though, that if I spend a lot of time watching everyone else’s life scroll by, I feel worse about mine. I celebrate their successes and mourn their losses, and I’m genuinely happy for all the bright and shiny fun things my friends and family are experiencing in their lives. However, I’m not experiencing a lot of that in my life lately and haven’t actually much of my life, so I feel left out, or like I’m not doing it right, or that there’s something wrong with me. Honestly, I don’t need that.

I do better if I’m just in my head, in my body, doing my thing. Here. Now. In this moment. My moment. Not someone else’s.

My life. Not someone else’s.

Not self-centered or self-absorbed – just self-contained. Not comparing my unique life, my unique path, so someone else’s singular walk in this world. I’m not like anyone else, so I don’t need to live like anyone else; to have the things they have, or to do the things they do. So it’s easier for me not to be distracted a million times a day by the shiny happy pictures scrolling past all day long.

Having said that, I also have to say: I love to read blogs, and I love Twitter. I think the difference is that I don’t know any of the people who write the blogs I read, nor do I know any of the people I follow on Twitter, which are for the most part publications and organizations that post great content that teaches me things. I love to know about people’s experience of life on this planet, and when I don’t know the writer I’m less likely to compare myself to them; I can just take in what they have to teach me (or be entertained) without feeling bad about myself and my life.

So, whatever. Just my thing. Your mileage may vary. Life is big and there’s room for everyone.

I love the video above, though, cuz I am a little lost in the world. (And I love Moby and I think Steve Cutts is a genius.) I’ve always felt a little out of sync, really, and for a lot of my life I felt like I didn’t belong here at all – that there was nothing here for me. That my presence here was a mistake.

I’m grateful I don’t feel that way anymore. It was a long, painful struggle to get past that feeling. But I do still feel a little lost quite often. There is just so much I don’t understand about life and people and why things happen the way they do. But I’m pretty sure about who I am these days, and what I’m up to, so that’s all I need to keep track of, really: that I’m where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing.

Here. Now. Watching the rest of the world flow by, without getting caught up in the undertow.

Fat-bottomed girl


I have bike fever, and I have it pretty bad. I had dinner last night with a equally bike-crazed friend and she got me all riled up. It’s the time of year I think about all winter. My last bike ride was in October, (other than short rides on the trainer in the attic) and nary a pedal has been turned on pavement since then. I am soooooo ready to get outside!

The last of the snow just melted over the weekend – we got 2 feet on April 14 – and it’s still kind of chilly. Still a little too cool for this girl – a high of 46° F predicted for tomorrow – but I will be out there soon, I’m sure. When I was younger I would have been out already, but those cold temps are just too much for my asthma these days, so I have a pretty firm minimum 50° rule anymore. Maybe this weekend…

Nothing is as important to me as bicycling. Honestly, nothing. I love my friends, my cats, my job, genealogy, reading – so many things. I love life. Cycling saved my life 30 years ago, though, and it continues to every single ride. My mental and physical health depend on putting miles under my saddle on a very regular basis the 6 months of the year that the roads and trails aren’t covered in snow here.

There’s nothing like it. The freedom. The movement of my body. The sun on my back and the wind in my face. The smell of the pine trees on the trail along the lake that I ride so often. The sound of the waves and the gravel rumbling under my tires. The beauty of northern Michigan in the Spring and Summer and early Autumn, experienced at a slower, quieter pace. I love everything about it.

To make it all even better, last night my friend gave me a $50 e-card to an online bike store so I can buy some more bike stuff! I can’t honestly say that there’s anything I need, but there are a couple of old things I could replace, so that’s probably what I’ll do with the money. More than that, it’ll just be fun to troll through the catalog and look at all the shiny new stuff. I’ve never been into clothes or shoes, or other “girly” stuff, but give me a selection of new bike jerseys and shorts to peruse and I swoon. Or floorpumps. Or tires. Or water bottles…Be still my heart!

See you on the trail!


I raked for a couple of hours yesterday. It was a warmish sunny day, and there was no reason not to rake. Believe me, I tried really hard to think of one. 🙂

I wait and rake in the Spring because I’m more willing to be outside in wet cool weather in May after 6 months inside than I am in the November, when it seems much colder after 6 months of nice weather. Mostly in Autumn I’m just pissed off about the prospect of the long miserable winter ahead and not in the mood to do much of anything outside. When Spring comes, though, I always wish I had done all the yardwork in the fall.

All my neighbors do their leaves in the Fall, so mine was the only unruly lawn once the snow melted. I would rather have been out for a nice bike ride, but I succumbed to the “yard guilt” and picked up the rake. There was nothing for it but to get out there and get ‘er done.

While I was bringing order to my lawn universe again, I thought about my dad, whose birthday it was yesterday, and the pride he took always in keeping the house and the yard looking good. I thought about all the years he had raked leaves, and all the years I’ve done it at this same house, and others I’ve lived in over the years.

Sometimes the “again-ness” of life gets me down, but other times, like yesterday, it brings me comfort. So much is uncertain, but there will always be leaves to rake (as long as there are trees, and let’s hope that’s forever), and snow to shovel, and laundry to be done, etc. No matter what horrible or fantastic thing you’re dealing with, you still have to do the dishes or someday you’ll have to eat raw potatoes with your hands. There’s no changing that. You just have to figure out how you’re going to deal with it.

Raking (and all chores like that) are opportunities to connect with the essence of life – it’s againness – and find your place in it. The leaves don’t care who or how important you think you are, or how you feel about raking, or the seasons, or your job, or your life, or anything else. They’re just there, and you have to deal with them…or not. It’s your choice. How you feel about any of it doesn’t matter. The trees drop their leaves in the Fall whether you want them to or not. Period.

The universe couldn’t care less about you or me, or what you’d rather be doing or having or being.

It just is.

You can rail against that is-ness – cry and moan and feel sorry for yourself – or you can just go get the rake and get out there. Do the dishes, shovel the snow. Or not. Deal with life or don’t. Life doesn’t care. It’ll break you if you let it. It’s not personal, it’s just the way things are. Over and over again.

Do what needs to be done, and shut up about it. It’s the same for everyone. Life is ultimately about the ease with which you handle your particular again-ness.

As the man said, “Let it be.”

Failure to launch

You got to learn how to fall
Before you learn to fly
And mama, mama it ain’t no lie
Before you learn to fly
Learn how to fall. 

~Paul Simon

I heard this song on my way into work this morning, and I thought, “Okay, I’ve got the falling part down, when does the flying lesson start?”

In fact, I’m sick of falling. I’m bruised and broken, and slow to get up again these days. When I look back on my life, I see only the falls, no flying. Depression, failure at relationships, jobs and dreams – falling, falling, falling.

I’ve stumbled again, and this time I don’t want to get up. I don’t see the point. I’m tired and I don’t think I’ll ever get where I want to be. I’ll never fly. I flap my wings to exhaustion, but I never leave the ground.

Today I’m laying here in the dirt again, my back broken, looking up at the sky, and it looks as unattainable as always. I see others flying around up there, but I know I’ll never join them. It just doesn’t seem to be my place. I’m no more suited to the sky than a bear. My place is with the earth-dwellers, working hard for every morsel of sustenance, trudging along, making my way on the path, dodging the holes and the rocks.

The long way around.

I’m not the only one. I see others ahead and behind, looking up at the sky wistfully, tripping over their own feet occasionally, or a stick or a stone, struggling to get back up. We’ve got falling – failing – down pat. It’s the flying that eludes us. Broken wings, or too much weight…whatever.

Nothing to see here, folks, just another body on the path. One of the casualties, ill-equipped and not particularly bright. Didn’t have what it takes. C’mon now, nothing to see.

Move along.