3P Random Reflections Blog

I found a bug in my purchased lettuce as I was washing it.
I used to think that was a problem.
Now I'm happy to see it whenever it happens.
On a drive in summer, a bunch of bug splatter appeared on the windshield.
I used to think that was a problem.
Now I'm happy to see it whenever it happens.
My garden kale was being nibbled at by invisible creatures in the night, and by fluffy creatures during the day.
I used to think that was a problem.
Now I'm happy to see it whenever it happens.
As I descended the stairs into the basement, a spider darted into a crack in the wall, and an armadillo bug slowly lumbered across the cement floor.
I used to think that was a problem.
Now I'm happy to see it whenever it happens.
These days I'm not so quick to flinch, and repel, and frustrate, and fear.
I'm not so quick to control and sterilize the beautiful, incomprehensibly alive environment around me.
Instead, I often greet my miniature friends with hello and goodbye, sometimes (if alive) finding them another home to inhabit, and sometimes letting them continue with their work, knowing that their presence is a much more healthy sign than is their absence.
I'm discovering that I can often live quite cooperatively with my fellow universe dwellers, sometimes in obvious benefit, sometimes in not-yet-obvious-to-me benefit, and most often just in appreciation and wonder.
On Earth Day, and every day, wouldn't it be lovely to discover that everything (and everyone, for that matter), wasn't something to manage, or control, or change, or fix, or squish, but instead was an object of incredible wide-eyed wonder for which we have yet to discover its many hidden benefits?
I keep inviting myself to that exploration. I'd love to have you join me.
With Love and Laughter,
(Photo by Gustavo Fring)
Whether I am hanging out with family or friends, or I'm listening to someone's experience of suffering, or I'm working on a project, or I'm just peeling potatoes, life is less of a thing to do, less of something to get, less of a way to be, less of a method to apply, less of an objective to achieve, and now is more of a meditation or prayer to live.
Increasingly, there's a discernment for the inner waves of my thoughts and feelings, and how they fully create my experience of the present moment...
...That awareness, whenever it arises, opens a space to gently "self-adjust" back toward presence and grace... which is beautifully and simply what the truest form of meditation or prayer asks us to do.
It asks us to be aware of the feeling-quality of our mind's incessant chatter, noticing how it has taken us away from where we are in the present moment. It asks us to lean back to the quieter, but more alive feeling of our inner ground of being.
And even though meditation or prayer is a very singular and PERSONAL act, it moves our inner world from the personal to the greater IMPERSONAL.
It drops the regretfully perceived personal past and the anxiously imagined personal future, revealing LIFE itself.
And that impersonal state of presence offers wisdom.
Not a wisdom for the "personal me", but a wisdom that transcends me.
A wisdom that understands and considers the greater interconnection and complexity of things.
A wisdom that understands what the personal insecure ego and intellect never could and never would.
So, whenever I happen to notice that I'm starting to feel an internal tenseness, I may then have the awareness to relax, to fully allow for and accept whatever thoughts and feelings are appearing, while at the same time leaning back toward an awareness of love, or understanding, or inner peace, or connection, or awe, or curiosity, or humour... all forms of grace, all very present, and all the ground of being that is found in living meditation or prayer.
While I may not "personally like" a particular situation appearing in front of me, it doesn't stop me from "impersonally loving" it...
...falling back into meditation or prayer in some way, so that I realize a deeper understanding of it... or I see a bigger picture beyond the apparent person or circumstance... or I notice bits of beauty or wellbeing or resilience or joy or humour or kinship or curiosity.
Day to day, I still have PLENTY of moments and periods when I'm stuck in a funk, or caught up in crazy, and feel very far away from any state of meditation or prayer. But even a spark of awareness of NOT being present to a fuller perception of life, helps guide my actions in ways that are wiser with less collateral damage...
...It'll occur to me to pause and reflect before I act. It'll occur to me to wait for the next eventual moment of grace.
And when I'm back in the grace of living meditation or prayer, it offers an internally felt trust... an experiential "knowing" of OK-ness, no matter the chaos inside me or around me.
It offers quiet within me, so that I can hear the wisdom that is beyond me... no personal need for a specific outcome... no personal attachment... just doing and seeing what appears next... doing and seeing... doing and seeing... doing and seeing.
And there's a sense of wonder for ALL of it, knowing that whatever I may think this current moment of LIFE to be, it could only ever be the tiniest glimpse of the incomprehensible vastness of what it truly is.
And so, each day, I keep learning to lean toward that state of living life as meditation or prayer...
...And then I do and see.
My sense is that as I endeavour to do simply that, the universe quite capably takes care of the rest.
With Love and Laughter,
(Photo by Polina Tankilevitch)
Rick and I were chatting while out on a walk. The discussion had something to do with human behaviour and a specific concept I was trying to explain. I remember nothing about the topic or the content, but I do remember I was getting irritated.
My ego wanted him to just listen, but apparently his assigned universal role that day was to keep poking holes in whatever was my point.
And since my ego, on that particular day, didn't want to play along, and couldn't seem to ignore the pokes, and didn't think to change the topic, its only option left was to engage in a war in defence of itself.
After several irritating pokes followed by my increasingly irrational and impatient responses, my ego started to feel trapped. As the ego goes into fear mode, it loses considerable IQ points.
So, in a fog of confusion and desperation, and with no access to wisdom or clarity, all my ego could think to do, was to throw out a grenade. I said something to the effect of... "Well, then you can say that about the holocaust!"
I think Rick responded with something in the form of, "Well, you don't need to go to there."
I stopped responding. He stopped poking. The walk got quiet. LOL!
In this particular war, the poking did stop, so I guess my ego's grenade appeared to achieve at least one of its goals.
However, as with any war, there was some collateral damage. My ego was left with a few sores, and my body was left with some tension and adrenaline to dissipate. Perhaps Rick might have had some of his own wounds to tend. I don't know.
When I reflect on the event, I see that I had some awareness of my internal atmosphere building toward potential war... I could feel my growing irritation with each successive poke, accompanied by my ego's immediate and compelling need to respond in defence.
If instead, I had been in the feeling of a relaxed state of grace, the pokes wouldn't have felt like pokes at all, and I wouldn't have had any need to defend or engage in war.
But unfortunately, Grace didn't show up that day. "I" did. LOL!
After the walk turned quiet, there was the lingering tension within my mind and body, but there was also the beginnings (as keeps happening again and again and again), of humbling amusement...
I remembered that in the moment I was tossing my grenade, that there was a whisper of awareness that I was acting out a cliche... I was going to an "extreme" that I often see others do, whether in conversations with friends or clients, or on the news, or in social media. Something that I thought I was mostly past doing.
My awareness caught my ego's hand in the cookie jar, so to speak. But hey, once your hand's already in there, what do ya do? LOL! The grenade had already been lobbed.
This phenomena of throwing out extreme examples happens frequently when there are differences in views, especially when internal states of "low mood" and ego are at play.
Instead of genuinely listening and reflecting, and curiously enquiring with more nuanced examples, the uncomfortable ego projects outward to the extreme... Well what about Hitler?! Well what about pedophiles?! Well what about murder?! Well what about the starving children? Well what about <insert extreme example here>?!
And what is it that makes us think to grab for an extreme? Is it that it's handy and obvious? Is it that it's easier to go for cliches when our reduced state of IQ can't navigate nuance? I don't know, but it's interesting to reflect on.
Going to extremes (engaging in war) is just one of many symptoms of cognitive dissonance... that feeling you get when something doesn't match your view of reality, and if your ego happens to get engaged, it moves into protection mode. You cover your ears and eyes, you stomp your feet, and you throw out grenades to make it go away.
But if I look deeper, and recall my own personal feeling of this particular experience, I think it goes right back to where I started... with the need to be heard.
I just wanted him to listen.
When I'm feeling the inevitable pendulum swing of the human internal life, from feeling secure to feeling insecure, from feeling more connected to inner grounding to feeling less connected to inner grounding, it always includes moments and periods of the swing toward insecurity and disconnection and suffering.
And those feelings can come out in infinite forms.... irritability, lostness, anxiety, depression, overwhelm, stress, distress, anger, righteous judgment, etc. You name it. We've all got our own unique go-to's of personal crazy.
When we're in that state of suffering, we can't take anything in... we can't hear, we can't see, and our access to grace and wisdom and common sense completely disappears.
What we really need in that moment is someone to notice the thorn in our paw, and to approach us with understanding and care. To KNOW deeply within themselves that we're all always innately and fundamentally OK, but just temporarily lost and stuck and disconnected from source.
With that true understanding of us that they are holding, they tap into a wisdom that shines a light in our darkness, and helps guide us back home to sanity and safety.
With the grace of that light and space, we see our true self again, and we feel it's unconditional acceptance and love. The pendulum finds its equilibrium.
Rick and I had a conversation about this post, and since then have had a lot of laughs about it.
He was amused that he couldn't remember what we were talking about either. He reflected on how significant that was... we can both remember the war, but not the reason for it.
He later remembered that before going to the holocaust extreme, I had said something to the effect of, "Well, that's just spiritual bypassing!" and "Well, that may be true from that perspective but I'm talking about the REAL world!"
I burst out laughing.
My ego had been pulling out every cliche in the book! I know it wasn't at all funny in the moments I was saying those words, but now being back to my better state of mind and connection to my grounding, it's quite hilarious.
Rick also shared that in hindsight, had he been more aware of me going off the rails, instead of engaging his army in demonstrating its military superiority, he might have realized that "stealthily exiting from engagement" was a better option.
In the end, we're both human pendulums, and so this won't be our last war, and likely won't be my ego's last reach for the extreme.
But how lovely every time we both get back to equilibrium and get to laugh at our adorable humanity.
With Love and Laughter,
(Photo by njellL)
An odd and rarely-considered thing, is that life is incredibly big, while my actual experience and understanding of life is incredibly small.
Even if I consider only what is going on within me and a few feet around me, the vastness and complexity of that small bubble of life is infinitely incomprehensible. The more I know, the more I discover how much I don't know.
Imagine then how that vastness and complexity compounds when looking out further to the neighbourhood, the country, the world, the universe.
And to add something amusing to the odd, is that I mostly live as if I "know"... as if I have a pretty good handle on what's going on... as if my sense of the whats and wheres and whens and whys and hows of life are valid and accurate.
After all, I've been around for 60 years. This isn't my first rodeo moment, or day, or week. Of course I must know what's going on. I've got a whole shipping container filled with knowing, and it took a lot of work to collect it!
I sense that all this lifetime collection of "knowing" gives me some comfort.
"Knowing" conveniently and readily gives me some answer for any circumstance that arises, especially for the situations that may be accompanied by fear, or anxiety, or anger, or depression, or hopelessness, or righteous judgment, or any other felt distress.
How could I navigate any of those if I didn't "know"?
When I "know", my life appears to be under some level of control. I feel secure.
As well, the great advantage of the phenomena of "knowing" is that it is incredibly innovative... who could not be amazed at it's part in creating buildings and submarines and dishwashers and cell phones? Knowing can be powerful.
But lately, I've been losing respect for knowing, whether my own knowing, or that of the rest of humanity.
I've noticed how knowing can be very heavy to carry around, and I've noticed how much energy it takes to continually reason it, and justify it, and defend it.
I've noticed that with knowing often comes the compelling need to be correct and right and to organize all the bits of knowing into neat little bento boxes with secure lids, conveniently tossing out whatever doesn't fit.
But all that defining and organizing and protecting can be quite exhausting, and even dangerous. The more that knowing does its inevitable reducing and separating and dividing, the more knowing thrives. But knowing can often be like a cancer that eventually kills its host.
My own knowing has certainly created its own share of suffering.
When I look around at life and nature, it appears that it was not meant to be so known and controlled and protected. And it appears to have thrived amazingly well, despite not appearing to "know" at all. How is that?
Could all of life be navigated without the need for knowing?
What if, for me, the mystery of life was more revered than the knowing of it?
Instead of carrying around my heavy shipping container of knowing throughout each day wherever I go, perhaps I could just leave it aside, and float into each new moment on a cloud of wonder?
Wonder is weightless... it has no history, no story, no need, no attachment, no expectation, and no fear.
Wonder still sees, and feels, and ponders, and awes, but wonder never has any need for any enduring surety.
Wonder offers ideas and possibilities, and it tries things out, but it holds it all, oh so very lightly, which leaves wonder open to continue to explore and marvel at the next appearance of life's infinite complexity and mystery.
Wonder freely accommodates for life's inherent nature of continual change.
Wonder holds no measures.
And wonder never needs to protect or defend or prove. It knows that any protection or defence or proof that appears solid from one perspective, will always fall completely apart from another perspective.
Wonder just experiences... observing, noting, and responding to whatever temporarily appears.
Wonder is wholly present. It uses what it needs in each changing moment without needing to hang onto whatever has just been used.
In the complete absence of knowing, wonder delights.
Despite my growing distrust of knowing and my growing appreciation for wonder, I still have a very large shipping container stuffed full of knowing.
Whenever I think I need any of that knowing, without even realizing it, I've already opened its big, heavy, creaky steel doors and found myself busily filtering through all the items inside.
And most everything, at first glance, always appears to be quite significant and important and solid and true.
But whenever I allow my eyes adjust to the light, and I look beyond first glance and forage, I notice that a growing % of the knowing may not be as important or valid as I initially thought.
The more I look and reflect, the more discerning my eyes and body become to the significant space and weight that all this knowing takes up, and the tethered burden it creates.
One day a few years ago, my shipping container completely disappeared. Everything I "knew" was gone. You might think that that would be scary, but in contrast it was unexpectedly freeing.
I was left with a "knowing", but it wasn't a knowing of anything that could be stored in a shipping container. It was the knowing that is already fully alive in everything, a knowing that defies capture and description, but oddly explains everything.
A few days after my shipping container had disappeared, it came back again. Hilariously, I didn't even know I had one until it disappeared.
For a while, I tried to get rid of it. But that didn't work out very well.
Since then I've been learning to be OK with my shipping container, and whatever it happens to manifest in any particular moment. I'm sort of learning to make friends with it.
There are even joyful times when I delight at discovering the next item of complete ridiculousness that has been stored in there... much of which, I admit, I don't appear to be quite ready to drop off at the recycling depot just yet.
In a way, I think my shipping container of knowing is now teaching me something significant about knowing... the difference between the heavy holding of it (my personal identification with it), versus the light and lovely impersonal wonder of it.
It's certainly mine to explore, but it never has to be mine to hold.
I'll let you know how it goes.
With Love and Laughter,
(Photo by Swapnil Sharma)
Tomorrow is the start of my "March Away From Social Media" month... which seems amusingly-to-me appropriate for the month of March.
I expect to be back in April, but who knows?
While I'm away, fully engaging in whatever I am otherwise being distracted from by social media, I could end up creating the world's first and highly renowned Museum For Mysteriously Displaced Neighbourhood Treasures, which would clearly be a full time endeavour, allowing no more time for social media at all.
Or perhaps I shall found the ground-breaking Reverse-Navel-Gazing Institute, designed to engage more with life and less with my "personal crazy". The first actions shall include jumping in puddles (once the snow melts of course), opening doors for strangers, and giving all my money away.
The universe is quite surprising... with infinite potential, ANYTHING could happen. I'm looking forward to whatever it decides to serve up this March.
OK, now back to the point of this post... social media.
To be completely honest, I have no idea how much I am being affected by social media... and I'm really curious about that.
It seems ridiculously obvious to me how much social media is unknowingly affecting many others, and then as always occurs to me...
"Well if all these generally functioning human beings are being affected so unknowingly and powerfully, then how am I also unknowingly and powerfully being affected? What am ---I--- not seeing as obvious for myself?"
Having had a glimpse of the immeasurable power that my own thoughts have, to fool, manipulate, and mislead me, I wonder how much I am inevitably being manipulated by the systems that know how to take advantage of that very same reality-creating nature of human thought?
I've read lots of articles and seen a few talks and movies about how powerful is social media's algorithmic programming, as well as what it is primarily designed to do (ie, catch and keep our attention). The more attention captured, the more advertisers and investors will be attracted.
And so, a countless number of people, companies, and organizations work to capitalize on this readily available pool of attention. Many will directly pay for that attention in all the posts that you see labelled as "sponsored". But many will not, or they will do a combination of paid and non-paid advertising.
The non-paid advertising (ie, any kind of message sharing) is done by putting time and resources into "gaming" the systems. While continually learning and discerning how the algorithms work, they build profiles, develop pages, and create posts that capture attention and encourage clicking, comments, sharing, and our 1-click reactions (like, love, care, angry, sad, etc.)...
Even our own egos do this very same thing in our own unique ways... directing us in what we choose to share and how, either for better "likeability", or for whatever other type of image or response our ego needs or craves, including even rejection. Our habits of social media use represent who our ego wants us to be.
Being aware of all of this, and being aware that "car crashes" capture more attention than anything else, I've worked very intentionally at curating what I engage with on social media.
I've spent time observing and learning about all the many creative forms of increasingly clever click bait, and then I have practiced intentionally avoiding taking the bait.
Even with that intention, it's amazing how much I will still catch myself just about to click on a "car crash" or an "engaging squirrel" or a "mystery box".
All of these communication tricks that are used to get our attention, are often designed to do so by creating some form of fear/insecurity, or create scarcity, or foment division... all to further a specific cause (whether financial or ideological). I once heard this communication referred to as "Satan's Handbook of Marketing". LOL!
And although I may appear to be much less pulled in by any of the car crash type of attention-getters than I was in the past, I'm still on social media spending much more time here than seems wise or as life-affirming as life could be.
And so, I reflected on that.
What occurred to me, is that even though my careful curating helps me avoid going down the rabbit holes of "endless despair" that come from engaging mostly in the car-crash or I'm-not-enough ads, I am still (innocently and unknowingly) working COMPLETELY in cooperation with the social media algorithms to give me more of what I wish to see... and hence, more of my attention.
My social media tools may now be producing a "happier, kinder, nicer" reality-creating-scroll-feed of attention, but it's still attention.
No matter what I do, the algorithms with their capability for lightning speed, will continually curate whatever is placed on my feed. They will keep offering me more of whatever I choose to engage with in each and every changing moment, adaptively innovating and making course corrections with each like, comment, share, click, and even pause.
The algorithms are so sophisticated, they can even read my continually changing mood and interests. Combined with their intimate knowledge of my life history (age, sex, politics, geographic region, religion, ethnicity, education, employment, hobbies, habits, income, purchases, world views, etc.), they add that to their human-behavioural programming, to offer me not only what I'm interested in now, but whatever will statistically and predictively capture MORE of my interest tomorrow.
With a financial business model fed entirely by human attention, it makes sense that the programming will only continue to get more and more intelligent at gaining just that... my attention.
That business model is also combined with our current world economic model that requires continuous growth as its only marker of success (at the expense of all else).
Without any changes to either the social media business model or our current economic model, I don't see any way to get out of this increasingly powerful attention-getting-loop, other than perhaps leaving social media entirely.
That would partly solve the social media problem as it affects me in one particular way.
However, it doesn't have much impact on all the indirect ways that social media affects my life. Nor, would one single user (ie, me) leaving have much impact on the underlying issues of the problem... our business and economic models... and ultimately our societal misunderstanding of human insecurity.
I've taken breaks from social media before.
The breaks have helped me gain some level of perspective, and have organically offered me some discernment in how I am affected by its use.
Even during short breaks, I've noticed a mental and physical lightness that has offered me more appreciation for life, and more grace and resilience for navigating whatever life chooses to offer up. As a result, I have made some changes in how I use it.
In the past, that was enough.
This time however, I think this break will include a bit of time reflecting on whether to come back to using social media or not, and if yes, perhaps a clearer idea of what that all means.
And so, for all who wish to join in on the fun of museum-building and puddle-jumping, may I wish you a very happy March Away From Social Media month!
With Love and Laughter,
(Photo by Klub Boks, cropped and edited)

Latest comments

12.12 | 22:29

Thank you Lars! So happy to hear from you, and glad you enjoyed the reading! I hope to continue writing and sharing whenever inspired. 😊

12.12 | 14:30

Hi Jonelle
Just stumbled across your website, love reading all your insights.
Hope you keep sharing. Thanks from Lars (all the way from Denmark

05.09 | 16:09

Lovely to hear from you Sharon! And thank you for the question. This website has limited space for comments, so I hopefully it's OK to send you an email. 😊

05.09 | 05:52

Hi Jonelle, just started reading this site-thank you so much. I have a question I hope you can answer for me: are emotions & feelings the same thing?