Where is my mind?

Last night, I was out to dinner with a small Meetup group. I had a very pleasant evening—good food, good beer, good company. When I went, I was carrying, in addition to my purse, a cloth bag with a library book in it, which was my public transit reading. I had hooked both my purse and the bag over the corner of the chair. When I left, somehow I had only my purse. The cloth bag and its contents are safe, just not yet with me where they need to be.

Saturday night, I went out to dinner with friends in Aldergrove, a 50 minute drive from home. That was a lovely time as well. Somehow, I managed to leave my credit card behind. The only possible excuse was that it matched the table top. On Sunday, I had to make the round trip again when I wish I had been lying out on the beach on the last summer day of the year. (At least I filled the tank for a decent price—there's making lemonade out of lemons for you!)

There is a concept in Buddhism called mindfulness. Right Mindfulness is the seventh of the factors of enlightenment known as the Eightfold Path. Mindfulness involves living consciously, with full awareness of one's surroundings. To be mindful, one must be fully present in time and space.

I'm not a Buddhist (I definitely have not forsworn either intoxicants or meat), but I incorporate many Buddhist teachings into my personal philosophy. I had thought I had made great progress toward greater mindfulness in my life, something I consider to be very important. When one is fully present, one is present both to oneself and to others, and that's how I want to be. Lack of mindfulness slights not only others but ourselves as well. Living semi-consciously is not really living at all.

I don't know what is leading to my recent lack of mindfulness. Lest you think it's just age and creeping dementia, this is not forgetfulness. My memory is actually better than it used to be. Carelessness is what it is. It's being in the next moment or a past moment, not the present moment. It's moving too quickly without sufficient thought.

Was I in a hurry on either night? No. There really was no reason for me to be so unmindful. And I need to fix this, if only for practical reasons, such as not having to make special trips to retrieve forgotten items.

Sweetie suggested doing a brief mindfulness meditation that I believe she does with her students. It's definitely worth a try. Meanwhile, I might also need to figure out if something is disturbing the equilibrium.

Last week at my company, three people I know (and some number of others whom I don't know) were laid off. One is a colleague with whom I've worked closely for many years. Part of the reason he is being let go is that the systems we work on are being replaced. That's been a long time coming, and it's still coming slowly, but more and more products are running on the new system. The writing is on the wall. Much as I am tired of the isolation of working from home, and much as I very likely need to find new opportunities for my own mental well-being, it will be hard to lose my salary all at once, even if the severance is good.

See, that's not even happening now, and yet my attention has been pulled to the future rather than the present. Not that I don't need to prepare for the eventuality of needing a new job (too early to retire yet). And I am. But therein lies another potential balance upset.

I'm working toward a certificate in technical writing. It's not that I couldn't get technical writing gigs without it. I've done it before. I have experience and lots of knowledge of the computer industry. But I want to make sure that I fill any gaps in my knowledge. As well, it's important for me to have a sense of my own competence before I do something. And finally, I'd like to have a piece of paper from BCIT to back up my claim that I know what I'm doing. It's a good plan to keep me working in a related field, and one in which I can make OK money, even if nothing like I make now.

Trouble is, my heart isn't really in it. I'm not sure where my heart is at this point when it comes to work, other than continuing what I'm doing as long as it lasts. I got my counselling certificate and thought I was going to go to grad school, but my heart wasn't really into that either (even though I thought it was for a while, and maybe it will be again). I will only ever be playing music for fun. I don't think there's a path for me to find work in the fashion industry. So I'm doing the "good idea" and "ought to" rather than "for love." And I'm bad at "ought to."

Still, once I start classes again, I'll probably be fine. And who knows. When the big layoff comes, maybe I'll get my Food Safe and go to culinary school for a year. I would probably enjoy every minute of it. If only the United States had decent health care, I could think of a lot worse things than retiring to Hanalei, Hawaii, and opening a food shack—or even something more ambitious. Stranger things have happened.

Embedding not allowed for this relevant and most excellent video from the Pixies.

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