How much of our life do we spend looking forward or back? Countless moments wishing about the ideal new future we will have someday or ruminating endlessly over all memories we wish could be do-overs. The hands of the clock just keep spinning as our minds play these scenes in our heads; it doesn’t hold still saving those precious minutes for a later day. No, it marches on ahead in its endless walk toward the end of time, our time at least–and what have we really gained during these memory visitations?
It’s true, there are certain positives that can be created from walking away from the present down our other time zones. Going back in time can prevent us from making the same mistakes (hopefully) by learning what felt wrong to us. And going forward can help us plan so we don’t create some huge disaster in our lives by simply going blindly.
But too much of either maybe isn’t good, is it? Making mistakes is hardly completely preventable and thinking too much about them can fill us with deep feelings of shame and guilt. And maybe taking leaps of faith into future plans may not be such a bad thing–it’s called trust. Trusting your intuition will know when something is or isn’t good for you.
It seems to me the only really effective way to be able to survive with any sense of contentment and ease, is then not to spend quantities of time in the past or present. Rather to live most fully in the present.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” ― Henry David Thoreau
If one truly commits to doing this, and it is no easy task as the mind is constantly aiming to pull you off task, then life begins to open up before you with crisp alertness. As each sensory organ gets tuned in to the world around us, everything becomes heightened. Noises leap out, smells drift under our noses, scenery becomes more illuminated and our sense of touch more sensual.
As our mind tends to drift away from the now, which can happen every minute with the distractions of every day life, we can pull it back to this minute by asking it to notice: what do I hear? do I see? what am I feeling right in this second? It is giving us back the gift of time, and while the clock is still moving, it is our lover instead of our prison guard.
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” ― Benjamin Franklin
So if we can wed our mind and time, and bring this union to one beautiful moment, then the child created stands still in bliss.
So a while ago, when I was sitting at home, in the thick of my contemplating about my life and future–I had a harebrained idea: I would take a course. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, but what I did know, even though it was kind of intimidating, was that I would attempt to do it online.
This may not seem like a very big deal to many of you out there in computer-land, but to me, the gal who is a ‘hands on’ learner, it felt very strange. But on the other hand, I also knew that I was in no position to go schlepping off to some place for a class, nor did I want to pay a huge amount of money for some program that maybe I wouldn’t like after a few weeks. And I knew that nowadays there are so many courses offered online. How hard could it be?
So I started to search, and sure enough, our local community college had some very short and very inexpensive courses that seemed quite reasonable to explore. Hey, I had nothing to lose since my time was wide open, so I decided to sign up for the Veterinary Assistant class–actually a set of three of them (maybe I was a bit ambitious) which started today. In the long run I guess I hoped it might land me a job.
I literally had no idea what to expect when I logged into ‘my classroom’ today. But there were my lessons, a syllabus, some quizzes, some assignments (optional), a forum area to talk with the Professor (a Vet from Canada) and other students, plus other relevant stuff.
It was all fairly straight forward. Of course I couldn’t get my printer to work when I tried to print the lessons (I finally did after 2 hours), something suggested by the teacher and a good idea for studying for the Final to have for later on. Once the class closes, one doesn’t have access to the information again, so I will create a notebook for reference.
This kind of learning is actually perfect for someone older (like me) or busy…go at your own pace. And it’s basically open book for exams–who wouldn’t love that? I’ve always felt that in real life one gets to look up what we don’t know, so why memorize everything? It’s great.
Will I get a job out of it? Well, the funny part is that after I had already signed up for it, I got a call for a job interview for a job that I applied for about a month ago. I’d given up thinking about it actually, but it so happens it’s at the very college where I’m taking this online course! Imagine that. The interview went as well as expected, but I am still waiting to hear. Who knows?
But I will take this course anyway as it is designed with pet owners in mind also. Plus it’s fun and always good to stretch one’s mind. Maybe I will even use the information to volunteer…
And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks….??
Now it is just long gone memories where we walk together, still close, feeling those moments nearby again. As we speak, the recapture, bringing present the feelings shared in a time of love and family. The falling into each other and the brave actions of daring to create, to take on labels that we each feared had forsaken us from the past. To love was to move outside, to step into something beyond the confines of our own mistrust and give. There was much there, in spite of youth, so much depth and connection. Much was formed, both in me and around us. The union spawned beauty and burned brightly.
And for this I give thanks. Searching the catacombs of the past, all is now just treasure. This will be kept, like an Emperor’s jewel, in the museum of my mind.
Much of life can be spent in a dream like state–or sleep walking through it, appearing awake, but really unconscious. In looking back on my life, it feels as though I’ve lived it like this: half here, half somewhere else. Maybe my eyes were open , but I wasn’t really seeing what was around me.
Then I try to look back on this life, I have very few memories that I can latch onto. Friends of mine will often recall great details from the past. It amazes me when they pull minute details of a situation, place or conversation, and I have giant gaps from these times. It’s as though I wasn’t there: a dark figure, lurking in the background. Maybe I was really just a statue, a wax figure of the person that was me. Or I was dozing in another world, perched in a land where no-one could really reach me.
Or maybe I just have a bad memory?
It makes me sad sometimes that I can only grab glimpses from my past or put few pictures together of good times to weave the mosaic of my life. Here and there I see some if I think really, really hard, but they are distant and blurry.
But now I am waking up. I’ve begun to pour cold water in the recesses of my mind and slap myself the way doctors did years ago to get babies to take a first breath. I want to breathe. It’s time to breathe now the fresh desire of creation. To take footsteps forward in the land of the living, where one looks around and everything pulses with energy. That stone figure crouched in a corner has metamorphosed into a spirit. It has taken on life. Looking around it sees the beauty of the world, hears the humming of the planet and tastes the nectar of nature. It absorbs at a deeper level, tucking these senses within.
Aroused by the pulsating beat of the earth, my life is beginning to finally happen. The start was slow and messy, taking the circuitous route, but is coming back on itself to the now. It can take flight and the quickening of it all leaves me light. The weight falls away, and now I flutter open….
There are times when it feels like it takes all my effort to keep the beast at bay. We each have our own beasts: financial burdens, relationship woes, weight issues, an illness, family problems, an addiction–the list is endless. My beast has been hiding in the bushes probably my whole life, blending in and camouflaged by the surrounding landscape. That landscape has been partly the creation of my own mind and parts of my life that simply lay hidden beneath the surface, like a creature that lives below the surface of the earth.
For many years I have lived my life with this beast only in my peripheral vision; it was often a silent marauder coming to me, slipping in and out of dreams and reality. But I was young, strong and mostly unaware. Life was a whirlwind of distractions: that carousel spinning, making me dizzy so I mostly didn’t notice this strange visitor who crossed my path.
When it did happen though, my heart became larger in my chest and I could feel it thudding in the front of my chest. My head felt heavy and my temples hurt…the room might tilt, if only for a moment, and reality would feel different. I knew something was closing in. It felt the air getting less and it was hard to breathe.
But the moment would pass. The world would return to normal (as normal is it can be) and I would forget, tuck it back into the recesses– the folds of my memory.
Now I am older and the habitat in which the beast dwells is thinning. Maybe climate change has effected that forest too, or maybe I am chopping the trees down myself? It seems I can sense this thing is coming closer; there is more clarity in which I feel its breath. I am familiar with the scent and know when it might be approaching at times. But there are still those unexpected moments when it creeps up on me and takes me by surprise, and I feel that weight again sitting on my chest. If I listen hard enough, then, I might hear the low growl of its voice telling me to beware…
It might be near, very near now, but what it wants, I still do not know. Why it hunts me is a mystery. And try as I may, ridding myself of it remains a secret lost within the darkness of the forest.
I readily admit a feeling of doom and gloom, not just because of yesterday…but life in general has been seeming blah. I’ve been working over-time to keep my spirits up, and during my meditation this morning, my old thoughts crept in. Those dark and bleak thoughts where I convince myself that I don’t know how to be positive for very long, that life always seems to put stuff in my path to make me feel low or lost.
Luckily, I don’t stay in this place very long these days…but it stinks that I go there at all. It seems like a shadow that follows me, on sunny days as well as rainy. It lurks just around the corner, like the crazy man smoking the cigarette by the lamp-post–the one that is a bit scary and mysterious all at the same time.
But happily some good things are happening to get me out of this slump I’m in, thank goodness. By luck, an old and dear friend is visiting. We all know there is nothing like friends to cheer us. Being surrounded by love and those that accept us for who we are without trying to change us is so important as times like these, especially when we are at odds with ourself and questioning our sense of self. For someone to take time away from work and to pay to visit really means a lot to me.
The other good news (although slightly bittersweet) is that my old home will finally close on Monday. It has dragged on for over a year and I’m really ready to be done with it all. In the end, it didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, and I was probably a sucker. Sometimes I am nicer than I should be and folks take advantage of my good nature. That was the case here. But hopefully I will gain some Mitzvah in the book of heaven? Or I am creating good Karma or at the very least the whole darn thing will be over once and for all.
I will miss that house and all its beautiful memories. This apartment can never compare in many ways: the gardens, the peace, the lake, the woods, the birds, the sunsets…. But its time has passed. And I am so grateful to be here with my Mom.
And I’m so blessed for the friends I have now, who accept me, even when I disagree and speak my mind. They seem to understand my moods, my faults and how I can be different. I am lucky that I can call on them to vent, to cry or to be silent for they will always listen and not judge me.
So even if the world may change in a way I might not like or agree with, my tiny world will stay the same as long as I have those near and dear to me close by. And we will continue to keep our world filled with love, kindness, empathy and compassion for each other at least–and there’s usually some left over for others that may need it too.
So many things can skew the way a particular incident is relayed or interpreted. Perspective or jealousy may be different sets of blinders that will cast a shadow over the eyes of the orator. These are only two.
It’s so hard anyway to remember minute details from the past. Our memories are clouded by so many things. The human brain can be such a poor machine at times, only as good as its guiding tool, the heart. So it may remember something based on what it wants to recall rather than what actually happened
The snap shots that our eyes see and that the brain processes are really pretty feeble. This has been proven time and time again when ‘eye witness’ accounts are disproven in court. We all know that if you ask 12 different people an account of an incident, they will come up with 12 different scenarios, each with their own bit of flair based on their personal perspectives.
In leaving my job recently, when the people who liked me asked someone who was my friend what happened and where I was, the reply was that I had a family emergency and had to leave suddenly. The answer was accepted and understood wholeheartedly and well wishes were sent. On the other hand, when someone who did not care for me got their information from one of my ‘enemies’ shall we say: then the answer was–oh she left on bad terms. This, instead, makes me sound like a bad guy. Information then gets passed on to others and the gossip line continues….
People are all so fascinating . The paths they choose to walk and what they want to hold on to. And we all see things from our own perspective. Trying to see things from someone else’s is a challenge, one that you must work at, but is greatly worth doing. When we put ourselves in another’s place, new worlds open up. A path into theirs…
Sometimes the worlds we see may be hard, sometimes beautiful. But they are not our own. And this is when we learn true empathy. It’s very easy to be insulated within our own bubbles, especially around those that lose perspective and hurt us. But keeping open to their troubles that makes them hurtful, gives us understanding and keeps us humble to our own issues.
None of have been perfect and we have all done things wrong to others. Goodness knows I have hurt people along the way. We are lucky if we’ve been forgiven. To be forgiven, we must learn to forgive. Keeping anger out of our souls can be tough, but it is a real path to enlightenment.
This is what I am learning. And I keep hoping that I can continue with the blinders off and a heart without anger.