Wednesday, September 2, 2009

That Was Then...but This Isn't!

The past is what comes before this moment, but it is not a vessel into which you must pour the rest of your life. Nor are you obligated to look back in bondage: the present is not cast by tentacles from the past.

The dense web of memory (think of Marcel Proust) can seduce you into the illusion that you are present to the unfolding of your life if indulging in memories. But by coddling your memories you are looking backward, while each new moment glides past unnoticed like a new frame for an old photograph.

I know a woman who is so blind to today that she compares everything she does, hears, and sees either favorably or unfavorably to what she did, heard or saw as a child. Nothing exists in its own new moment: nothing new can happen. It is as if her book is already written and all that remains of the task is appending the footnotes.

In this way, the original memory disappears like a sunken ship overwhelmed by coral--a new monolith calcifies. Retrospection becomes a celebration of vocabulary: how many ways can you conjure anew something that once was but is no more? And if you do this repeatedly, you risk becoming like dust left in the corners as your life sweeps by.

Live bigger than that. Moderate your habit of looking in the rearview mirror in order to drive forward.

Suit up for snorkeling. Try the french fries with white truffles. Wear red. Tomorrow, do something else. Give yourself over to radical awareness of the present. It doesn't matter what you used to do, or what you used to resist doing.

On this plane and in this dimension, the arrow of time only goes in one direction. Unless you possess superhuman powers, why not go with the flow?

Photography: Is this a new plant to you: Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys), Hawaii? If it is--oh, good!


  1. Thank you from Japan for your comments about that was then ... Recently we have been rehashing several painful past events, but as you so eloquently pointed out, this isn't.

    On the other side of the Pacific Ocean I, too, know that when I am in my mountain garden I am never alone. Being in the garden is a natural reconnection that always brings me back to the deepest and best part of myself. Thank you for your inspirational blog. I hope to visit often from the foot of Mount Fuji.

  2. Catrien, I am grateful that my post touches you, and I am humbled that you took the time to write and tell me so. I will hold you in my thoughts and prayers, that your healing may progress smoothly. The foot of Mount Fuji--it sounds like heaven to me. I think of prunus blossoms, blue skies, white snow, beauty abounding. Blessings to you, ~Sarah