Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembrance of Things Past

Beautiful memories are like comets hurtling through space, dazzlingly brilliant, but growing ever distant. I fear the stories that encapsulate my most beautiful memories will travel so deep into darkness that they will disappear from sight. Eventually they will become imperceptible even to the most powerful telescope, forever lost in the vastness of space.

That's how it feels to think about old friendships, or the feverish days of solidarity and angst in the punk scene, or the glory days on the high school football team, when things seemed intense, alive, maybe even perfect.

This weekend I reconnected with a dear old friend, someone who enriched my life with kindness during my formative years, when kindness was what I needed most. It is so easy to fall into depression, mourning the loss of sweet days. It is so easy to fall into the realm of the hungry ghost, haunted by the past, remembering what can never be again, haunting the earth with memories that jettison themselves so painfully into oblivion. Time feels like a cruel joke.

But the feeling we fear when we seek escape, letting our minds chase after old storylines, is also our most brilliant guide. It is the rising sun in our hearts, illuminating the way of discipline, bringing us into the present moment of basic goodness. This experience and discipline might sound like a fanciful, not-so-real thing, but it is real and you can learn to access it.

Basic goodness is the feeling of richness that lives not in the memory of old times, but in the present moment. The heartfelt feeling of tender sadness is the very essence of being human. We've all had glimpses of that basic human goodness. We are all trying to get back to it in our own unique way.

The way of discipline is to hold that feeling when it arises and let it wash over you. Don't escape into story-land. Hold the feeling, know what it feels like in your body, and cherish the richness of the present.

When I reconnect with an old friend and feel the sadness that comes with knowing things will never be the same, I'm reminded that while change is inevitable, I can appreciate the sweetness of life as it is right now. I can enjoy the authentic presence of the living human-being right in front of me. Free from projections of the past, I can be present with this person and appreciate her unique, brilliant nature.

I am reminded to practice this with every representative of the human race that I meet, free from projections, aware, in the present moment.

I don't have to latch onto old memories like a ghost haunting the faded glory of a deserted mansion. The richness is in the present. I can touch my heart, feel it, hold it, and let it go into the next moment, where new riches lay fresh and undiscovered.

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