Good morning, everyone ~
This has been a rather nostalgic week, filled with brain-file cascades of fond memories. When I stop to take a closer look, however, I begin to see how each fond memory got its birthing from some fairly harsh experiences. For instance:
A dear friend loaned me a book: “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Australian author Lian Moriarty. In each of the nine main characters I could see something of myself at different stages of my Life. One in particular had more of me in her than any of the others. As I read alongside the cascading brain-files, I smiled. Even when the character was being sorely challenged, I found myself gently smiling in empathy for her, but also in encouragement for her. Hang on, I wanted to say to her; this too shall pass.
I also realized that the author herself must have taken chapters from her own Life Experiences, from her own age-n-stage of selfhood. How else could she have created such real people? We cannot write the Future as it will be; only as we think it might be. We can predict certain outcomes, based on facts presently at hand and what we have learned from the Past. However, predictions are not 100% accurate. It’s only in reviewing (re-looking) at our Past that we can begin to see how we have risen into new Life once the ashes of the Past have cooled enough for safe sifting.
nostalgia: (Greek) returning to the past
Returning — NOT reliving; NOT re-creating; allowing the hot-fire wounds of the Past to heal enough, cool enough, that we can start sifting through those brain-file ashes … and learn how to rise like a phoenix bird into living color again.
As a child, I predicted that I would live forever in my mother’s dark valley … marry some high school sweetheart … repeat the cycle of rural life/poverty/struggle. I was wrong.
In adolescence, I predicted that no one would ever love me (really love) … for I had become damaged goods as a result of dating the wrong young man. I was wrong.
Early adulthood, marriage/children, the two of us working/learning how to budget money/time/energy … I predicted that we had achieved a slice of the American Dream-pie. I was wrong.
For the past two years of this COVID pandemic, decades of global warming, political debates morphing into community violence … I have almost stopped predicting that we humans can turn this thing around and create salvation of Earth/each other. I do not want to be wrong.
We live in challenging times, to put it mildly. Our history is filled with similar chapters, and harder chapters. We have survived. Have we yet learned how to thrive … and in such a way that we avoid being arrogant/narcissistic/smug? Can we thrive and be part of the story that can be written with a collective happy outcome? I predict that humans have not yet evolved to such altruistic levels. I hope I’m wrong.
Another dear friend who lives several states away, owns a prosperous business, born from the ashes of her parents’ farmhouse/lands. Visitors to her B&B see beauty all around, attention to detail, focus on comfort/joy. They do not, however, see any of the ashy Past, the moments of despair/heartache/heartbreak/struggles that burned as hot-n-harsh as any wildfire.
A third dear friend, several more states removed from me, smiles in every letter/phone call, plays piano/sings, helps her neighbors, feeds birds/squirrels, keeps track of others’ lives/struggles. We see her shining like a beacon into our own dark-night moments, leading us into a safe harbor where we can drop anchor/park our words of worry-n-woe, and know that she will pour the healing oil of love in the form of prayers for us. We see only the tip of the iceberg of her own Life struggles … . How many fires, how much ash has she fingered through that we are not aware of? A person of her level of understanding/compassion must have had a fiery Past. How else is compassion/understanding born?
Is this not the way, the only way, we humans will achieve a Future worth experiencing? To sift through the ashes once they have cooled, and stir into New Life the thriving phoenix of our own potential to care again … to care enough … to focus on creating the story of humanity’s Future in which we all transform our ashy Past of personal pain into a safe harbor for self/others. I predict that such a Future is possible. I hope I’m right!
LAST WEEK’S CHALLENGE:
Who said: “… most individuals … simply faced p to the complications of emotions and life. They coped. … We do know that if problems have lasted for more than a month … [they] probably aren’t going to remit spontaneously. … But mental health is the most inexact of sciences. Different things work for different people. Even if a pattern of familiar symptoms appears, if it isn’t causing impairment, it isn’t a disorder. … If you’re OK, it’s OK.”
ANSWER: Dr. Robert N. McLay, in his book: “At War with PTSD — Battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Virtual Reality”.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:
Who said: “All war is based on deception.”
Focus: There is more to our ashes of the Past than meets the eye of the Present.
Keep sifting. Keep coping. Keep being nostalgic and forward thinking. There is still something to be done, even when all seems lost in Past mistakes/wrong predictions/false assumptions. Keep hope alive, and watch her rise!
Gentle hugs/much love,
Thanks so much to all of you for your support of this program, and especially for those kind words of concern for my well-being during September when back issues prevented my being able to facilitate the Group. You’ll never know just how valuable that was to my healing process. Hope rises!