Prose

Looking Back – Thoughts on The Past, The Present, The Future

Isn’t it funny how life changes? Nothing is ever, really, still. Atoms, molecules, cells, particles, are all in constant motion. Sometimes so fast we only see the aftermath. Looking backwards is kind of like that. You see the long, winding road from where you came, and you feel the earth beneath your feet, the sun shining on your face, in the present moment. And then, the future. I’ve heard people say “there is no future, only now,” and yes, sometimes when you look in front of yourself and realize just how much further you have to go, how much further there is to suffer, there feels there is no step forward. We want to step back, back into thousands of hours, millions of thoughts, countless prayers, that have shaped us and we want to be still. There’s a certain kind of emotion that bubbles up in this space. The familiar, the mundane. Every day could be the same. And then there’s another more sloppy emotion, something that gets stuck in our throats and rattles the entire body. Most people encounter this and become afraid. The warmth of the past, all those golden hours collected in our limited memories have more appeal and safety than this thick film that covers the way ahead.

Sometimes I think about the future. Mostly, I see it as white space, maybe even a blank canvas. There is nothing there, as it is empty and devoid of experiences because they have yet to exist. Similar to a sterile, white room. And when I try to grasp the experiences of the present, there are constant reminders that this, here, now, is only experienced afterward. We teeter on a paper-thin line that at once births into existence and is already behind us. A consent drawing of this line off the page. It exists with us, but we can’t see it, as we only can look behind us to understand where we are, how we got there, what it all means.

 

So then, the future becomes like a dream. Invisible, full of hope and dread. But we ignore the dread, because how could we ever imagine a future that isn’t bright, happy, and manufactured to our specific likings and requirements of such dreams? And thus, people can stay here, leaning backwards so they don’t have to face the wall, the void of the white space in front of them. If I can’t see you, you don’t exist. The farther away I am from you, the less you matter to me. Let me live my dreams.

 

There are others, however, who make their way through the hurdle of that certain slimy emotion, and reach out a toe into the space but cannot occupy it. Balanced with only one foot touching the ground, the other out in space, in nothingness, in possibility and the yet to be created. And this scares many, and yes, they fall. Some refuse to try again. Some are innately adept at keeping step with the dance of the unconditional, unconceivable. And their partner, invisible, will always keep step with them. Unaware, those that dance may never stop dancing, neither growing tired or sore from standing on just one foot. And their dancing partner is more than happy to accompany them through, about and within their steps.

Occasionally, one might jump and when neither foot touches the ground, something profound happens. Their attentive dancing partner can wisk them up, hold them far from the ground, and for a moment they are almost sure they know who is holding them. The revelation is exciting! Who knew there could be such a partner? Well, we must learn more, much more, so that we, even when going through the steps we are used to, get a glimmer of that partner. They long to lose the ground and become like nothing; the future spans out before them, the past, a blurry memory removed from time and space. And for just a moment, a small, tiny flutter, they can see everything. The expanding of time, the unlimited space, the ever stretching eternal that embraces each and every one of us, that has created, become, and always was us. That there are no words for the expanse that is sensed, and only sensed, in the expanding of our own hearts.

A long time ago, I always wanted to keep my feet on the ground.

Now, I feel most complete when I no longer touch it.

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