One CD in my collection played only at Yuletide, for no more than a week, brings me to tears for all the Winter Festivals gone past in since I was twenty. Music to make me weep. The disc only came to me a quarter of a century ago, but it pulls all the memories from the twenty plus years before, the tears flow blurring vision through which I see like yesterday the Yuletide I became engaged to my first husband, and then the Christmases we shared for a year over a quarter of a century. Music to make me weep. The scene changes to the first Yule after I met my second husband, shared three thousand miles a apart on the phone all Christmas Day the same meal, and the same video after, and the first one we were together a year later after his two young daughters moved this at time to Ireland, after the ten years in England and Orkney, then the Yule alone, after he left me for another. Music to make me weep. Finally, six years ago in Bath, the three cats and I with the man who became husband three, a big house in the city and in then the years since after the big house to our place in the country, a home to share a life to cherish a time of gratitude. Music to make me weep. This CD has taken me through three lifetimes since I became an adult, in such different places all of which the music slips into my memory holding tenderly the remembrances of joy and gladness, gingerly those of loss and pain; for this is the power of music, to elicit emotion, to recall events, to jostle free recollections of times and people past and gone, present and here, into the future and yet to be this CD will take me through those Yuletides as well. Music to make me weep. The CD is Celtic Christmas II: A Windham Hill Collection
I was once told: Remembering the past is easy, it’s remembering the future that’s difficult. Those words have haunted and challenged me for many years now, during which time I have struggled to come to terms with the gift of triple vision – of seeing the now, but always in the light and in the shadow of the then and the yet. There is no written guide passed down, passed along, merely stumbling along as best as possible hoping this technique is adequate, knowing that it is not. How is it that I arrive at these places of semi-understanding, quasi-comprehension out of my depth, facing the breadth of clear perception and shaded sight, opening like a giant maw of uncertainty before me? Questions unanswerable, barely asked as I move beyond the mist held past and toward the fog shrouded future.
Through a deep borne past
we move through today
a phoenix rising
from the ashes
victories and failures,
the just sped through
The title words of this reflection shot through my awareness as I was in the shower this morning. Repeating them like a mantra I was able to hold onto them until I made my way dried and dressed to my journal to transcribe them and the words following here. I KNOW in my bones, in the interstices of my very self, what they mean, and for me at least how significant they are for how I actively perceive my life and its text, context and subtexts.
The past we carry – past as in yesterday no less or more than the past of six lifetimes ago.
This does not mean the past is, ought or need be a burden. We carry it lightly, but bear it deep within us.
What does this then say about our present? Where does that fit in?
The present mediates then and yet. Both are managed, as it were, through the prism, the lens of now.
One comes from somewhere and is on a journey to somewhere else, and it is the actual steps of the journey that comprise the now. We can’t go back. We can’t skip ahead. This keeps us on our path, one step and footfall at a time.
We have had, of course, or I believe that I have had as many futures as I have had pasts. Or to put it more forcefully: I believe that I have as many pasts as futures in the larger view of multiple lives across time. More prosaically, even if you do not credit past or future manifestations/incarnations, since every yesterday had, and has, a tomorrow, and every tomorrow has, and will have, a yesterday and we move between one and the other from yesterday and tomorrow through today. Then for all of us there have been as many pasts as there are futures.
This is the reason it is important to honour every day, to honour the everyday. In so doing we don’t just slip along through life. We step with intention. We move with deliberation. We make choices. We acknowledge mistakes and accept their lessons. We take responsibility. We are not passive. We don’t just observe our life; we live it. It’s not riding on our own personal high speed train, where one day blurs into another. It’s putting on our hiking boots and going out to live in all emotional, physical and spiritual weathers.
We may only have a vague idea of what direction we are heading, maybe a crude map, with key markers on it, but that’s good, as it should be. There is not OS map for the soul, not satnav for a life journey. There is no knowing what the topography of tomorrow will be like. We only find out on the ground. There is no one, or should not be someone, telling us to take the third exit in the roundabout of experience. We have to live them to find out. So, we will stumble onto boggy bits and get through them. We will confront rivers swollen with the torrents of pain or distress, and we will ford them. We will trek across barren places and through barren times, but we will get through them to greener places again.
Living with an awareness of one’s deep borne past gives us hints that arise from both our knowledge and our knowing. It is made up of, as we are made from, the large small, the happy and hurtful events of this life, as well as those we have lived before. In all this it is vital to remember that the future is much more vast than next weekend or a score of years from now, for it means who we will be the next time as well.
But now, and not just this present life, but this very instant, is what constitutes and makes the past meaningful; because the moment you read the first part of this sentence or as you read along word for word, the present has become the past.
The now is always, and inescapably, becoming simultaneously both then and yet.
For me it’s part of how I get my head around time, the flow of time, my flow by time through space, the measures and structures of my existence.
Thinking and writing about these things, and reading them, in some inexplicable way becomes part of the then that we have walked together into the mystery of yet.
May the nows of today bring you meaning from the then and courage for the yet.
All right, I admit it, I’m not good at waiting.
Not good at waiting around for news, to hear back from someone, for something to happen that is in the air so to speak. I get edgy. I need to move around. I pace like a caged tiger. I fidget and can’t concentrate very well unless I force myself.
As I write this I am waiting to hear the outcome of a job interview. I don’t think I’ll get it as there are not only the external candidates, but the internal ones as well. I’ve lost out in that scenario before, ‘pipped at the post’ they said. But I have not choice but to wait. And the longer the wait the less confident I am of a good outcome.
My mind races, it goes over little things again and again. It runs back over big things as well.
It it is prime example of not being in control. I’ve never given birth, so I don’t know what that waiting is like, but I have waited for death. I have waited for things I’ve seen to happen. Waited for days of supreme importance to dawn and unfold. I have waited for buses, planes and trains. I have waited for nights that are too long to end and days that are too long to come to a close. I have waited for something I’ve counted on happening or doing only to find out at the last moment it might not and the disappointment is proportional to the length of the wait.
I am not good at waiting. Most of the things I have waited for are completely out of my hands. They are in the hands of the gods or in the hands of others.
Sometimes I wish I was more comfortable or competent at waiting. Of knowing how to use the time between what I am experiencing in the present to what will be revealed in the future coincide. But, alas . . .
I do know that in certain instances when I am in control of the waiting that to do so risks never. Put off something indefinitely and it becomes forever. I have had that happen often enough that I try not to be caught in that situation, or at least as seldom as possible.
In the throes of waiting I find doing almost impossible; I’m pushing hard to write this post. Each time I pause I have to yank hard on the reins of my thoughts to bring them around again to the task at hand.
So I am waiting still. Holding on and hanging in until the phone rings and then I carry on with a different level and intensity of waiting and doing until the next time. I do wish I was better at waiting.
I have not done a great deal of truly deep thinking lately, but I have done quite a bit of broad sensing. By that I mean extending myself, reaching out the energies around me farther from me. I was aware about not doing the thinking bit, but only realised in the past couple of days about the sensing part. Or at least how the extending part seems to be working for me, with me, in me.
Extending my energy is a way of pushing my boundaries and in moving them incrementally farther beyond my normal edges I have expanded my awareness. This I realised on my walk the other morning. For almost a week I had the sense that I would find a four-leafed clover. It’s not really a big deal, but the sense was quite strong. There is one embankment along a lane I walk down that is covered in clover leaves, many more leaves than clover flowers. I have been walking past and along this section of lane for months now. Only in the past week did I feel that there was a four-leaved clover hiding somewhere in the mass of its three-leaved companions.
Since becoming aware of the treasure hiding in the bank of green I have been scanning as I walked along. For a week I saw nothing. Then a few mornings ago I hardly had to look at all and my eye went right to it. Yes, I did take it with me. It had been there for some time, because its stem was about ten inches long. I was delighted. It is only the second one I’ve found, ever.
It was a reminder to me that I do know things, am aware of them before they happen. This is not a new awareness for me. I’ve seen snatches of the yet, whilst in the now for years. I was delighted with the gift of the clover, but also did not gloat, because it was a sobering reminder for me. There are things I have ‘seen’ upcoming that are not happy things. At a time when I was doubting whether my seeing is ‘true’ or not an experience, seemingly insignificant happens. In the insignificant experience comes the realisation that only in its time will any event unfold, be revealed, occur.
A little over a month ago I was standing with one of the trees I know and heard: It is easy to remember the past; it is not so easy to remember the future.
As those words, a bit enigmatic and certainly profound echoed inside me, I thought about the fact that I am a rememberer, one who lives increasingly in a state of anamnesis, an unforgetter. Unforgetting works two ways for me, in my experience, forward no less than backward. It has made me more aware that time is not one way ever going ahead. Time as I experience it, curves around on itself, it is more of a spiral journey. Time as I use the word here is not about clocks or marking day and night. It is more mysterious than that and maybe time is not the proper word, but it is the one I am used to using when I ponder these phenomena and live into the reality of them.
From where I am now I can perceive then as well as yet, provided I am granted the window or portal to see/sense, at any given place or position I am experiencing/perceiving existence. At some points on my journey what was at a discrete moment is clear, depending on where I am the quality of the memory is stronger or weaker, full or less full of detail, context or conversation. The same is true for what will be. There are moments where I can feel and perceive the context and event more or less vividly, depending on where I am in relation to that fragment of future.
Remembering the future means that in some sense it has already happened in some mysterious way and I am simply on a journey to meet it. It is not deja vu, although I have that experience as well. Remembering the future is when I experience an event I have seen before, in a dream, in a showing, in a vision and often for months or longer before I am in the place where I meet the event. Sometimes I get a sensation or know going past somewhere that the space has a history in the future, and I know the difference between knowing that and that it had a history in the past. My body reacts. My stomach tightens in a certain way. I get nauseous sometimes at the place, or around the people. I will get anxious or feel distressed or sad, if it is a bad thing. If it is not a bad thing I get a deeply settled feeling. For the past and the future these sensations are subtly different and from experience I can discern the difference.
All this becomes more and more refined as I seem to be learning to extend my boundaries. All this more and more as I learn to listen and trust what I see. All this more and more as I come to realise what I know is real, in the yet and the then, as I journey in the now.
All of this from a four-leaved clover found on a morning walk on a late summer morning.