The thought keeps rising in my mind about the idea of lost time. We've lost so much time. March, April, May...all of spring went by without the usual awakenings. Sure, nature did her thing. Flowers bloomed, fruit ripened, temperatures warmed. Some rain, some sun, some morning, some night. But what of the rites of spring? And now June has gone, too. Summer has begun. Did it "bust out all over"? If it did, I really didn't notice.
And now it is July first. Even the weather has been off. Is the corn as high as an elephant's eye? We there be firework displays in the usual places instead of every night in every neighborhood, scaring small animals and battle-scarred veterans?
I wish I had been more productive during these first months in the Time of Covid. Instead I stayed to myself, isolated, shopped online. I attended some zoom meetings with friends and church services. Little did those folks know how this became so important to me. Connection. I miss connection, I think. And freedom. I miss getting in the car and just driving somewhere. To Trader Joe's or the botanical parks or a museum. A movie. Up the coast.
Lost time. Time is never lost. It's currency is spent as we see fit. Did I waste my time? No, I don't think so. All of this has been valuable in its own way. Sometimes I felt like armageddon had come. Or perhaps the rapture. And here I was, left behind. And yet I never really despaired. I just hunkered down. I knew we would move through this season of the plague. And I still know we will.
Lost time last time lost. Lost time doesn't last and this is the last time lost time will get to me. Since we really only have the "now", how can it be that time is lost? Sure, I'm a little older, maybe a bit wiser, but I am not lost. I am emerging from the haze of spring to do what I feel called to do. I am finally enjoying time with myself, my animals, and with readers like you with whom in the virtual reality of things, are always with me.
You can't lose time. There is no last time. Time is time. And that's about it.
I was merrily writing a very serious blog about how today is the last day of the first half of this very weird and chaotic year. I had rational rationalizations, insights and ways to cope. It was really outstanding. You would have benefitted so much by reading it. Sadly, or maybe not sadly at all, you were spared reading it when my computer decided to freeze up and then erase everything I had written. Kaphooey. (Not sure that is a word, but I'm too lazy right now to look it up right now).
So that's just perfect for this, the last of June, the last of hurrah as it were, for the first half of a time of tribulation. It's been chaotic, challenging, scary, mystifying, demoralizing, inspiring, uplifting, insightful, discouraging....and so much more. In a nutshell, its been a time like no other, and one that shall be written about and studied for many, many years.
I have to say I am more than weary of it all. Life in the time of COVID. Political upheaval. Paradigm shifts, some which I pray will take hold and last, and others that need to be abandoned. It's all just too much to bear sometimes.
One thing I believe is in the power of mind. As Oprah once said, "You don't become what you want, you become what you believe." Matthew 29-31 say He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” Bruce Lee, the world renown martial artist, said, “As you think, so shall you become.” I'm sure I could find many more examples. But what I'm trying to say is, however, that as long as we let ourselves accept this particular "reality", we will never achieve the actual Reality.
We weren't meant to live as we have, especially for the past six months. Fear, angst, anxiety...it is not our natural state.
But how can we move past all that? Ain't easy. But it does begin with me. I know there is much work to be done. And I guess I need to start with me.
Tomorrow is July First. It is the beginning of the last half of the year. A new fiscal year begins. July 1 is the 183rd day of 2020. 183 days remain until the end of the year. It is up to us how we are going to live those 183 days. I don't know about you, but I'm tired. It ain't easy being worried all the time. I for one am gonna pray, meditate, spiritual mind treat, set my intentions, and all the other stuff I can think of to find hope and optimism back into my life, our lives.
One person can change the world. If it isn't me, then maybe its you. We've got work to do.
According to Webster's, kaphooey is a variation of phooey, an interjection.
The definition of phooey—it is a word used to express repudiation or disgust
That about says it.
While surfing the net, I came across an interview with the author of a new book, The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities Into Soulful Practices by Casper ter Kuile on NPR. It was a segment called Author Interviews. It was only eight minutes long, but it captured my fancy and I found myself ordering the book then and there on Kindle. What intrigued me was the author's premise that as the title suggests, sacred practices can be spotted in ordinary daily activities. It also seemed so relevant to these days when we are so very separated from our communities and social activities, although the books was written long before our current madness.
So, it being Sunday, as I said above, it is indeed a good day to think about spirituality and rituals. I found myself thinking about how as I worked in the yard, I was practicing the ritual of watering, sweeping debris, tending and trimming and the like. One ritual I often like is that of a nap. Today it was in the hammock. Looking up I could see my sycamore tree with its green leaves rustling in the afternoon breeze, the tinkling of my wind chimes and the distant sound of traffic and sounds of neighbors practicing their usual Sunday rituals of lawn mowing, playing ball, enjoying conversation and more. And then later I went to pick up dinner for friends and we ate together.
All of these things are sorts of rituals that Casper describes in the opening section of his book. And I realized how much these things need to be cultivated and practiced lest they be lost. And there is a very real danger, it seems, of this happening the time of wearing masks and social distancing. The good news is we are finding ways around those things to still practice social connection and find ways of soulful practice. We are a resourceful lot, and we will find our way, together while apart.
If you would like to hear this interview, it is only eight minutes long, here is the link at NPR.org.
I believe there is always a reason for everything that happens. At least I want to believe this. The problem is, we don't always know what the reason is. That's why it is so frustrating in times like these to not come up with a good explanation for why. And ultimately the most dissatisfactory answer is, we don't really know. And we may never know.
Oh, I don't mean scientists won't find the source of the this coronavirus. But then again, maybe they won't. Does it ultimately matter at this point? I do know they will figure out how it is spread and how it circled the globe so quickly. And I truly believe that a vaccination will be found sometime, somehow. Things always work out. Unless they don't. And if they don't, in this case, we will soldier on, adapting to a new way of living. But, is there a reason?
Perhaps it was just time. Perhaps the world had gotten to the point that we were well overdue for a global crisis. Certainly the way the world was headed was not really sustainable. Pollution & global warming, food insecurities, social dichotomies, endless wars, corruption and greed. All these things led us to this point. Perhaps that is the reason: it was just time.
There is an opportunity in all of this. The opportunity will be to change our ways, to rise to the occasion and become better stewards of our planet. I wonder, though. Even at the skies are becoming more clear and blue than they have been in decades, the air is more breathable. Congestion has lessened.
Having spent the past few days pondering my wondering and wonderings, I began to realize just how much my daily activities are influenced by all the mixed messages I get every single day. More than every day, it is just about every hour, every minute. Just when I think I have a grasp on reality, reality shifts.
For example, I just finished watching the latest White House briefing on the Coronavirus, (COVID 19) update. Vice President Pence, Dr Birks, Dr Fauci and others gave their prospectives on the status of the global pandemic. It appeared to me they may not have spoke with each other before the briefing since each seemed to be briefing the country on very different realities. There were prospectives on testing ranging from virtually no mention of testing to the concern that testing may not be enough. And masks. Masks have become such an incendiary topic. Political where politics should have nothing to do with it. It seems to me wearing a mask is a matter of protecting others while praying that others will do the same for me.
And what about Black Lives Matter? It is simple, obvious to me, that, yes, Black Lives Matter. And the whole point of the movement and the protests is that we as a society have been acting overall as if black lives don't matter. Keeping the lid on this boiling pot has certainly backfired. Yes, all lives to matter, but until that is true, we really, truly must be proactive in supporting the uprising realization that Black Lives (do indeed) Matter.
And there are the little things of every day life. I here that its time to get back to normal. Normal? What is normal? I here what we are living with now is the New Normal. It seems we can never go back to normal. Normal is shaking hands, hugging, crowding together, sharing experiences together like movies and concerts, in confined places. Just isn't gonna happen any time soon. Terms we had never really even heard of before early March of this year like "social distancing" and "coronavirus" and even "community spread" were not something we heard or spoke daily. Now we hear it everywhere we go and with everyone we talk with. That is all part of the New Normal.
So, yes, I have been wondering and wandering in light of this new reality. Wondering why, how did we get here and wandering through the new landscape of fear, isolation and hope. Yes, I said "hope'. I still have hope. I still believe we can move beyond life as we know it today. Mixed messages, including misinformation and denials, affirmations and facts, require us to do a bit of "community speed" of our own every day. Seek clarification. Get the facts. Learn who to listen to. Fact check. And always look people in the eye, especially when wearing a mask and keeping your distance. It overcomes the feeling that we are alone in this. From COVID to uprisings and protests, there is no mixed message in recognizing we are in this together. And together, we will go through all this madness, and yes, establish what may just be a better and more perfect "normal" way of life.
What a difference a letter can make. Replace an "o" with an "a" and I'm moved from the land of imagination and thought to a vast world of mazes and the amazing in which my wandering mind's attention is pulled hither and yonder. And wander it does. And sometimes it seems completely on its own without any conscious choice by me. To be accurate, my mind not only wanders, but it meanders.
It is like daydreaming as it flits and flies to and from each blossoming idea that catches its attention. It seems to be the nature of the beast to just go its own way, pulling me along. Wandering all the way.
This is mind, it is kind of like being set adrift in uncharted waters. Or maybe better described, it is like going on a casual stroll and finding yourself in uncharted territory. Like Dr Suess wrote:
“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!
So between wondering and wandering, I have been mentally very occupied. I wonder then I wander. I let my mind just go free. I always hope it will come back. Usually, it does.
Of late I've had a lot of time to wonder. I wonder about things like tomorrow...what's next...and in my darker times of brooding, will there even be tomorrow? Hard not to go there. Seems like every day there is a new bit of madness that takes us closer to the edge of eternity. And yet, we carry on and the sun comes up as always.
So its been a while since I've "blogged" or "phologged" I wonder why? But of course I always wonder that. I usually have a raft of excuses, reasons, explanations....all of which don't amount the proverbial hill of beans*. It's up to me...always is, a conclusion I come to time after time after time. Wonder if that will ever change?
I wonder if life will ever be the same. Even if a vaccine is found, will we ever be comfortable in a room full of people? Will we ever again shake hands? Hug? Sit next to strangers on the train or plane?
This all came suddenly in March of this year. That seems so long ago now. Yet it seems like just yesterday. The rumblings were there but for whatever reason, we didn't really think it would explode as it has. And change our way of living, as it has, maybe forever. I wonder where the time has gone. It's nearing the end of June. Time goes by faster and faster, but the passage of time this year has been surreal. To me, it feels like its been one long Ground Hog's sort of day. And try as we might to do something to change things, we end up in the same place we started. And meanwhile spring went on as if it didn't miss us at all.
Meanwhile, I wonder about life. What is life about? I remember in my teen years I spent a lot of time wondering about things like the meaning of life and if there really was a God. I wrote poetry and short tales of ironic themes. Some of my peers called me the paradox kid. Seems that was true then. I wonder if it is true now? I love to ponder things like this:
So right now I'm wondering if you are still reading this. Ha! Perhaps you are. Some of you will let me know by clicking "like" or making a comment, whether you are reading this at my website, on Facebook or elsewhere. Some of you will just let me wonder. As needy as I am for affirmation sometimes, that makes me crazy. I wonder why?
After reading this, I wonder what you wonder about and I wonder if you will share your wonderings. And I wonder if I should have ended that sentence with a question mark. Or this one. Wonder why.
I just realized I have not blogged or photogged or posted for a week. I know I've had longer gaps, shorter gaps and at times, no gaps at all. But it struck me that time has become so irrelevant during this time of COVID and Black Lives Matter, Hurricanes in the Gulf and so very much time alone. And then it suddenly hit me: this is something like it might be if, and when, the world goes on without me.
At university I took a seminar on the Psychology of Death and Dying. One of the books we used for study was How Could I Not Be Among You? by a man facing his own death. That title more than anything has stayed with me. It is so difficult to imagine your own absence in what was your life. But sooner or later....
Anyway, that is what I was thinking about this morning and I thought I'd share. And I realize now more than ever before, it is so important to be present not only in your own life, but the lives of others. And the comforting thing is that I know we live in each other's hearts and minds long after we are gone. That, then, is how I could be among you...even when I'm not blogging, photoing or being socially undistant.
I was searching through old photos and came across this image from a few years ago. I had forgotten about it, thought it was a "mistake", but didn't delete it. That in itself sums up how I'm feeling about this year so far. It seems like one big mistake, but we mustn't delete it. You know they say, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." Well I would say, in spite of all these "trials by fire", we must all be getting pretty strong by now.
The photo is an extreme close up of a flower. Not sure if it was a hibiscus or something else. But it clearly evokes thoughts of a flame burning. And it seems like the world is on fire; not unlike when the Holy Spirit was described to descend into the early Christians establishing the early church. (My Biblical knowledge is sketchy to say the least, but I think you get the point).
Anyway, this image is one I am meditating on for now. Perhaps some peace will come of it. But for now, I am ready for this year to be "reborn". If not of the Spirit, then of our souls. Amen.
For those who may wonder about Pentacost of the birth of the Christian church, here a link to start you off: Pentacost
Ancient philosopher Epictetus (A.D. 55-135) gave this advice:
"Welcome present circumstances and accept the things whose time has arrived. Keep your will in line with events".....
In other words, it is what it is. Acceptance of it, as a reality, is the only thing that can keep you sane.
Like everyone during this time of keeping to ourselves, staying home and isolation, I've had a lot of time to reflect on how things came to be this way. But even in my wildest dreams, I did not see the reality we are living in now. It does seem the result, though, of our actions of the past. Even so, we are here now. We cannot change it. We can only accept things and work toward a different reality tomorrow.
Not that easy.
On some level I blame myself for this situation. I was craving time to myself, time away from people and the world. This is not what I envisioned, however. You know what they say about being careful what you wish for.
Anyway, here we are. Well into our third month of the world pandemic: the pandemic that changed everything, shut down everything and brought out the best AND the worst in everyone. It does no good to rail against the world as it is right now. It is what it is.
Eckhardt Tolle, spiritual teacher and author , wrote:
In other words, don't argue with what IS (in your mind or out aloud). No useless complaining, blaming, getting irritated, making wrong. It's an enormous waste of energy. It diminishes your ability to think clearly and take effective action. It contaminates your life with negativity, and then you spread it to others. So: GETTING WHAT YOU WANT is great. WANTING WHAT YOU GET is greater.
Seems true to me. More so now than ever before.