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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Regret and Fear/Twin Thieves

There is a little picture book by Robert J. Hastings called The Station.   It is a bit precious and saccharine, but there are some phrases worth framing and reading every day in this little gem.  I hope you like it as much as I do.
Tucked away  in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves
on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We're traveling by train and, from the
windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at
crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row
upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and
village halls.

    But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination--for at a certain hour and on a
given day, our train will finally pull into the station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands
playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we
pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

    "Yes, when we reach the station, that will be it!" we promise ourselves. "When we're
eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL
Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!"

    From that day on we will all live happily ever after.

    Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no station in this life, no one earthly
place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The station is an illusion--it
constantly outdistances us. Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a dream. Yesterday belongs to a
history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrow's a faint sunrise. Only
today is there light enough to love and live.

    So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn't the burdens of today
that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and
fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.

    "Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, "This is
the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

     So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more
mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener.
Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we
go along. The station will come soon enough.
So today is an unremarkable day but that's OK....not every day has to be in technicolor.   This morning all was cleansed by a quick and amazing storm.   I was at the grocery store and as I left, other patrons were waiting out the rain, not wanting to be drenched. I decided it would be fun to be soaked by a summer storm so I embraced the wetness and went out into the deluge.   And I remember being a child and enjoying a rainy walk home from school.   I would take my shoes off and walk in the gutters where the water rushed...it was thrilling.  I'm recovering from a very sad breakup with a man I still adore and who loves me too.   It's tragic we can't be together...I think the angels weep a little for us.   It was so right in so many ways.  

But, I can't stay sad forever...it's not a life worth living.   And so I am REALLY trying most days to inhabit the day, to push the sad thoughts away when they come, to fill my time with positive, interesting friends and things to do.  Last night Shaller's, the bar on the south side.   It was fun last night...we were a group of about ten and we were ridiculously silly.   Pam invented a new line of jewelry from dinner rolls that Liza dubbed, snackware". We three wore dinner rolls as fine jewelry: Pam and Liza had snackware necklaces and I had a snackware bracelet and ring.   And we all sang great.   There was an attractive man who appeared to have a crush on me but I'm not ready for that and I said to Liza's dismay, "unless his first name begins with P, and his last with K, I'm not interested".  Tonight I will "shock and awe" the Bloom School of Jazz with my homemade pizzas.  Big party there and I'll make about twelve of them. 

Today I decided not to cry over this relationship any more and so far I haven't cried today.   Last night Pam sang a song (Through the Eyes of Love) that she last sang at my party as I listened in Patrick's arms. I knew even then that the relationship would probably end badly which was why, even in my bliss, I wept when I heard it. And now, I can't hear it without totally breaking down....last night at Schaller's I covered my face and sobbed, body heaving sobs...and the other day, I smelled a shirt of his, expecting a whiff of memory and sadness. I was floored by the memory of his smell and I totally broke down, crying and gulping for air. These actions, listening to a triggering song, smelling an article of clothing, sitting on the beach thinking of him - are ill-advised. Indulging myself like this binds me to the past and to him.  I could become addicted to the sadness, it could be my new forever way of being. And crying? - it is voluntary. No one is making me cry. I can choose not to cry.

The challenge today is to gently close the door on yesterday and throw away the key. If there is sadness you are clinging to like an old friend, say good-bye to it. Don't rob yourself of today even if it is a rainy unremarkable day.  Be present.


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