Conversations with Past and Future Selves

Would you like an opportunity to speak with yourself, either from the past or the future? To have things revealed to you, to make your life easier or to offer you a chance to avoid pitfalls.

That’s the question that came to me recently.

The event that created this was the purchase of a new bed for our upstairs bedroom. In order to make space I needed to relocate all the storage bins I’d shoved under the old bed. I’d really packed them in and basically only had a vague idea what they contained.

I made myself a promise to sort through every bin and make decisions regarding what was worth keeping and what needed to be thrown away.

My discoveries were very enlightening. There were all sorts of interesting things covering several different time periods in my life, some from college, some from my early working years and a few things that were more recent.

I found a lot of journals I’d written and decided to leaf through a few. I was struck by the life events that concerned me at the time I wrote them, some of which remain with me today, while others have long since been resolved.

A question popped up.

I wondered how my life would have changed if the ‘current me’ could go back and have a conversation with the ‘past me’. What could I have learned? And would I have listened and changed course?

I’m not sure.

Some part of me believes I wouldn’t have paid attention, and gone ahead and made the same decisions, despite the sound advice I received.

I don’t know about that either.

What would you have done; listened or ignored your ‘future self’? It’s an interesting question to kick around. Certainly, I’d have liked to avoid many of the problems in my life and taken an easier route.

But would I really?

The reason I ask is, would I still be the same person that I am today if I’d made different choices? And if I had, what would the consequences have been? Suppose the advice given me by my ‘future self’ altered the decisions I made that led me to a new friend, or a better job, or a wise investment?

How can anyone know the right path to take so that they experience the outcomes they most desire?

Something twisted during my musing about this.

I wondered, what would my life be like if the ‘current me’ could talk with the ‘future me’?

What if that were possible? What questions would I ask?

A few came to me quickly. How long will I live? Will I lose those closest to me? What will my day-to-day life be like? Will the New York Giants ever win another Super Bowl?

I sat with all of these questions and more for a while before deciding that I don’t really want to know.

I think it would spoil the surprise. And I think it would change every moment of my ‘current life’ because I’d be thinking about the ‘future me’.

I also think my life would lose its spontaneity, its spark, and its sparkle.

So, despite how much I might learn, I would choose just to wave to my ‘past’ and ‘future’ selves from a distance and go on about living my ‘current’ life.

We can still be friends, but for now, I choose to live in my present moment.

Emotional Breathing

Have you ever heard of emotional breathing?

Do you wonder if it might help clear some of the excess emotional feelings you have that are weighing you down?

No doubt there are many situations in life where emotional breathing would be extremely helpful. In my last post I wrote about one of these, overeating, but this is just the start of a very long list.

I’m not sure why, but I was surprised to learn from the internet that there are numerous sites devoted to all sorts of breathing techniques, and many include the same themes and practices.

Most appear to focus on inbreath and outbreath, the timing and sequence of breathing, and physical movements or lack of same. They all offer promise and hope and surely many folks use them to relax and improve their daily lives.

I’m happy they all exist.

What came to me recently was a different version and one I’d like to share with you.

First though, I’d like to ask you to consider doing something.

Could you stop for a moment and sit back, close your eyes, slow your breathing and rest? Then, when you feel some calmness wash over you, gently encourage yourself to scan your body for any places that feel painful or uncomfortable. Sit with each of them and give yourself an opportunity to see if they hold emotional weight.

If you discover a place that does, ask yourself how it feels to you. Do any emotions arise? If so, what are they? Do you remember anything, as you hover over the area? Are there any images that come up? Can you describe them?

Take note of your observations. It’s not necessary to write them all down, but you certainly can if you want to, and this might be helpful for later. 

For now, though, choose one area that stands out and focus on the part(s) of your body where you feel the presence of emotional weight.

Allow yourself to recognize the emotion and know you have a choice whether it exists or not. No one can force you to feel something against your will unless you allow it. Open your heart and know your original nature is pure and believe you deserve to return to this state, unencumbered by any emotional feelings that others have given you or that you’ve taken on without knowing.

Find a comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed for a period of time. Choose whatever posture you like best. Set a peaceful mood in whatever way appeals to you, such as soft lighting and music. Close your eyes and slow your breathing until you feel calm, then bring your attention to one part of your body where you felt emotional weight. Remain here and allow it to speak to you. Listen carefully and once you feel you’ve heard its message, rest again for a moment.

Now, while in your comfortable position, take a long slow breath in, imagining love filling you. Then, while feeling the emotional weight of the area you’ve chosen, let out a long slow breath, imagining the release of all that you are holding. Continue alternating, loving in breaths and the outbound breaths and the release of emotional weight. 

It may help if you add words to this process. On your in breath you could say, “I breathe in joyful, loving feelings to feed, heal and support me” and on your outbreaths you could say, “I breathe out, release and surrender whatever is weighing me down.”

When I do this, it takes a while for the impact to be recognizable. The first few times is like priming the pump where not much water comes out. But as you continue, and your breathing relaxes and lengthens, it can be positively wonderful. And there can be a blessed sense of emptying and release of emotional weight, anywhere from a lightening of the load to a mystical sense of weightlessness.

I hope that you find this a blessing.

Overeating

Overeating is a complicated affair.

Personally, I find that it happens to me when things are really challenging in my life. Part of me believes that I need more food and that it will help soothe me or satisfy some craving I have.

But what occurs instead is that I gain weight, experience painful acid reflux, and have very poor-quality sleep. You’d think these results would be enough to prevent me from continuing to overeat.

They aren’t. They don’t.

Another part of me enters the picture. I think to myself, this has to be easy to resolve, I’ll just eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer snacks and treats. Surely, this will make things better for me.

And perhaps this would be true if the part of me that wants to overeat wasn’t resistant. But it is.

There is a constant war of sorts between periods of control and excess.

I find it strange that while on vacation, I give myself permission to eat whatever and whenever I want. This of course leads to weight gain, but never as much as I would have anticipated, probably because my activity level is so high. So, maybe if I maintained this same level of activity after vacation it would be okay.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t work for me.

I ask myself, what’s really happening here?

I am struck immediately by one obvious answer. I am at peace on vacation. I don’t have hundreds of things I’m thinking about and feel the need to accomplish. I’m not emotional taxed on vacation.

This leads me to another observation and a more important set of questions.

What other reasons are contributing to my overeating? Are they emotionally based? Are they resolvable?

Am I hung up with my looks and how I see myself? Am I thinking about how others see me? Do I seek or need or want their approval? And if so, why?

To a degree overeating feels circular to me. There is a cause-and-effect riddle that faces me and asks to be addressed.

I’m tired of the game and want answers, so I decide to plunge in. I realize everyone’s situation is different and that you’ll want to substitute your own emotional clues, if mine don’t make sense to you. But it might prove helpful to read along and adjust where necessary.

For me, I believe overeating is emotionally based and arises inside me from different directions.

Judgements. The judgement process might begin with others, but over time I find that unless I’m very careful, I internalize others’ views and criticisms of me.

Comparisons. Whether initiated by others or ourselves, any form of comparison is damaging and unfair. We are all unique people and have our own paths to travel.

Ideals. Self-created or adopted from others, having specific ideals of exactly how we ‘should’ look, act or feel is extremely limiting and offers us no true way to feel good about ourselves.

Having considered these words, I am now more aware of their emotional impact on me and sense they are driving some of my emotional weight and desire to overeat.

If you give yourself a chance to sit and listen to your emotions, body, mind, and spirit, perhaps you’ll discover some reasons of your own.

In my next post I’d like to offer you one possible way to release any emotional weight you carry, whether from overeating or another source.

Love As A Prayer

I admit that I have felt quite challenged about the whole nature of prayer. Perhaps you do as well.

When someone asks you to pray for them, what does that mean to you? Do you think they mean for you to request a specific outcome to occur in their life? Are you comfortable with this?

I confess, this has plagued me for a long time.

Of course, I want them to experience their best possible life. I want them to be free from painful obstacles and difficult and challenging decisions.

But how can I possibly know what the right choice is for them?

Even on my best day I do not possess enough insight for this.

It seems to me that part of our cultural training includes the idea that we can pray for someone and that our prayers will create the specific desired outcomes. And what I hear most is that when we pray to God (or the universe) the expectation is that God will listen to us and bring about the resolution of whatever problem(s) we’ve brought to God’s attention.

This approach seems to imply that there is only one ‘right’ outcome, the one the requester of the prayer wants to happen.

What if there is more to it than this? What if there is an even better answer?

There are problems with this whole approach, because should the prayer not be answered in the way requested, the requester is left wondering several things. Is my prayer not worthy of God’s attention or approval? Or perhaps, God is not listening to me. Or that God wants me to experience this difficulty, despite my prayer and the prayers of others.

It is easy to end up feeling like a victim if the specific prayer request is not answered.

Add to this the cultural phenomenon where there are two teams competing to win a game and folks praying for each side to be the victor. If you were God, how would you grant both prayers?

So, where does this leave us and what is God’s role in granting answers to prayers?

What if we looked at this from a very different point of view?

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’ll know my beliefs can border on the radical, so be prepared.

Imagine that God does not take sides, nor does God have a stake in specific outcomes. Since God has given everyone free will, God does not listen to one prayer and ignore another, nor dictate particular actions and outcomes.

So, what does God do and who is God?

What has been shared with me, which is of course up to you to decide for yourself, is that God is unconditional love. And unconditional love is the purest form of energy. It gives and supports all of life. It is non-directional and non-judgmental. It is open hearted, free, and available to everyone at all times.

God, as unconditional love, lives inside each person and is always available. Its pure energy can be offered and shared with anyone at any time.

And once given to another, it combines with their energy and creates sparks to help them light their path, so that they can see more clearly.

This non-directive, non-judgmental, open hearted, unconditional love supports and encourages the receiver, giving them strength and insight to move through whatever situation they are facing. It allows their spiritual plan to unfold, no matter what challenges appear on the surface.

When I am asked now to pray for another, I pause to remember this and dive deep into my heart and offer unconditional love as my prayer.

I Am My Dad Today

Has anyone faded away from you?

I know I am not alone. I know there are many others who share the loss I feel because someone they love is fading away from them.

Whether the reason has a name like dementia or Alzheimer’s or is nameless, whole parts of them seem to be missing and it creates a huge hole in their world. And my world too.

To watch this happen, whether bit by bit or all of a sudden and know there is nothing you can do to stop it, brings a cascade of tears.

How are we, the ones left empty and dry by their departure, to sit with this sense of loss?

I can only answer this for myself, but perhaps by sharing a part of me, there might be something valuable for you.

I write.

And through the writing, I allow my heart to bleed words onto the page.

For me, this is a way to vent the grief I feel and once it is outside of me, I can breathe again. I can let go of what I’m holding inside that rests on my chest and smothers me.

By writing, I open to wisdom and peace and let words flow through me into the open air.

Here is the poem I wrote.

I Am My Dad Today

I am my dad today.

At least that’s what my mother thinks.

She calls me by his name, her only connection to this world.

She asks me (him) where she is. I tell her but it doesn’t sink in.

She asks again.

I offer another answer and it falls into the same dark hole with everything else I say.

For a moment, I am not my father, and she asks me who I am.

I brace myself and tell her, I am your son.

A look crosses her face.

I wonder, could it be recognition?

She looks up at me and tells me she has no children.

I guess that makes my sister and me orphans. It’s certainly the way a part of me feels.

I wonder what string attaches her to this earth. I can’t see one. It must be some sort of magic.

It’s time for me to go. I tell her I need to go home to make dinner.

She asks me when she will see me again.

I try to calm myself.

I tell her that my sister, her daughter, will be with her tomorrow and that I’ll see her again the next day.

She turns away.

I walk out of her room wondering who I will be to her then. I cannot possibly know.

The one thing I do know is she will still be my mother.

I try to find some peace in this.

I love you mom.                             (end)

I know that I cannot change what is happening to her or to me, but I need to find a way to live in this new space.

I’m sure that others who have experienced this might be able to shed some light on this for me, but I want to know what god has to tell me.

So, I ask.

My answer comes from a part of god I know and love. It’s a part of god I know as Lia, which stands for Love In Action. She has a distinctly feminine voice and always speaks loving truth to me.

I try to calm myself and let go of the distractions that surround me. I breathe in and out, slowing and softening, so I can hear her voice clearly. When I find some peace, she speaks.

“The solace you seek comes when you release and accept.”

She continues, “Yes, of course, you feel deeply for the living loss of your mom, who is both here and not here. Rest easy and remember this…when she is with you, she is yours AND when she drifts beyond you, she is mine. She slips past the veil between worlds, and she comes to be with me. We sit together with the most precious love surrounding us and we rest in this beautiful state of bliss.”

I take heart and she tells me more.

“I know that all you see is a woman you love who appears to be here with you, but you cannot seem to reach her, and she seems disconnected and far, far away from you. I encourage you to see beyond this surface view. I ask you to accept my blessed assurance that she is with me and is always covered in my love.”

I sit with this revelation and let it fill me with peace. I do still feel the loss of connection with my mom, but something deeply profound has change inside of me and I now know she will always be taken care of, not by me, but by the sweetness of the divine.

Why Are You Here

I’d like to propose a radical idea for you to consider.

Here it is.

You are here to experience JOY.

Sure, I know that sounds crazy. You could say to me, look around, don’t you see what’s happening these days? It’s a fractured world. There’s climate change, political upheaval, war and the resulting horrors, drastic economic shifts.

You could ask me; how do you expect me to be happy and feel joyful?

And then you could say to me…are you mad?

Part of me is likely to respond that I can’t find much joy in this life either. I have my own list of prohibitions to joy and a host of prerequisites before I will allow myself to honestly answer that I feel any ongoing sense of joy.

But another part of me refuses to give up on this idea. It asks me to look deeper within myself and reveal a greater truth than what appears on the surface.

Yes, I see the challenges. I feel the pressures to perform, to possess, to acquire, to say out loud that I am happy and fulfilled. I fully sense my limits, physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally. And they weigh a ton. I know they do.

I’ve come to recognize that so much of what I see in the world is driven by fear and it forces me to ask the question over and over again…why am I here?

There is a strong part of me that wants to know my answer, or is it answers?

Each time this happens, some sort of list appears, as if completing it will provide satisfaction, a sense of completeness or elemental clarity for me.

It hasn’t. It doesn’t.

Maybe the same thing happens to you. Maybe you also associate ‘what you do’ with ‘who you are’, so that the more you accomplish, the better you can feel about yourself. Maybe you too seek to answer the question of why you are here with specific goals you set and meet. And perhaps you are just as unsatisfied with this approach as I am.

Perhaps you are ready for a shift in perspective. And maybe it will take something radical to make this happen.

Well, here’s something you may want to consider. Since fear doesn’t work, how about trying love?

The love I’m talking about is expressed through a genuine sense of joy. I’m not speaking about happiness, which can be fleeting and easily overcome by the world. Instead, I’m speaking about a profound inner belief that we are each here to experience and express joy.

What does that mean?

My personal answer is that it will be different for each person because what brings joy to one is not the same as what brings joy to another.

Then how is joy found?

Here’s a shocker. I don’t believe joy can be ‘found’, because this implies it is OUTSIDE of us, hidden somewhere, waiting to be discovered.

What feels like the truth to me is that joy is INSIDE each of us and is revealed when we center on love.  I see that fear is only a messenger and it guides by showing us what does not work, but it cannot tell us why we are here, because only love can do that.

So, what is the radical path I am suggesting?

It will take a little time, but it will be worth it. I promise.

It starts like so many other paths, with breathing in and out slowly, deeply, quietly, allowing your body to relax. It starts by closing your eyes and letting the world fade away, and then opening your heart and saying ‘yes’ to going deeper inside yourself (your self) and asking what brings out the joy in you? What makes you feel the most alive? I suggest the answer to these questions are also the answers to why you are here.

I’ll share some of my joys to get you started…I am here to help others find their own path. I am here to speak my truth (each of my books and these website posts are my attempts to share with you). I am here to connect deeply with family and friends, and to both give and receive love. I am here to get lost in the beauty of the natural world and I am here to live as an extension of the divine for as many days as I walk this earth.

If you give yourself some time, I believe you will reveal the truth about why you are here and how joy creates the spark for all things to happen in your life.

Ego Wants a Role

My most recent post focused on Free Will and its relationship with God’s Will. This brought up several questions for me, so I decided to investigate further, which means asking Lia, a feminine voice of god, to share some insight with me.

One of the most perplexing questions I encounter is how active god is in my life. I wonder how the relationship takes shape between my actions and god’s actions. Are they always in some kind of harmony? Is my free will always the action that counts the most and takes precedent?

So, of course, I asked god (in this case Lia) about this, saying, “How are you active in my life, especially in relationship to free will?”

Lia responded, “It’s less complicated than you think. You and I are connected. It can truthfully be said, we are ONE, because we are inseparable, except that you can agree to make it ‘appear’ as though we are not.”

“This ‘appearance’ happens when you accept the illusion of an earth life, but keep in mind, that beneath this illusion is the truth, we are one and inseparable.”

“While living the ‘agreement’ of the illusion, you accept that your EGO will assist you with the creation and maintenance of a state of awareness called and known as YOU (insert your name). Ego works diligently to manage this state of YOU, which includes a belief that you are separate from others and that you have observable boundaries.”

“If those boundaries appear in jeopardy, ego goes to work to reinforce them and reacquires its comfort zone. That is its job, and it takes it quite seriously.”

“Occasionally, ego becomes relaxed or is forced into surrender, either voluntarily or involuntarily. When either of these happen, it creates a unique state, one where you will/can experience life outside the ego walls.”

As interesting as these insights were I still wanted to know how active Lia is in my daily life and how her action relate to my free will.

In reply she said, “As an earth essence, you are always free to do or experience anything you choose. You cannot do otherwise. This is a fundamental truth. However, since we are truly ONE essence (you and I and all others) you could say that WE have free will. WE are in relationship, always and forever, part of the same fundamental truth.”

“When you ask the question as you did, your reference point becomes a statement that there is separation…a you and a me, two entities.”

“When you view us as separate, you are forced to confront the idea of two entities, each with its own free will, which creates a conflict because it implies, we could want two different things. Unless you surrender to the truth, this will not be solvable- ever.”

I’d been listening very carefully, but wanted to make certain I heard her correctly so I asked, “Are you are telling me that, if I shift my beliefs, I will be able to see the truth, that we are not now, nor ever were, nor ever will be, SEPARATE and as such, WE have free will?”

Lia answered, “Yes, and there is more to it.”

I wondered what else there was to know and asked, “Since we are ONE, how do I make sense of my life as it appears?”

I was surprised by Lia’s response, “That depends fully on how much you want to wake up and remember.”

Some clarity was seeping in, and I responded, “I see. That’s the dividing line, isn’t it? If I truly desire and choose to wake up, all will be known to me.”

“Yes”, Lia answered.

“Then why am I afraid of this? Do I think it will end the game of life?”

Lia’s wisdom and insight shone through clearly for me as she answered, “Your ego is concerned that it will not be able to protect you if you choose to remember. There is no truth to this fear (worry, concern)…none at all, but it feels real to your ego and that’s all it takes in order to want to stay put in your current understanding.”

“How can we allay ego’s concerns?”

Lia said, “Ask ego what it has seen during your life, as you’ve expanded, that creates an uncomfortable feeling for it.”

The truth is plain now. I need to know more about what my ego has to say before I can move forward. It is certainly time for a chat.

God’s Will

Are you familiar with the concept of God having a ‘will’ for you?
A specific plan for things God wants you to accomplish? A way to move through your life according to a long list of do’s and don’t’s?

The folks that seem to talk about this give the impression that you should know what God’s will is and comply with it, because after all, it’s God we’re talking about.

The incredibly tricky part is that although you are supposed to abide by God’s will, there are almost never any clear indications of precisely what God’s will is for you. This leaves you in a powerless position and opens the door for others to be the authority and speak on God’s behalf.

How can one person know what God’s will is for another? What source of wisdom allows them the clarity to inform and dictate what another person is to do with their life? Is their claim that God speaks directly to them and provides specific insights about all the people of this world and what each one should be doing?

You may have guessed by my questions and word choices that I don’t see life this way.

I’ve had many conversations with god and am a true believer in one of god’s greatest gifts, ‘free will’.

Free will is an open invitation from god to experience everything possible in this life. No are no exceptions, expectations, demands, requirements or strings attached. Free will is pure.

I believe logic would like to have a say in this discussion. If one of the tenets in life is that we each have ‘free will’, how can it be that there is another force called God’s will? The two would be mutually exclusive by nature, since surely there will always be conflicts, and any override of free will, voids it completely.

What proponents of God’s will have to offer is that God’s will is supreme, therefore, any instance where we use our free will in opposition to God’s will, must be abandoned or relinquished.

Of course, our free will allows us to make choices that create pain and suffering for ourselves and for others. It also provides us with the power to make choices that create healing and loving actions.

How we use our free will is entirely up to each of us.

I fully recognize there are dilemmas involved here.

How is anyone to know the truth?

How is anyone to know what God’s will is for them?

How does free will work if it conflicts with what one is told is God’s will? How does God’s will work if it is in conflict with our free will?

The answers depend greatly on what one has been told during their life and their willingness to explore new territory. If there is a strong belief that God’s will is sacrosanct and that someone else has been given the wisdom to explain what it is, there may be little room for an alternative view.

However, if one has been told these things but has never felt comfortable with them, there may be an open door to enter to consider the importance of free will.

Ultimately, I believe that having your own conversation with god, whatever your concept is for god, is the pathway to your own certainness.

I am a firm believer that sitting in stillness, breathing in and out, until a calm center is reached, and opening our mind and heart creates an opportunity for divine connection.

This is the place where all is known.

Heading Into The Storm

It seems human nature to try to avoid challenging situations in life, almost like we’re hard-wired that way. Perhaps some internal awareness is operating, attempting to save us from having to deal with things we wished were not a part of our life.

When a difficulty presents itself to you, what are you inclined to do? Do you shy away or pretend it’s not real or solicit for help from others? Or do you face it, recognizing it’s unlikely to be resolved without your direct intervention?

There are of course lots of other strategies, but most seem to come with potentially uncomfortable consequences.

You may be thinking this very moment about something you’re facing and wondering how to proceed. Or you may want to arm yourself with a new approach for when the time comes for your next challenge.

You might already know that I am a writer. Afterall, you are reading something I’ve written right now. But I write more than these posts. I am wholly engaged in a series of books that all go by the title of Little Buddha, and I’ve just completed Book Four. In it there is a story about a young man, Max, who worked in the western part of the America doing an internship with the US Forestry Service. This gave him the opportunity to observe nature and experience her wisdom.

Although he learned many things from the Forestry workers, a Native American by the name of Black Elk, was the one who taught him the ways of nature and filled him with a living wisdom he could carry with him. More than this even, Black Elk taught Max how to observe and understand life for himself. Certainly, a most precious gift.

Perhaps the most valuable teaching of all came one day when Max was observing a herd of buffalo and watched as a massive snowstorm swept toward them. He paid as careful attention as he could, trying to see what each of them would do. In the chaos and blinding snow too much happened for him to notice it all. He wanted to understand better, so he asked Black Elk to share his wisdom.

Black Elk, whose normal approach was to teach through asking questions, decided to explain through the use of his own observations.

This is the story he told Max.

“Many, many years ago there was a Sacred Buffalo. All the other buffalo watched the Sacred Buffalo and followed the Sacred Buffalo everywhere it went, always finding enough to eat. One day, a great storm arrived. Many buffalo turned away from the storm, charging as fast as they could, trying to outrun it. Others watched to see what the Sacred Buffalo would do. The Sacred Buffalo snorted and stamped its great hooves upon the earth. Then, giving one great cry, it glanced at the herd and ran full speed into the storm, disappearing in a wall of white snow. All the other buffalo followed stampeding behind where the Sacred Buffalo had disappeared into the whiteness. A short time later all the buffalo emerged from the storm into a place of stillness and there, grazing peacefully, stood the Sacred Buffalo.”

After some more discussion Max came to understand the value of heading into the storm. He accepted and embraced the story and shifted his life, recognizing the wisdom of the Sacred Buffalo.

In my own life, I’ve seen that trying to avoid or run away from my problems has caused an enormous amount of pain and suffering for me. I’ve allowed all those scary, fearful, difficult decisions that have come to visit me too much reign over me.

The essence of Max and Black Elk’s story enlightens me. Opening myself and allowing courage to come forth, then acting swiftly and boldly, heading directly into the storm of any problem, I now see as the wisest path forward. It shortens the length of the storm and leads me into a place of peace.

In the story Black Elk gives Max a carved wooden buffalo that had been bleached white by the sun as a reminder for his travels through life.

My hope is that I remember the teaching of this story.

Should you wish to read more of the story, you can order a copy of the book, Little Buddha Book Four by Rob H. Geyer, on Amazon in either print or ebook format.

Choosing Your Memories

If someone asked you to share one of your memories, what would you choose to tell them?

Now imagine the same person asked you to share five or ten or fifty, how many of them would be ‘good’ memories?

If you were given a day or two to conjure up as many memories as you possibly could, how long would it take before you mentioned a ‘bad’ memory?

It fascinates me to consider what my answers to these questions would be. It feels like some sort of subtle test, a way to measure my satisfaction with my life.

I had an occasion recently to investigate this idea up close and personal. As my mom’s power of attorney, it was up to me to sign all the mortgage closing documents on her recent house sale.

I’d promised myself that I would walk through the house before the closing. I wanted a chance to capture the living memories I felt were stored there. I wanted to sweep them up and bring them with me. To store them somewhere safe inside me so that I could hold them, perhaps forever.

As I walked in the front door, the floodgates opened. I can’t recall the very first time I entered the home I grew up in and I that I have been a part of for over sixty years, but so many things stood there in front of me.

The house has so many interesting features and every inch of space is utilized. There is a shelf inset into the wall in the foyer. One of the shelves used to hold a small wooden ship I carved for my father. It had toothpick masts and thread rigging and it took me a long time to build. It’s not there anymore. I have no idea where it went.

I walked into the living room. A place where so many joyous family gatherings were held. A place where a mounted deer head rested above the fireplace. I’d bought it at a garage sale for 25 cents. I thought it was a great deal. I’m willing to bet the seller and his wife thought they’d made a profit. The deer head is gone now. I have no idea where it went.

On into the dining room, where all our family dinners happened. My mom was an excellent cook and I remembered many of the meals we ate there. If I stretched a bit, I could almost taste them. It became my mom’s reluctant bedroom, when it wasn’t safe for her to go up and down the stairs any longer.

Going from room to room brought more and more sweet memories. Words, sounds, feelings. The comings and goings of six decades. All the games, conversations, fears, hopes, and dreams. All the wonderful cookies after school, fresh out of my mom’s oven. The mad crazy ping pong games with my father in the basement, which was too short for our smashing forehands. All the imaginative games with my sister, one of which was pretending to be radio disc jockeys under the dining room table. Don’t ask me why that was our station headquarters. It just was.

Upstairs I walked down the hall to my bedroom. I could still see it as it was when I was a child, the placement of my desk and chair and bed, the Hopi Indian wall hanging, even the closet that had a sort of secret compartment where I stored my prized possessions.

My memory lane is long. The savoring, both touching and sweet.

Perhaps you’ve lived and lost some parts of you, a house, a family member, friend, favored pet or a lessening of your skills and senses. It happens.

What I think matters most to me is what I do with my memories.

Do I let the ‘bad’ ones overtake me, bringing me down and crushing me into silence and grief?

Or do I sift through them until all that are left are the golden, glowing, shiny memories. The ones I wish to keep and hold near to me.

The beautiful thing is, we each get to choose.