Archive for the ‘Life in the Present’ Category

Giulia Muraglia FF

PHOTO CREDIT: GIULIA MURAGLIA

What’s your most treasured memory?  The first moment you met someone you love?  A place you stood?  The beginning of something or someone?  A sight forever memorized by your heart?  Perhaps words that were said, spoken, written, or sung that you can’t get out of your head, even if you try?

Time passes and we want to hold on to special memories.   Our material possessions and even our relationships roll in and out of our life like the tide, and most we let go and don’t even know they are gone until something way off in the future triggers a memory:

  • Oh yeah, I had a stuffed bear like that once
  • I haven’t heard this song in years!  It reminds me of….
  • I remember being here as a kid
  • I remember you…..
  • I couldn’t forget_____ if I tried

I recently took the most amazing vacation with my family.  It was six years in the making and our first and only trip as a complete family since my youngest was born seven years ago.   We saved.    We borrowed.  We coordinated work and school schedules for all.    We saw it all, did it all, ate it all, and savored it all.

Along the way I took the next biggest extension of me, beyond my pen; I brought my camera and lens.  Not just any lens, the best lens, a luxury lens I had rented for my best camera in order to preserve these precious memories for time immemorial.

I clicked.  I clicked again and again.  Every beautiful animal and dreamy landscape.  Every arrangement of family portraits you could imagine. Lots of impromptu stuff too.  All professional looking.  National Geographic doesn’t look this great I thought.

My husband snapped an amazing pic of me with a Great Horned owl swooping above my head as I blinked in awesome wonder as he swooped a silent cool breeze less than inch above my head. I couldn’t wait to see this one later.  I didn’t look now in order to conserve my battery  and to save it for “dessert” after our trip ended.  I took a photo of my young son’s beautiful face softly illuminated by the light of a single birthday candle.  I told my family, this is the BEST photo I’ve ever taken.

I clicked over twelve hundred images.  I had plans to make scrapbooks and a movie of our trip.  Sights, smells, foods, countries, animals, music, architecture—it was all there.  It was dreamy.  It was surreal.  It was to be my concrete reminder of who we were then–in a place called the future.

It was to be my memory when future time becomes unreliable, perhaps even cruel.

I’ve  always viewed pictures as an insurance policy to protect our memory from what our brain invariably experiences:

A slow fade

These pictures were to be my proof that heaven on earth almost exists.

Except that it doesn’t.

On the last night, my camera disappeared.  In a span of less than ten minutes.  It’s possible I misplaced it, but I tend to guard my camera tighter than the Royal Guard watches over the Queen.

Stolen memories.  All of them.

I cried for almost twenty four hours straight.  It was hard watching my family watch me as they grappled to understand why this hit me so hard.  I explained, it wasn’t just the value of the camera, or the fact I can’t get back time and recreate all this.  It’s more.

A part of me was taken too.  Artists are more closely connected to their work than you may think.  You pour your energy and your soul into what you love.  It may only be understood and meaningful to you. Still, it does have meaning.

But this is the twist:  The creation becomes larger than life.  The creation supersedes the creator.

This is the great lie.  All the grandeur and majesty of created things, be it in nature, or be it made by human hands, is not eternal.   Be it castles or mountains or birds or prey or even temporary people like me or even the pictures I snapped away–it doesn’t last.

It all fades away.

We can’t hold on no matter how tightly we try.  No matter how determined we are to remember.  Just like we can’t keep anything we love forever, we also can’t control that which isn’t ours to control.

Yes, I lost all my pictures this week.  I lost my best camera, the one that snapped the first seconds of life of my youngest son.  I lost my digital best friend, my shadow sister who hangs on my shoulder at every significant event.

But I didn’t lose my children.  Oh, how I didn’t lose what I actually love.  We live in world where evil exists and a silent enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that we hold dear.   This had to be my perspective as I had no other choice but to move forward–it’s the people in this moment, this sacred moment called now that is all we truly ever have. 

I still  mourn for the loss of precious memories, yes.  But there is something no thief, be it man or time can destroy:

  • My joy.
  •  My appreciation of beauty.
  •  My wanderlust to travel and understand the world way beyond my own.
  •  My love and zest for life.
  •  My compulsion to create and share.  
  • My soul memories.  
  • Me, and all that I love.

I know I won’t remember all the images.  But I will remember the essence of our amazing trip.

Time will pass and people will pass too.  Loss will keep meeting me at the intersection of  “unprepared for this.”   “Not expecting this” will keep colliding with “not yet.”   

Pain will continue to interrupt our plans and knock us out of orbit as we journey through life.

All that is beautiful  and lovely and inspiring and honorable and  good, as well as all that is crushing and cruel and unexpected and difficult will all diminish.

Everything on this side of the veil is a slow fade.  

See the beauty in your mind as you learn to let go in life and allow God to be in charge.

 

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Sometimes it’s so hard to live in the now.  It’s so easy to stay stuck in what happened yesterday or what we either hope will happen tomorrow or what we fear may happen.   When I look back, I used to dwell more on negative events and conversations and stay there and it would cause all sorts of anxiety because of what may happen next in the future.  Conversations and events that never materialized were a constant companion, but not a very good friend.

But now I’m getting older and time is more precious.  If I’m going to rent space from the past or the future in my head, then it best be a good place.  I like to call it my happy place.  Indeed it is.

It’s sometimes accompanied by U2 music.  It might be one of their concerts.  More than likely it involves spending time with family and friends during the big and small moments that make life worth living.  You know these moments.  They are the ones that whisper to your soul:

Don’t forget this; try and remember every detail.

 Carve this memory in your heart; for it will warm you all your days.

     Funny thing is this:  It’s not the most extravagant place I’ve ever been.  It’s not the most famous person I’ve ever met.  It’s small.  It’s true.  Remember when Bono sings in “Miracle Drug” that, “Freedom has a scent, like the top of a newborn baby’s head.”

That’s it.   The memories of new life, or the beginning of an amazing journey, the moment that happens that you know from here out, everything is different, life is better, it’s richer, and it’s truer.  The moments that follow this one are enriched because they are defined by this one.

 

I think of walking and looking up at the tall redwoods of the Muir Woods north of San Francisco.  These trees are often thirty stories high, and they instantly shrink us as you walk their paths.  I think of wild horses that still run free when I stayed on Shackleford Banks off the coast of NC with my father when I was a little girl.  He built us a covered shelter out of drifted scraps of wood.

 

      I think of the homeless man on the corner I enjoy giving cookies to or a new shirt.  I don’t pity him, I only see him.  I see a soul who is worthy and smile because I know God sees him so much more.  I think of the sight of each of my children the first second I held them in my arms.  I will always believe in love at first sight.  Because it’s a repetitive theme, I know it’s true.

I dream of and for the future.   And sometimes I get a glimpse of events before they happen.  That’s a whole other story, but people that know me, know it’s true.    Call it a finely tuned sense of intuition, a gift, or a curse, I sometimes know before I know.  Both the good and the bad—shadows of the future come into view before the people or events that shape it will.  I’ve learned to appreciate it.    I can expect blessings and trials, but through both of them, I know I don’t walk alone.

When we start examining our hearts, it’s amazing what we find.  I think God is more likely to give us a “heads up” when we get honest with ourselves what hurts us, what inspires us, what delights us, what leads us to change, what challenges us and pushes us forward.   Before anything ever happens, do you first believe whatever happens, it will be used for your good, even if it is not good?   For that is freedom.

I always believe something is at work here, bigger than me, beckoning me to push through and go forward always.  To not look back and have faith even when the future seems so uncertain.   There will be hard times too, but I believe the God that took me this far, won’t abandon me later.

All we ever have is now, that’s why the cliché is true that it’s a gift called the present.  Every moment and event before this one lead you here.  Did you choose well?   There’s still time.   Tears, laughter, love, loss, abandonment, fulfillment, fear, grief, intensity, joy, hurt, love, disillusion,  ambition, passion—it’s all going to happen.  Maybe not today, but another time, another place.   Will you be ready?

Live ∞ Love ∞ Laugh ∞ Pray ∞ Listen to U2 ∞ Sing ∞ Trust ∞ Don’t Panic ∞ Feel ∞   Hear ∞ See ∞ 

∞  Ready?  GO!