|The glory of the past echoed in my rear view.
Halloween morning, as I was heading down the road to work, the skies were a paradox. In front of me was the remnants of the night sky–complete with the faint glow of a waning moon–and in my rear view, a glorious sunrise was beginning to paint the skies dazzling shades of orange and yellow. In retrospect, I wish I would have taken the time to snap a panoramic photo; but, instead, I opted to grab a shot from my rear view. At the very least, I knew it would capture the gist of the moment.
My very first thought was, “Wow, if the sky isn’t a metaphor for my life right now, what is?” In my rear view was the glorious past. A past that was full of the everyday ups and downs of being part of a big, loving family. A past where smiles and laughter ruled. A past where our family was whole, intact, complete.
The view out my windshield was so very different. Ahead of me was the dark grey horizon, skies that were so very representative of a future that was now so uncertain for the “rest of us.” A future where every moment seems to be bittersweet. A future that has often looked so very bleak for our shattered and shaken family.
I shook my head at the irony of the scene. So often times people tell us to let the past go, to not look back, to move onward and upward, and blah blah blah…I thought to myself. Those sayings hardly apply to such a horribly tragic event like the one in my family and for others that have experienced sudden loss.
Upon arrival at the office I made my breakfast, sat down to skim through my emails, and catch up on my reading. The first thing I saw was an article entitled Happiness is the Value of Every Moment by Gaia Mori. In my state of self-pity that morning I wasn’t really up for the “you can be happy if you choose to be yada, yada, yada” type of article but the first line of the piece really screamed for my attention.
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~Norman Cousins. Wow, he nailed that one on the head, I thought. Okay, I was hooked and decided to keep reading.
The author then asked the question, “What is happiness?” Obviously, it’s a pretty subjective thing I thought rather snarkily, you really can’t define it, so why even try? Nonetheless, I kept reading and when I got to the following words, the light bulb went off. “I believe happiness is the complete mindful attention and bliss found in the present moment; the present moment is beautiful and fundamentally perfect. Therefore, one must choose to be happy right now in the present, because this is all that exists.” Another wow moment. Could it be so simple?
Almost like clockwork (which happens quite often when I am self-absorbed enough to engage in major doubt) my phone rang, it was a “Happy Halloween” call from my six-year old nephew. To hear his sweet voice on the line talking like we had just seen each other yesterday brought such instantaneous peace and joy, I can’t begin to really even describe it. All I knew was that in that present moment, I was incredibly happy.
A short while later, my son Taylor and his fiance Dawn finally made their wedding date official– June 21, 2014. Again, a sea of happiness flooded my soul. I allowed myself to be completely joyful in that moment and it was good, very good. Apparently though, I hadn’t learned my lesson yet because the joy-filled moments kept coming.
|Taylor and Dawn- June 21, 2014.
A text from my bestie needing help with her third-grader’s Halloween party? I’m there. The unexpected time with a classroom full of giggly eight and nine year-old’s was pretty awesome and uplifting. There was definitely joy there.
Then, on my way to pick up the hubs, a full-on, complete double rainbow appeared in the skies. Seriously, I couldn’t believe it. The significance of this moment for me was the equivalent of a 2 x 4 slapping me upside the head from above. On any other day, I would have been sobbing hysterically at this sign from the heavens but not today, not in this moment. I laughed, took pictures, and thanked God for that enormous sign of love (all while managing to refrain from shouting out with joy and dancing on the side of the road).
|A portion of the double rainbow!
Trick or treaters, candy, family-time, and a cold beverage at my kitchen table with my best friend brought a close to this joy-filled day. As far as days have gone lately, this one was pretty great. Had I not listened to the message so obviously being sent and had I not chosen to be happy in the present that day–despite the sorrow I was feeling– I would have missed out all of those incredible opportunities for joy.
Life so often comes at us hard and fast. We don’t always have the luxury of choosing to be present in the moment. Sometimes, emotions different than what the present moment requires may suddenly overtake us, spinning the present totally out of control. We may long for a past that we can no longer have and we may worry about the future, even though we can never know for certain what it may bring. The only thing we have is the present. By being present in the moment, whether it’s painful, happy, or somewhere in between, we can truly be authentic to the now. We may not be able to be happy in every moment; but, by truly experiencing the present for what it is, we can begin to hope for a time when our past- no matter the joy and the sorrow that it holds- is not the sole definer of our futures. Living in the present allows us to look in the rear view mirror, to reconcile our past with the now, and to look to the future with hope. It is with hope that we can slowly inch forward to a time in the future when our happy moments far outnumber our sorrowful ones.
Among other brilliant words of wisdom in the article, Mori quoted the Dalai Lama, “When one truly and with every fiber of their being accepts death and the mystery of the future, there is nothing left but to appreciate the present moment.” There is nothing left to but to appreciate the moment. Well, those words were one final “wow” moment for me.
So from this day forward, I am challenging myself to accept the yesterday of the rear view mirror and embrace the mystery in front of me. No matter what your life situation may be right now, I challenge you to do the same. I know that it won’t always be easy–in fact, some days will totally and completely suck– but I also know that deep in my heart, there is hope for brighter skies ahead. I know in my heart that there is hope for a future where the view from the windshield is glorious!