My husband, Rich, lost his memory after he was hit by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury. In a moment of perfect clarity he once described his loss like this. “Pretend you are walking up the street with your friend. You are looking in windows. But right behind you is a man with a huge paint roller filled with white paint and he is painting over everywhere you’ve been, erasing everything. He erases your friend. You don’t even remember his name.” It’s terrifying. Because we are we without five minutes ago? What are we without our stories? Where is the continuum of consciousness? Is it all one big lily pad of a moment?
~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir
Image: Street Art via mennyfox55
I think about time differently since I got to be this old.
I think of each moment as a big La-Z-Boy,
or perhaps a hammock,
and the only direction is a little back and forth,
or side to side.
For this I need peace and quiet,
and I eschew all outside stimulation.
Perhaps this is why the future escapes me.
~ Abigail Thomas, What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir
Michael Goldman wrote in a poem,
“When the Muse comes
She doesn’t tell you to write; /
She says get up for a minute,
I’ve something to show you,
What made me look up at that roadside tree?
~ Annie Dillard, The Present, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Lord of having
Hell at hand
Lord of losing
what I have
this heaven now
may I move
like a cloud
my torn form
the wind’s one sign
may my suffering be
as of water
in some reach
it would take
and may my hands
the very nub
of my tongue
out of this hour
if I should utter
the dirty word
~ Christian Wiman, Lord of Having. Every Riven Thing: Poems.
~ Robert Creeley, Pieces in The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975, Volume 1
As Robert Frost once wrote, “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is never a thought to begin with.”
I recommend the following course of action for those, like you, who are just starting out, or who, like me, may be re-configuring midway through. Heed the words of Robert Frost. Start with a big fat lump in your throat. Start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love. And don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can. Imagine immensities. Don’t compromise and don’t waste time. In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide that you want one. Start now. Not twenty years from now. Not thirty years from now. Not two weeks from now. Now.
Oliver Sacks: My Own Life. Learning of Terminal Cancer
…It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can…
…While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.
I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night…
I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.
…Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
Don’t miss reading the full essay by Oliver Sachs: My Own Life. Learning of Terminal Cancer
What are you waiting for?
The next promotion? The next holiday? The next satsang? The next Facebook update?
The next spiritual high? The next victory? The next relationship?
The next level of enlightenment? The next chance to prove how much you know?
The next life? The next… moment?
What if this ‘next’ never comes?
And even if it does, what if it won’t end your seeking?
What if life – and its fulfillment – is always Now?
Then, what’s next?
— Jeff Foster