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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Living in the present

Last Sunday after church I was telling a friend how I wished there was a "fast forward" button for my life. It had been such a hard day that I wanted to be able to skip ahead to six months from now, maybe even a year. Sundays, in general, are really difficult days for me. I think it's a combination of being around a lot of people, as well as just feeling so hungry for spiritual uplift that even just singing the hymns make me weep uncontrollably. 

Some things have happened this week that have really helped me a lot. At the risk of sounding masochistic, I will admit that in the last couple of days I've even felt like I wish my life had a "pause" button instead of "fast forward." I don't want to fast forward through this period, as painful as it is at times. I don't want to miss out on any learning opportunities that this experience can provide. I want to appreciate and soak up the desires to be better. I want to make sure I have enough time in this moment to really allow it to have a lasting affect on the condition of my heart.

Our perfect little girls are counting on us to learn and grow from this experience. I know I have a lot to learn between now and the time I meet them again, so that I can be more ready and more able to be their mother.

I actually had a dream a few nights ago that I had found out I only had a week to live. In my dream I was aware that my death would mean I'd be reunited with my girls again, but there was part of me that felt unprepared. I was in a panic, trying to figure out how to get myself ready in just a week. It was kind of a strange dream, which is common for me lately. 

The next day I was trying to figure out where that dream came from, why I would be dreaming of my own approaching death. Then, I remembered that just before going to bed that night I had read a quote that my sister, Mandi, had sent me from a book she's been reading. The book is "Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber".

The part in the book is just after this woman has had another recurrence of cancer - it's her fifth major recurrence and the cancer is found in her brain, her lungs, and possibly her liver. She's going through more treatments and alternative therapies, but mostly she and her husband are just trying to focus on the present. The second paragraph is an Emerson quote, as quoted in the book:
"Friends and family often wondered, is she being unrealistic - shouldn't she be worrying? fretting? unhappy? But the fact is, by living in the present, by refusing to live in the future, she began exactly to live consciously with death. Think about it: death, if anything, is the condition of having no future. By living in the present, as if she had no future, she was not ignoring death, she was living it. And I was trying to do the same. I thought of the beautiful quote from Emerson:
These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God today. There is no time for them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time."

This living in the present is exactly how I've been trying to go through my days. I don't want to think about any regrets or guilt from the past. I don't want to worry about what lies ahead. I cannot control either of those things. I just want to enjoy every present moment, whether it comes with sadness or joy, pain or healing. I want to find joy in each step of progression along this journey. 

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