I was walking down the street on a summer day, with the heat of the sun radiating off the broken concrete street. I noticed the feel of my feet contacting the pavement and the waves of sensation created by that encounter radiating up through my body. I felt each breath of air entering and leaving my nostrils, and noticed that I was noticing these things. For a few minutes, possibly only seconds, I lived in the awareness that there is only this moment. All else past and future was only an illusion.
I had recently returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest with friends and family. I was in the readjustment period following a nice vacation and the transition back into the routine of home. I was reminiscing about the trip, trying to make it real again when it hit me that it was truly over and could never be experienced again. I felt as if it had never really happened at all.
Of course, it had occurred. I had felt the cold waters of the Deschutes River as I drifted down it on my inflatable sleeping pad. I had kayaked Puget Sound, watching seals poke their heads out from the dark blue-grey waters to have a peek at us awkward skinny armed and big flippered creatures. But I knew that all that had passed. It was no more real any more than adventure I could conjurer in my imagination.
There is no sadness in this, only freedom. There is little value in revisiting the past other than to remember the lessons we learned and appreciate the opportunities we have experienced. It is so easy to become lost in our past, whether it be reliving good times or obsessing over the wrongs we feel have been perpetrated against us or the mistakes we have made. But this is a form of prison. We cannot change what has already occurred, only grow from it and move forward. We are the accumulation of our past experiences but we don’t get to decide which parts to embrace and which to ignore; we must embrace them all.
Realizing that the present is all we have provides us the freedom to do whatever we choose, unshackled by what has occurred before. We do not have to be what we have been. That person no longer exists. Each breath we take, each morsel of food we ingest, each thought we have and action we take changes us. We are never the same person we once were and this is a beautiful thing.
Based on a journal entry from 7.22.14