Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Visitors from another realm

Sometimes I think we are visitors from another realm, and we flash back there to a more real existence occasionally. In this other realm, we are not separated from each other; we aren't trapped in these annoying fleshy structures that cause so much grief, the older we get; we aren't hungry, or thirsty, and we are free to do important and beautiful things. Or, maybe, we are free just to be -- our truest, best selves (but not individuals).

Here's an example, sort of.

When I was pregnant with Andrew, I forgot how to drive. This experience happened suddenly, at a most inconvenient time, while I was driving the windy (whine-dy), narrow-laned stretch of Highway 281 in downtown San Antonio. I suddenly felt that I could not navigate those curves. I was trying to concentrate with all my might, and I just couldn't do it. I pulled off into a parking lot of one of the nearby universities, and called Dwaine in a panic. He came and escorted me home, trailing behind me to be sure I would make it. His presence gave me enough confidence to make it. I think I was also feeling some faux labor pains, and to call them distracting would be an understatement.

It's easy enough to blame that lapse in concentration on being preggie, but sometimes I have quite a similar experience. I realize that I am about to completely zone out and lose any awareness of who I am and what I am doing. All the things I thought I knew just disappear, language too. This impulse is quite pleasant. Getting ready to meld with the universe. Wow, groovy. Here goes! However, when this happens and I'm driving, I have to snap out of it quickly.

This experience mimics a recurring nightmare of mine. I don't know how often I actually have had it, but it is a familiar subconscious memory. In my dream, I am driving on a highway, speeding along, not paying attention that much (just like in real life), and I suddenly realize that I am going way too fast to navigate a curve. I start veering crazily around on the road, and usually wake up in a cold sweat at this point.

The metaphor is obvious -- my impression that I am in control of the direction of my life is an illusion. In my dream, I become aware of just how "out of control" and erratic everything really is around me, and it's terrifying.

The last major crash in my life was when my mom was diagnosed with acute myelocytic leukemia. Shortly before this, my dad had a fairly major car accident and was in the ER overnight. Then, three weeks after her diagnosis, mom passed away in the ICU, where she'd been 9 days. My sister and I and dad (our entire nuclear family) were in the room, my sister and I hysterical while dad was holding us. Mom didn't go out easily, and I suffered flashbacks for more than a year. She died at the age of 66 in 1999. I've thought of her quite a bit recently.

I have the strong impression that we come from somewhere else, visit here for a brief time, and go somewhere else. This in-body experience is multifaceted and many people see all the pain. But I keep thinking of all the beauty and love and ease of living all around me, in my wonderful life here in modern-day USA, and how lucky I am compared to most people, most living beings, on earth. I am part of an incredibly wealthy and pampered society. Am I appreciating my life enough? No. I get stuck in daily details and dragged down by unimportant things. As my kids say, I am often stressed out. That is one thing about this American life, we love to run. (Not jogging, unfortunately, but cramming in too many things on the old to-do list.)

Something that helps me remember to cherish everything is this little trick I got from a movie (don't recall which one, I'm sure that more than one has used this idea). Pretend that you have died and have been absent for some time. Then, you are granted a wish to go back and relive just one day of your life. It cannot be a special occasion, just an ordinary day. So you return to that day, with that one opportunity to live it to the fullest, to see loved ones and friends again at that moment in time. Imagine how you would feel and act. Your kids and spouse would wonder why you were smothering them with love and attention.

The point is, TODAY is that day! You just don't realize how precious it is, and how fleeting.

There's a San Antonio radio station that repeats this saying every morning, and I need to hear it every day. Yesterday's history. Tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

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