Friday, October 27, 2006

On the Passage of Time

I recently had the occasion to travel back to the place of my roots – Cape Cod, Massachusetts for a week in celebration of my son's wedding. I have been living in Arizona now for over eleven years, and this was my first trip back to the Cape in over seven years. My visit was wonderful in every respect, and I reconnected with family members and many old friends and acquaintances, many of whom I have not seen in fifteen or twenty years.

I met several friends of my own kids– whom last time I saw them were very small children, and now standing before me are grown men and women... a doctor, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a beautiful lady, etc. It's a bit of a shock and reality check. The external changes are dramatic from the age of say five to twenty-five. For adults, the changes are more subtle, yet can be just as marked.

It's interesting... I can't quite fully appreciate the fact that I have changed and aged quite a bit too. From doing some quick math on the date of birth on my drivers license it would appear I"m 52 years old. Somehow, I just can't relate to that! I feel to myself like I've always felt. I'm me! Jack. Yet, to one observing my life from another viewpoint, I probably evidence a great deal of change both internally and externally. But I think to ourselves, these changes are transparent, because we live with ourselves every day. We're on the inside, looking out. But now that I look at the wedding photos and see images of myself, it is like I am looking at somebody else. Kinda weird.

I reunited with old family and extended family members that I had not seen in a very long time and was quite struck by the fact that some have changed so much, and others apparently very little. Indeed, some I did not recognize on first meeting at all! – that is how much they're outside persona had changed. They were like different people altogether. I saw people whom I once was close friends with and shared a common rapport or 'vibration' with, only to now silently acknowledge that things are not the same as they used to be. And I met with other old friends that surprised me with how much the vibrational interaction between us is the same as it always had been, or better.

As I met and talked to these people who all made up a large portion of my life, I was filled with many feelings, that are no so easy to define. It was both a strange and wonderful experience, this seeing the evidence of the passage of time written into people's faces. As I would look into each person's eyes, the details of various experiences that we shared long ago would flood back into my waking, conscious memory. So many memories, yet they were all present in a single moment, as if frozen in time forever.

As I processed my unusual emotions during those days I realized just how eternal life really is, and how nothing ever is lost. Every experience we have lives on for eternity, for it actually becomes part of who we are. I'm very thankful for that.

Over the years, we all change at different rates of speed. Some age on the outside quicker than others. Some mature on the inside radically, while others very much are the exact same person they were long ago. But I noticed, even in those that showed the most external and internal changes, there remained a core of 'who they are' that did not change at all... a soul signature, if you will. This is the thing I find most beautiful about people. We each have a very unique imprint on the world.

I think there is something for us to learn from the passage of time... something important to notice. I was struck very deeply with a kind of wondrous nostalgia and awe at the nature of life, of change... of growth and the very things that make us unique, individual beings. I think more than anything, I was struck with how precious it is, this experience of being in our bodies, and to take part in the magical play of life with all of it's stories and drama, both the good times and the difficult times.

The mystics say life is but a dream and we are all here for but a fleeting moment. Time, they say, does not exist in the ultimate reality... it is but a construct for consciousness to gain knowing through experience. Perhaps.

I conclude that the definition of life is simply the present moment. I like things simple. Yet all the present moments that came before (our past), are also contributing to what this one is and who we are in this instant... just as who we are right now is contributing to who we will be tomorrow. As each of us integrates the experiences of our lives and modifies our intentions and actions in the present, we direct the course of our lives.

We can never hold on to anything, I'm realizing. We have to just let go of all of it. The present moment comes, and it is gone in an instant. And so it is with all experiences of life: love, hate, joy, sadness, etc... we can't hold onto any of it. It's simply there for our experience. And once experienced, becomes part of us, somehow making us more expanded than we were before.

I'm alive. I'm content. I'm here, now. And I love life. Taken altogether, I just so appreciate it all.

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