“Had a talk with my old man
Said, help me understand.
He said, turn sixty-eight
You’ll renegotiate.” ~ John Mayer
When I was grade school age, I was always wishing for something to happen.
“If I get a doll with eyes that open and close, then I’ll be happy.”
A couple years later…
“When Christmas comes and I open my gift, my life will be complete.”
(I already knew what it was—a model Lone Ranger riding Silver, his horse.)
As I grew older, the longing was for a live horse. After a few years of wishing and endlessly harassing my parents about it, Sugar the sleek chestnut Quarter horse, galloped into my life.
She was perfection—the love of my life.
As time passed, I discovered boys and sold Sugar to get the money to finance a pair of contact lenses—a new look and a new life.
Looking back, I wish I had kept Sugar, who was far more consistent and kind. To this day, a sturdy, sweet-natured horse appears as guardian, in my dreams.
But I was a typical American—always waiting for the “next thing.”
I wanted to find true love, marry, have a baby, have a house, have a career, become free again (divorce), find truly-true love, marry again, travel, have a weekend cottage, move home, be loved by family and friends, retire, be creative and now—write.
The list has been nuanced and is endless…
My mother called it, “Wishing your life away.”
Eckhart Tolle calls it, “Rushing into your future and missing your life.” (Tolle also reminds us that if we get what we wish for, it will make us happy for exactly two weeks.)
Eight years ago, I happened to move next door to someone, Patti, who helped me quite a bit. I call her my private guru. She does not set out to be a guru, she just happens to know secrets of life. (Maybe we learned some together!)
The moment Patti and I met, in the back yard beside our shared river, we had an instant connection.
Within days, we began a tradition of reading aloud together, for a couple hours a week.
Because we are both Biblical scholars, we compared what we read to what we know of Judeo Christian wisdom. We have done this faithfully ever since meeting and have devoured a minute portion of the world’s wisdom. One of the many titles we have read and discussed together is the Bhagavad Gita. We are now reading three different translations of the Tao Te Ching. Next in our prospects are The Koran and Kabbalah.
One morning, we sat drinking tea at Patti’s house—gazing out the window at our shared slope, down to the river and bluff beyond. At the time, we were reading A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein by Palle Yourgrau. We were discussing the nature of chronological time versus “real” time and space.
Our discussions always took us on tangents…
“If Einstein’s and Godel’s theories of time and space were true in the practical sense, I should have no trouble gathering all my loved ones at a villa in Turin,” I commented.
This was an ironic statement, because world travel is not realistic for my husband and myself—because of his Multiple Sclerosis (not to mention our budget).
“So, what would gathering everybody at a villa in Turin truly signify to you?” Patti picked up a notebook and pen as she questioned me.
“Love…the exotic…adventure…status. Oh dear, status should not be a factor, I suppose.”
Patti jotted down all my words as I continued.
“Beauty…good food and wine…good company…history…warmth. Most of all—a really cool destination that would lure people to visit.”
When Patti quit writing, she tore the page out of her notebook and handed it to me. She swooped a hand toward our view of the craggy riverbank.
“Is there any reason why all these things cannot happen right here?”
“Well, if I have to be grounded anywhere, I am grateful it is right here,” was my reply.
At that moment I realize—all my personal longings essentially were for visual and emotional nurture.
I learned a small living tactic that morning…
When I feel that longing,” for God knows what—I stop, look and listen. (Just like the mantra for crossing a street when I was a child.)
I stop, look and listen to what is around me.
I take note of what is happening in my body and with my emotions—I breathe. I make an effort to create whatever love and beauty I am able to—in my life and environment.
For anything I cannot create, I note in the here and now. It is just a matter of paying attention.