Updated: Aug 22, 2021
As I sit in the stillness of the early morning, the first line of a song by the Steve Miller Band "time keeps on slipping...into the future" is ringing once again in my head. It's no surprise to me, nonetheless, as a song usually summarizes what's really on my mind at any given moment. Sometimes, when my own words are inadequate to express my emotions or my thoughts, a line from a song, somehow, just says it all.
When this year began, it felt like just another year. I made plans, set goals, and enthusiastically looked forward to life as usual. The awareness of being grounded, centered, and intentional took its familiar designated seat in the courtside of my mind. Then the pandemic happened. For some, life came to a screeching halt - it was over. For others, it obliterated every thing they held dear. As I took it all in, however, I just kept hearing that line, "time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future." It quietly hummed amid the encroaching cacophony of confusion and panic rising all around. It was not callousness, lack of concern, or lack of empathy on my part. Rather, I understood, and accepted that no matter what happened - good or bad, life would go on. It had to. It must.
This period is a trying time for many all over the globe. Yes it is. But amid the sickness, suffering, death, uncertainty, and hardship all around, life continues to offer me the olive branch of perspective and deep appreciation for those I love and for the things I have. The pandemic has forced me to see and to fully accept that right NOW is all anyone's truly got. So with that in mind, why then should I waste my energies holding on to negative emotions - unforgiveness, anger, regret, resentment? Why waste it by procrastinating - putting off for tomorrow those things that can be handled today? Or why waste it on persons who waste my precious time? Time does not offer us a rewind option. Neither does it wait around on anyone to get things right. It only gives us the guarantee of NOW. Every second slips effortlessly away into the next and the next. Before you know it, today is all gone. I, therefore, owe it to myself to do what's best for me - today, right here, right NOW.
The pandemic has now forced me to acknowledge how cluttered my life has become. Not simply cluttered with things -possessions, but also with my own rigid plans, idiosyncrasies, and expectations. Though I've long confessed to loving spontaneity and adventure, they all had their place in my neatly arranged timetable of events. But all it takes, (or all it took) is one eventful second or one catastrophic event to upend one's carefully laid plans - as the pandemic has clearly demonstrated. What then does one do, when one feels as if he or she has lost control? One can choose to remain paralyzed by fear, self-pity, pain, or anger. But one can also choose to tweak a plan, regroup, and/or change course. Sometimes a simple change in perspective can reveal unique opportunities for growth and development that lay hidden beneath the rubble of one's own fragility, ego, or self-imposed rigidity. We can, in fact, be our biggest stumbling block to progress and success. Or we can choose to be the stepping stone to our highest achievements and accomplishments.
As a result of this experience, I also now enjoy a deeper and greater connection with my family and with those I accept as friends. Truth be told, as someone who, unapologetically, appreciates his own company, it is quite characteristic of me to intentionally shut others out - including those most important and dear to me. Not because they all exert energies that I shun or hate. Rather, it is habitually easy and convenient to appear invulnerable and detached from making authentic connections with others. But, I am now painfully aware that that behavior was borne out of an unrealistic fear of loss - the fear of losing those who I loved and cherished as though I was somehow unworthy. But as we all know, life, though serenely beautiful, is also quite brutal. It takes away precious loved ones and cherished things, whether we are afraid of losing them or not. This season, however, has caused me to do reflect deeply on the root causes of my behaviors I consider 'normal.' Now, I recognize that my fear of losing others had, in fact, caused others to lose me too - to be deprived of me. Worse yet, was that they probably never had me at all. We all lost because I was not fully available to anyone. I was simply afraid. But making good memories with the ones we love is one of the few invaluable things that we can take into tomorrow. For today's joys are tomorrow's fond memories of yesterday. They last forever.
Lastly, although this pandemic is one of the greatest scourges to have plagued this planet, it has also caused many of us to refocus and to reexamine those things that are most important to us and for us. It has also granted us the chance to live authentically, meaningfully, and intentionally. That does not mean that there will be no further tests, trials, or challenges to one's views or plans. Rather, it means that we will be more equipped to weather the storms as they come because our focus and priorities will be where they ought to be - that is, on our own business. Time will continue to move on as it is supposed to. But what matters, is that we make our time count. So as we all go through the each day, let us be grateful for each minute. Let our favorite songs be on our minds. Who knows, we might all be singing the same song. LOL.