One of the more interesting friends I ever had was
someone who wasn't able to leave her past behind
her. Virtually every conversation that we ever had
very quickly turned to her high school days, even though
she had finished high school years earlier. She
could talk for hours about people there, things that
happened there, how she felt there. . . you name it.
And since I hadn't gone to the same high school, the
conversations were completely one-way and quite boring,
to be honest.
She was doing what Jan warns us against--making too much
of the past. Things really weren't all that better
than; it's just that time makes things seem quite
different. There were different people in our lives,
but they were just different--not necessarily any
better. They may seem better because of the slant we
put on our memories, but the fact is that they probably
weren't any better at all.
But the present begs to be embraced with the fullness of
our hearts. It longs to have us commit ourselves to
it, to give ourselves to it, to live it with enthusiasm
and love. The present involves responding with love
and compassion to another person's greeting; tasting
carefully and joyfully the food that we're putting into
our bodies; being aware of the beauty and hope and
potential that surrounds us all the time; of contributing
to what is good and loving in our world and not to what is
negative and dreary.
Nothing is said to us, nothing happens to us, that isn't
meant to be there. But we take things for granted
when we're wishing things were as they used to be.
We miss the cues and the catalysts that could lead us to a
brighter future when we're so caught up in what we wish we
still had from the past that we don't even see what's with
us and before us, right here and right now.