8/18/2013

Mantras Worth Repeating

"And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep." Kurt Vonnegut


One of the things about teaching the same novel dozens of times is that lines reverberate in your mind, come to you unbidden, like whispers on the wind.










Time is a tricky thing. Billy Pilgrim, in Slaughterhouse-Five, has come "unstuck in time." He slams around willy-nilly, unable to control the experiences, unable to do more than passively observe himself and the action that  swirls around him. Vonnegut once alluded that he too was unstuck in time, and perhaps that's a part of getting older, of getting stuck in one's past.





And yet, the wisdom of the opening quote hangs there like a jewel twinkling. Vonnegut may not have been able to hold onto that wisdom, to keep himself in the present, in the moment, but he knew that was where we are supposed to be.








The reality, though, is that even if we immerse ourselves in the moment, even if we exist fully in the now, it still slips into the past so quickly. The trick is to slide along with the moment into the next one while letting the past slip from us. It informs us, creates us, but does not have to bind us. We can choose to continually reinvent ourselves by holding onto this moment and squeezing it for all it's worth.





Vonnegut's question is a mantra worth repeating each day. None of it and all of it is mine to keep. And that, that realization empties me of baggage and lets me engage in the moment, free.









I hope, at least, and will keep repeating it until it becomes so.








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