"I learned to let go of the past by honouring painful memories rather than trying to shut them out through idle distraction and sensual indulgence.”
“Addressing the impact of critical life events is often simpler than we imagine. This frees up emotional space that allows us to move on in life."
“Depression arises when we perceive we have lost something of significance, perhaps something we judge to be essential to our happiness or future well-being. Our mind quietly latches on to a host of connected meanings, such as pessimistic views of the future and negative conceptions of the self (‘I’m a loser’). Such is the misdirected power of the brooding mind that it rarely stops at our actual losses.”
“Dark nights of the soul are not ailments to be removed or overcome, but are an acknowledgement that ‘progress’ through life is not necessarily linear, consciously directed or, at times, even possible. Sometimes we need to retreat to deeper spaces within us in order to process the pain of our existence. Sometimes we need to listen to the darkness in our hearts. In doing so, we can discover new resources in ourselves and become enriched as a result. The journey through a dark night takes courage and fortitude.”
"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.
I should find it comforting that at some point I was in the moment and practicing mindfulness. I'm kinda pissed that someone who could write the above post could actually fall into the fucking hole, though. Just goes to show you--the hole is always there. Waiting. I'm gonna kick that hole's ass. It's pissed me off more than I've pissed myself off....I think.
Spring needs to get here. And soon.