Not counting the criminally insane psychopaths, each one of us has at least one thing in common. We go through much of our lives firmly believing and living as if everything we have and do will continue forever. We can’t picture losing anything we have or not always doing things the way we are. That’s exactly why we are so quick so say, in a judging way, “But we’ve never done it that way before.”

Paradoxically, we are fascinated – if not mystified – in reading stories of “famous” or “wealthy” or “powerful” people meeting some sort of demise. They lose their careers. They lose their fortunes. Eventually they can’t hit the high notes they once did when they were at the top of the charts. They lose their spouses or lovers. They lose their lives.

No matter how much we believe in ultimately “making it” in life and eventually getting and doing whatever we want for as long as we want, that ain’t reality. We should know this every time we read about a change of fortunes – but we don’t seem to get it. No matter how many times we read the headlines, there’s this recording going on in our heads that says “it only happens to others, not me.” “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end!” (Closing Time, written by Dan Wilson) But we live, from day to day, as if there will always be a new beginning – whatever it is that needs a new one after it ends.

This writing space is about learning to let go. Yea, I know, this is America where we’re supposed to maximize our potential. Where ‘if we’re not pulling ahead, we’re falling behind.’ America, the land of milk and honey and iPhones, gated communities and tour buses regularly passing the mansions of the rich and famous. The land where we can dance with the stars in some enchanted evening. The band “The Tubes” got it right with their “What Do You Want Out of Life” song:

“What do you want from life
To kidnap an heiress
or threaten her with a knife
What do you want from life
To get cable TV
and watch it every night

There you sit
a lump in your chair
Where do you sleep
and what do you wear
when you’re sleeping

What do you want from life
An Indian guru
to show you the inner light
What do you want from life
a meaningless love affair
with a girl that you met tonight

How can you tell when you’re doin’ alright
Does your bank account swell
While you’re dreaming at night
How do know when you’re really in love
Do violins play when you’re touching the one
That you’re loving

What do you want from life
Someone to love
and somebody that you can trust
What do you want from life
To try and be happy
while you do the nasty things you must

Well, you can’t have that, but if you’re an American citizen you are entitled to:
a heated kidney shaped pool,
a microwave oven–don’t watch the food cook,
a Dyna-Gym–I’ll personally demonstrate it in the privacy of your own home,
a king-size Titanic unsinkable Molly Brown waterbed with polybendum,
a foolproof plan and an airtight alibi,
real simulated Indian jewelry,
a Gucci shoetree,
a year’s supply of antibiotics,
a personally autographed picture of Randy Mantooth
and Bob Dylan’s new unlisted phone number,
a beautifully restored 3rd Reich swizzle stick,
Rosemary’s baby,
a dream date in kneepads with Paul Williams,
a new Matador, a new mastodon,
a Maverick, a Mustang, a Montego,
a Merc Montclair, a Mark IV, a meteor,
a Mercedes, an MG, or a Malibu,
a Mort Moriarty, a Maserati, a Mac truck,
a Mazda, a new Monza, or a moped,
a Winnebago–Hell, a herd of Winnebago’s we’re giving ’em away,
or how about a McCulloch chainsaw,
a Las Vegas wedding,
a Mexican divorce,
a solid gold Kama Sutra coffee pot,
or a baby’s arm holding an apple?”

If we stop and reflect, for even a nanosecond, while we are multitasking ourselves from one productive activity to another, we have to admit it. Our ever-consuming, polluting and hoarding dominance on this planet is not sustainable. And, although they’ve come up with some pretty great manuals for this model of human body we are indwelling, it is headed for the scrap yard with all the others. We are all circling the drain. [Term used in medical circles to describe a patient for whom death is impending and yet continues to cling to life” (Urban Dictionary) or A rather grim and morbid term for people, generally elderly, who are living out their last few weeks of life, generally in a painful and sad state. (Jargon Database.com]

Now as soon as you get that out there, the Norman Vincent Peal devotees of the powerful positive thinking start grabbing their hats and heading for the door. Sooner or later, though, whether it takes a near death or significant emotional experience, even they have to face the music. Sooner or later, we all must deal with the temporariness of life. But why wait until near death to learn about these crucially important aspects of meaning?

The redemptive and enriching thing about being mindful of life’s temporary nature is that it quickly changes our values. The brevity of life makes us more appreciative of the present. We can stop getting caught up in the past. We can stop leaking energy over worrying about the future. If anything, we can become more alive to what is in our lives now. We can become more alive to everything we are taking in through all of our senses.

If the Dalai Lama were reading this, I suspect he might laugh and say ‘Of course. Because when you are focused on the present moment, you are less distracted and this moment becomes richer for all that is embodied in it.’

The thousands of years of the wisdom of the Eastern philosophies and all the major world religions are saturated with the teachings about true contentment. The compendium of wisdom teachings suggest that happiness in life has to do with less striving, grasping and longing and more about fully living in the moment. (“Excuse me but give me a minute so I can move my avatar up to the next level so that I can get an extra 500 points.” See what I mean.

This writing space deals with letting go of a lot of the temporary things in our lives. It also has to do with embracing the present. It’s going to be dealing with what we all must face: the temporariness of almost everything in our lives. It will try to ask the questions we all must face about the meaning of our lives. Our sense of worth. The worth of all others. About how you and I spend our energies and talents and for what end. It will be, in a way, a collaborative quest where we can hopefully learn from one another.

It’s not going to be about creating a moral or spiritual manual for life. Rather, it will hopefully be a place where you and I can be more present with how we are doing with the temporary aspects of our lives. Perhaps, from what transpires here, we will be able to be of support and encouragement in times of suffering. I hope we can make one another laugh.

This will be a moderated Blog but do jump in here. We are all circling together but even though we forget this so often, we have so much in common. We are in this together, for a while, anyway.


Leave a Reply