Privilege Blog

Is This Common Knowledge, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:58am

Toward the goal of dimming my unwarranted distresses to the glow of one–probably–orange bulb I’ve been thinking about “being in the moment.”

I understand that living in the past makes you sad, and living in the future, afraid. I appreciate the freedom of a zen flash of naked consciousness. I like the clarity of our senses.

But I’ve been practicing something lately, with maybe a different perspective on time and self? I am no teacher, no spiritual nothing, got nothing to sell. Here it is.

I’m imagining I live all the life I have lived, at once. I just pretend I’m every person I’ve ever been in my whole life, all the time.

On the one hand, this is an extraordinary opportunity for self-forgiveness and maybe healing. I don’t want to make grand claims. Most of my particular bad feelings that come from nowhere apparent–waves of dread, shame, guilt, anxiety–seem to be helped by bringing small Lisa up through the years. It’s hard to be hard on an 8-year old, if that makes sense. It’s easy to comfort a 3-year old when you’re 65.

You know, when I’m not scrolling Twitter or whatever.

On the other hand, I also bring those I have loved with me. I had a strong sense, when my mom died, that she lived in me, as well as in other people and creatures she loved. Having her along now means I show her the beautiful things and I can feel her joy. This isn’t to say I’m looking to get rid of grief. Grief, in my book, is pure and warranted.

I try to extend this practice, living my whole life and assuming those I truly loved are part of me, to those I loved at one time and not perfectly. I bring them with me in my heart, intending to make up for past wrongs, mine or theirs or simply of simple history.

Let’s be clear, I’m also fussy about tea and I can’t sleep when the air conditioning’s running. Which is to say, I’m as imperfect and annoying as anyone. My goal is to deserve my good fortune. Some of that requires acting on my values, something we talk about a lot, and some of it asks that I clear the way for what, appreciation? The giving of thanks?

It’s easier to be grateful when I’m not aching for no good reason.

Have a wonderful weekend.


27 Responses

  1. Our dear Madeline L’Engle said “The great thing about getting older is you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been”. And Lisa you don’t lose all the people you’ve loved as well. What a layered, rich life you have Dear, what abundance you share!!! I do remember working in the nursery schools at Peninsula and KNOWING that each child there was Divine and needed and deserved all the love we could provide. And those children grew into the word’s population and were replace by more and more, all innocent creatures just needing to know their loveliness from the get-go. And like you, I know these lessons and also like you, Dear Lisa, I get annoyed when my pesto’s too oily or the windows are smudged. And feel SUCH gratitude for the Lisas in my life, my wise and tender fellow-travelers. Yay for all you bring to us, Dear!!!

  2. « Having her along now means I show her the beautiful things » – thanks, I love this. And I’m fussy about my tea, too.

    1. You are so welcome. And if I remember we drank tea together once, which I am happy in remembering.

  3. I really love this. I am going to print it up so I can re-read it as needed. As an ex anything religious, “spiritual” and especially life coach anything, you said it all in a clear manner when sometimes those loose parts are hard to understand and articulate.
    The holidays have always inserted feelings of grief of the past and fear of the future. Sometimes it’s hard not be paralyzed. The key is to keep moving forward.

    1. Thank you so much. As I wrote I was thinking, “I just hope this is useful to someone because what do I know;”

  4. I like the effort you make, and this seems an interesting approach. You are always scrupulous in ways I appreciate – no grand claims, no complacency, demanding some ineffable rigor of yourself. A handful of your phrases are treasures. All reasons why I look forward to your weekly essay. (Good thing you don’t live in a REALLY hot locale)

  5. This hit me in such a lovely way today! I love it and will ponder on it. I know we are a similar age and these feelings you are expressing are just…me. Thank you so much for this.

  6. Lisa,
    There is a lot to unpack here and I’m not certain I can do it. It is interesting to state, “I imagine I live all the life I have lived at once”. It is a profound thought but without a past, present and future who are we?
    I don’t really know you but I suspect your anxiety has been with you a long time and the blog somehow informs you that you are okay. We all have done things that make us feel less than who we really are.
    Sometimes I feel time has gotten away from me and my current life just looks in the rear-view mirror of what I’ve been through. I wonder where did my life go and if such and such hadn’t happened years would not have been wasted. Privilege does not bring peace but in fact more responsibility to bring others along who are less fortunate. I’m sorry that’s all I have to say.

  7. We all have a past, present and future. Considering this in the entirety is a novel approach for me. I can see many benefits of doing so.

  8. I clipped a list of things that you could say to people who were grieving the loss of a loved one out of a magazine because I never quite know what to say. One of them was “may they live in your heart.” I’m glad to hear that that’s not just some meaningless phrase, that it is a comfort to keep them close and experience joy together .

    1. Not at all meaningless, and in my opinion, much more comfort than the standard “sorry for your loss.”

    1. You are so welcome. In return, thank you for reminding me of Leonard Cohen, whose songs I found when I was 14 and have loved ever since.

  9. I have often told my children that I see them not just as who they are today, but who they have been throughout their whole lives. Nice idea to apply it to ourselves as well. And certainly your mother and all those you have loved, however imperfectly, live on in your heart.

    1. Oh, I hadn’t thought of that, but of course it’s how we see our children. I guess I am suggesting we mother ourselves, in a way. Thank you.

  10. I love remembering my children as they were in so many phases and stages of their life. It comes natural when you’re given the choice of seeing them now as adults in small increments. Love the notion of seeing myself with compassion in this same way. ❤️

  11. Sometimes I mourn that there is no one around anymore who knew me before the age of about 20 or. Just saying. I don’t have many regrets except for those times when I was less kind than I should have been or even somewhat careless with someone’s emotions. These are the things I thought of when I read your essay. I think I’ll re-read it a few times and see where it leads because it feels as though it’s going somewhere.

  12. Beautiful post. I too like the idea of being all the ages we ever were at once. I already believed that, and felt it, but had not heard it so well stated. We are also all the people we have loved or who have loved us, at least in the ways they have touched our lives. I tend to get annoyed and forget this. Thank you for reminding me.

  13. It may be “common knowledge” in the form of today’s vastly circulated/abbreviated/distilled/condensed social media confines [“honor your path”], but reading your eloquent not-common-whatsoever version is a beautiful thing, indeed! Thank you.

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