Life Will Never Be The Same And How That Affects Me

Couple walking in fogWe try to write from the heart by looking at our relationship and asking how we have been this past week, and out of that arises a facet of how we are that becomes a blog post, but in this past six months, the fires, floods, politics and pandemic have so changed our lives that we have to include them in how we have been.

For me, Phil, I have given myself over to it. The world has changed and will not be changing back to the way it was. Perhaps it was an Eden then, perhaps I forget many of the struggles. Whatever, I am trying to take comfort from the view that great changes are happening, and to be entertained, not horrified. I try to be aware of the moment. I will have breakfast soon, granola and yogurt; we’re out of berries, but raisins will do. Aren’t I lucky?

I have long been concerned about how our environment is being progressively impoverished. A year or so back, I read a long piece listing the many impending collapses and the author’s response of grief. Grief. She named the feeling for me, and I have been living it ever since. A drive in the country will evoke it by reminding me how fragile the landscape is.

I grew up in the shadow of grief – I don’t want to tell the story now – and have spent a lifetime avoiding its consequences. In telling this to Maude early in our relationship, she said that grief could only arise from great love, and I was illuminated. The other side was opened up for me.

The most important part of our world is the network of relationships #relationships #quote Click To TweetNow grief is here again, and I deal with it in several ways. One is to take action, whether recycling, giving money, writing, or making a video about the state of politics. Another is to change the timescale through which I look at things. In a hundred or 10,000 or a million years, the events of today will be no more than the texture in the cloth of life.

Then there is being present, which is viewing the timescale in completely the opposite direction. You’ve all heard the mantra of Be Here Now so many times, I’m sure you can recite it back to me. Let me offer a different take. We, life, existed for billions of years without speaking. Around 100,000 years ago, the forebrain developed language, which became a powerful tool for how to understand and manage the world, and now thoughts and words are indistinguishable. But the older, preverbal way of understanding the world still exists within us, and being present allows that into our consciousness, although by definition, we cannot speak about it.

I wrote an 8-part commentary on sitting meditation that starts by describing it like an onion. The outer layers are our thoughts; below them are our emotions, and below them is simply being. Sitting is an aid to getting in touch with a different way of relating to the world, the earlier way that existed before language.

I have been telling all this from a solo perspective, but the last, and most important part of my world, is that I am surrounded by people. (Most connections are virtual these days for obvious reasons, but they still work the same way.) They affirm that I am not alone in the world, that they are not me but are like me.

We have this deep need for connection. We measure who we are by how others see us. We act to fit in as much as we act to stand out. We live in a space halfway between the individual and the group. We want to be unique and we want to belong, to subsume ourselves in the larger group, to feel connected, to lose ourselves for a greater good. We find who we are within and we find what we are in our family, our town, our career, our country, our humanity. This is how we love.

Next week, Maude will share her perspective.


Photo Credit: Maude Mayes

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11 comments on “Life Will Never Be The Same And How That Affects Me
  1. Catherine says:

    Thank you Phil for authentically naming this predominant emotion many of us experience. Your suggestion of changing the timescale is a novel and good one. It provides me more breathing room in my perspective, as you aptly remind me connection and love are a soft mat to rest in during this time.

    • Phil says:

      Thank you, Catherine. I remember a BBC nature documentary from years ago that used both faster and slower camera speeds and being amazed at how differently life appeared, e.g. a hummingbird hovering or a vine reaching out its tendrils. I think one of the reasons that changing the timescale works for the present situation is that at 100 or 10,000 years, our self, our ego, is no longer in the picture and we can make judgments differently.

  2. Very insightful and heartfelt post. Thank you,

  3. Barbara Maier says:

    via email:
    Barbara Maier:
    Thank you Phil for your very personal post.

  4. Marie Weiss says:

    Sent per email
    Marie Weiss
    This is a thoughtful and moving post, thank you.

  5. nomada says:

    What a wonderful piece! This is one I will share with friends. You couldn’t have picked a more symbolic and perfect photo

  6. iris says:

    Wow! I loved reading your piece this week. I read it a few times as I found it really comforting to think about this larger perspective ,this mega- time frame you describe and the many layers we each experience daily . I found your words tender and encouraging. Yes! It feels like each day is made of these micro- choices and we get the opportunity to navigate through this time of UNcertainties by choosing raisins or an early walk. When people speak of a NEW time; I find myself searching for new words or a language that isn’t yet here. I go within and know it just isn’t time to know yet! While I know our Mother Earth is restoring her fish and her seas . I rest in self investigation and find comfort in sharing the uncertainties ; which seems like a lovely way to start! Thank you!

    • Phil says:

      Thank you, Iris! It’s a challenge for me to stay balanced during this rocky ride. I think our challenge as humans is how to be present and go with the flow and at the same time, be proactive and attempt to control our destiny. I try to hold the two in mind at once, though that like balancing on a slackwire for me; I inevitably fall off. Peace!

  7. Kathy Jean Schultz:
    Agreed. It won’t be the same. I hear so many people saying, “When this is over . . .” The impacts aren’t likely to ever be “over.” Our school children, for example. What happens to the year they are losing? Small businesses, and people whose career paths are wounded or destroyed, our doctors, nurses, and scientists – nothing’s going to be the same. Those who have little hope of paying off mortgages, car loans, student loans. The amount of fantasy and denial around this is like a fog.

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