There are moments, sometimes they are glimpses, when we have a sense of our best self. Future self. Our rise above the situation self. Those moments when we are able to step back and disconnect from the small “s” self and see the bigger picture.
Those moments are the closest I get to any understanding of peace. Or equanimity.
But trying to capture those moments and sustain them for all time is like trying to capture air. Impossible.
Yet, somehow, I still tried. And every time I was pierced to the core by life, I felt as if I had let myself down. And let others down. But, what I am beginning to understand is that this is the whole catastrophe that Jon Kabat-Zinn writes about. This—this life of ups and downs and beautiful sensations and aches and pains and joy and loss—this is life. And being alive means being awake in all the moments of our lives.
Not just the perfect past or some dream of a perfect future self.
Which is why, when I read the poem Patience by Tina Chang a few days ago, I had to read over and over and over again the following lines: I come from that, the flailing struggle, my afterlife waiting for me. The poem reads like an origin story…this is how I got here. And yet, where is here? Is here the future? The past? Right now?
To me, these magical words remind me that I am all ages at all times. I inherited a family, I experienced a childhood, I am getting older, and I have a sense of what I am becoming. But there is no attaining. No leaving behind the child. No forgetting. There is only inhabiting.
Every moment. Now. The afterlife is now. The former life is now.
And I find, when I can sit with all of my selves, I can sit more easily with others.