When All Is Said and Done

One of the reasons I am infinitely glad to have journaled faithfully throughout the years is the unique perspective it provides when all is said and done. I will often dig out my old journals and read through past entries with pure fascination and curiosity as though someone else had written them.

I am so surprised to read about (and be reminded of) the worries, concerns, fears, victories and priorities of the past. And I am even more surprised (at times) to see how the situations (i.e. worries, concerns and fears) have worked themselves out. To take a step back and see the picture that time has painted for me. An image that time and only time truly can.

Time is incredible in that it is the only thing capable of explaining our lives to us with the greatest amount of detail and accuracy. When allowed to do it’s job… it will reveal secrets, provide solutions and share with us endings to stories and answers we’ve literally been dying to discover.

If you think about it… sometime when things are quiet and you have a few moments to be alone with your thoughts — write them down. Record them. Because I promise you that they will change and they will evolve and if you don’t… those thoughts and feelings may slip away from you.

One day—when all is said and done—you will stumble into the answers and they will not hold the value that they could have had you remembered to make note of the questions.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Uninvited Guests

On occasion, I have been known to entertain some interesting visitors. I really don’t like them and if the truth be told… I wish they would just go away. They aren’t welcome and never really were, but they show up unannounced anyway.

It’s not like they are spending every free moment with me. They usually don’t bother me during the day when I’m busy at work. It is during my nights when they really make their presence known. Maybe you know them. Maybe they’ve visited you too at an inopportune time… they are notorious for that.

Their names are: What-If, If-Only and Why-Me. Have you heard of them? They are quite the terrible trio and whenever they visit, they always want to party. They know how to take a perfectly nice evening and turn it upside down. They’re LOUD, obnoxious and rude. They especially like popping in when everything is quiet and I’ve settled down with my journal or a good movie or book. They dance around my home and call me names to get my attention.

What-If likes to play this annoying little game with me. He shows me a scenario in my life that has actually occurred (a negative one of course) and then proceeds to show me ALL of the other seemingly BETTER ways the same scenario could have played out If-Only… And this is where he joins in on the fun.

If-Only whispers in my ear ALL of the things I COULD have done differently so that the scenario in question might have had one of those better, more desirable outcomes. If-Only likes to dangle his favorite toys in front of my face: Lost Opportunities, Past Possibilities and Roads-Not-Taken. And he will not rest until I reach out my hand and grab hold of one or all of his tempting little trinkets.

Why-Me is a bit more shy, but is actually the worst of the bunch. He usually hangs back to wait and see how the other two have fared in engaging me. He is not one to force himself on me. He knows that when What-If and If-Only have done their jobs well, and sufficiently gotten my attention, it is only a matter of time before I approach him.

Why-Me LOVES to play dress-up. When I come to him, he is ready and waiting with a heavy coat made out of the fabric of Misery and Self-Pity. This he likes to drape across my shoulders. It weighs me down and is dreadfully uncomfortable to wear. I always end up slogging around, shoulders stooped beneath the weight of the garment, unable to move. When I am aptly dressed, Why-Me stands back and smirks… knowing that he too has made the most of the visit.

You can see why these 3 are such annoying and unwelcome guests. They aren’t the least bit fun and their shenanigans leave me totally drained, exhausted and spent. After they’ve gone, I spend the next several days cleaning up after them because of course they never visit without making a total mess of things.

I do, however, have a couple of friends who—when I think to invite them—do an amazing job of keeping those 3 trouble makers at bay. Their names are Gratitude and Contentment. And the 5 of them actually cannot even exist in the same room. I really should call them more often and invite them over. I’m positive that they are such loyal friends… they’ll even HELP me clean up the mess next time.

“There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.”

Loving the Questions

For as long as I can remember, I have been an impatient person… and a worrier. Such endearing qualities, I know. Oh… And I am also a ruminator… with a capital “R,” I can chew on a thought like nobody’s business. Seriously. You can ask anyone.

In fact, anyone reading this who knows me very well, is probably at this moment, smiling, laughing or at the very least nodding their heads in enthusiastic agreement. I’m not sure why I am like this. I wish I could blame it on someone or something… like my parents or older sister, a sadistic teacher, a traumatic childhood event, an evil playground bully. But none of that would be accurate. See, I’m fairly certain that I came straight out of the womb, hard-wired to be like this.

I ask a million questions it seems… all the time. What am I doing? Where am I going? How is THIS going to turn out? What is (insert name of just about anyone here) thinking right now? When will that happen? What if this happens? What if that other thing happens? How am I going to pull THIS off? How’s THAT going to work? What if? How come? What for? Why me?

I also rush ahead (in my mind) wondering about the future, rather than living fully in the present. I mean, do I ACTUALLY think that by dwelling on or worrying about the future I am going to miraculously get to any of the answers any sooner? The thing is… I know that this kind of thinking is not only an exercise in futility… but it is harmful. It’s harmful because it robs me of any joy that I am capable of feeling right now… in the present.

So, for all my fellow worriers, ruminators and commiserative comrades out there… I want to share one of my favorite quotes with you. The reason it is one of my all-time favorites, is because it does such an amazing job of bringing into focus exactly how we ought to see our current realities as well as our futures.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms or books that are written in a foreign language. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then, gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

It’s so important to remember that Time will… in time… pull back the curtain and reveal the answers to us one day, but until then we need to enjoy whatever TODAY has to offer because the Present is the Future of the Past.