Posts Tagged ‘carpe diem’

Forgetting Is the Hardest Part

In Relationships, Self-Reflection on May 31, 2013 at 6:55 am
Two peas in a pod.

Two peas in a pod.

April is a hard month for me. I can say this now because it’s May and because May is almost over, meaning that I’m moving farther and farther away from April. If you had asked me in April, I would have pretended that things were fine and that I was managing well. What really happened in April was this: I entered into a period of sadness, fueled by the 10-year anniversary of my Dad’s death. I stopped waking up early and meditating. I stopped writing. I couldn’t even pick up my journal to sketch out a few sentences on how I was feeling. I didn’t make any cookies or scones. I stopped calling my Mom and sisters. I avoided social gatherings and became a social recluse.

Ten years later, the power of grief still surprises me. Grief at this stage is much different than it was five years ago, much less eight or nine years ago. It’s less acute, having been tempered by time and experience. In the ten years since my Dad’s death, I’ve lost other loved ones, both friends and family. I’ve had more ups and downs in my own life. I’ve grown-up, at least a little bit, and learned more about what it means to be myself.

What I increasingly struggle with every April, however, is the sense of permanence. With every day that slips away, I lose more and more of him. It’s becoming harder to remember what his face looked like when he laughed. I begin to forget the exact timber and tone of his voice. I can recall some of his infamous puns, but for every one that I recall, I forget two others. I’ve begun forgetting some of the happiest memories I have of him, or at least they are becoming more blurry in my recall. At the same time, some of the unhappy memories I have, like the times we would get into arguments on the basketball court, have also faded into the recesses of my brain. It’s hard enough losing someone you love once. What you don’t realize, however, is that you lose them over and over again as the years go by.

The act of forgetting is necessary and very human. After all, how would we be able to forgive each other and move past difficult life events were it not for the powerful drug that is forgetfulness? Yet, every year I find myself lamenting this necessary step, wishing it could be otherwise. What I’m really wishing, though, is that he could come back and that everything would be as it once was. But the strangest part is, once I admit to this, I realize that I don’t actually want it.

Yes, I wish he could be here to see my life and share in the happiness, but I would never take back the past ten years. The past ten years, and all that has come with them, have brought me to this place. Sadness, grief, laughter, growth, happiness. I’ve moved away from home, found my life partner, read good books, walked and biked hundreds of miles, and have found my own place in this beautiful and terrifying world. And I realize that none of this, absolutely none of this, would have unfolded in the same way if things had been different ten years ago.

I can admit to all of this because it’s the last day of May, and because once April’s sadness gently rolls away, I am reminded of how blessed my life has been. I’m so grateful for my Dad and for the years we had together. I’m equally grateful, however, for the life I have now. Forgetting really is the hardest part, but it’s also a gift in disguise because it allows me to embrace my new life without living each day in constant grief and regret.


Don’t Delay

In Writing on July 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

The other night I stumbled upon this TED talk by Larry Smith, titled “Why you will fail to have a great career.” Smith’s message hit home with me, and judging by the space given to it on other blogs, others felt the same way. Smith strikes at the heart of many of the excuses that we frequently use to keep ourselves from pursuing our real passions.

One of his strongest points touches on one of the great myths in American work sub-culture, namely, the myth that if you work hard now (and for the unforeseeable future), and climb as high as possible on the corporate ladder, that you will somehow, eventually, (before keeling over into an all-too-brief and disappointing retirement), find happiness. It is here that we encounter the theme of delayed gratification. I should point out, that I realize that delayed gratification can play an important purpose in our lives. In fact, studies show that children with the ability to embrace delayed gratification are more likely to be successful later on in life.

This being said, there’s a real difference between delayed gratification for the sake of reaping future rewards (a rational choice) and using delayed gratification as a flimsy excuse for self-doubt/insecurity and other stumbling blocks that may keep us from embracing our real passions in the present. In his talk, Larry Smith speaks about how the individual thinks to themself: “I’ll work in this job now to earn some money, but some day I’ll actually do what I love.” And yet that “some day” gradually gets pushed further and further back as life intervenes. Years later, the individual finds herself wondering where it all went wrong.

This is where it gets personal. In the past year, I’ve made commitments to myself to stop making excuses and to pursue what has long been a passion for me: writing. I’ve been so busy building a respectable career and putting in the long hours required for it, that my dreams of writing have been constantly pushed to the side. The only way to address this is to make a real commitment to myself to make the most of the “now,” and to start making writing a real part of my life in this moment, as opposed to pushing it back to that “some day” when I think I’ll have more energy, focus, attention for it.

Having made that commitment, I know need to seriously think about all the inputs that I need to make this a reality. Things at the top of the list include: 1) dedicated time; 2) quiet space to work in, free from distractions (including the Internet); 3) self-discipline to make it all happen. Looking at this list it’s clear to me that in order to embrace my creativity, I need to first embrace tendency toward discipline and focus. Thankfully I have a lot of amazing thinkers on this subject to help me along the way, including Tony Schwartz and his brain-child, The Energy Project.