Sometimes I am able to do all of this. I feel peaceful and serene because I’m doing things “right.” And sometimes, I am utterly unable to do any of it. I feel pissy and unworthy. All wrong.
Then, I read someone who purports to be way better at this living-in-the-now thing than I am, and I feel defeated. Kind of lame. Silly. Because I am not “as good” as they say they are at not replaying the past or stressing over the future. Everyone else is “good” at this, why am I not? I decide I suck at living in the moment and, by extension, I have failed at something.
As if living in the moment is a task to check off my To-Do List and move on from.
Then, on mornings like this morning I find a message in an otherwise average moment. Then I remember how untrue that whole movie-in-my-head really is. And in the four minutes between middle school dropoff and getting back home, I hear a song I have heard at least a million times, but this time the lyrics mean something totally new:
And scars are souvenirs you never lose
The past is never far
Did you lose yourself somewhere out there?
Did you get to be a star?
And don’t it make you sad to know that life
Is more than who we are
– Goo Goo Dolls, “Name”
You know what? The past is who we are. I had my past. Not one bit of it will ever, ever change. It is and was beautiful and messy and scar-ridden and a gift. I know exactly what it was, and it lives in me, always. I know nothing about my future, but I know that I will bring this past to its table.
There’s nothing wrong with slipping out of the moment. Remembering is beautiful (and painful). There’s nothing wrong with remembering who I was, and thinking of who I might be.
There is something wrong with me thinking there is something wrong.
So for today, I continue to breathe. And remember.
The image accompanying this post is of a needlepoint my grandmother made of me and a dark-haired friend in the 70s. It has stayed with me for nearly four decades.