There’s a song that says “forget about life for a while”. The only reason to do so is to escape the unhappy, difficult, or painful parts life throws at you. There’s many ways to jump ship, unload, or check out before you get called back to reality. I used the, work lots of hours and traveling on weekends method, providing a way to avoid going home to an empty house. There’s alcohol and drugs providing a way to lighten the load. But these things deal with “forget about life”, but forget the “for a while” part. Forgetting is fine, but it’s only temporary so at some point you’re back at remembering. Do you keep going around in circles or change whatever you’re trying to forget into something you want to remember? Maybe you can’t fix it or maybe you just haven’t figured out how yet. Maybe you can fix it or maybe it takes less effort not to. My fixing was a combination of taking years to figure out how and making the effort to work on it. It’s not totally fixed yet, and it might not ever be quite right, but at least there’s more to remember than forget.
I heard a woman comment about loving her husband during difficult times, stating you have to choose to love every day. It made me consider if that’s true. I believe love is a feeling, and feelings aren’t something you choose; they just are. It’s easier to say I love you because I just do than to explain the reason why. I loved someone once who didn’t love me. Letting go of that love wasn’t as simple as choosing to do so. I loved him for a long time but chose every day to let him go. There were several guys that loved me, but I didn’t love them back. Why? Because I don’t think love is a decision. Like many feelings, love is created over time. As I think back, I fell in love with my husband by being around him and discovering he was kind, sensitive, and likeable, loveable. I loved my husband whether or not I liked him. My choice was to stop disliking him because the love never went away, and it was easier to do so because I loved him. Do I love him still? I’m not sure what it would take to make me stop.
In the movie I watched last night, a man thanked his wife for loving him when the idea of someone loving him seemed so unlikely. They were only together four years when tragedy separated them, but those four years were enough, no, more than he ever expected. I had 37 years with my husband’s love and I thought, would four years have been enough to sustain me for the rest of my life? I’m thinking of a husband whose wife recently passed away after being married not quite two weeks. Was two weeks enough? How about a day? Would I have counted it a privilege to know my husband’s love for just one day? I know I wanted to be married, but pretty sure I wasn’t thinking about being loved. I know my parents loved me, but with a care-for love, not that I’m-the-most-special-person-in-the-world love. I would describe the love I had for my husband as deep-down love that you feel in your soul, but I can’t seem to recall what it felt like to be loved by him, nor can I decide which is greater, loving or being loved. Loving is an honor, being loved is being truly blessed.
Memories – the good ones captured in photos, and the bad, deeply planted in my mind. I still print photos, a lot less than I take, but I love to hold memories in my hands, remembering events, and family and friends, now, when they were younger, or forever the same. I’ve made 6 Snapfish books so far, each holding 80+ photos, to remember trips, my husband and grandson, and scenery captured in black and white – photos of amazing places we’ve been, with no faces really, so they were never printed. I don’t have any photos of people, places, and events I no longer want to remember. Not that I didn’t capture any of these once-happy memories, but they’re easy to throw away when the ending turns out far different than the beginning. Then there are the memories that don’t need to be captured in photos. The ones with the best resolution, of moments in time, reminders of events that I’d wipe from my mind if it were possible. The ones that stick much easier than the ones in photos, requiring me to choose a path – forward to painful memories after, or backwards to happy before. The only time I choose backwards.
The latest National Geographic magazine is about space exploration. My first thought was why. Are we spending billions of tax dollars just for knowledge? Knowledge is great but not when there’s no plan to use it. We still don’t have a cure for cancer or heart disease. We produce vast amounts of garbage without vast amounts of places to contain it. People are still hungry. I believe everything requiring time and/or money should have a purpose. Purposes like curing diseases, keeping our world and our bodies physically fit, relieving stress, or finding joy. I think finding a reason, other than knowledge, is both a great motivator and inhibitor, giving me time to consider the result in order to be successful or prevent unnecessary actions. I’ve asked why am I doing this after discovering unhealthy patterns ingrained in my life, and then finding a way to fix them. I read about a reward, having worldwide impact, of $3 million dollars in gold, to whoever contributes the most to ending blindness by 2020! Finding a reason to heal myself after my husband’s death didn’t impact the world, but it did impact my world. What’s not worth asking the question, to what end?
When something frightens me, my first instinct is to run, which is exactly what happened when my husband died. The problem with running away is the inability to stay focused on where you’re going. Each look back provides the opportunity to get off track or fall, which takes energy away from moving forward, making it harder to reach the finish line. Only when I stopped running away did I realize I wasn’t heading towards anything. Only then did I see the possibilities of what was, and could be, ahead of me. My first run towards was a new home in a new place and my first grandchild. For the fear of being newly unemployed it may be a college degree and new career, of retiring, it may be traveling or volunteering. Whatever is behind may have been good, but what about wanting more good. If you think you don’t deserve it, you’re wrong. If it wasn’t so good, good riddance, there’s lots of good out there to find. If you think it’ll never happen because it never has, you’re wrong. What’s behind can chase but it can’t catch. Yesterday isn’t today, so today I ask, what’s my next run towards?
Yesterday, thunder shook the house and could be heard for almost a minute; the longest I’ve ever heard. The lightning that caused it flashed for a second, but left behind an aftermath that lasted about 50 times longer. It made me think about how long a life is heard. A lifetime sounds like a lot of time but in the scope of thousands of years it’s nothing, just like the lightning. If I live until I’m 80, 50 times that would be 4,000 years of hearing my thunder. I remember my grandparents 60 years ago, and recall two ancestors 220 years ago: a leader in a whiskey rebellion and a body guard for George Washington, but not much about their lives. I hope my grandchildren will hear my husband’s thunder until they can tell their grandchildren; possibly 70 years of remembering. Is it possible to make it to 4,000? How about 400 or is that only designated for the famous? Why do we stop telling? Didn’t they impact our lives, change us, love us? Maybe the social media lightning, what’s happening this second to me, matters more than the thunder of lives gone by, lives that still matter to me.