Tuesday, October 29, 2013

These are the good old days

The concluding insight of Carly Simon's "Anticipation," that these are the good old days, resonates with those moments when in the midst of tension I pause, step back and consider my situation in its larger context and realize how good things are, how good I have it driving along on a warm autumn day through mountains covered with fall yellows and reds to a job teaching in college, a permanent job that pays a good wage and allows me to do something I see as valuable.

But I wonder at how valid it is for me to do this self-soothing. Usually I am uptight despite the idyllic context because I have not gotten things done as a result of my lack of discipline and my self-indulgence. That is at least how I feel, but am I right? Perhaps I am feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self-pity, and by recentering further away from the present moment, I am able shake off a distorted view of it and then return to the present moment more aware of the true value of that moment. Or maybe I am just more deluded about my right to enjoy it.

The Buddhist approach says that I should stay in the moment and realize that everything outside of that moment is present only because I am thinking of it. Memories and anxieties impinge on the present only insofar as they are present in my consciousness and subconsciousness since they have no other physical form in which to be there. Much as I try to see the wisdom of that approach, I still see it as denial. At least my recentering requires me to find a context in which I can accept what of my past and future appears on the stage to demand attention, rewriting its part from delivering a soliloquy, foreground, center-stage to becoming part of a conversation with other players per chance in preparation for an exit pursued by a bear.

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