uncluttered soul

finding peace in the midst of chaos

I’ve Been Feeling Old Lately


“A man is not old until regrets take the place of his dreams.”… Proverb

***

The young and enthusiastic Quechua boy seemed puzzled as he lifted my surfboard toward the luggage rack on top of the bus. I smiled, willing to expound upon the benefits of a tri fin if he ventured to ask, but inside I was anxious to descend from the cool Andes Mountains and once again feel the salty spray of the ocean soothing my spirit.

Ten hours of winding down the mountains from Quito would pass quickly. I had no doubt those ancient travelers on the Incan highway that paralleled our wild ride surely arrived at their destinations much more composed than I was.

Our bus driver, apparently unfamiliar with the concept of braking, enjoyed giving us the best possible view of the rivers and valleys that lay thousands of feet below the twists and turns of our journey.

I chose to bury my head in the maps I’d collected, and search the contours of the Pacific coastline for potential surf spots. El Salvador looked very promising, but four countries lay between me and the Salvadoran border, and there was no hurry.

I’ve been feeling old lately.

In the fall of 1979 what I actually did was board an Ecuatoriana Airlines flight from Quito to Mexico City, and on to Los Angeles. After two years of volunteer work in Ecuador it seemed like it was time to return home, and just hours later I was navigating the relative safety of Southern California freeways.

Within a few days I had revisited my favorite surf spot. Many years later I wonder about the contours of the coastline that I never explored.

With the internet, and its instantaneous ability to transport a person around the world, I have found images for those elusive locales. Sometimes I think I would prefer the pre-internet dark ages, where curiosity initiates real exploration rather than a false sense of having been there.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe the internet to be a wonderful tool, and have used it often in the creation of new adventures, and the solving of problems.

But lately, the passing days are filled with an abundance of questions, and leave me feeling alone, like I can no longer find my way in a difficult world.

In the fleeting hours, I entertain more doubt and regret than dreams and opportunities. I lose sight of the future, and spend the present mired in the past.

What if I…? Why didn’t I…?

In this age of information overload it’s easy to tip the scales toward places one would rather not go.

But life is not built around self pity, or the hope that events from the past could have been different, and how can one hope to change anything that no longer exists?

56 years old is not ancient. I’m certainly not the invincible, adventurous, insatiable young surfer of the dark ages, but my one foot is far from being in the grave.

My spirit, on the other hand, is suffering. Asi es la vida. Such is life. What can one do to make life a bit more bearable?

Smile

Have you ever noticed how when a person smiles their whole face lights up? Take a look in the mirror. Your smile brings light to the world. Would you deny the world moments of brightness? Approach everyone you meet with a compassionate heart, and a beautifully Divine smile. Put into action a force far grander than anyone can imagine, yet forever within our ability to share. Spread happiness, and feel it grow inside you.

Breathe

We’re OK. Every breath we take is a reaffirmation of the miracle of life. Wake up each morning and be thankful for the new day. Take a walk in the woods, leave your footprints in the sand, wrap your arms around someone, go out into the world knowing that you have the power to create positive change. Practice Yoga, meditate, arrive at work with a smile on your face. It only takes a few moments, and we are given thousands of opportune moments every day.

Go Slowly

Be mindful of your actions.

Know that there is much suffering in the world, and for many of us, it is far worse than anything we’ll ever encounter in life. Our world is young children with empty bellies, innocent peasants savagely massacred, suicide bombers dying to create chaos.

Know that in a difficult world kindness has great power. Our world is opening a door for an elderly person, volunteering your time at a food bank, finding ways to comfort others even when we are struggling ourselves.

My Mother died of cancer. She suffered more from seeing my Father’s agony over the potential loss of his beloved than the obvious pain of her disease. I will never forget the night she passed. One AM. I awoke to silence. I viewed my Mother, and embraced my Father. He tearfully said, “I finally found the strength to tell her that I would be OK, that it was OK for her to go, so she went”.

The power of the human spirit is real. Use it for good. Use it often. Shed some tears, then spread your joy.

“If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we cannot share peace and happiness with others.” …Thich Nhat Hanh


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September 25, 2011 - Posted by | thoughts

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