Windows and mirrors..Moments and memories

Does anyone drive a car backwards?  Can you really focus on where you are going by looking in the rear view mirror?  I think the answer is no, but there are surely some people out there whose sole life experience is based on that rear view mirror.  Seeing where they came from and regretting the things that they have not seen or that they drove past.  Regret is a terrible emotion, but it is worse if you look for it and wallow in it and base your existence on it.

In discussing time with my class, some of the fun things that students say is that you cannot get back those wasted seconds.  Once time passes, you cannot get it back.  It is lost forever.  Live in the moment cause you never get that moment again.  Seems like decent logic, but it also seems a bit focused on that rear view mirror doesn’t it?

Not one of the students said, look forward to the next moment or the next minute or the next hour or the countless hours you have coming up.  They focused on what is lost and not what you have yet to experience.  Semantics, maybe, but still it is a bit of a downer view.

What direction does the helmsman of a ship look toward on the ship?  The front!  The charts are based on where you are going, not where you have been. Yes, we have to look back just to see where we have been and to correct the course if we have to, but we don’t focus on it! We focus on the future, what lies over the horizon.

rear view mirror

Great explorers did not spend all of their time fretting over the lost time as they explored places that were not the goal of their journey. They stumbled upon amazing things and relished those added bonus adventures but went back to work trying to find that which they set out to find. They focused on the journey wherever it took them but always with a vision toward the horizon.

Can we be so focused on living in the moment that we forget to dream of the future?  That we minimize the importance of those goals and the steps needed to achieve them?  We can and sometimes we do.  Time is a tricky thing. If we spend too much time focused on time then we are simply wasting our…well…time.

If we spend all of our life and effort looking out the rear view mirror with regret and living in nostalgia and longing for what was or what might have been, we lose the grandeur of the front window and what will be and what lies ahead.  You are right, you cannot get back the past. Those decisions were made and can never be taken back.  But the road ahead holds countless untraveled miles and memories waiting to be discovered. It holds infinite opportunities for adventure and passion and discovery.

The real joy of life can be seen from the window and not from the rear view mirror!  I look forward to seeing you look forward!  Cover up the mirrors of regret and take great joy in looking out your new window to the future.  Enjoy the view!

Sunrise and renewal

Today’s thought revolves around our connection and reflection outside and inside of that window. Today I saw the sunrise on an amazing morning.  I saw a little mist that clung lazily to the fields next to me as I drove thinking about yesterday’s sadness. But does the sunrise mean the same thing to everyone? To me the sunrise represents opportunity. In reality we get a new chance to start over every single day. Today it was new. The sun still rose. There was still sunshine. When I looked out that window I also noticed my own reflection. I’m still here.

sunrise out the window     How many people do we know that look at life as a long-term struggle? They tell you about their bad week or their bad month or worse yet, their bad year?  So when they wake up every single day they just look out at the world and give up before the day even starts? I don’t understand the mentality that they have to wait for some magic sign that the suffering is over. When do they know that the bad day/month/year is over?

When a child is learning to walk, we celebrate each clumsy little step. They are afraid at first, but with each step you can watch them become more confident, more self-assured.  Then they fall. They are scared at first, almost afraid to try again.  But keep watching them and do you know what you may begin to see? They begin laughing when they fall. As parents we may make jokes about “falling down and going boom” and they learn from us to laugh it off and get back up again.  We never ever tell them to stop.

Yet as adults we tell ourselves to stop and give up all the time. We tell ourselves that we have no hope.  We stop celebrating the little steps and laughing when we fall.  We will all fall and we will all have bad days, weeks or even years. We can sit back and cry or we can get back up and celebrate the next good anything.  Having a bad month? Celebrate when you have one good day.  Having a bad day? Celebrate when you have a good hour or even a good minute!  Take joy in the quick little victory.  Break the chain of defeat and celebrate renewal. That’s the glory of time, it keeps going and with each second comes a new opportunity to change and to start over.

That sunrise was tough because yes, the poor teen I knew did not wake up this morning and will never see another sunrise.  His parents woke up for the first of many days to ignore the sunrise and feel sorrow and emptiness.  I woke up to believe that today was another chance to make a difference. To help someone. To support my kids and my family and my world.

I woke up believing that my reflection in the window meant that I am here to live another day and to live it well.  I hope you have a great sunrise!

 

Stormy thoughts from the window..

So the view today is pretty gloomy if not completely surreal.  Today’s thought revolves around the survival of the human spirit and why some can while others fall away in despair.  It is a tale of an eighteen year old boy with the world at his fingertips who let his spirit fall away to the ravages of mental illness and a woman so driven to fight cultural and social norms to survive that she clung desperately to the sense of hope and never lost her drive to survive.

Like most writers (and aspiring writers) I take some time to teach writing on the college level.  In my case it is at a community college and the students are often a great mix of different types of people with enormrainy windowously different life experiences and goals.  Like many composition classes, we begin with an essay that allows me to get a grip on who the student is.  It’s an essay about change and what happened in the pupil’s life that made them different than they originally were.

No matter how many times I admonish my class that they cannot use teenage drama as the inspiration for change, I normally see at least three or four about the trauma of being dumped by a longtime boyfriend or the cheating best friend who revealed their treachery on prom night much to the lasting despair of the heroine of the story.  Then there are occasionally others.  After reading several pieces of this childish and sometimes painfully boring first effort, I picked up a paper from a student who had recently emigrated from the Sudan. That in and of itself is an interesting journey.

This student shared her history as a child in the under developed nation and being made to feel subservient and inferior in every possible way. She was physically and mentally abused by the males in her family and village because that is what they knew of women’s rights.  That they had none.  With little access to the outside world, this young lady believed that a better world had to exist.  She fixated upon finding a way to escape.  She became pregnant at a young age and that only served to feed her desire to leave for the sake of her child.

Cut to the story of the ways she had to work and cheat and steal her way across the continent, the ocean and in the end find her way with nothing in her pocket but hope.  Her story read like a Hollywood script. Survival, desire and determination of a young woman hell bent on protecting her child and finding a life for them.    It was truly inspiring (and a shame for the others because she set the bar far too high for most of her classmates to even come close!)

Then I look down the street for Ben.  This morning he took a lethal dose of a medication that he ordered online in an effort to end his tragic existence.  He was successful and his parents found him lying peacefully in his bed, resting eternally and finally at peace. Look at his life and you see the polar opposite of my student from Sudan.  He was born into a successful and professional middle class family who acted upon his every wish and desire.  No one could figure out why he suffered so much from anxiety and depression but his attitude in school, fear of being in public and sullen behavior caused his parents to seek therapy. He was often medicated and counselled. He switched schools routinely to find a school that would fit his needs and not require an hour long battle daily for him to be cajoled and coaxed into attempting to go into the school itself.

It seemed that he had overcome that fear, he had been attending the school and even discussing life after graduation. Thoughts he had never shared before.  Yet there they were, seeing what his parents could only call hope.  Inside, however, he had plotted another course to solve the troubles in his head.  One that would cause his family eternal pain and end his own.  Most kids who kill themselves believe that they are a burden to their family, whether that is a real or imagined concern, to them it is a simple reality. How can someone love me when I despise myself?  The storm rages so strongly inside that the outside just appears to be the center of the hurricane.  Calm yet ominous. Never knowing when the calm will fade away and be replaced by the rage and horror of the storm.

This morning the eye passed and he was swept away, another victim of the disease of depression.  It leaves the question of how we teach this young person to have the will and desire to survive and want for something better. How do we transfer her strength into his feeble body?  Can we take a lesson from Dr. Frankenstein and try to capture the lighting in a bottle that would relieve his pain and replace it with her hope and desire? I don’t think so either but one can always believe right?

So today my thought involves looking into those dark windows. Some filled with fear and trepidation but the occupant in the room keeps the shades open and keeps staring at what could be.  The other keeps them closed and peeks out, afraid of what is there and not wanting to see it or be seen.  Both experience fear but one is driven to hope and the other to despair.  Two different windows in the same world.  What do you see?

 

Welcome to my room!

the_mill_view

So if you happened to have stumbled upon my humble blog, you may be asking yourself, “So what are my thoughts from the window?” Which is a great question, thanks for asking it!  First these are just my thoughts and views. Not really any guest views although feel free to throw yours out there anytime you would like.  Now for the view. (My view not The View television show which has just gone downhill in the past few years.)

So I wanted a place to write about the things that I see when I look around our world.  There are two kinds of folks in the world, those who live life in their own little room with the curtains drawn and just focused on their own experience day to day.  Others open the windows and actually look to see what life wants to show. How do people live, work even how do they play?

Being a writer is sometimes like being a closet voyeur. You look at people differently and try to figure out what their life experience is like.  I have fun sometimes sitting in restaurants with my family and looking at couples at other tables to begin making up stories about what those people do and what they are experiencing right now.  My kids laugh because I create some pretty outlandish tales but that is the fun of it.

So what about me? Well I am a professional by day and a writer by night (and several times a day when the bosses are not looking!)  I hope you enjoy the trip through my head.  I hope the journey is entertaining and fun and challenges you to throw open the curtains and really look around at life.  It is meant to be lived and enjoyed so take in every part of everyday!

Again, welcome to the blog and I hope you have fun.Not just here but everywhere that your life brings you!