Friday, 26 October 2012

Memories: Honesty, Humilty and Openness

Autumn is a reflective time of the year. The leaves are falling and life is changing and we mammals are preparing ourselves for a time of hibernation. The days are getting shorter, the temperature is falling and no doubt we will all be spending more time indoors.

A friend of mine said to me the other day “You seem to be in quite a reflective mood at the moment”. I have been reflecting on it ever since (Muttley laugh). He is of course right, although I like to think I am quite reflective most of the time. Do not get me wrong I am not someone who gets stuck in their thoughts, but I do know how vital it is to reflect on my life. To see where I am going wrong, to see where I am going right. To pay attention to the impact I am having on life and the impact it is having on me. That said like everyone I do have my blank spots and I need others to point things out to me from time to time. Thankfully I do have ears that can hear these days. Well most of the time at least.

Looking at the past used to fill me with deep pain and anxiety, I was haunted by it day by day. I often felt it creep up behind me and tap me on my shoulder. Thankfully things are very different these days. I can look back at my life honestly and openly without fear of the pain that accompanies it. In fact most of the time as I look back these days it puts a smile on my face and often makes me shake with laughter.

Once again these last few days I have had the opportunity to spend time catching up with people I have known throughout my life. Not as many as I would have liked to, as time does not allow for this. I have been reminded of a few things from my childhood as several family members have recounted some old tales to me. Memory is a funny thing. It is amazing what we remember and what we cannot remember, how memory can be so very selective. Memory also changes over time. My memory, or do I mean my perspective on past events in my life, has changed over time.

For so long I used to say I could not remember much about my childhood and the things that I could remember caused me either pain or embarrassment. I thank God this is no longer the case. It would seem that I was always on the run and you really cannot live like that. I also had a lot of trouble remembering much of my adult life too. I can’t blame all of this on alcohol and other substances, although this did have something to do with it. No I think the bigger part of the problem was my fear of connecting to my life. I was afraid of feeling life itself; I was scared of life itself. This is no way to live.

While people have shared some lovely memories with me this week I have also been told a couple of home truths. As always hearing this can be quite painful. I was approached by someone earlier today who told me that they had been harbouring some resentment towards me for several years. This was due to way I behaved towards them several years ago. On reflection this must have been sometime around the back end of 2005 or early 2006. I listened to the man and could vaguely recall what he was talking about. Now at the time it seemed like nothing to me, but to this man it meant a great deal and was quite hurtful. What he said about me was quite true and I listened and felt his pain. I apologised for how I had been and we shook hands and went our separate ways.

I was so full of myself back then, so certain about so many things. Thankfully I have grown up a little since then. Life has humbled me many times and increasingly opened me up. That said, like most folk, I’ve got a long way to go.

I have also received some criticism from a dear friend over the last couple of days. I was told that I have neglected this friend as I have got on with my life. To some extent this is true. It is a criticism I have heard before and it has caused me to stop and think. I really do need to make more time for the people I love and just as importantly love me too.

The question I am asking myself is do I still fear love? Am I afraid to express and to receive it from others? The truth is that I am better than I was, but there is still work to be done.

Now please do not get me wrong I am not beating myself up here. I am merely honestly reflecting on my life. I know I’ve come a long way these few years. These days I am much more open than I ever was and therefore feel far less lonely than I ever did before. That said there is plenty of room for improvement. I need to increasingly see that no matter how much I think I know there is still so much to learn and if I can just see and accept the truth of this I will once again be opened up to experiences way beyond my imagination. I thank God and the people who can speak openly and honestly to me for that.

An old friend rang me earlier and during the conversation he mentioned a quote I had put on my facebook profile. I have just re-read and it has penetrated deep into my soul. Thank you...

Here it is

“In every field of human inquiry, ignorance increases as knowledge grows. The Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “I am the most ignorant man in Athens.” He wasn’t indulging in false modesty. He was pointing out that others, knowing far less, had no idea how ignorant they were. Socrate’s ignorance, the knowledge of how much remained for him to learn, expanded in direct proportion to his learning. Of both belief and knowledge, the same is true for us. When reflecting on several years of contemplation on the origins of the cosmos, one cosmologist sighed, “It’s not only queerer than we imagined; it’s queerer than can be imagined.”

“Whether informed by religion or by science, our minds cannot unwrap life’s mystery. This is why, in offering evidence to corroborate religious truth, true believers may more honestly be accused of being too rational than too irrational. They are not alone. We all use our minds to figure out things that can’t be deciphered by anything as small as our minds. On the one hand, the attempt is a noble one. Trying to decode life’s mystery is what makes us human.

Balancing these two apparent contradictions. I base my own theology on contrasting principles: openness and humility. No ceiling limits the expansion of the human heart. Yet, humility teaches that when death visits, we will have attained only a flickering notion of what life and death are all about. The light we discover will be framed by darkness. But, when we ponder the nature of our shared mortality, meaning may begin to emerge. Not unlike when we leave a warm, brightly lit room, go outdoors, and contemplate a dark winter sky: one by one the stars come out.” 

Forrest Church

Life has taught me so much and I am extremely grateful for every lesson, including the painful ones. Of all the lessons I have learnt perhaps the most important one is that everything we do and everything we do not do does matter. This is why it is so important to be aware of the impact we have on others. The last few days have helped me to remember this.

Thank you

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