Notes on the Journey

Friday, August 3, 2012

Memory and Non-attachment

My magical mystery tour of old haunts in Southern California continued today with the best drive from Los Angeles to San Diego I think I've ever had.  Friday morning.  A work day.  I left Los Angeles at 8:15am.  I should have been in gridlocked rush hour traffic, but no.  Wow!  All the way from Culver City to El Cajon the traffic was open and moving.  It was shockingly wonderful.

If you're not from Southern California, you have no idea how much of a topic of conversation traffic is.  People endlessly discuss the traffic and what a nightmare it is to get from one place to another within any reasonable time frame.  But, I've had miraculously challenge-free driving experiences this last week.  And, I hope the whole challenge-free driving experience continues this coming week.  It's been a wonderful gift.

My family is in San Diego.  This is where I grew up.  It's familiar and yet foreign all at the same time.  I haven't lived here for 35 years, and it's changed drastically from what it was when it was home to me.  There were fields of agriculture, groves of fruit trees, and pastures of horses.  There were uncrowded beaches, more highways than freeways, and crossing the border into Mexico was no big deal.  We spent weekends at the zoo and Balboa Park, and driving up to Disneyland for the day was easy and inexpensive.

I drive around San Diego now and only intermittently recognize things.  It's so built up that it doesn't look anything like it did when I was younger.  My sister has a memory like a steel trap.  She remembers every little detail of our lives.  I'm always asking her where we are, and she's always telling me and then reminding me of things that happened that I have no recollection of whatsoever.  She's like a walking narrative of my childhood.  She's always saying, "Don't you remember when..." and I'm always saying, "I don't remember that."

I find it interesting what we remember.  And, not only what we remember, but how we remember it.  Even when I do remember things my sister brings up, my memory of them is somehow different from hers.  We drove by an old house we used to live in at one point today.  We lived there for two years and I have one searing memory from that house, which is of a time when my sister and I were running around playing and accidentally knocked a hutch with my mother's treasured dishes in it off of the cabinet on which it was sitting.  One minute laughter and fun, and the next minute angry screaming and mortal fear.  My sister remembers the whole two years, but for me, that's all I have.

The past isn't very alive for me, which, when I think about it, is most likely a good thing.  No real point in ruminating around in things gone by.  I remember the high points and the low points, although not a lot of what went on in between.  Life has taken me to many places and given me many different and interesting experiences, and there always seems to be something happening in the present to take my attention.  I actually hate conversations about "the old times" or about what happened "back in the day."  I have little patience for too much reminiscing.

This trip, which is a bit nostalgic for me, is an indulgence in certain ways.  I'm allowing myself a leisurely looks at things past and a gentle good bye.  I normally just move on, without a look back.  So, this memory lane experience is different for me.  I'm finding it very settling and enjoyable.  It's a welcome luxury.  I'm spending three days in San Diego, which is more time than I think I've spent here since I left years ago.  It feels a bit full circle.  I'm able to enjoy San Diego in the way that I'm now able to enjoy Los Angeles, which is with a certain detachment.  And, it brings some integration and a deeper understanding of the Buddhist idea of non-attachment.  The non-attachment allows me to enjoy these places with a sense of freedom and take nothing for granted.  It allows me to enjoy the beauty that is here without an overlay of distraction or preoccupation.  I'm simply open to it all and taking it all in.  I'm accepting it for what it is and loving it for being that.

I haven't always been able to say this, but I'm so loving my life right now.  The every day of it.  The simplicity of it.  The freedom of it.  The beauty of it.  The gift of it.  Gratitude is living in me and opening my heart and my perceptions in new and wondrous ways.  I can actually say that I wake up with excitement in the morning at the prospect of what the day will bring.  It's like I finally opened a window and am letting the breath of Life blow through.  I'm feeling younger and more vital than I have in a very long time.

I don't think looking back is a way to live your life, but looking back every once in a while is valuable.  It gives you a sense of how far you've come, how much you've learned and experienced, how precious everything has been.  And, anything that brings us into a state of gratitude is a good thing.  No matter what you might be experiencing in your life right now, it is my hope for you that you can find your way to a place of gratitude.  It will make all the difference.    

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