Ceaselessly Into the Past

Yesterday morning I acted on a realization I wrote about in my last post —my tendency to rush everything. The day before,  I had looked for opportunities to pass cars on two-lane roads, but yesterday as I was driving toward Crater Lake I reminded myself to  begin that change I want to see in myself,  and just take it easy. The few minutes I might gain weren’t worth the stress, and really, how about just enjoying the scenery? It made a huge difference In the quality of my day just to decide that the person in front of me (well, for the most part) was driving fast enough.

And then there’s what I allow into my consciousness in the car.  I finished a so-so audiobook on the way to Klamath Falls, and normally I would just start another, but yesterday morning that little voice that is trying to guide me to a richer life pointed out that a mystery or thriller  is good for passing time but that really there are far better ways of truly enhancing it.

Opera, I said to myself. How long has it been since I listened to Angela Gheorghiu, one of my favorite sopranos? On the way to Crater Lake I was bathed in Puccini, Massenet, Charpentier and others, and  when that album was done, the music switched to Mysterium, a second album by her I forgot I had. It starts with several Eastern Orthodox pieces she sings in concert with a choir . There’s something about that style of music that goes straight to a deeply embedded place far beyond where the rational brain  can travel.

And so, as I climbed through the pines to Crater Lake, my thoughts blossomed. Here I was,  traveling in geologic time, forest time, medieval church time and my own moment all at once. Most of us treat time as linear, some see it as cyclical, and some believe that it doesn’t exist at all but that everything is happening all the time. It’s far too much for my limited brain to go there, but I got a glimpse of that yesterday as I saw myself as a passing flash in the forest, a speck of dust in earth time, but still fully present as my day unfolded minute by minute.

And here I am now, on the Oregon Coast, in the temporal and spatial middle of my journey, coming from timeless mountains to boundless ocean.  Today will have new messages, I am sure, but the thought that keeps running through my mind is the closing line of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

It’s a bummer of a sentiment if you choose to invest it with a sense of hopelessness, but I don’t see it that way.  The past is the raw material of the present. We wouldn’t have mountains or music without it.  Today  will be a good day because I will bring my whole life  to meet it.