For most of my life, I was capable of walking in only one person’s moccasins – my own.
That takes in past moccasins as well as present ones.
That’s changing a bit. Thus, I’m changing a bit.
Let’s take the past as an example:
The best way to describe my relationship with the past is to imagine it condensed down to a little point. My own life, on the other hand, was a fully opened aperture.
People of the past where abstractions to me. It was difficult for me to comprehend they had actual lives. For example, I would see a photo of Abraham Lincoln, and all I could see was an image of him. It was as though his entire life was compressed into that one black and white impression. As far as I was concerned, there was no existence for him beyond that photo.
A shame, isn’t it? Shallow, egocentric, maybe even a little neurotic. It’s living with distortion.
Lincoln’s life was just a moment in time, while I thought my life was smeared out through time and space? How bizarre.
But, I’m having an adjustment.
There are two reasons – I think.
One, I’m aging.
Two, My wife’s obsession with tracking down her Irish ancestors.
The other day I realized that the number of years between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War is just about how old I am.
My wife asked her father to write his life’s story. He did. A couple years later he passed away, and since then my wife has been combining his history with the entire line of his family name – Fannin.
It has become both her passion and obsession. Her family is Irish as can be, and three hundred and seventy-two years ago the family was part of the Irish Rebellion of 1641. That resulted in Fannins migrating to America.
When you live with someone whose passion for her family’s past is intense, it slowly seeps into you. Right now I’m soaked with Irish.
Over the past decade, my wife has put together the day to day lives of Fannin family members that now stretch back to the 1400’s.
What impacts me is listening to my wife tell their day to day stories. Over time it slowly dawned on me their lives were not that materially different from my own life. I started wondering why I take my life so seriously when obviously it’s roughly the same kind of life each individual has lived since the 1400’s.
I concluded I no longer occupy center stage. We’re all on stage at one time or another and we’re all supporting cast members.
Life took place quite robustly before I showed up, and will continue that way when I’m not here.
For the greatest part of my life I haven’t seen things that way. I have believed that the moment I am living is three dimensional, while those of past generations are two dimensional. The sun shines brighter at the moment I am living, than it did in the far off past.
I no longer believe that. Life was lived as fully in one period of time as any other. The light of day was as clear for them as it is for me.
My life is not at the center of existence nor at its culmination. It is a mere part. Lives stretch back in time and move forward.
The ticking of the seconds of the clock tick no faster or slower for them than they do for me. Their days were as long for them as they are for me. They had to fill their days much as I have to fill my days.
I feel comfortable being a part of life coming and going.
It doesn’t bother me to think this way. I’m actually a little happier. It’s comforting, even a little bit euphoric on rare occasions.
My feelings about death have even changed.
Right now, death doesn’t bother me.
I’m not afraid of it, right now.
How I may think about it tomorrow may change,
But right now, I’m fine with it.
How Was I?
Before my right sizing,
I couldn’t imagine myself dying,
I even thought of ways where I’d never die.
I must admit, history is at an inflection point,
Science will help us live a lot longer,
I like that,
But, I’m happy with the life I have right now.
And All That Stuff
Look at all the stuff I’ve gained by growing older and listening to my wife recount three centuries of Irish lives lived. I have the luck of the Irish I tell you.