The tiniest things can flip me back into the past.
Usually, when that happens, I’m remembering something unpleasant, like losing a race I should have won, or being embarrassed by a remark someone made.
As I dwell on the memory I often become angry, and want to exact justice on the person whom I felt caused me to have the bad experience.
Spitting On The Sweater
For example, there was this very tall and tough guy one year ahead of me in school. One night at a high school football game, when I was in eighth grade, without me knowing about it, he started spitting on the back of my sweater.
After the game my friends told me what happened. For the next three years, I stayed out of his way. At a minimum, I didn’t turn my back on him.
As the years went by, every time I thought of him, I had this internal rage come over me. I would imagine something terrible happening to him. At least, this was the case up until three or four years ago. My rage wore down. Why? Let’s hold that question for now while I tell you another story.
A Goal Setting Freak
I’m always out there in the future.
For well over forty years I’ve made my living either setting goals for myself or helping others set goals. I’m a goal setting freak. Up until several years ago, I believed the future was a better place to be. To me the future was always getting better, thus my philosophy was the sooner we get to the future the better.
However, that mentality started shifting about five years ago. Why? Again, let’s hold that answer until I tell you one last story.
About a month ago I was reading an article in Zite magazine. A philosopher (I can’t remember his name) was being interviewed. He said, the answer to the stresses of the past and concerns about the future is love in the present.
That insight struck me as true. He described what I felt had been happening to me.
My wife and I have always been tight. In the past decade, however, that has intensified. As it has I’ve become less oppressed by past events, less interested in future events, and more content with present events.
I believe the reason for this is that my love for my wife has intensified. There may be nothing more powerful in causing a happy present than experiencing love with someone or something.
It Pushes Stuff Out
Love, I believe, has an inflating quality that pushes out other things, past and future. Love focuses the pleasant feelings of the present.
I’ve even toyed with the idea that, with an intense feeling of love in the present, the past and future are seen for what they are, mostly exaggerated illusions.
This doesn’t mean that love has to be a perfect state of euphoria. For example, during this election campaign, my wife and I have taken opposite sides on the presidential race. She’s for one candidate, and I’m for the other. We have our moments of intense disagreements.
It’s taught me to enjoy a good debate.
I don’t consider myself a very sentimental person. I don’t often tear up. I’m pretty rational. I use the word love in private, but hardly ever in public.
I’ve learned there probably isn’t anything bigger than love. Love makes life pleasant.