Becca her bright eyes lit up by a precocious mind, had finally figured it out! For sure she would get me to see the way—The way out of quicksand-longing. I was going mad wanting to go back to a home so damaged I was still removing the splinters from my body.
“Nana, if there were two roads and one sign said “Forwards” and the other said “Backwards”, which would you choose”?
“Backwards” I replied.
“What? Nana, two roads one says….” She thought for sure she heard wrong.
“Yeah, backwards” I repeat. Her little self is stunned.
I lost some points with her that day. I didn’t lie to avoid disappointing her. She has a Nana she adores and calls “amazing”, but this attitude? Not so much…
I am stuck. I want my old life back. I keep trying to find the road back to my 31-year marriage splinters, shards, all of it. I want to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I am a “Four (the tragic romantic)” on the Enneagram.
When I was fortunate enough to get to hang out with Ram Dass of “Be Here Now” fame, I joked about being a Be Here Later person – I noticed the times I looked at photo albums and was surprised to see myself looking so so happy and present…wow, I really had a great time. So at a party, commiserating with a fellow BE HERE LATER fellow who had the same experience with his picture album emboldened I called out, “Hey! RD how about us Be Here Later freaks?”
Some of us just need the lag time to be here now later—you know, you realize you were really there after all!
Ram Dass looked at me. “Ah so” he sighed taking pity on us poignant sentient beings. We laughed. A lot. I miss those gatherings. Ah! There it is again…the missing, wanting that back. Where’s the sign that says “Backwards”?
And my little Becca, the heartbreak she is trying to help me fix is complicated by my storyline;
I’ve always wanted to go backwards and I never got any support for this from anyone but my beloved Granny. Her daughter, my mom, cracked the Be Here Now whip. Granny died this past year at 104 in perfect brain still talking about all the places she was forced to leave – from Singapore to the latest leaving of her home for senior housing at the Jewish Home. “I am leaving this place you will see, I will win the Lotto and get a person to take care of me. I am going back to my house!”
Me, from the age of four and a half when I lost India forever I cried for years in Japan. I wanted my old life back, I wanted my ayah (my nanny) back, I wanted my spices, my sequins, the saris, the brown skins like mine, and the Jewish Iraqi children filling up the apartment building.
Granny understood. Mom screamed: “Stop it! We are here now, you can never go back.”
I asked my astrologer, “Why am I always wanting to go backwards”?
“All your planets are retrograde,” she explained.
I felt understood and soothed. Until I went to another astrologer who warned me “if you keep looking backwards its going to bite you in the ass”.
Dangerous, it’s dangerous to want to go backwards. All illusion. Wanting the familiar, the security, the womb. And the mind, my mind, clings to my fears like quicksand.
Uncertainity rules and fear doesn’t help the situation.
I humbly (when I am not raging against it) bow in relief. It’s a place of peace. That place in the middle, the Space called NOW.
Buddhist masters have made a living out of deconstructing Uncertainty, unpacking the face of fear, and teaching students to be present in the moment. To let go — breath by breath and empty the mind.
BREATHE. Consciously, one breath in, one breath out.
And to “keep on keepin’ on” as Dylan called it when his heart was “Tangled Up In Blues”.
What else is there to do.
The only way to navigate loss without having to choose “Backwards” or “Forwards” is to breathe another breath and be present another moment. To find “Now”. And when it’s good it’s really good. Not so much when its not. Illusions hijack, tempt, tear us away from the now of inner peace. There is so much to fear. Life is uncertain.
And like a rubber band I lose the moment and cry out. I want my security back. I want I want I want…I need…what?
I need to do that one thing and make friends with Peace, patiently waiting for me.
Peace, that little voice, it waits. The soul is still. Deep. Safe.
Breathing in …I ground myself
Tears come. Tears go.
Breathing out… I release fear
Breathing in …I welcome the moment
Breathing in …ah so…
I am here Now.
Later, who knows?