Stranded by My Own Hand

“Marooned in the present, we are progressively blinded to the sheer ongoingness of time….For us as agents of change, this can’t be easy, because to intervene in the Industrial Growth Society, we can’t avoid falling into its tempo. We race to find and pull the levers before it is too late to save this forest or stop that weapons program. Nonetheless, we can learn to drink at deeper wells.” Joanna Macy and Molly Brown, “Coming Back to Life,” P. 171

I don’t think that being “marooned in the present” is the Buddhist concept of intimacy with the moment. But that’s what I’ve been living. I have failed to “drink at deeper wells.” I threw away my oars out of sheer exhaustion and paid a steep price.

Being marooned in the present includes:

  • Watching TV to kill time
  • Listening to “talking heads” (like preachers or TV personalities) without scrutinizing their words, opinions, and/or beliefs as to the effect they have on oneself and others
  • Wandering aimlessly on the internet, going from one link to another without a particular purpose or conscious intent.

I have been simply trying to cope. Coping is woefully insufficient to give me a reason to live. I do not possess a strong will to live and never have. Coping is having one foot in the grave. Coping is biding time that one may not actually have.

I had taken my focus off the present moment and have started thinking long-term once more. What I do in the present needs to be a positive investment in the future, not a mindless continuation of the past. It’s kind of like walking to the store: you try not to trip on the way and you try to enjoy the journey, but the point is that you have a particular destination in mind. You are not taking random steps, hoping to wind up somewhere pleasant. It is called “taking responsibility” and the people that do it have mucho better outcomes than those taking random steps.

There is so much I have no control over: Barry’s health, Michigan’s crappy weather, Sallie Mae, etc. Being honest about these things keeps me from being delusional.

The flip side is what I can do. I have a new laptop, loaded with Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish. I went to the doctor a couple days ago, for the first time in ten years. Other than high triglycerides, I am in decent health. I have ditched so many books that I noticed that I can see the back of my bookshelf, for the first time in probably more than a decade. Also, I have made a call to have someone shovel my sidewalk. Who knows what February will bring snow-wise? Last winter just about killed me. (On the upside, the Great Lakes are back up to normal levels now, for the first time in probably thirty years. It took a mind-boggling amount of snow to achieve that, and, yes, we got it last year.)

Being marooned in the present is the easiest thing in the world. And the most destructive.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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