The Passing of Time…
By: Jessica Burnham
Autumn. While witnessing the change that is taking place in nature at this moment, I find myself dwelling on how we as human beings handle the same type of change that whisks us into new places constantly while we grow. As we age, and life seems to continuously change just like the multitude of colorful leaves outside our window, we may begin to feel like everything is passing us by unnoticed. Sometimes there is this need to just slow down a little but the rest of the world continues on its merry way regardless of how we feel about it. Whatever our needs may be, there is a delicate balance within that can easily be crossed when the desire to control our environment outweighs the reality of what simply is. I have noticed with my grandmother that she often feels ignored and left behind as those and what she knows begin to die around her. As a result of feeling like her life is out of control, her negative tendancies that always existed before in her younger days seem to be amplified.
Her feelings of being left behind give way to depression and a constant need to talk about her pains, whether emotional or physical. Some people label it as complaining. The thing is, these behavioral tendencies were always there in the past, they just were not as prevalent as they are in the present moment, now that she has aged and is in a different phase of growth on all levels. The most difficult part of witnessing the amplification of these behaviors is seeing the self induced pain, the giving away of energy and how much suffering is occurring right before our open hearts.
We are left exhausted when we allow our darkest shadows to run the show 24 hours a day. We begin to find ourselves in this downward spiral of feeding our own psychic vampire. Like an invisible friend that is attached to the hip, we unknowingly allow its need to control the world in its way to get out of hand. I feel one of the greatest things I am currently learning is that I need to be on constant guard for my own little tendencies that need to be in control. In witnessing this suffering, I realize that if I do not choose to take a look at my own compulsive behaviors, they too will run my world when I am older and feeling the effects of aging. We have a unique opportunity called life. And in this opportunity we can reflect, even when the pain can be unbearable, on how we act out our need to control the world around us.
Finding compassion within the maze of our darkness can be quite challenging. Especially when someone is constantly projecting their need to control their environment onto you and pointing out everything that they view as wrong with the world (because it is not the way they want it to be). When I start to feel frustrated or irritated it is easy to react or simply walk away. But when I choose to open my heart and see how much suffering this person is experiencing, and how this suffering is like a big cloud of smoke skewing any ability to see beyond it, I try to find the compassion within and offer it up to them. It is important to remember that the behaviors I see before me that seem crazy or fervently overblown could be my own one day. Every potential that exists in others, also exists in us. Somewhere inside of me, the same misery has roots- only I am good at hiding or ignoring it at the moment. But the more life changes around me, I have the same tendency to play out the game of misery I am witnessing in an effort to control my environment.
The similarity between the word ‘ignore’ and ‘ignorance’ is striking. As most of us might have experienced, ignorance plays a large role in our suffering. Most of our ignorance is connected to our unwavering ability to ignore the truth. We play a game of contradiction within ourselves. And soon that contradiction shows up in our relationships. When we choose to take a magnifying glass to our psyche and reflect on our outer irritants, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience peace. We can look at those that have aged, like my grandmother, and learn from the wisdom of their experience. In this way, their suffering has come to us like a story teller. It says to us, “I am here to help you grow.” And, most importantly, the suffering of those when closely examined, does not go wasted and without purpose. Our gifts are many and all it takes is an open mind and heart to utilize this life and others’ lives, to the fullest. So I give thanks to my grandmother and all those around me for teaching me and showing me the potential that exists within my inner cosmos. And I will honor her by choosing to see where I allow stubbornness to take away from my fullest potential to simply be without the attachment that weighs me down.