Stalled Engines, Do-Overs, and the Space-Time Continuum

Gene Roddenberry's star ship Enterprise

I decided that it has been too long since I’ve posted a blog.  As is the case with most of us, we begin with all the best intentions and then the engine stalls.  I realize that a stalling engine is not a very creative metaphor (but I’ll use it anyway).

Today is August 1, 2011.  Where have the last seven months gone?  The passing of time is something that I really don’t spend a lot of time really thinking about (I’m too busy watching the days go racing by me).  However, every once in a while I stop and think about by-gone days.   This year has been particularly worthy of consideration.  Let me explain.

It is has been almost one year since I returned from being overseas (Jerusalem).  I have followed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in frustrated fascination (which is really the best way to look at most contentious situations).  My arrival was christened by not being able to find a good job until just recently (literally).  It took me almost one year to find a job in my own country.  But I won’t digress by discussing the economy, debt ceilings, or anything requiring thinking about money.

After many years of considering it, I am finally going to law school (after my day job is over, of course).  Things are about to get very interesting….  And I suppose that’s what I really want to blog about (not law school per se, but about “things getting interesting”).  At the urging of a priest friend, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about life and my response to it.  What does that mean?  Well, I’ve always been interested in the big questions (aren’t we all?) and this priest friend has been insisting on how properly to respond to my heart’s desire for happiness.  In fact, he said something really fascinating:

The more powerful one’s personality, the more one will be able to recover all of the past; and the more childish an individual, the more he or she forgets about what has gone before, and is unable to use it, even when reminded of it.

Of course, we all want to think that we have “powerful” personalities and not “childish” ones, but what does he mean when he speaks of “recovering the past”?  This is what I have spent time thinking about these last few weeks.  How can I live today with the memory of all that “has gone before” firmly embedded in me without giving in to the temptation of the categorization of memory? [By this last phrase I mean suppressing what I don’t like–or worse, reinventing it so that I have a version that is more fantasy than reality.]

There is an old Star Trek episode/movie where Kirk tells someone that he doesn’t want to erase his past because it makes him who he is.  It has taken me a number of years to be able to embrace that kind of thinking (in fact, I am not so certain that I’ve fully embraced it).  There is always the temptation to “do over”, “start again”, etc.  And new beginnings are not bad–in fact, that’s the miracle of time (and I’d say of the sacrament of confession)–we get to begin again.  But I am hoping that this next phase of my life will be an incorporation into the present of all that has passed in order to cruise into the future with the confidence that my life is in good hands.

Yesterday (July 31, 2011) was the Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.  [If you are looking for an interesting read, I suggest Louis de Wohl’s The Golden Thread about the life of this Spanish sixteenth century man.  You won’t be sorry–de Wohl tells a great story.]  Saint Ignatius said that we ought to pray as if everything depended on God but act as if everything depends on us.

A saint after my own heart.

By reflectionsoncarnality

9 comments on “Stalled Engines, Do-Overs, and the Space-Time Continuum

  1. Really thoughtful and encouraging words. Keep posting. I love how your writing incorporates such wide ranging references as your priest friend (whose quote is fantastic), Captain Kirk, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and St. Ignatius of Loyola, all in a piece about incorporating all the elements of your past into your present.

    • Thanks, Miriam. I am glad that you enjoy my eccentricities. I have to admit that in this piece I had no idea where I would end up, but as usual I draw from the craziest places. As Larry David said in Woody Allen’s movie of the same title, “Whatever Works!” The quote comes from Chapter 8 of a book that I suggest you read in Spanish: El Sentido Religioso (by Luigi Giussani). I never met Fr. Giussani, but I never met Jesus, either (at least not in the flesh)–however, I consider them both friends. I really need to be more constant with this blog thing. I am going to try to post once or twice per month through the end of this year (no promises). Warmest regards to you and the family, Emerald

  2. Querida, me deja sin palabras lo que has escrito hoy. Precisamente porque ayer leía ese mismo pasaje. Tus preguntas ante el tiempo que corre, los días que no vuelven, el qué de ellos y cómo recuperar el pasado de manera genuina y sincera, las tengo presentes más patentemente en este tiempo yo también. Es como la obligación moral de ser adulta de la forma más rara para este mundo: dependiendo y confiando en cada comienzo. De otra forma, no puedo honestamente recuperar el pasado, porque me aterra (soy como una avestruz que esconde la cabeza en el hoyo). Bueno, gracias por acompañarme, en este momento de mi vida es un trabajo que me apremia. Es un momento determinante… agradezco sinceramente tu reflexión.

  3. Il nostro presente è frutto del nostro passato, che ci piaccia oppure no. Il tempo non è fatto di scompartimenti stagni, è un continuo fluire in un’evoluzione che non sempre riusciamo a controllare. “Io non voglio cancellare il mio passato, perchè nel bene o nel male mi ha reso quello che sono oggi” diceva O. Wilde, io invece mi trovo spesso a recriminare sulle mie passate scelte sbagliate, su quello che avrei potuto fare e non ho fatto, sulle occasioni che non ho saputo cogliere. Ma hai ragione tu, non bisogna cedere alla tentazione di voler cancellare il passato – grazie al quale io sono quello che sono – ma è necessario recuperarlo, riappropriarcene, per ricominciare e fare di più e meglio, proprio grazie all’esperienza vissuta, impegnandoci con la nostra volontà (unica cosa in nostro potere) ma con l’umiltà di riconoscere che la nostra vita – e il tempo che ci è concesso – è nelle Sue mani. Grazie per queste tue riflessioni, sempre arricchenti. Un abbraccio.

      • Funny you should ask… I was googling certain gemstones – my daughters and mine -looking for significance. I am a daughter of May and emerald is my stone. You popped into my head and I added your last name to the field box, and there was your blog!

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