By Larry Feinstein
My mind has been preoccupied for months now. I have been unable to find the words, a vocabulary that mirrors where I find myself. It has to do with age and the sense of a life rhythm new to me. I have never done this dance before and instead of looking at my feet, I am looking deep inside for its origin.
When I try and look back to when the music of my mind changed, I can’t nail it down. It seems like I woke up one day and there I was, filled with thoughts I’ve never had before. All sorts of priorities were chucked into a blender and they melded into a smoothie, hard to distinguish one from the other. I slowly began to realize I was now measuring everything against my accumulated years, and it felt like a flavor I had never tasted before.
I felt very comfortable with the Buddha when we met in my early 30s. We kept in touch, although we weren’t that close. Around 10 years later, when I moved to Santa Fe, N.M. I decided to make a go of our relationship. I believed what he said about the cause of all suffering being impermanence, the constancy of change, perfectly punctuated by our individual mortality. I first started thinking back then about the rest of my life, giving it a context it never had before, no longer simply a phrase off in the distance. I guess you could say I had a Zen practice. It was like having a perfect spiritual partner, indistinguishable from myself, anchoring my journey for the years ahead.
Today, it is like the rules have suddenly changed and I am continually surprised by my reaction to mostly everything.
My mortality is no longer some far away concept I can safely embrace, because it ultimately did the embracing. So, whatever day it was, I woke up in its clutches, and fighting it felt futile and not the Way. Besides, I had somehow been afforded the opportunity to keep climbing this magnificent mountain of experience, and the landscape inside seems even more beautiful now. This has nothing whatsoever to do with shrinking, and actually feels quite expansive, seasoned with a deepening gratitude. This is a sensation that is part of the new package. There is a depth of appreciation that was not available to me before now.
Speaking of shrinking, I have an MRI story. Maybe a year ago, I lost around 12 hours of my life, waking up one morning with no recollection of what had transpired the day before. Subsequently, I have come to believe I had simply over indulged and burned some brain cells in the process. Anyway, I got stuck in that tube for a while and managed to overcome my claustrophobic tendencies, which caused monumental trepidation leading up my time in the tunnel. The report was clean and made a matter of fact reference to my brain shrinking, owing to the inevitable dehydration caused by age. In the midst of what I have been experiencing, my damn brain is changing shape and I really didn’t like the direction.
We have billions of experiences over time and enough emotions to flood the Grand Canyon. This is all stored in a brain that shrinks with the passage of time. Forgetfulness seems like a logical outcome, as accumulated memories overflow their container. My history is only what I can remember today and hindsight is ever so slightly out of focus. It makes life feel even more subjective, more like music than fact.
For a good chunk of my early life, the idea of the future always had some room in it. It was more l like a concept than an inevitability. I closed my eyes and leaped toward my future when I left New York City for Santa Fe, and time was the instigator. Today, I am finally my future and nothing looks quite the same.
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