Love and Destiny: What's Meant to Be
Where Does Time Begin?
Hemingway took writing seriously. He would tell people around him that he needed to lock himself away from the world while he wrote so he could think clearly enough to write nothing but the purest truth. He had this artistic understanding that truth goes deeper than a recitation of dates and events - it is something that has to be explored, examined and digested. He seemed to want every new thing he wrote to be the best and most important thing he ever wrote.
When I contemplate truth, I think about really deep questions - like, what really is love anyway? When should you tell someone, anyone, you love him or her? What do you mean when you say it? Love isn't the hardest question though. I think we can all understand it on a pretty deep level. Every child has loved a parent and every parent has loved a child. Even if that bond was broken at birth, somehow, some way, we've all experienced some degree of love.
But there are harder questions. "Cogito ergo sum," said Descartes. Our minds are functioning so we know we exist. We understand existence based on our own unique, personal and independent ability to think - we all have it. But existence is so much bigger than any one of us.
Existence predates our ability to think. Existence lives in places we have never been and places we will never go. Experience is what we have - existence is something we are only a part of. Experience though, what is it for? Is it solely for a moment's enjoyment? To make memories - that will some day fade? To teach us lessons, so we can learn from our mistakes? None of this seems very fulfilling - isn't there something more?
In January, as a new writer on hubpages, I wrote a piece called "Can You Fall in Love with Someone You Have Never Met?" In that piece, I examined some of my own life experiences, juxtaposing a feeling of falling in love with a woman I never met, against a memory of loving someone I knew a long, long time ago - but had never "fallen in love with".
At the time, I wasn't quite so sure of what I was writing as I am now. It's a very, very strange thing, and quite hard to grasp - but I want anyone who reads this to know - I believe I have learned more about the meaning of my own life, about truth and love, about time, and about why things happen the way they do, from this experience than anything else in my life - and I want to share it with anyone who cares to hear.
So I had written about a girl I knew a long, long time ago. At the time, I thought there was little chance I would ever talk to her again - and almost no chance I would ever see her again. Now, eight months later, she is very much a part of my life - my love, my companion, my best friend, and I could not be happier about it.
But at the time I wrote the article, I expressed how my "feelings" had been so strong for this other person who I had never met. I didn't understand it at the time, but I was trying to express the difference between what our minds let us think truly exists and what actually does. Believe me, I am still figuring this out, and because my mind has deceived me so many times before, I am slow to trust even what has become very obvious to me.
Before I delve into this further, I want to answer my own question - where does time begin? This question has become intensely real to me as I have spent time becoming reacquainted, and in so many ways, newly acquainted, with someone very special to me.
Recently, we talked about memories from our past. We talk about how different we are than what we were back then, but how the person we were then shaped - no, actually is the person we still are today. This seems a little weird - especially to her. How can that be? How can it be that we were each married for 13 years (to different people of course), have our own children, and have a million other different experiences, all changing us as we went along, even going by different names - yet we are each still the same person we were back then?
There are even pieces of this that we both have found we don't want to remember - not necessarily about each other, but experiences we probably wish we hadn't ever had, and that bring back "ghosts" that don't fade away quite so easily.
The concept of time becomes very important in this. A minister I once knew was fond of talking about the concept of "the already and the not yet ". I love that! It sums this whole thing up in a nutshell. "God has placed eternity in the hearts of men." Do we get this? Eternity means there is no beginning and no end. To repeat - no beginning and no end!
We can sort of fathom "no end". But it's very hard to grasp "no beginning". Don't we all have a birth date? Yet what's so cool about believing in that is that you can reach back anywhere in time from where you are right freaking now, and touch something that "happened" before, yet, it is just as "now" as what happened to you last night. Rather mind blowing in a sense, but I believe absolutely true.
But it gets even better. Teenagers today have a phrase, "recycled virgin". Aren't we lucky to live in the era of recycling? I find the phrase to be a bit more than a little bit cynical - unfortunately. It conveys a sense of regret about something a person probably did with a great deal of gusto at the time. That makes it not only a shame, but a choice of words that says someone is living the life they don't really want to live. If that's so, I hope they find out there is more to life than the recycling bin.
But I don't want to make light either of the virtue of chastity or of the even better hope in redemption, forgiveness and renewal. You know, I have seen some beautiful things done with recycling. I have seen even more beautiful things done in the process of "recycling" that occurs in nature - as water flows down a stream across used rocks, as tree branches break down into a soft forest bed, or as the snow melts and recedes from sand dunes in northern Michigan to form new shapes that never existed before.
Many of our greatest lessons about life come from nature. And all of these lessons can be applied to the place right where we live and breathe and have our being. So, if we go back to the "recycled virgin" concept, what can we learn about ourselves and our own lives?
I think I'm just beginning to learn. I'm learning things I never knew before. I'm learning that you can know someone at a time of sheer innocence in your life, in a way that is as innocent as the time of life you knew each other - and have feelings that were as real and deep and hopeful as anything you had before you lost your innocence - though not understood for what they were, and then completely lose touch with that person for a very long time...and when you reconnect, and find that person all over again, and she had changed so much, and you have changed so much...then what?
In 1978 (coincidentally, right when Kim and I knew each other best), John Mellencamp wrote a melancholy ballad called "To MG: Wherever She May Be". In it, he wrote about "...those junior high nights underneath the front porch lights..." (which wasn't exactly the experience I had anyway - but it makes the point), and finishes the song with the words, "...if I could be with you today, I wouldn't even know ya." It's written with a rather painful sense of honesty by a guy who was only 27 years old at the time he wrote it.
But now I know he was dead wrong. Or at least he was dead wrong on this - maybe at 27, I wouldn't have known her, that could be true. But at 47, here is what I know now:
you can reconnect with someone who meant so much to you so long ago, and you can find a sense of innocence and wonderment all over again, and it can be better than it ever could have been before, because you can understand, imagine and experience things that never would have been possible when you were so young .
I don't want to treat this lightly or without proper respect. It isn't as if she and I had some magical sense in our younger years that we were meant to be together. In a brief moment, it may have felt that way, but it was never an expectation.
More importantly, I want to be fair to her - and mention right up front a few of the many wonderful things about her that I find so attractive now. First, the connection we had when we communicated again for the first time was immediate and it was very real and deep. It was obvious that we had a special relationship - whatever that relationship was meant to be. But as I started to get to know her again, the more I knew the more I liked. She is very real, open, honest and candid. In a time when so many people seem bent on manipulating situations to get something from a relationship, it's very refreshing to connect with someone who is just who she is - all the time.
She is also very strong. I can see how much she's endured, and how she has held up for her children and made the very best of what she's had to work with. She's very loyal and that means a lot to me.
She's truly beautiful - no, I mean B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. She looks every bit as great now as she did as a teenager, and that's saying a lot. She's amazing.
OK, before I have the Pope canonize her, I will save some of my praise for another time and place. I know she has her flaws. I know she does, because...she tells me, and she wouldn't lie to me. But if she didn't say so, it would be hard for me to believe.
Again to be fair, it's not as if now, that the ghosts of prior life experiences aren't there - they are. Not only that, all of the things we've accumulated in our lives are here with us now too. Our lives will always be filled with the joys and challenges of children we made with other people, and the remnants of life experiences that are part of who we are.
But so what? Really - so what? I won't allow anything to prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the amazing sense of opportunity and hope I have right now. It is an extraordinary gift! Think about it - find a person you knew and cared for when you were young, work through your troubles and share your experiences, in an amazing story of an odyssey back to the exact place where you started, back to the door of a heart you had never opened, but that was meant for you all along.
And as for the five beautiful, amazing kids and our other life experiences too, I feel nothing except the joy that I may be able to share some part of what I have with her and some part of what she has with me - and enjoy whatever part of our lives that is meant to be.
Where does time begin? Eternity means there is no beginning, just as there is no end. When someone walks into your life one day and is there 30 years later, it didn't just start with a chance meeting - it was there before there was a thing called time. Hard to grasp, but as amazingly real as anything you will ever see, hear, taste, touch or smell. God meant this all to be, and so it is!
Today I know more than any other time - God is real and He is good!
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