You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. James Lane Allen
With a new year, a new calendar, it can be a fitting time to look at our lives, to assess where we're going, whether we are who we want to be, ask if changes should be made. Part of looking forward once in awhile means looking back.
A few years back I had been thinking that what I had done when young was part of what I was at that very moment, and it led to a bit of a poem. I used a photo of myself as a young woman to illustrate the idea (which the above quote also says). She was the mother of me as I am the mother of all I am yet to be. It's both an awesome responsibility and a great joy when you think of that because it doesn't let you ignore today's reality as though it doesn't matter. It is feeding your future.
That thinking led to my looking for a photo collage I had created also a few years back. It was about how all the people from whom I came and who I have loved, they are a part of who I am. Pieces of all those people, beloved or otherwise, are part of my thinking and being. Since I am not one to look back often, creating the collage was a way of acknowledging what was true without dwelling on it.
To even think about how these people are all gone from the earth both amazes me because they don't seem gone and also because someday so will I be. It really is the most mysterious part of life because it never feels like we could really come to an end and yet we can and will. They and I, for awhile, will live on only in memories-- hopefully positive ones.
Today there are people, children, grandchildren, friends, and they are part of who I am and who I am yet to be. Because I don't use the family photos here, you will just have to take my word for it that they are all beautiful-- in all ways. My family is really my deepest joy as I see them experiencing their lives, building their worlds apart from mine, and it's what life is all about-- the grand cycle.
For me, the land is a big part of who I am, that on which I grew up, where I live today, and the places I go and love. I don't know if land is so critical to everybody, but I grew up on a farm where I loved that land but had to move. Now I live on a different farm where I love that land but whether I die here or have to move, I cannot hold onto it. It will, however always be part of me-- including that which I own in Tucson.
Beyond my own places and land there are other experiences that come up when I think of treasured moments, moments that make me who I am today. I can think of so many, but to illustrate one would be my times near the great buffalo herds of Yellowstone.
In Yellowstone, buffalo, grizzlies, wolves, interact and live as naturally as is possible with humans on the fringe of their lives but not influencing their fears (nor hopefully diet). It is easy for humans to forget this isn't a zoo. Getting too close is best done with a telephoto lens.
Those times sitting on a bluff somewhere or from our vehicle and observing grizzlies, wolves, buffalo, birds, etc. are part of my inner treasure. To watch their family interactions, the way they move, hearing their sounds are memories I can draw up whenever I need them. Such inner experiences help me when dark times come or just on a day when I want a jolt of something to excite my energy.
digital painting at coast using a ruined photograph to create something new
I am who I am because of the experiences I have gone through whether pleasurable or not. I have learned a lot by things that I would not have chosen to experience but can see how they enriched and gave me a depth I'd not have had otherwise. There is a saying, which I am paraphrasing, that it's not what happens to us so much as how we react to it.
Some might think by the age of 69 a person would stop thinking what they want to become. In my experience, not only with myself but with friends my age, those years haven't come yet if they ever do.
Lately I have been busier writing and less involved with self analysis, but once in awhile I think it's good to take time out and think about where I've been, why I am here, is it where I want to be? Sometimes I write a list of things I want to emphasize in the year ahead but this time I didn't do it--yet anyway. I am pretty happy with what was in my 2012. It was one of those years where I stepped out on something that was an emotional risk, and it feels good now to know I did it.
2013 is a special year for me since I will turn 70 during it. Those years where we get to start over with a 0 at the end of our age seem special to me. When I begin a new decade, I often try to come up with something I want to be doing when that happens. I'll give that some thought as my turning 70 isn't until the fall. Although as often happens, with my friends and those in my age group already turning 70, I tend to feel I feel I am already there from the beginning of the year.