Monday, March 28, 2011

Owned and Had

Henry Ward Beecher said, "What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose." I love this statement for its poetry and beauty, but also for its profound truth. When I was younger, I chased tirelessly after material things, believing that if I owned more that I could hold in my hand, I would be happier. Now I know that the opposite is true. The less I own but the more I experience, the more satisfaction I have.

What we own eventually controls us through worry, obligation and stress, among other things. But our feelings and experiences we own for our lifetime, and no one can steal or tarnish or destroy them. They belong to us, and they don't cost anything to maintain, and they bring comfort in the hard times.

It is only recently that I have understood the value of being as present as possible in my life so that I soak up what is going on around me, committing the experience to memory so I do have it forever. I don't want to lose what I have done up to this point, and with a little luck, I will have my memory long into old age to be able to sift through and enjoy its contents again and again. As I get older, I realize how important these memories are, and have chosen to notice more of what is happening at any given time. We can't remember it all, and we don't need to, but we remember specific moments provided we were paying attention.

Lately I have experienced some panic about aging, and I'm trying to counteract my fear with these types of ruminations. We can't stop the process of getting older, it's happening to every one of us, every single day, but we can control what we think about it. If I trust God to take care of me and those I love each day, I have to extend that trust to the process of physically aging. I hope to relax into this better in the future than I am able to right now.

I think I struggle with this because I'm so satisfied with my life at this moment, and would like to freeze it. The fact that I am not able to stay in this stage with my kids and myself is frustrating to me, but I must learn to accept what I cannot change, and commit these days to memory so they are not lost forever when the seasons change and we change with them. Life is an onward march, and it stops for no one, and I must come to terms with this fact.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my twenties, and how I rushed through them, working hard to get to the next thing all of the time. I wasn't nearly as relaxed or as confident in myself as I am now. I didn't pause much to enjoy what I was doing, and soak up how I felt, and I'm trying to remedy that now. It's never too late to change, and improve what we are doing. We have the chance to own and experience our own lives each day, and never lose them if we are aware of what is happening around us.

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