Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Here But Not Here, Gone But Not Gone

At times of transition, our minds sometimes let us fade in and out of consciousness. Not that we are blacking out, or anything like that. For example, I have moved a number of times in my life, but lived in Atlanta longer than anywhere before I moved to Colorado, and every once in a while I find myself saying that I have to drive into Atlanta for an event tonight.

Of course, Denver looks nothing like Atlanta, and I know I am here, not there. But when I am in that in between state, what is connecting is that I am going in town, and for a long time, that's what it felt like and looked like. Before I get in the car and actually go there, I might actually think I am going there. But then once I am out in the car, the familiar sights remind me that the Atlanta part of my life is gone, but not gone.

It happens like that with people in our life too. Sometimes after the death of someone we knew for a long time, we find ourselves thinking that we will be going over to see them one day soon and then we remember that they have already gone.

When we are used to getting up to go to work at the same time every morning, and then that changes, we find ourselves getting out of bed thinking we need to hurry up and make coffee and get dressed, and then we remember that we don't have to leave or go anywhere right now, and then we can think about what we want or need to do today.

People who have recently ended a relationship can also experience these feelings when they think about going somewhere, and for a moment their memory slips and they picture themselves going with their old partner or being with their old partner.

It is as if our bodies have memories of their own and they remember certain experiences so well that they can still recall a presence that is now gone. It is as if our bodies hold on to these old memories until they are replaced by not just newer, but more powerful, memories that occupy more of our consciousness.

Even then, the lingering memories of what used to be still have a powerful grip, whether we call it nostalgia or sentimentality or romanticism, those powerful memories will never be completely gone as long as we live in those bodies that experienced them.

I have a theory that medical experts may not agree with, and it is this. Although I know that Alzheimers is a degenerative disease that affects the mind, I also know, in the psychic way of knowing that sometimes people will choose to slip in and out of consciousness, and sometimes allow themselves to feel here, but not here, as they recall some more pleasant moment of their past.

I think people sometimes choose that blissful state of here but not here, gone but not gone.

Let me be clear that I am not saying that people can just will themselves out of Alzheimers. I am just saying that even those of us in good health can sometimes allow ourselves the pleasure of slipping in and out of different states of consciousness.

When our energy ebbs and flows in those in between times we may be walking between the worlds, as it is often said of shamans. We are simply enjoying a feeling whether or not it is actually accurate, it may be feeling accurate. When we have a pleasant thought, our body experiences that as if it were happening.

That between the worlds state seems to exist between the highs and lows. There are times when that level of consciousness feels as delightful as anything we might have deliberately cultivated, but it is even more enjoyable because it just comes, without being summoned. There is a flow to it.

Without trying too hard, in fact I will say because we do not try too hard, we find ourselves in a euphoric state that feels effortless. We can be walking between two worlds when we practice being here, but not here, gone but not gone.

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