Time is such a mystery. It can be both a compassionate healer, and also a thief that makes away with our youth as it keeps us busy trying to catch up to its daily demands.
They say that it heals ALL things, but I disagree.
I realized with the approach of 2020 that it will have been 3 decades since my world was ripped in half and I moved from one planet to another, and in the process became an alien. And even though that event occurred many, many years ago – it still lives in me and remains so defining.
Why does time selectively erase some things and leave others intact?
As I have pondered this over the years, I have come to believe that emotional experiences become imprinted on our spirits. Sorrow and love both leave indelible marks. And what’s more the spirit doesn’t seem to age, so the events – along with the emotions they conjure up – don’t fade with time.
The body ages. Decades have made that an inescapable fact despite my talent at denial.
But my spirit has all of the scars, impressions, triumphs – as fresh as they were when they arrived. It is immune to the passage of time.
Yet our body and mind look at the spirit and think it’s strange that it still bears the marks of those formative experiences. The mind and body tend to want to move on with the hands of the clock or the pages of the calendar, while the spirit is outside of time. It remembers. It feels it still and will forever remember.
Why do we tend to live more in the body and mind and less in the spirit?
After all the soul is where our true self lies. It is the one that has seen and felt every bump and has morphed into a strong, resilient, wise entity. It cannot be reasoned with or willingly altered. It simply evolves with the experiences we give it.
It is actually the most powerful part of us.
And time cannot affect it.
This can be both good and bad, in the sense that we are who we are at that spiritual level, and although we can awaken and grow the spirit (or shrink it), it remains the same.
C.S. Lewis wisely said: “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” Ultimately we are more spirit than body. The proof is that at our departure we actually leave the body behind. It becomes unnecessary baggage. Who we are is separate from that. The body simply shelters the soul and enables it to live in a physical world for a time. It is our anchor.
Yet if we polled most people and asked “Would you rather have a great body or a great spirit?” the vast majority would opt for the body.
But the spirit is who we truly are. It will not be anchored forever. It is too big, too powerful.
It would be like choosing to have a measly one-time pay out versus a lifetime annuity. One will be spent quickly and be gone, the other will go on forever.
My hope is that over the decades my soul has awakened to new truths and come into greater freedom. But when a trigger cuts through me and goes straight to those past formative experiences, I am always shocked to find my spirit as raw as it was on day one. It doesn’t sugar-coat it, cover it up or apply a screen. It just keeps it there, impartial and unmoving, and what we choose to do about that experience grows around it.
I have found ways to help my mind and physical reactions cope with great love and loss, but the spirit simply houses all of it in a very non-judgemental manner. The good the bad, the ugly, the magnificent – it all lives there, in a time capsule which no one but us can ever unearth. Sometimes I forget and when I look inside, I am surprised to still find it all there.
Turns out we are formed by the great sorrows and great loves in our lives. They shape us. They are part of our soul and thus will never go away. This is why people who have had no significant losses or have never loved deeply can seem hard to connect with. Their spirits haven’t yet grown to house the pain and the love that those experiences bring with them.
Full disclosure: this spiritual pondering is all arising from the new year coming up… it will be 3 decades since our move from France to the US. While it wasn’t interstellar travel, it truly felt like a different planet for me. There was so much that I didn’t understand about american culture. I felt so lost.
Follow that up with the fact that I am also approaching my 30 year high school reunion, and well, I am just feeling really really old. Several people I graduated with have already passed on, and as I look at my own parents and aunts and uncles I see time taking its toll on their bodies, I realize how short our time here really is.
So on my way home from work I blasted my YOUTH playlist on Spotify (glorious 80s), then went out back in the 30 degree weather with a cigar and some honey whiskey for some tearful contemplation. And in truth I recommend it. It eventually helped the tears to stop flowing, and got me back to where I can accept the reality of my age.
I may be closer to retirement now than to graduation, but I’m not dead yet! There is still so much I want to do and see and I know that every morning I wake up is another chance to do just that. The adventure continues, and my timeless spirit reminds me that it will keep all of my experiences safe and sound as I live them. My job is simply to be sensitive to life – to not shy away from the sorrows and losses, and to be brave enough to love and receive love. These are the keys to growth and peace and joy.
My physical anchor is starting to show some wear and tear after all these decades. Wrinkles, sun spots, gray hairs, new aches and pains…They remind me that my body is only temporary – and that is both frightening and enticing at the same time.
I try to balance being a soul in a physical body. One affects the other – they are separate yet intertwined in a most delicate and beautiful way. I am learning to respect this symbiotic relationship.
Pain from one can seep into the other. Strength from one can also be shared. It is mysterious yet powerful, and the more we learn to live within this balance, the more whole we will become and we will be able to experience life much more authentically, connected within our own selves – body, mind and spirit – and connected to the other spiritual and physical aspects which surround us.
The spirit takes it all in, and becomes richer for all of the connections we make.
So if you also struggle with the passage of time like I do, if it causes you to be sad when you look back at how much of it has gone by…you are not alone. But it helps me to know that there is a part of me that is timeless, ageless, and eternal. It is the greater part of me – not the lesser. My body is the shell – my spirit is the life.
Let us learn to live more in the part that time cannot touch – our very soul.