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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Abandoning Life In The Rear View Mirror

        View in rear view mirror on East Chop         dee

     Have you ever had a dream that was so real that you would lay good money down that it was real?  That happened to me a few weeks ago. I was flying back to Martha’s Vineyard after a visit to my children in New York.  I must have fallen asleep briefly.  An overhead announcement jarred me. I was first aware that my mouth had that dry papery feeling that comes from being a mouth-breather in repose.  With the plane in descent, I gradually grasped that I was leaving behind a dream whose boundaries and edges were fraying even as I tried to hold fast to them. Bits and pieces fell away leaving me with the most peculiar feeling; it was like swimming awake from a dream.  When I found myself semi-lucid, I tried turning over the dream -- hoping to make sense of it.  The aspect that had the most staying power was that the entire dream took place as I observed it from the rear view mirror of my car, a Volvo XC-90.  One of my daughters was sitting up front in the passenger seat. My other two children were buckled up in back.  The moments that I best remembered happened as my eyes roved back and forth over the road behind me. I brought the kids home from elementary school, safely dropped them off at our old house, then drove off again – on my own.  Just before the overhead announcement penetrated my dream, I parked in the Oak Bluffs cemetery. As I got out of the car, I realized that I had spent the last two years driving through my life while looking in the rear view mirror.  How limiting was that, right?  To be moving forward while keeping my eyes on what had already past?  Compounding this mistake was a cautionary reminder carefully printed in small letters, too lightly etched in the rear view mirror to read without care. The label read, “Caution; OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.” I wondered if that meant the past was  nipping at my heels. 

     The dream leapt forward in the way that they do, and I was manually rotating the last gem of an idea like a gemologist at a metallurgy convention.  If the object is not seen in the mirror, does it follow that they are not close at all?  Did it follow that I am the creator of all that I see? The final descent of the plane prodded me reluctantly toward full alertness.  Upon landing, I grabbed my luggage from the overhead rack in preparation of disembarking at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. I was oddly buoyed by this latest insight.  While patently obvious, it was a new way of looking at my propensity to play over and over all the losses I have sustained recently.  Apparently, my homesickness for brighter days is misguided. As I stepped into a bright sunshiny day at MVY airport, I was optimistic that I could retrain myself to keep my eyes fixed forward.  The people, places, and things that have taken foothold in my heart over the past five decades can stay safely committed to the past.  Some of them will move forward with me, others will not.  As I navigate through through each day, my eyes must remain on the horizon, appreciating the beauty, grace and goodness that surrounds me.  Occasionally, I will lift my eyes to take in the promising view all around me, I feel certain that I will experience life more fully if I avail myself of this entire 360 degrees of perspective.
A reminder mind leaps out at me every time I drive my car. The words are laser-etched words in the mirror, “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR .”

To that, I quietly utter to myself,  “No kidding.” And then I put my car in gear and drive.