Two scenarios keep running through my mind. Two kinds of moments actually, in which something is lost, something I would like to find a way to get back. On the one hand, there are lost moments that feel like opportunities unfulfilled. If only I had said this, if only I had done that. We all have those, don’t we? I want to be the person who does not hold on to these lost moments, circling back around as if I might find a way to actually do something this time, or redo, or undo. Unlike the piles of things that gather dust in the corners of closets and backyard sheds, lost moments will never experience the joy of being picked up and finally put to use. Lost moments that are not released, wait, and remind, niggling and nagging, until they collect enough matter to stand on their own, forming shapes like regret, remorse, a pang of guilt, shame, whatever compunction floats your boat.
I don’t expend too much energy on the darker shadows of guilt and shame - enough, a little, but not too much. But the others, the ones that remind me of the limits constructed of my own fears, they nag at me something awful every now and then. What I wonder is, on that day more than 25 years ago, when I walked out of dance class and saw him standing there, a reminder of what I had longed for most in my high school days – how could things have been different? He was taller, and more intense than I remembered. Would his skin still feel the same? If I had not learned so well to toe the line and bite my tongue, what would I have said, how could things have gone? If I had it to do over again, would I find the courage to reach out and take a chance? Could he in his soccer jersey, and I in my leotard, recapture the opportunity we were destined to lose, and maybe go have coffee instead? Would we want to? I will never know, but I will bother myself plenty about it for a while, think of it as a loss, and look for ways to turn that thought around.
The other lost moments on my mind are more than just errant bits of time and opportunity. They are also lost energy, energy that I want to have back. These moments come from the days that change everything. Not the ones that come as a surprise, but the ones we know are coming, the ones we prepare for – getting thoughts in order, girding our loins (a rather graphic sounding Biblical phrase), spinning dreams of how wonderful it will be, or how awful, or something in between. The wedding, the medical test, the interview, the first day with something new – you know what I mean. We live these things all the time, and expend energy in planning what we will do, and how it might go. What gets my goat, sticks in my craw, whatever other annoying string of words that may come to mind, are the days when the anticipated event fails to happen. So you plan, strategize, worry and dream, extend your focus over a range of possible outcomes, all for naught. Zip. Nothing. Reschedule. Maybe later. No thanks.
All that unfulfilled energy, planning for what turns out to be a big steaming pile of lost moments – that feels like a waste, and I want it back. I have lots to do, and I need all the energy I can get. Last month, when we got ready for the big day, reviewed all the recent successes, evaluated once more the potential for long term negative outcomes, only to have the test scrubbed – yeah, that day – I want that energy back. It’s not like I’m looking for trouble. I’m not out there, with my hand out, looking for drama so that I can feel useful - and I assure you, I am very useful when it comes time for drama. But there is a sense deflation in these lost moments, a lack of satisfaction - all dressed up and no celebration, superhero suit on and no bad guy to fight.
I want a way to recapture the wasted energy, from the lost opportunity moments, and the unfulfilled expectation moments. Let’s call it “personal energy recycling” - a very “green” notion, so it must be good and necessary. When I figure out how to go back in time and gather up all my lost power, I’ll write out the instructions, and share it with others, so we can all benefit. I’ve heard a couple of paths that may lead to the amazing discovery I seek. My quest could lead me to reconsider the very nature of time and energy, but not likely - delving deep is not one of my frequent inclinations. One solution could lie in a simple concept I learned in acting class, right around the time of that ill-fated moment outside the college dance studio – that of living in the here and now. Another answer could be found in the newly discovered secrets of good old positive thinking. In short, you are what you think. Think about good, and you attract good; think about crap, and you get that, too. Of course, one key to making positive thinking really work is trust, and this is where I think I may find some solace. Trusting that the potential for good exists in every moment, and that every moment is as it is meant to be, rich with meaning and intent, is surely the foundation for positive living. I could go on a good bit about any one of these approaches, but will leave that for another time. I’ll give my quest for personal energy recycling a try for a while, see if I can rediscover some of my lost moments, and power I’ve given away, and let you know how it goes.
(Cheryl is the author of Seven Steps to Positive Living, a self-help collection of short and easy meditations for those seeking quiet in the midst of hectic lives. For more information, go to www.cherylfare.com)