LIFE LESSONS: WASN’T THAT A TIME?

 

With this paper, I hope to take you on an experiential journey rather than an analytical treatise of how I’ve experienced the mysteries of time and life. There have been many song titles, including one of my own, using the word time, and I borrowed part of this paper’s title from a 60’s song by Peter, Paul, and Mary. I hope to relate to others through reflections on my experiences of a lifetime.

Some times in my life have been pivotal in my life direction and purpose. These times have been times of both personal and societal change where the stabilizing social markers of surety were in radical change. I want to sketch some of these realities, listing them in chronological order. First, there was the time of the ’60s with the Vietnam War protests and the Detroit riots swirling around me. The next time of big personal change was learning to live and teach in Japan. Five years later, having accommodated myself to life in Japan, I experienced a profound cultural crisis in returning home. I underwent another metamorphosis of time and culture when I decided to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment”. Presently, as a writer and creative elder, I’m in a new phase of being who I am. My sense of time, space, relationship, culture, and spiritual growth has evolved and changed through each new time phase in my life.

The Sixties: The Vietnam War, the Detroit Riots, and moving to Chicago

After receiving an early discharge from the Air Force in 1967, I began a new dramatic adventure in my life. It almost seemed as if time stood still during this time, not because of drugs, and I did multiple varieties of things and jobs in a short period. My feelings during this time were in turmoil. After going back to school and resuming work at the Newspaper, my friends and I at the Wayne State University Methodist student Foundation, Co-managing a coffee house. I enjoyed singing and conversing with people during this time of radical change. I remember several Peter, Paul, and Mary songs from this time. Propitiously for some and ominously for others, the Detroit Riots erupted in many parts of the city. Both internally and externally, for me it was a time of tumult and changing values. I ended up moving to Chicago to join the community of the Ecumenical Institute to work and live in an inner city project.

Changing times/ changing locations: Completing my Bachelor of Arts degree and going to Japan

In Chicago, I found a new sense of grounded purpose and peace with the community and completed my English degree in 1974. Having a degree, I was able to go to Japan with the Institute and teach English. Before I started teaching English however, I had an unforgettable experience with the Kamakura Buddha near Tokyo. As I went inside the Buddha image, I had a distinct feeling of seeing life through the eyes of the Buddha; it was a transformational spiritual experience. I experienced a different orientation to time and reality. The Japanese concept of time is cyclic and not linear as in the West. My Japanese students would always say, “See you again” and not “See you later”. Another of my notable adventures in Japan was to visit the Ao-no-Domon monastery and tunnel in Kyushu, Japan where a monk named Zenkai had dug a tunnel by hand to aid travelers in the region. My experiences in Japan widened my understanding of diversity in experiencing the world.

Coming back Home: Cultural crisis and my search for renewing my purpose

Being very busy with my teaching and having several conversations with Japanese I got very comfortable and at peace with the Japanese way of life and doing things. This is referred to as being Japanized. I was there for five years the first time and after a brief stay went back for another three years. I did not notice how comfortable and at ease I was with their culture, so when I came back home the first time it was a complete psychological shock, and it took some time to get my composure back. During the following years, I moved several times. I also spent a year teaching English in Indonesia and supporting village development. Their way of relating to time and others was again different than our culture in America. I’m not sure, but I believe time there seemed event-related and was more flexible. According to an article in the Business Insider: “How Different Cultures Understand Time: “Industrial organization demands a certain degree of synchronization of schedules and targets, but the underlying philosophies concerning the best and most efficient use of time — and how it should be spent — may remain radically different.”

Moving to New Mexico and Living amongst Native American ways

 My mother completed her life in 1989, and shortly thereafter, I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I planned on completing a graduate degree in Art Therapy, life however intervened, and I didn’t complete my studies. I bought a mobile home and moved to Santa Fe with my dog, and soon after created a loving, intimate relationship with Linda that lasted ten years. In New Mexico, The Native American culture is alive and thriving in many ways. We visited many pueblo feast days, and I lived amongst the Native Americans, Mexicans, and other Anglos. Perhaps time can be equated to the slow, measured drum beat that one can witness on the pueblo feast day dances or when one undertakes a shamanic journey where one visits the other world and then returns to real space and time.

Being an Elder: New Challenges, New Vistas, and Questions about the Mystery of Time

I have experienced a long life with many experiences; I am now an elder with new physical challenges and a new vista on my life experiences. More than earlier in my life, I have been creative during this time. For me, time’s questions pervade my mind. Does time only exist in the “now moment” as many people believe about its reality? Is time a 4th dimension? Is time integrally related to where we are in space since we measure time with the rotations of the planet? Is time travel possible? I don’t have answers to these mysteries, only questions. I am at peace in my heart and soul with this Mystery.


glamour portrait 3-Richard MacKay

Things that inspire me: 

Learning in a variety of ways, literary, analytic, experimental, communicational and being compassionate.

Creative endeavors, such as art, music, poetry, and dance. Hiking in the woods or in nature.  Feeling the energy of oneness in nature that is not felt in the city.  Strumming on the guitar and composing poetic verses.

The spirit of oneness in my experience.  The connection between different facets of my experience, such as visual colors, harmonies, nature and language.  Spirituality is sensing my world as both.

Earthsong Journal

Image Attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Road_Less_Traveled_(183013873).jpeg

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