Dancing in the Sunshine
It’s a beautiful and warm spring day. But just last week the ground was covered with snow and the sunshine was strained and muted. Today, I’m happy to say, the sunshine seems more alive, more at ease, less slanted, less strained, and brighter and more beautiful than it was just a week ago.
Spring in my part of the country rarely lives up my hopes for it, and this spring is a topsy-turvy typical spring. They say it’s going to rain all day tomorrow, but today the sun is shining, and the day is warm. I would rather be dancing in the sunshine than dying in the rain.
Remarkable days like this one remind me that too many people worry too much about what tomorrow and in so doing they ruin today. No one knows or can know what tomorrow will bring. We cannot foresee events that await us… we cannot see into the future for even a few short minutes.
I think that is a good thing and there is a good reason the future hides from us. I wonder who would want to know how many hours of suffering and sickness may lie ahead. And I for one do not want to know the exact moment of my death.
We learn early in life that people and things are often not what they seem to be. And the longer we live the more we learn how easily we can be fooled and drawn into situations where we put ourselves in great peril.
So it is that we learn early on in life not to trust easily lest we make fools of ourselves and fill our lives with pain, sorrow, and regret. We learn early in life to build protective walls around our hearts to shield us from the pain and suffering that misplaced trust can bring.
The smartest know that no matter how strong a fortress we build around our hearts, we still cannot protect our hearts completely. We will still get hurt and our hearts will be broken. And every time we get hurt a tiny piece of us dies.
When we live our lives in doubt, we live our lives in fear. And those who live their lives in fear live their lives dying in the rain – not dancing in the sun.
“Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice-cream castles in the air.
Feathered canyons everywhere –
I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun,
They rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I could have done
But clouds got in my way.
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down and still somehow –
It’s clouds illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clouds, at all. “
(Judy Collins “Both Sides Now”)
I really don’t know clouds at all, or love at all, or life at all, or anything at all. I see life and people from my own perspective, distorted by my memories, my hopes, my dreams, and my sorrows. We all see life and people though our own eyes, each of us have different pasts and different experiences.
We have all felt pain and sorrow, but not one of us feels it the same way. We cannot know the true suffering of others; we can only empathize, internalize, and try to imagine what the suffering of another feels like. And so, we are always isolated from others no matter how close to them we may be. At birth, we come into the world alone and at death, we leave the world alone. No one can take our place at either end of life.
I see the color red the way I see it and you see it the way you see it because we were all taught as children to call a certain color red. But I can never know what red looks like to you and you can know what the color red looks like to me. Like so many other things in life -the color red is just an illusion.
The thoughts of others are illusions too. We can never hear the thoughts of others; we can never know what someone else is thinking. We can’t tell what they are thinking by what they say, what they say is may well be only what want us to hear. But we all have a choice to believe whether someone is trying to deceive us and mislead us for their own reasons, or if they’re telling us the truth. But if we constantly doubt then we fear — it is the fear of being deceived and of being hurt.
Some people live life not trusting anything or anybody because they’ve been badly hurt in the past and that memory of suffering resonates strongly within them. They find trust difficult and so they live behind walls, and they live their lives dying in the rain instead of dancing in the sun.
Technology has been a bane and boon to society. Instant images everywhere and instant thoughts shared anywhere all the time, have brought us into the age of the supercilious and the superficial.
We live in an age where the superficial overwhelms and diminishes the substantial. We get news in thirty-second sound bites or truncated tweets. We don’t have time — or we don’t take the time — to investigate anything very deeply, therefore our impressions of people and places are based on images, illusions, and our own prejudices, and rarely on substance.
Thus, we have now, either intentionally or coincidentally, embraced, and glamorized society’s need for image and illusion, until now it has reached a point where it has become more important to look good than it is to be good.
We are overly concerned with appearances. how good they look; how cool their smartphones are; how good they look in certain cars — even where they buy their coffee and what kind of coffee they drink. All an attempt to create a custom-made self-illusion.
But you really can’t fool yourself, can you?
Too many are too worried about the face they present to a world already too immersed in illusion and image. So, it seems to be fewer and fewer people give much thought to the kind of person they are inside.
Our society has become too dependent upon images and illusions. And now we are facing the consequences of having lost the ability to discern the truth from the fiction or the real from the illusion. Have we lost the ability to recognize and grasp the substantial? Have we even lost the motivation to even care?
Too many people live in fear of being rejected, or not getting enough attention, of not being wanted, or not being good enough, or being alone. They waste their todays in fear, dying in the rain, instead of dancing in the sunshine.
Surrounded by so many illusions we often find it hard to trust, and yet if we don’t, we doom ourselves to spending our lives doubting everything and everyone, even worse, doubting ourselves. We end up living life being afraid to be ourselves and in so doing we hide the true beauty and true love I think we all have inside of us.
But no matter how much we doubt and mistrust, we will still get hurt. There are no walls high enough or moats deep enough to shield us from getting our hearts broken or our lives shattered, or our spirits crushed.
There is no illusion bright enough to shield us from the shadows of sorrows. Broken hearts, pain, and sorrow will come no matter what we do. When we spend our lives in fear of what might happen, we live our lives dying in the rain.
“A coward dies a thousand deaths; a hero dies but one.” This paraphrase of Shakespeare’s words reminds me to take time every day to enjoy every moment I can. So, I am going to enjoy this lovely spring day that awaits just outside my door. I cannot chase away an April snowstorm by worrying about it today. Tomorrow will bring what it will.
People will always be what they are no matter what I do. I control my thoughts. I can make the best of this soft and gentle spring day, or I can waste it worrying about what tomorrow may bring.
I can spend today being thankful for the things I have, or I can spend it worrying about what I will never have. I can count the many blessings in my life, or I can live in fear and worry that someone may hurt me again. I can sit here an old man wishing for my youth, or I can use the wisdom of the years to be the best person I can be.
The memories of the pain and sorrow I’ve endured in my life are always present – but I will not let them control me. I’ve trusted people I should not have trusted, and I have paid the price.
So, should I waste today worrying about the past and things I cannot change, should I worry about the sorrow and pain some tomorrow may bring, or should I enjoy this perfectly painted spring-like day? I’ll focus on the good things I have. I’ll take a walk in the sun and let the warm breeze ruffle what little hair I have left. I’ll enjoy what I have right now because what I have right now is all I have.
I may be a fool and if so, I’ll die a fool. But I would rather spend my life dancing in the sunshine than spend it dying in the rain.