I wrote this piece in November 2016 before starting a class in Dalian, China. It refers to my practice of writing letters to a future self. My belief in the reality of a future self is an on-off affair. Sometimes, I’m absolutely convinced there is a future version of me already in existence. Reality is much more fluid than our consensual understanding of life allows. Other times, I think is a silly formula that merely serves to practice imaginative writing. Either way or whatever way, the world we live inside certainly has impact on the life we live.
In what way is your inner world shaping your life? How do you use your inner world to help you navigate life?
My mind floats across the surface of time, orienting to moments here and abroad, split between the quiet dark of 5:20 AM in this Dalian hotel room, the class I will soon conduct, and the night tonight when I will return to this bed. I am seeking an anchor point that best serves my purpose. I use these moments as time references to plant seeds for future well-being, to give direction to my intent, and to interact with a future self that already lives in a time ahead of me and that I imagine is looking back with gratitude at my effort to bridge our lives into beauty. At a minimum, this game works to bring out my best, to set targets for being, and to amuse my active mind.
I want to believe it has deeper roots in reality than I may know. I want to believe it is more than a game, while the sceptic inmate puts another chalk mark on the prison wall. He makes his appeal on the basis of known facts in the material world, on the observation of the senses, dismissing the intuition of the heart and all claims to the existence of soul as another kind of substance. The body occupies only a single spot at a single time. Wherever it is, I am. The sceptic knows my days are numbered; that the body comes into being, grows, changes, decays, dies, and rots away after death; that this “I" is an afterthought, a wisp of smoke, a “cloud" computing stored data that disappears in a flash when the chips are down.
But my silly heart has been disbarred, no longer lives caged by the law, and plays this future game as if it is more than a roll of the dice or a spin of the wheel, as if life has more to teach us than we can measure. My heart knows that no walls can stop an angel's wings, that all that is, was, or will be, is bound in this moment, that a once and future Nick even now stands on the platform at the end of class today, eyes lit and heart happy, beaming love and joy out to the world like a lighthouse beacon.
I know the heart sources imagination as much as the mind. The mind creates sci-fi worlds of wonder with intricate plots, tells stories of who is doing what to whom, thrives on gossip, and delights in catching someone on the lure of the line. The mind looks for ways life serves me. But the heart brings the passion, adds the romance, leverages anger and grief into inspired action. When the heart is cleansed, when feeling takes the lead and the mind follows suit, we can live in harmony with ourselves and attuned to life.
What dominate emotion would you like in the background of your life? Think outside of the box, go beyond the easy ones, such as love, happiness, or joy. Name it and write how that emotions would impact you if it were a dominate feeling in the background of your life. What would it make you see, hear, think? How would you act? What it it inspire you to do?