"If not now, When?" The Talmud Whatever your religious beliefs, no one can avoid Christmas. As much as you might want it to go away, Christmas becomes the 800 pound gorilla that demands attention. The song might claim that "It's the most wonderful time of the year," but for most of us, Christmas is much too complicated to be all that wonderful. Beyond any problems with having a religious holiday become a mandatory event engulfing the entire society, one particular aspect of Christmas makes it especially complicated.
Christmas, more than any other time of the year, confuses time. It makes us acutely, urgently, sometimes painfully aware of the current reality of right now in our lives. It does this by evoking memories of the past more than any other season.
You can go about your life for the rest of the year, but Christmas forces you to stop and consider the people in your life. It can be a time for family, but it is also a time when people who don't have families are acutely aware that there is something missing. It can be even harder for people who have families but do not see them at Christmas.
It can also be a time of profound grief for those who are gone. One of the reasons Christmas is so overwhelming is because it treats life as a series of snapshots rather than a movie. What is Christmas without a camera? Without a record of moments in time? Actually, a moment is too long. As a photographer, I am keenly aware that the time intervals involved in taking family snapshots are extraordinarily brief. The old box cameras were set with an f-Stop of 8 and a shutter speed of 125. That 125 is actually 125th of a second! With better cameras, the photographer can adjust the shutter speed to be faster: 1/500th of a second.
1/1000th of a second. 1/1500th of a second. Or it can be slower: 1/60th of a second.
1/45th of a second. One second. In the world of photography, one second is a slow speed.
Unless you have nerves of steel and ice in your blood, you need a tripod to get a sharp focus at one second. Think of it. One second in time, yet this snapshot becomes part of the permanent record of the way things were. Maybe it is because Christmas brings out the cameras, and we have so many snapshots of Christmas, we have so many images of people frozen in a fraction of a second.
Yet from these snapshots, we create enduring memories. The people change but the images in the snapshots do not. "The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances." Martha Washington I suspect that one of the reasons there is so much stress and strain between the generations is that people try to freeze time to match the snapshots. In reality, we are all living in movie time, and except for that briefest fraction of a second, everything is constantly changing. Times change, people change.
Soldiers at war, children who move, parents far away. Deaths and births. In each Christmas season life has changed, people have changed, circumstances have changed. You can bring out the old ornaments and the old snapshots of Christmases past.
They don't change, but the people do. And the fact that the ornaments and the snapshots don't change, but the people do, is both a connection to the past and a reminder that life does go on. "Realize deeply that now is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life." Eckhart Tolle Yet, life is lived only in the now. Not in the past.
Not in hope of the future. But now. Life is a movie rather than a snapshot. The real challenge of Christmas is to live in the "Now" rather than in the snapshots of Christmases past. Now is the only moment you have.
Yesterday is gone and tomorrow will not come. It is always that way. Tomorrow never comes. And yesterday is always past.
All you have is right now. This is the moment you can choose to feel "Abundantly Alive Now!".
Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Publisher of "Abundantly Alive Now! Newsletter" http://www.abundantlyalivenow.com