Living in imagination instead of memory

Our destination: Tulum, Mexico

A few weeks ago, my sons were talking about going on a fishing trip when Matt (my youngest) returned from Alaska. I said, almost hesitantly, “What would you think about me coming along?” I didn’t think that they would really want this. I imagined them hemming and hawing and then saying something like, “Well, there really won’t be anything for you to do. We’ll be gone all day….” But this didn’t happen. Tom said, “That would be great.” No definite plans were made at that point, because Matt was unreachable until the boat he was on returned to shore.

It all felt somewhat like a dream until Friday when I talked with Matt and he was excited that we (Jack and I) were coming. There are so many aspects of this trip that I would like to write about, and probably will over the next few weeks until we leave, but what struck me the most last night was how even when something so good as this trip is presented, my mind will toss up fearful thoughts to try to stop me.

I’ve noticed that every time I step out and do something bigger than my present life, something that involves leaving my home and animals, spending more money in a concentrated period of time than usual, or going somewhere unknown, that I get afraid. I first realized this 24 years ago, when I went on a 8 day trip to New Mexico that also involved a vision quest. My sons were 6 and 10 at the time, and before I left, I had terrible thoughts that something awful would happen to them while I was away. These thoughts kept me up at night and sent terrifying shocks through me during the day. I didn’t realize, at that point in my life, that I had any power at all to change (or to choose) my thoughts. I believed every scary one that came along. When I happened to mention this to a good friend she said, “Every time I used to hear a siren, ambulance or police, I thought that something had happened to my family. That is a pretty ego-centric way to live.” Her words shocked me. I had never heard anyone say anything like that before. I thought that worry about my children, family and home was “responsible.”

When I went to bed last night, I could feel these frightening thoughts and images starting to make their way into my head. I started to feel very agitated until I said to myself, “I am going on this trip and it is going to be wonderful. I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds. It is going to be pure magic and heaven!” I could feel my body start to relax and my mind settle down. I imagined myself floating in the turquoise water and drifted into a peaceful sleep.

“I can change. I can live out my imagination instead of my memory. I can tie myself to my limitless potential instead of my limiting past.”  Stephen Covey

27 thoughts on “Living in imagination instead of memory

  1. Mary this will be such an awesome family vacation!!! Continue to think positive thoughts. 🙂

  2. I find I suffer most from fear of being away from the familiar, the place I love. But I remind myself that like turtles, we carry our home with us – our true place of comfort, our inner selves. We always have that sanctuary to take comfort in.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful trip—Enjoy every moment!
    It is so true that our “self-talk” has such an impact on our lives. I am making a conscious effort each day to focus on the positive instead of the negative. We cannot change the past, but the future is ours to imagine and look forward to.
    Thanks, as always, for your thought provoking posts! 🙂

  4. Dear Mary,
    What a beautiful spot to visit and enjoy! Thank you for sharing a lovely picture.
    I’ll look forward to hearing of your positive thoughts as plans emerge for this vacation with your family! Anticipation can be a delicious factor in your enjoyment of such an event.

    Best, best wishes!
    From Fran

  5. Mary, I think you, Jack and the boys will have a wonderful time! What a grand idea of yours it was to want to join them. It may be one of the few times you all can enjoy such an adventure together. “Reaching out in imagination instead of memory” is a great idea. In the past I have always been disappointed when I looked forward to something and it turned out to be not so good but . . . when I dreaded something it often turned out well. I got to the point of not wanting to look forward to anything fearing how it would turn out!
    I did take my dear friend to the concert Friday night! Over the summit we went and home again. It was raining but didn’t start snowing until we got home. We had a delightful time and I am so very glad I took her. :‹)

  6. Wow….your story brought up a memory of long ago fire horn blasts and fear. It was wartime and my father was away in the war. ( I, too, can worry about leaving home, animals etc.)
    When I just looked up from typing this reply, I saw five deer walking across my field to the closest apple tree. . ..well now..This is all amazing!
    I stopped to watch, contemplate the meaning and photograph..WOW..

  7. Thank you so much for this post. Just when I needed it. I have experienced what you describe – fear of doing things outside my comfort zone. It was a way of living…a way I was brought up. Now, when I take on new projects or adventures I tell myself I am going to jump in with both feet and enjoy the experience in whatever way it unfolds. Today, is the 1st year anniversary of my mother’s death – I think she always lived in fear (for numerous reasons) and she passed that down to me…but I don’t have to live that way. I look forward to sharing your trip to Tulum with us!

  8. Wonderful, Mary! Exactly what I just experienced…only what you imagine in Mexico with your sons and Jack is in my memory of my recent trip to Florida with my son, Robin and his wife, Emily. And it was pure magic and heaven and all because I allowed my courage to override my fear. Courage, really, isn’t that silly to need courage to accept a wonderful invitation to spend time with loved ones in a land of sun and turquoise waters? Now, I have a bunch of wonderful pictures of my REAL trip. I sent one to you, Mary. And, I can’t wait to see yours when you get back from Mexico. Big Smile from Mary Rita.

  9. I remember early on in our relationship my husband Jeff talked with me about worry. Worry, he said, was a waste of energy. No amount of worry will change what may or may not happen. Over the years I’ve remembered his words and worked hard to make them my own. Do I ever worry? Well, yes…but with the knowledge that it won’t change the outcome in any way.
    Mary, I am so happy you and Jack will be making this trip with your sons…it will be wonderful, magical, and affect you in ways you haven’t even thought about. Enjoy your days as you get ready to go, relax…it sounds like your boys are seasoned travelers so you will be in good hands!!!

  10. What an exciting trip you are planning, Mary! Having just returned from being away for two weeks, I certainly understand how the ‘what ifs’ can creep in and how quickly they can turn something wonderful and exciting into something fearful. So much of your guidance has helped me to stay in that ‘upward spiral’…You once wrote that the universe is always conspiring to bless us. And that is my first thought when my mind begins to tiptoe into the dark instead of the light. I call to myself, ‘no no no, you get back here’! You have such wonderful light around you and ahead of you…it will keep you safe as you grow your world. And once you are in that warm sunshine and jewel-like water…ahhhh…

  11. My wedding was everything I knew it would be! I prayed for many years for the peace and love I felt during the ceremony. You helped me feel the calm I feel now, and every day.
    Love
    Lillian

  12. Mary, I wish you a zillion happy moments during your trip. Reading the different responses made me realize how often I too have those “scary” thoughts that want to limit me when I am thinking of doing things that are even less significant than a trip away. What a challenge to first “catch” those thoughts and then replace them with a smiling reassurance that allows me to step beyond myself-imposed limits and enjoy the possibilities.

  13. That old saying “Home is where the heart is” will never be truer Mary, – though you will be far away from White Feather Farm, your dearest ones will be with you, and what could be better? Over the weekend I cooked up a storm for my son and two couples (his friends and contemporaries) and I was so touched that he at 33, wanted to have his friends to our house to ‘hang out’ with us, the parents! (well, the food was awfully good, too, and the Spanish wine flowed). But seriously, what greater gift can we have as parents than for our kids to want to spend time with us once they are adults and can choose their vacation destination and those they want to share it with? Mary, job well done! So now, reap the rewards and soak in the smiles and the sun!

  14. Dear Mary,
    Once again thank you for this great message. My husband and I are leaving on a 3 week trip, the longest we have ever been on. We are leaving the end of next month. The thing that is different is that for the last 14 months our son has been clean and sober and he comes home from his room in a clean and sober house in skid road every weekend. We are so proud of him and he goes to college now and is taking 18 units. But my imagination goes full steam about not seeing him for those weekends. So from now on I am going to imagine that we are having a great trip and he is doing fine. I now God has it worked out! Thanks and much love, Joan

    • Joan, I will keep you and your husband and your son in my heart and prayers while you are away – be assured, just by sharing this, you are allowing us, your friends here, to carry a bit of your care while you are away, and we, the White Feather Flock, will hover over your cares! Much love to you, Susan

  15. Mary you describe me exactly. I have always had precisely the same problem and in spite of years of therapy and extensive reading , I have been unable to shake myself out of it. Presumably this means I don’t want to change, but why? I fully accept that one should focus on positive, uplifting thoughts but I suffer from depression and depressed seems to be my default state. I conjure up good thoughts but there is always that teeny tiny voice singing in the back of my mind….”no, no, no….” The anti depressants I was on for years became ineffective last summer and I have been struggling ever since (with help) to find a viable alternate but although I am able to function again (for a while all I could do was cry), that little voice is still there. The side effects of the drugs are tedious and sometimes I get so tired of the whole thing. I have chronic pain issues as well which does not help. Still I have no totally given up and I am so grateful to you for your blog and others which I find very helpful.
    It’s great that you are going on a trip with your sons and I know it will be very special.

    • Don’t give up Carolyn! I know it’s easy for someone else to tell you how to think, not to worry, be positive and all that. We all have our demons to deal with and until you have walked in someone’s shoes . . . as the saying goes you can’t know how they truly feel. I have found great support and wisdom here. Stay tuned to the WFF family group and feel the positive vibes! I am sending encouraging thoughts your way!

      • Carolyn, I echo JoAnne’s comments, – you will always find a safe haven here, no matter what the time of day or night. Mary sends out a beautiful call in her message with the dawn in her east, and we pick up on it from all over, and support and reaffirm each other each and every day. Wings of a feather stick together!

  16. Woo hoo!! The photo says it all. I realize I am definitely partial—okay, HUGELY partial to waves and sand—but I skipped right past the fear projections and felt the balmy breezes under a palapa, sipping a fruit filled concoction, dining on fresh fish tacos. Ahhhhhhh…
    Not to mention all the Mayan ruins to investigate and great snorkeling too. Hoping you get to see some wonderful sea turtles that, as Juliet reminds us, carry their homes on their back, con mucho gusto. I’m so excited for you!

  17. Soak up all that beautiful sun and take lots of pictures. I wish you could pack all of us in your suitcase, but we will be with you in spirit and wishing you a wild time. Your boys sound just as special as you Mary. Have fun and getting ready for a trip is also the fun part.

  18. What we can’t control is scary. I label that excitement ‘exhilaration’ when I’ve gotten the courage, taken the leap. Finding my way around a new city is so much fun, when I’m prepared and have a backup friend/plan. But right now I’m entering the ‘land’ of diabetes and it’s quite scary how much I need to adjust and change. Guess we all have to balance the energy and move forward. Good luck, everyone!

  19. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head again…your honesty and courage
    are so helpful ….sounds like an amazing family outing…

  20. Oh Mary, How great you must have felt when your son said,”Sure, come on along!” It’s so sweet when our grown children actually want to spend time with us. And how about the risk you took in asking to accompany them? Good on you!
    You will make lovely memories you’ll save forever on that trip. I’m so happy for you!
    We’ll share the anticipation with you. 🙂

  21. @ Susan Alcantra, Thanks for asking. The eye pressure was up,so no stitches removed and an added eye drop to decrease the pressure.Also the steroid drop’s dose was lowered. I was disappointed and spent most of the w/e having a pity party. But finally today(Tues.) my eye doesn’t hurt like it’s been. So maybe the pressure is going down. Who knows? I get so frustrated with the whole medical system. And I”m impatient by nature. I want my eyes corrected NOW so I can resume my life and follow a new dream I have. Patience is difficult. I’m asking for help every day.
    Best to you, Cindy

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