Neil Young wrote a song with the words, “One of these days, I’m gonna sit down and write a long letter, to all the good friends I’ve known. And I’m gonna try, to thank them for all for the good times together, though so apart we’ve grown”. It is on an album named “Harvest Moon” if you are interested. I highly recommend it.
There are times in my imaginings when I have a picnic at this or that state park or pavilion, with all the people I have met and known for a short time, those I have known most of my life, and even those I have admired and not had the good fortune to meet. You may say this is insanity and means nothing in the real world and I might agree, but it positively affects my outlook on the life I have yet to live.
At these imaginary gatherings, I might notice the leper I met in Zambia and introduce him to a business man met in Washington DC. My hope is that the business man might offer some medical relief to the leper and that the leper, in return, might show the business man how to slow down and enjoy the present moment. Perhaps the inmate at Brushy Mountain might benefit from a conversation over lemonade with a friend from my college days. And of course my deceased mamaw would love to chat with my now wife, Michelle, about what a wonderful young man I am (I might be the only benefactor in that case).
It doesn’t stop there. At times I might facilitate a discussion by a waterfall with Gandhi, Buddha, and the Christ. I speak to my friends that have passed, either by natural causes, accidents, or self-inflicted wounds and try to soothe what I perceive to be their worries or troubles. I have sung with living legends and burned out stars. I have worked in silence with my grandfather in a bailing hay, stopping only to drink the result of what ice has melted inside a plastic milk carton.
And if by now you still consider me to be sane, I will tell you of other conversations I have at my imaginary reunions. I speak with myself as a three-year old. As a preteen. As the senior in high school. The young man of 22 going through a divorce. The thirty something consumed only with a vicious cycle of work and sleep. I let them inform me of how the world looked and try to understand why they acted the way they did. Of all the people invited to the picnic, these are the only ones I have the need, and the right, to forgive, and I do.
While I know that these encounters are not real in a way that affects anyone other than me, I know also that this form of thinking is at least as harmless as entertaining myself with the evening news, a 30 minute television show filled with 10 minutes of commercials, or mindless readings of social media. Of course, the people I meet in my mind are only perceptions I have of who they really were, or are. Of course, nothing comes of any of it. But it does in some small way seem to be therapeutic. And there are lessons learned from life which take years after they are taught to be learned.
I am unsure if it would be considered reflection, or meditation, or insanity, but it helps. Like the Neil Young album, I recommend it. And like the Neil Young song, whether they are living or dead, it seems a way to “thank all my good friends, for all the good times together”. If it all sounds too crazy to try, I would suggest taking at least think of one person that meant something to you and to whom you meant something to, and though imaginary, have a conversation about how much you are loved. If a movie (someone else’s imagination) can make us cry, or if a post on Facebook can make us laugh, it is plausible that our thoughts might help us in some small way.
Consider your mind a closet in which you may go to pray. Consider it a temple where you might find the Divine. Let it be a home for Love and a sanctuary for your soul. And when life seems overwhelming, take a deep breath and realize you have come this far with help you know nothing about and will make it another day with help that is far greater than you have time to understand or the capacity to comprehend. Often times we speak over the Creator’s voice to ask for a burning bush as a sign.