Contemplating the Cycles of Time

We’ve been on a long-planned vacation, including two weeks at Priscilla Beach which is south of Plymouth, Mass. We dropped off our son at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) for his 11-day orientation, which is part orientation, part boot camp. If he successfully completes orientation, he will graduate along with his fellow cadet candidates and be officially appointed to the Academy.

During orientation, the cadet candidates turn in their phones and are not allowed to call their parents. It’s a full immersion, full team-building experience. For many of these young adults, including our son, this may well be the first time they have not had any interaction with their parents for such an extensive period of time.

I must admit: it’s been hard! It’s been so weird not to speak with my son, feel his energy, joke around with him, or do something together. It’s also been hard because this is the first step to letting go and allowing him to move forward into this next chapter of life. He doesn’t need Mom all the time anymore. He will have to figure things out on his own, or with the help of his fellow cadets, cadre, academic advisors, and professors. All we can do is make sure he knows he is loved and supported and we are all (by all I mean our entire family) rooting for him.

Now it’s up to him to grasp this opportunity and begin to fulfill his potential.

And it’s incumbent upon me – Mom – to relax and let go.

Thinking about how fast the years have passed has been especially poignant these past few weeks at the beach. During most years as my son grew up, we anchored each summer with our annual family beach trip. This is the first year we have been at the beach without him! (Although we will have him for five days around Labor Day weekend and he will get in some beach time then.) It’s made me think about the cyclicality of time. Each year cycles through the full set of seasons; the work, school, sports, and family obligations; the rhythms of family life; the amazing growth and development as our kids get older.

When you’re in the middle of it, you can easily lose perspective on just how much they are changing and developing.

And when you look back, you can only wonder, “Where did the time go? “.

Time Is Cyclical

If you can relate to the angst I have been feeling, here is a thought that may comfort you: Time does not run out. It doesn’t move from left to right.

As the round clock tells us, time keeps coming ’round. The seasons keep cycling ’round. Time enjoyed in the past is still there. Our achievements and our good deeds still exist. The present is real and precious, regardless of how short or long our future may be. So enjoy it!

If you can view time this way – appreciating that it cycles, it doesn’t just run out – you can live in a more relaxed, integrated, and connected way.

Relaxed because time gone is not time used up. More integrated with life and more connected with others because we can focus on the present. We appreciate the wonderful gift of life TODAY to be enjoyed and used as we choose.

Each moment of life has the quality of eternity. Our memories live on in our hearts and minds. The impact we have made on others – such as our kids – lives on in theirs.

My Medical Qigong lineage is a Taoist one, and we Taoists believe that we are each an integrated part of God’s creation. As such, we are happiest and healthiest when we follow and align with nature’s laws.

So, as we move from late summer (at least here in New England) to Fall, I will follow nature’s cycle, not fight it. I will allow this bittersweet feeling – a combination of pride in my son and readiness for him to take the next step, along with the sadness of letting him go off into the world – to wash over me, permeate me, and somehow comfort me. Which perfectly aligns with the five elements as we enter Fall and the Metal / Lung phase – a phase which includes inspiration and new hope…integrating what we have experienced and learned…and letting go of the past so we can move forward in our journey.

I will cherish the memories of the past, look forward to the new adventures that are coming, yet remain fully present in THIS moment and THIS time, so I can take it all in.

You Can Do It!

Dr. Karen