A man goes on a walk through the forest, he is smelling the cedar, the mist and the ferns as he wanders through the wood. Then suddenly, HE SLIPS! “Ahhhhhhh!” he screams while sliding down an ever steepening undergrowth. Then, as suddenly as the ride started, it stops. He sighs, “Ahhhhhh,” relief.
After an interminable pause, he notices the pleasant whoosh of air past his ears and through his somewhat grimy hair. “Mmmmmm,” he feels. Then he realizes that he is falling in open air! “Ahhhhhhh!” he screams again. Until he falls into a pool of water.
“Phew!” he thinks as he starts to tread water. “Thank God this pool of water was here.” Then his limbs start to chill and he is unable to see the sides of the body through the mist. Panic sets in. He starts to pant and sputter. “Blth. Blth. Hack.”
After what seems an eternity, he reaches a side and crawls onto a rock. “Thank God!!!” he exclaims until the shivers start in. “Great,” he imagines, “I will freeze to death on my beautiful walk.” Yet the sun comes out and warms his body. He lazily drifts to sleep until he awakens warmed and refreshed.
Afterwards he worries, “How am I going to find my way home?” Once he begins to walk his way further inland, he sees picnic benches and amenities. He is actually at the bottom of the trail he was supposed to be tracing through the forest! He screams “Whooo hooo!,” and dances for joy.
Naturally the families here watched much of his ordeal and smilingly offer him some of their sandwiches. While his shoes are laid out to dry in the son, he reflects. Here he shines his character through the experience.
How does he divide the journey in his memory?
1. What is it a terrifying nightmare through woods and near death?
2. Was it a wild adventure that got him to his destination anyway?
3. Did he miss his wonderful trail for a backbreaking fall?
4. Was it freezing?
5. Was it warm?
6. Did he have to beg sandwiches off of people?
You see, this individual could subdivide the experience into any number of time slices to experience what he wanted. At each point of the story he experiences many different sensations and has the liberty to choose which feeling he wants and what normative value to assign.
In this same way, life is really one unbroken journey. Our minds subdivide this indivisible experience into what we want to feel. Even at the deepest points of despair in my own existence, I have the choice of seeing their framing differently.
When I was depressed as a youth I could see how lucky I was to have such rich feelings. When I crashed my motorcycle at 70 MPH and had to sleep out in a subfreezing field, I could feel grateful that I survived. This does not mean that things do not “hurt,” but how I feel about them is up to me.
Do these moments truly exist? I leave that up to you.