If there’s one thing I must, I must, I MUST keep in my mind every day, one thing to remember, one thing to drive my actions …
… if there’s one thing I can – I must -- do to keep me moving forward in a positive, productive way, one that benefits not only me but others as well, it’s to understand, believe and act according to this statement:
I’m just a guest here.
Wherever “here” is. In the world. In nature. In the town where I live. At my home. In this moment. In this life. In existence itself.
I’ll come and go, usually as I please or at least of my own volition; other times, reluctantly. Sometimes (albeit rarely), under duress or command. For you, maybe that order is flipped, and if it is, I’m sorry for that. I truly am.
The thing is, as much as I want to control things, as much as I want things (both tangible and conceptual) to “go my way,” I must, I must, I MUST always remember, I’m not the final arbiter of what’s right and wrong. I’m not the center of anything (except myself). And I don’t “own” this place. (None of us does.)
No, I’m just a guest here. Temporary and transient; permanence set aside only for what I am to myself simply because I can’t get away from me.
But even that isn’t truly permanent because since I’m temporary (at least from a concrete, conscious state; we all have our beliefs about what happens after we play out the string here on Earth) there will come a day when even I’m no longer with myself.
And what will I leave behind? What will be my legacy? Will it be dear memories inspiring those who are left after I’m gone, or will it be defined more aptly as an “aftermath”?
This all sounds heavy and deep and maybe it weirds you out. Or maybe it makes you wonder if I’m OK. Maybe it should (sound heavy and deep and weird you out).
And yes, I’m OK.
I’ve just been thinking about my place here; and frankly, about all of us and our respective, microscopic, temporary roles we play as guests in this massive space (the physical and the “other"). And that thinking gave me perspective.
In the big picture, the things I own – the tangibles, the “stuff” -- don’t matter. Because those are only valuable to me. Yet, so often, those are the very things I (and maybe you as well) hold closest and defend the fiercest, for fear of them being taken away.
And when we have that fear of losing the things we own or the freedoms or beliefs we hold dear, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s easy to think “me first.” We all do it on some level. That’s not a bad thing, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t treasure what you have, the things you believe and the people you keep close to you. You should.
However, as a guest here, I must keep reminding myself that everything is bigger than me. And while it’s OK to use what I have, what I treasure and what and whom I love to form who I am, I am still just a guest here, and as such, I must respect others, listen to them and work with them to help figure out what’s best for the larger group, for the longer term and for the betterment of the whole, without losing who I am, and what I love, value and treasure.
And when I do, I’ll listen more, bend a bit to be more accepting, and frankly, probably realize some of my own fears haven’t been completely rational or justified.
Maybe you and I don’t like the same things. Maybe we don’t have the same beliefs. Maybe we don’t understand each others’ passions, needs or situations because they don’t match up with our own. That’s just being human, and it can be a wonderful thing. But if we lose sight of our respective places in all this, it can also be destructive.
Since we’re all temporary visitors to this time and place, our direct impact on others with our beliefs, passions and actions will come and go, but those influences could last long after we’re gone. Maybe that influence only affects a few; maybe hundreds, or maybe this entire place of which we are -- let’s not forget – just guests.
I’m rambling, and it’s because I’m frustrated, tired, fearful and frankly, disappointed, in so many things that we – as guests here – are doing to one another. And I’m disappointed in myself for adding to that uncertainty, fear, mistrust and noise. Admittedly, I’m not always a good guest here, often wasting the precious time I’ve been allotted, not respecting my host(s), and in general, too often worrying about myself at the expense of others.
I want and need to change that. Because there’s no excuse for being a bad guest, no good reason to take advantage of a situation at someone else’s expense or for selfish reasons.
Temporary is the only permanence, and we’re all short-term lodgers, visitors, voyeurs, vacationers and sometimes (for better AND worse) warriors in this thing that is existence.
But what I (and I use the first person because I can’t and won’t suppose or suggest you do the same; that’s not my right or privilege) should be doing instead is realizing that as a guest in all the aforementioned places (the physical and the “other”), I should instead value what is important to those things that make me a guest, the things that show I can and want to spend my time living as the best person I can be, to listen, to contribute and to inspire other guests in a positive, productive way.
And if I do, maybe, just maybe, I can change something for and about myself that will make me a better person. And, maybe, just maybe, my actions will influence others: maybe a few, maybe hundreds, or maybe this entire place of which I am, and will be until the day I’m gone …
… just a guest.
Thank you for indulging me. Peace.
© 2022 David R. Haznaw