Last Thoughts on “Survive and Thrive”

I told you about the conference I attended last week, “Survive and Thrive”, the intent of which was to show how the arts can help in recovery from heart trauma. I found it easy to apply what I was hearing to other types of recovery. It was an amazing experience to be in attendance and I had intended write in my blog about various workshops, the interesting people I met and my reflections. But I am going to have to listen to a piece of wisdom I gave to one of the excited participants as the event was coming to a close. “I am afraid I will forget what I have learned here,” she said. “You won’t forget,” I said. “What you don’t remember in your head, you will remember in your body.”

I was speaking from own experience of participating in events, meeting people, seeing, hearing, touching, encountering. Sometimes I have felt like this woman at the conference. This is too good to be true, I would think. I might have learned a new truth that seemed to have the power to change my life. Spiritual experiences. Emotional highs. Moments I wanted to last forever.

The glow from such experiences never do last and I used to feel disappointed and let down. I felt like God touched me and then went on his merry way again. I believed in a loving God, but one who could only handle loving a few people at a time.

Now I imagine those experiences like enjoying a good meal. If we know how to savor the flavors of food, eating can be a high. If you should listen to the conversations my family has about food you’d know what I mean. But time passes and we forget the food. Most of the meals we have eaten fade from our conscious memory. Yet, while we forget the experience of eating food becomes part of us. It goes into our stomachs and through our intestines where nutrients are removed and carried in our blood to every part of our bodies. The food is remembered in our muscles and bones and organs. So the experience stays with us even if we can’t remember it consciously.

I recently attended a retreat, not as a participant, but as a visitor walking into the middle of the event. I could see that those experiencing the retreat were on an amazing high. I knew that this would fade for them later, but I realized at the same time that they were being changed. The way they experience life would be altered in some way. They may not even realize the impact. Does a flower have to understand about the rain in order to grow? And when it thirsts again, it won’t remember how it felt when the rains came last. But the plant has grown since the last rain and lives through the droughts and rainy season differently because of the growing it has done.

We never really forget. There is no need to cling.