Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Saturday, February 15, 2014

To Live in Peace

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
“If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
“If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

     The above is a quote from Lao Tzu, the legendary founder of Taoism. Legend says he was conceived when his mother gazed upon a falling star.  That excuse sure wouldn’t work today.

            This guy supposedly remained in his mother’s womb for 62 years before being born while his mother was leaning against a plum tree.  He was said to have emerged as a grown man with a full grey beard and long earlobes, both symbols of wisdom and long life.  From his mother’s perspective, this gives new meaning to the pain of childbirth.

            Based on this story, I would suggest that a young woman stay inside at night and if she happens to catch a glimpse of a falling star, stay away from plum trees unless she wants to be pregnant for 60 years.  Of one thing we can be sure - after spending 62 years in a womb, old Lao Tzu wasn’t afraid of the dark.

            I guess I got carried away on this guy Tzu, but the message in the quote is profound.  Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of the past – especially negative things that come back to haunt you.  Regrets can ruin the pleasure of the present, or as Tzu says, “The peace of living in the present.”

            Anxiety over the future can be debilitating too.   I can’t count the messages I get via the internet related to living life in the present.  Most of these messages have flowers, sentimental music and poetic encouragement to enjoy the day, be loving to others, and if you don't forward this message of love to ten other people, lightening will strike you and you will die.

            I think it takes practice to cast out negatives from the past and avoid worrying about the future.  Sometimes it helps to consider how insignificant we are in the context of time and the vastness of the universe.  This is paradoxical if you believe that you are valued by your Creator, who sees a sparrow fall and knows how many hairs are on your head.  His task of counting my hair gets much easier as time goes on.

            F. Scott Fitzgerald said that “the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”  Cognitive dissonance is when contradictory beliefs cause mental conflict.  That’s the point here.

            The idea that we as individuals have value to our Creator while the solar system we live in doesn’t even register in the context of the known universe, may be difficult to grasp.  Frankly, I think it makes our relationship with God more significant, not less.  Think about it.

            I don’t know how I veered off topic, because I planned to write about motorcycles.  I was going to get into good things from the past, a la Tzu, but once I start writing, some tangential thought pops up and I begin to extrapolate from that thought until I’m well into the weeds.  Maybe I’ll write a motorcycle story next time.


  1. Loved it Ralph. My personal feeling is the past can not be changed so move on. We have learned in our many years that the mistakes of the past are simply lessons that make us stronger. I must be very strong because I made some doozies. I am better regarding the past, probably because my memory isn't tip top any more. My father was a big time worrier and I received that gene. I'm working on that one now.
    Your pal,
    Jim Loar

    1. I agree that memory wanes with age, but closing the book on things you'd like to forget can be a challenge.

  2. May I help you back on track. Your Triumph is both in the past and also in the present. I think you were trying to find out the name of the damsel leaning against the tree. It's called womb fetish. the north

    1. A "womb fetish??" You guys do have shrinks up in Canada, eh? But your point about my old Triumph is well taken.