At the end of the movie, Tom Hanks’ love interest, played by Elizabeth Perkins, is invited to ‘come with him’, back to childhood. What I enjoy most about this scene is the expression on Tom Hanks’ face when she sadly says “no….I can’t go through that again…”. His character truly doesn’t understand that overcoming these trials is a part of life. No matter how big we get, there will always be someone smarter, someone wealthier or someone more talented. Part of our lives’ meaning is to learn to work through these complications and disappointments. Overcoming is rarely fun, and not often easy, but it does add to the sweetness of life. Because we learn our life lessons bit by bit, we have time to process each new step. We also have time to figure out what’s really worth worrying about. When I think back to the heartache I felt as a teenager, I wish I could go back: not to relive that part of my life, but to talk some sense into my younger self. Yet, at the same time, I know I wouldn’t have listened to ‘me’. It takes the journey to learn the lesson. And, it takes a life of learning to continue to gain insight into each new step of the journey. Just when we think we’ve made it, that we’re ‘there’, life throws us a curve ball: we graduate, we begin a new job, we get married, we become parents, our children grow up, we find ourselves with an empty nest. We become “freshmen” all over again.
In India, Ganesha is the God of Overcoming Obstacles. While I’m neither Buddhist nor Hindi, I have always found Ganesha to be a fascinating cultural study. His elephant head is clearly recognizable and adorns many places, from homes to businesses. Ganesha is not only the Remover of Obstacles but is also the God of Arts & Sciences, as well as, in Buddhist tradition, the God of letters and learning. Unlike Judeo-Christian traditions, Ganesha isn’t prayed to with the same monotheistic belief system we have here in the west. He is invited to join the seeker, as a helper, an aide and a friend. It seems to intruiging to have a God-friend who may miraculously remove the obstacles in our path. This thought makes me smile when I imagine Tom Hanks’ character going to a Hindi shrine and asking Ganesha for help, lighting incense and chanting. Does Ganesha really help those who ask him? I can’t answer that. It’s not my tradition. But, do I believe that there is a higher power who will walk with us every step of the way on our own journey, the answer is yes. He doesn’t look like an elephant. He doesn’t need elaborate rituals. I do believe that asking the God of your heart to stand with you through trying times, over hurtles in the road and during times of heartbreak is beneficial for all. But, will he magically solve all my problems ? No. But, I believe with my own heart in the right place, I walk in the direction that will bring about the most benefit.
So, if I had a wish, would it be to be young again ? Would I say “No !”, vehemently as Elizabeth Perkins did ? Would I wish myself older, and through these teen years ? I think one of the greatest experiences of my own life has been to appreciate right now for what it is. It may not be perfect. It may not always be pretty. My hair may have a little more gray, and my step might be a bit slower. But, I wouldn’t trade right now, pains and all, for anything. I appreciate how far I have come. But, more importantly, I appreciate all I have yet to do. And, I don’t want to skip over any of it. I want to experience every single moment of it. When we wish ourselvse out of the stage we're in, we're skipping over the sweetest parts; the good memories along with the bad, the sense of perspective we gain and the precious times we realize how fortunate we've been.
However, if you happen to see a Zoltan machine, make a wish. Just be careful what you wish for....
"Seek not that things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish that the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life." ~ Epictetus