Copy of Dan Round Brand
Welcome to September, where I find myself scratching my head about how it can be that there are only 3 months left in 2022… And thinking about where time has gone…

A place for everything and everything in its place.

These last few weeks have been ones of reflection. Just a couple of weeks ago, I made a quick weekend trip to Palos Verdes, California, with the family to say goodbye to Marymount University – the school that offered me the scholarship that brought me to the United States 27 years ago. My first trip outside of Brazil (where I was born) was to be a somewhat definite one. Even though I thought I would stay only for four years, Marymount led me to my wife Nicole, work in the US, and many friends. Of course, there are memories. Memories of good times, of discovery, of coming of age in a different country than the one you were born in, of beautiful views from a hill perched on top of the Pacific Ocean, of being repeatedly asked to read the Gospel at mass in school by the resident priest even though I was not Catholic... (Little did I know. it wouldn't be the last time I spoke at Churches...)

Top: view from the edge of campus in Palos Verdes. Middle: friends pose for a quick picture 25+ years later. Bottom left: another campus view. Right bottom: the stained glass window atop the altar at the chapel.

There were also memories of hardship, of parking cars and of eating endless boxes of top ramen to make ends meet. All of it beautiful in its own way when I look back. (Sorry, no pictures of top ramen...)

But it does raise the question: what do you do with all these memories?

My life is considerably different today – and I would undoubtedly say much better. Twenty-seven years ago feels like a lifetime away. One lived almost in a different world and place – like you were watching your own life as a movie through a glass, darkly.

The question persists: what is the proper place for things?

What is the right place for all the memories we have in our lives? How do we reconcile them – or not – with the lives we lead today? Should we? Should we not?

I think we should.

Leaving the past behind is an entirely different proposition than denying it altogether, of shoving it aside. We are certainly not our past, but it has helped us be who we are today. We do not need to live in it or carry it around our necks, like an albatross. (The short explanation of it here, for the less poetry-inclined)

I would only realize it later, but it brought me back to the framework I wrote about in Our Road to Damascus. I found myself struggling with the very question I visit in the third lesson I picked up from Paul in his journey of transformation: asking The Courageous Question. I guess that shows to prove (yet again) that writers are not as figured out as some of our readers think we are…

The courageous question

Like Paul, we all have to ask ourselves the difficult question of whether we are ready to leave the past behind to move forward to where we want to go. Symbolically, it is a choice between old Jerusalem (where he was coming from) and the new Damascus (where he was going to). We know what choice he made – and we know what choice we ought to make too. It does not mean it is not hard. But it is important – and worth it. So we do it.

Almost three decades later, I can safely say Marymount – which once was a new beginning – is now old Jerusalem. I am grateful for it, but there is no going back. It will always be there with me, even if it is no longer there. It feels like as if I could see a bit more light coming through that glass window, now not so darkly.

And so, I find a place for these memories in my heart. And I keep walking forward, grateful for what has been – but even more grateful for whatever is to come. Wherever you are (place or state of mind), I also hope you are making peace with what has been and making strides toward your new future -- whichever one you decide to craft for yourself.

Fare forward, traveler!

What I am writing

I am still struggling to find time to go back to book 2, which is halfway done. But I can tell you it will be very different from Our Road to Damascus. This one is about the scientific evidence on the existence of life after life -- or that consciousness can live outside the physical body if you prefer. Stay tuned.

What I am reading

I am still in an Arthur Conan Doyle phase, so this month I finishing re-reading all of his Sherlock Holmes work, plus A History of Spiritualism — an incredible book documenting some of the history of modern Spiritualism. I might write something about this book in the near future too. ;)

Where I am speaking

  • September - Orlando, FL
    • September 19 (Monday) - Spiritism & Mental Health @ Peace & Knowledge
    • September 20 (Tuesday) - From Selfishness to Selflessness @ Love & Charity
    • September 22 (Thursday) - Our Road to Damascus @ Peace & Knowledge
    • September 23 (Friday) - Spiritism & Mental Health @ Plenitude
  • November: Houston, TX — I am excited to speak at the US Spiritist Symposium and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the United States Spiritist Federation with the topic “Living Well in the Present to Shape a Better Future.” Registration is open.
See you in October!

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