By Karen Rice
Dr. Skalicky was not particularly ordinary. It is true I lean towards hyperbole in many of my interpretations, life viewed through this author’s eyes tends to be large. However, most of my fellow classmates would agree, Dr. Skalicky could never be described as ordinary. And he remains my most significant mentor.
A Course in MIracles states “the only aspect of time that is eternal is now.” Dr. S would surely appreciate this passage. In fact, one of my favorite Skalicky stories from my college days, is based upon his attempt to teach this message: The past is over, the future has not yet arrived, be alive today. The story goes as follows:
Our “personal and Social Adjustment” class met on the top floor of the LIberal Arts Building. It was indeed personal, yet I never quite related to the socially adjusted aspect. Our humorous preofessor tickled us regularly with attention-getting and often poignant examples of life. More often than not, these demonstrations were life-changing. This particular day Dr. S began with a brief lecture on living in the moment. He told us, “We really weigh ourselves down with our past experiences. It’s lide this…” and he walked over to an empty desk in the front row and hooked one of his arms through it. He lifted the desk off the floor letting it hang clumsily off his bent arm and laboriously dragged it across the front of the classroom. We were amused by his silly, overacted antics. Then he continued by saying “…and as if that’s not bad enough, we worry about the future too,” at which time he bent over, and with his free arm picked up a second desk. He struggled back across the room once more. This time it was “My Past..” as he dragged one desk forward, then “My Future..” and he struggled with the 2nd desk, repeating his burdensome technique. We giggled, and he got more and more into the theatrics until he stopped abruptly and shouted Enough! He threw both of the desks to the floor in front of him. They hit the floor hard and seemed to vibrate the entire room, startling everyone. “Set yourself free!” He stood tall and raised both hands into the air in a beautiful gesture of liberation.“When we truly absorb the present moment, there simply is no such thing as time.”
At that moment I began to cry. It was clear how much I had burdened myself by clinging to my past experiences and old beliefs. I also recognized how invested I had been in worrying about the details of my future (and everybody else’s). I felt immediately lighter merely with the recognition. I think I understood for the first time that all we ever have is now. This was the beginning of my awakening.
What joy comes to our sense of living when we revere the present moment. A repeated theme of the Course that augments this point is, “I am as Bod created me.” In workbook lesson #110, this passage continues, “In this one thought is all the past undone; the present saved to quietly extend into a time. It ceases to exist and we experience eternality. Purposefulness of now casts a hue of beauty on our entire world and paradoxically, from one tiny moment we comprehend meaning in the whole. The task is a non-task. We simply release and disallow anything other than the immediate.
The lesson then concludes by stating “this is the truth that sets you free.” When I fully grasp, experientially, this one truth, I am indeed free. I don’t believe we stay in that freedom however. In our humanness it can feel complicated to simplify. Letting go often feels more like work than work itself. Nonetheless, it remains a meaty possibility, and we should never feel like we’ve failed when we catch ourselves outside of now. When we can resist the temptation to keep old demons alive and/or breathe life into demons we expect to come, we are accepting the potential of timelessness. I believe there is value in appreciating those moments just as they are. Wow. What a concept!
My mentor Dr. Skalicky taught me about time, and he led me to the path that continues to set me free. I feel deep gratitude for his presence in my life. It’s true that he could never be described as ordinary. Then again, neither could you.
Karen facilitates a weekly study group on A Course in Miracles, Mondays at Kindred Spirits