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Letting Go of Legend

By KM Huber

“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past, or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to…get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past, but you are still grounded in the present moment.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

Recently, I visited a rather obscure American Civil War site, the Battle of Natural Bridge, fought March 6, 1865. The site was the last major victory for the Confederacy and, most agree, the decisive factor in Tallahassee remaining the only southern capital city not captured by Union forces.

When I first moved to Florida, I lived near battle fortifications that local legend associates with the natural bridge battle but history has always known otherwise. I found the legend a great story, and after two years of walking by those fortifications on a daily basis, local legend became my version of the battle–until now.

Although I have lived in the area for more than a decade, it is my first visit to the battle site, as my own present is in need of the past. The past is full of insight if one observes from the present what was and not what might have been.

Morning at Natural Bridge Battle 0613

What will I see in letting go of a legend for a moment of history?

Grounded in the present moment, standing on the invading side of the battle site breastworks, caught up in the radiance of a June morning 148 years later, the breastworks and I overlook a river bend, surrounded by dogwoods. Then as now, we are the anomalies.

I am conscious of lives long past, and I am just as aware that my presence, my literal and figurative footprint, is already mingling among those memories. Such is presence among the past.

Memory is always tinted, whatever the reason we recall a moment. What comes to us is tinged, softened around the edges, imprecise. No moment ever plays out exactly as it occurred for we are, and it was.

Each moment we have is a one-time shot whose existence is preserved precisely in the past. The mindful inquiry into the past acknowledges the tinted lens, whether it is the close-up of a personal memory or the wide-angle view of history.

So on a radiant June morning, a still life study in green and light, I tread the dew of a battle site. As I look across the still waters of the St. Marks River, it is not hard to understand how my fondness for the legend overrode history. It has made for a lovely morning and a new memory grounded in the present, an object for inquiry again and again.

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. She blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2013 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.


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