I have been painting more and playing a bit more guitar, watching a lot less tv and taking long walks on the trails by our house and riding bikes. I have been writing a bit and connecting with friends more. I have been taking stock.
A important realization that has come to light for me is that my purpose, my goal, my dream, my life's work is wrapped up in connections made with other people. The value I place on my life experiences thus far is usually based on the strength of relationships that have grown from them. I am reflecting on this as I continue to seek a path that feels true and right for my work, my family and for the roots we put down (or dig up).
Some days are easier than others. There are moments so intense, though, with a mix of aching pain and gratitude unlike any I have known. This is what it is to be human. We are in it, the thick of our humanity and it is both terrifying and beautiful.
Amidst the confluence of these disparate feelings about living, there has also been an experience of extreme clarity and a spiritual transcendence. I don't take this lightly. I believe that perhaps these moments are always there for observation but one must be in a state of crisis or deep meditation to even notice. Roald Dahl has a quote that says to "watch with glittering eyes", so in my dreams, the sky, the river, the wind, the birds, the woods, the laughter of the children I teach, there have been messages of peace. I am listening.
There is magic yet to be found.
I want to share a few things that have helped me as I navigate through the dark forest that is loss: some articles, some poetry, some songs, some letters that I have turned to this month to find solace through the stories of other people.
What Suffering Does
"The right response to this sort of pain is not pleasure. It’s holiness. I don’t even mean that in a purely religious sense. It means seeing life as a moral drama, placing the hard experiences in a moral context and trying to redeem something bad by turning it into something sacred."
The Crossroads of Should and Must
"If you believe that you have something special inside of you, and you feel it’s about time you gave it a shot, honor that calling in some small way — today."
The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
Life is a beautiful miracle and it is given only once.
The choice you make can never be made a second time.
Enjoy what you have chosen.
Never look back.
Look forward and live the Miracle.
I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead. He is just away.
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you—oh you, who the wildest yearn
For an old-time step, and the glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same. I say,
He is not dead—he is just away.
"So, please use your life well. It truly is like having a bucket of gold dust with a little hole in the bottom. I know that we tend to see the value in something more, when we are about to lose it. Maybe that's why I'm saying this stuff to you. But, I have understood the truth of the value of life for a few years now. When I look back over my life now, I see it as one of extraordinary value."
"Remember that the day we met I told you, "Having been born as we have, we now face death." Now I have demonstrated the truth of what I told you that day. In a room at a Greek Orthodox Christian monastery where they keep the bones of the deceased monks, there is a sign that reads: "As you are now, so I once was. As I am now, so you will be." It is barely sensible to fear what is inevitable, so take heart. What seems more sensible is to make preparations for what is inevitable, insofar as possible. We cannot all agree on what, if anything, may come after this life, but we must all agree that this life will last only as long as it lasts, and then it will be no more. And, in every moment of this life we long to have happiness and avoid suffering. Thus, what seems most sensible is to use every day, use every hour of your treasure of life to move toward your happiness. Be diligent in your search to find a true path. It may be true that in the end it is only wisdom that will free us, but the best path in that direction is compassion. Please hear me."
As a ship sails into the fading horizon, one might say "she is gone", But I ask, "to where?" The diminished size and loss of sight is within us. Just at the moment when we say "she is gone," there are others, who we know are watching her coming and stand up with voices and shout, "There she comes! She is home."