Falling In Love with Life

What does it take to fall in love with being alive?  Being willing to see the end of what you love.  – Stephen Jenkinson

 

I have spent most of my time on this earth taking life for granted.  I expect things to continue on; at least the things that I love and that are important to me.  Even though there are constant reminders, I forget about the fragility of life and that all of this is temporary.

I don’t think it is necessary to continually dwell on impermanence; that would probably keep me in a heightened state of anxiety or depression.  However,it seems that being out of touch with this reality has a tendency to put me to sleep.

I had a recent ‘brush with death’.  It was an infection that could have been fatal but for the intervention of modern medicine.  Throughout the healing process I developed a deep sense of gratitude.  At first I was grateful to those who helped me heal but the gratitude slowly expanded.  First to my wife and the rich deep life that we share; on to friends and family; and outward still to the very fact of being alive, to having this life.   I did indeed “fall in love with being alive”.

And still a few months later, i forget to remember how grateful I am.  I pause as I write this to look out the window at how the sun is illuminating the leaves of the forest; the play of light and shadow, the warm late summer air, the birds signalling. When I pause to remember, my heart fills with love all over again.

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Fears are a Doorway

“Our fears are a doorway”.    Reginald Ray

This quote is a good reminder for me.  I have had a lot of experience in life being frozen by fear.  I tend to shut down when faced with things that scare me or seem too difficult.   However experience has shown me that when I can find the courage to step into my fear, something positive has always resulted.

Being frozen with fear happens for me with big issues and with small ones.   One example came early in my career as a civil servant.   I was working in a client services area and my boss used to handle all of the media interviews.  It was something that I would have liked to do, but I was frightened about making mistakes, especially in public. When I became aware that my fear was stopping me from trying something that I really did want to do, I asked permission to do media interviews.  My first experience was a bit of a disaster, but I kept at it.

Doing media interviews became a doorway for me to change my career path. But more importantly it proved to be a doorway into courage.  I discovered that for me, confidence isn’t about having all of the answers; it is about being prepared and then showing up.  If I had not stepped through that particular doorway, I would not be a coach today.

 

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Life is a brief excursion

“Life is a brief excursion; death is always the destiny.”    – Graham Woodhouse

 

I remember many years ago standing at a classroom window overlooking a day care centre watching children at play in the yard.  A person was standing next to me and for some reason the conversation drifted to a discussion about death.  I shared with her that that I had been a volunteer at a local hospice.  Her response was, “Oh, that must be really depressing.”   Still looking out the window, I replied, “No, for me working in a day care would be depressing.”  Each of us is drawn to different aspects of life. Death has been a great teacher for me.

I didn’t used to think about death and dying much. This changed when as a young man I visiting a dear uncle who was dying of cancer in a hospital some distance from where I lived. I felt awkward and didn’t know what to say to him. He passed away not long after my visit and I was never able to tell him that I loved him or that I was grateful that he had been in my life. My first experience of someone close to me dying had closed me down. Afterwards, feeling ashamed, I made up my mind not to repeat the experience.

The passing of my uncle was what led me to involvement in hospice work. Since then I have learned that keeping death as part of my life is a very valuable tool.  Keeping in mind that life is indeed short and that each day is a blessing, reminds me to focus on what is important.  Who is most precious to me and how have I treated them today?  What do I really want to accomplish with my time here on earth?  Taking death into consideration helps me feel more alive and more involved in living.

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