A friend reminded me recently that there is no such thing as death.
We are born in to this physical life. Change form. And rebirth into a new ….
…does it really matter?
Do we need to know exactly what happens after we croak in order to make the most of being and breathing now?
In the span of 24 hours one of my beloved spiritual and political mentors, Nelson Mandela, and my great uncle passed on from this side of the veil into the unknowable (at least for me). This is significant because these two men represent a generation that is completing their cycle on the wheel of this Life. I interpret this as an invitation for me in particular, and my generation in general, to wake up, step up and rise up.
The week before Thanksgiving I had a slight mental breakdown. Looking back I am extremely grateful for it. But at the time I was really questioning my grip on reality. I was overworking myself, 50-60 hour weeks all through November. Completely addicted to coffee and chocolate to keep me going. Swamped in my commitment to a string of projects getting completed on schedule I sacrificed sleep, my meditation practice and my relationships to prove that I could do what I said I would do. It wasn’t until my son brought home from pre-school a drawing of me at my computer and him with a sad face that I really got the message that I was over doing it. After a last 40 hour work binge over two days I turned off the laptop, cried and went to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning I realized if I don’t get control of this pleasing mentality that had me addicted to over-working I was seriously going to hurt myself beyond repair. I had to wake-up from the illusion that my life was about working hard until I die. While I feel grateful to have a job that I enjoy, I’m feeling more and more resentful that it is taking over my life. And I can’t be angry at anyone but myself for allowing that to be the case.
But there is a deeper waking up that is taking place here. That rising is more spiritual than professional. A collective awakening that is questioning the current economic and social systems that keep the masses over-worked, over-medicated, and over-entertained in order to keep us from realizing that we’ve made it all up. One film illustrated this awakening in a captivating way…
And while I feel no need to pick up a machine gun and start shootin up some agents, I do feel a very real calling to “unplug.” I’m realizing that pouring my energy into anyone else’s dream is inauthentic. In essence that is what working for anyone else is. And sure for while it may be glorious and inspiring to contribute to manifesting their idea. But at the end of the day, it’s still their idea for what the world needs. When will I take time to manifest my own? When will I trust what I have to offer is more valuable than my pleasing of someone else’s idea of me? When will I let go of the fear to really create a life I love?
I’m engaged with a number of conversations this week around authenticity. The idea that being exactly who you are is completely ok. More than ok, it is required. The world needs more people to be who they want to be AND it requires that I stop judging others for being who I want them to be.Yet this judgement continues. Particularly of myself.
A simple example: I love chocolate. But my body does not. Every time I have it, my skin breaks out in these oily, painful bumps. My tummy rumbles and aches for hours. My blood pressure heightens and I get headaches. All of this I’ve lived with most of my life, because the experience of chocolate while in my mouth is so enticingly delicious that I ignore the repercussions. I am addicted to the idea that chocolate is good, when the evidence says (at least for me) that it actually is not. And I can’t stand this dissonance so I get angry, depressed, feel lousy that I’m failing at my self-love practice and go buy myself another bar of Salazon salted dark chocolate. Oy.
This summer I successfully omitted chocolate from my diet for about 6 weeks. It was hell. And it was bliss. I’m reminded of the memory of how much better my body feels when I don’t have it, and how the most difficult part was releasing the idea that it would make me feel better. I had to step-up and realize the underlying reason I ate so much chocolate was to:
- stimulate myself – usually to stay attentive to work, laundry or something else I detest doing and
- distract myself from the hurt or pain or confusion I feel about some current life challenge.
When I took the chocolate away it was like taking a shield down. I was vulnerable to life in new ways. And the beautiful thing about vulnerability as Brene Brown says is that it awakens you to the space of creativity. Not only did my body feel better, it began to sense more. Life without the highs and lows of stimulants pulsated in a stronger stable way. Things like trees, the ocean, my sons eyes seemed more vivid, more potent, more alive. And I felt more alive simply by becoming aware of this. In that space I began to sense my own creativity and my own inherent desire to innovate, merge, combine. Alchemy became possible. I was transforming the grit and dust of life into gold.
And then I had a vegan caramel almond chocolate bar…<pleasurable sigh>
No judgement. I’m thankful to observe myself in this way. Thankful to recognize the signs that when I have a chocolate craving, it’s usually an indication that I’m out of alignment with who I say I am. And regardless of whether or not I choose to eat it, I still need to deal with the issue that is causing the craving. Stepping-up is a self-love commitment. To behave in ways that serve my highest good. To choose to be with the pain, disappointment and judgement and somehow weave compassion and forgiveness around what hurts. A dear friend of mine did that in the form of a song as she was healing herself. Perhaps it will inspire you to step-up in your own way too.
If you read my post about Madiba, then you have a sense of how this man has inspired my life path, in creating spaces for meaningful reconciliation and for truth telling of who we really are. These are the spaces I feel most alive. I celebrate and honor this divine being who came in the form on Madiba to show humanity that within each of us, was the same Source of Christ Consciousness. The greatness that exists in any of those we idolize exists within your heart too. As does our most terrible fears. Yet we can choose. And the story of Madiba’s life is so inspiring because he chose. He chose forgiveness of his prison guards. He is not exceptional in his ability to choose. You have that same capacity. I do as well. And yes we forget. Until we remember again. And death (or rebirth) is one sure way all of us will remember.
I cam across this song on Friday as I was taking another tearful moment from work thinking about how Madiba’s transition at this time in human history is so significant. I’m so deeply thankful for his legacy and for all the individuals who in this moment right now, are honoring him and celebrating the standard he helped raise us to. As Madiba rises, so too we rise. His ability to see a rainbow, despite a world telling him that everything was black and white, was his Wake-up/Step-up/Rise-up journey.
What is yours?