Vow To Live Passionately
“Often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” — Helen Keller
I have a question for you.
This is important because I believe how you answer this question could change the balance of your life: When the time comes to leave this place, will you be able to look back on your past with fondness, gratitude, and satisfaction instead of regret and guilt? I invite you to take a deep breath and simply sit with this question for a moment…marinade in the essence of its profound implications; allow yourself to truly feel the reality of your last day on the planet for there lies the most precious gift.
I know from experience because this is a practice I indulge from time to time. I recall over two decades ago losing my father to complications resulting from type II diabetes. I remember the day of his burial and his coffin being lowered into the ground as though it was only yesterday.
There was a final ending to his time here that not only touched my family, but echoed throughout my life in the months and years ahead. It was though the universe grabbed me by the shoulders and said: “Wake up, son, your time is limited. Don’t waste another moment because you too shall return to dust one day.”
Since then, I made a vow to live passionately, to be of service to others, to enrich my life and explore my potential so as to guide others to awaken theirs. The journey has been difficult, stressful and yet daring; I’ve discovered more about myself in the subsequent years than I did leading up to my father’s passing. It was as though I was jolted with a reminder that this beautiful journey called life must inevitably end, sometimes when we least expect it.
Now, my second question for you: Can you relate?
Don’t Consider Your Challenges As Permanent
“Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often.” — Susan Statham
There’s a delightful parable told by the late Jesuit priest and psychotherapist Anthony de Mello that captures the significance of embracing life completely:
Before the visitor embarked upon discipleship, he wanted assurance from the Master:
“Can you teach me the goal of human life?”
“Or at least its meaning?”
“Can you indicate to me the nature of death and of life beyond the grave?”
The visitor walked away in scorn.
The disciples were dismayed that their Master had been shown up in a poor light.
Said the Master soothingly: “Of what use is it to comprehend life’s nature and life’s meaning if you have never tasted it? I’d rather you ate your pudding than speculated on it.”
Anthony de Mello’s fable reminds us, it is of little use to intellectualize life at the level of your thoughts. The question is: “Are you eating your dessert”—are you partaking in the sweetness of your life?” Life is to be lived fully, meaning you will experience pain and suffering, however as the adage goes: “This too shall pass.”
In such moments, the experience may be too much to bear. But as the former English Prime Minister Winston Churchill once declared: “If you are going through hell, keep going.” He knew too well that when you’re in the grips of despair, to retreat is to deny yourself the capacity to overcome your pain and suffering. Sorrow and misery are not the narrative of your life story, but one chapter of it. There will be many chapters to come and you mustn’t consider your challenges as permanent.
Whilst you may have regrets, remember they are paragraphs contained within the story still being written. I urge you to be open to what tomorrow will bring, knowing the sum of your life is yet to unfold. What you are experiencing is not the end of the world because there is so much more to your life’s narrative to unfold in the years ahead.
What Is Your Soul’s Narrative?
“About the only value the story of my life may have is to show that one can, even without any particular gifts, overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable if one is willing to face the fact that they must be overcome.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
The outcome of your choices are often right under your nose. Many people miss the signs because they are too busy moving from one thing to another to notice them. They are seldom present and engaged with the now to notice what is taking place beneath the surface of their lives. This is because they are concerned how their lives look to others, that they don’t notice their interior life is slowly crumbling.
In many ways, they have forgotten how to come home to themselves. There will come a point when those you love will stand at the edge of your interment, looking down upon you as you are lowered into the ground. They will contemplate the same thoughts as I did that day at my father’s burial.
“Is this it?”
“Surely there’s more to life than this?”
For the most precious gift that you can give to yourself is to treat each day as though it were you last. Hold nothing back. Live fully and completely, knowing when the time comes, you will have been completely used up like a sponge wringed of water. May your life’s narrative be a compelling story lived truthfully.