Tragedies and other life altering experiences can either open us up or shut us down – depending on how we choose to respond.
Friday July 8th marked the one-year anniversary of my mother’s sudden death. At her memorial service last summer, it struck me how much she touched people in every moment. From ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks to the people she sponsored in Alcoholics Anonymous, she helped people primarily by meeting them with a deep presence and connection. I found myself in awe of just how much she’d lived before she died.
At the time, I felt an overwhelming urge to live more fully and more deeply myself – to embrace and relish each moment. Life had been whispering to me from within for years. Sadly, I’d ignored aspects of the message time and time again. Four years earlier, while going through CTI’s Leadership program, a voice from within cracked me open – pointing out that I was sidelining and minimizing my personal life – my life as a human being. Still, I chose to focus nearly all of my attention on my calling – my work in the world. Yet even as I embarked on my Hero’s Journey, I would get derailed or seduced away from the person right in front of me who needed my help by grand visions of having a huge impact. The impact I was having never seemed to be enough. Now I know, size does not matter. My mother touched people’s lives one-by-one. She made other people’s lives better simply by being herself. She also loved fully and deeply as she lived.
In the wake of her passing, as I found myself at times unable to move forward on the very things I’d cared so deeply about, the Universe whispered to me… At the time my response was, “Universe, I hear you. I’m listening, and I’m finding my way forward….” As I emerged from the daze of grief, I awakened and knew that I wanted what she’d had for myself. I wanted to live a whole life. I wanted to dive in heart first and live while helping others.
I chose to be shattered forward – to open to and suck the marrow out of life. The Universe and I already had a good relationship. Now, our relationship is stronger than ever. I am so grateful for my whole life. This summer, I have a stronger connection to family (which was brought about by my mother’s passing). I feel myself showing up more deeply with friends, moved by the radiance in their hearts and the light in their eyes. I’ve woven theatre, one of my first loves, back into the fabric of my life. I’ve opened to romance – to seeing the soul of another and feeling my heart so full it might burst free from my chest. And the surprise is, my calling hasn’t suffered in the process of living. My Hero’s Journey and my full-hearted human experience are feeding each other. It can be done.
Personally and globally, tragedies and life altering moments happen to all of us. For many of us, this has been quite a year. In the face of tragedy, we can either choose to open to life, embracing each moment, each breath, each connection, more fully, or we can shut down, protecting ourselves from life while isolating ourselves from those around us.
We are all choosing to open or close moment by moment. Which are you choosing right now?
Unfortunately we often save the things that mean the most to us for last. What whispers from within are you ignoring?
With Love & Passion,