“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water
and trying to keep your head above the waves
that you forget, truly forget,
how much you have always loved to swim”
–Tyler Knott Gregson
One of my big little brothers sent me this some time ago, as if in answer to the questions I’d been yelling at the Universe. It has helped to remind me that there is far more to life than just surviving each day; it’s the difference between existing and living.
Much like walking through a beautiful cathedral with your eyes blindfolded, earplugs in your ears and nose firmly pinched closed; one would miss the stained glass, the gorgeous architecture, the statues, paintings and vestments. Not to mention the powerful hymns of the choir, the smoky, sweet smell of incense and the sunlight streaming through those stained glass windows.
You could say you’ve been to the cathedral, but you haven’t experienced the cathedral. Take out the ear and nose plugs, free your eyes, open them wide and then walk through again. What a difference! It is an immersive experience; a feast for the eyes, a treat for all senses.
I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy many things because I have been solely focused on trying to cope using ways that (obviously) have lost a degree of effectiveness.
I have been so focused on just “keeping it together” that I have turned blind to simple things that I had once remembered to seek out. Tiny moments of everyday miracles happening all around me; a hummingbird feeds on a patch of flowers, the sunlight catching his shimmering form, still for but a nanosecond. A not so attractive caterpillar emerges from their cocoon, transformed into the most beautiful butterfly; still the same old caterpillar with new clothes? Or has the transformation erased all trace of that not so hot caterpillar, inside and out? It is but one of Nature’s many mysteries and miracles, here for us to see, should we only take the time to stop and see what is happening outside of ourselves, outside of humanity.
I have had a sea otter talk to me (then he spit at me, so I guess it wasn’t love at first sight), many butterflies and dragonflies have used me as a temporary landing place while they rest or deliver the message they signify to me before flying off again. I have had birds fly very nearly into my windshield in an effort to get me to slow down and have seem an albino peacock accompanied by her band of 4 guardians crossing a freeway onramp, like a queen out for a stroll with her knights.
I have had dogs and cats come up to me when I’m feeling down and lick my hand or rub again me to remind me that there is unconditional love out there and it’s wrapped in fur with loving eyes and (sometimes) claw-y paws. (I’m thinking of you, Neko)
We can learn so much from our furry brothers and sisters, how to love, how to play, how to protect and deal with whatever, together. They are surviving, but they are also truly living.
Each moment is its own, not stolen by regrets from the past, not clouded by worries of tomorrow, just living right now, feeling this moment; all of it, completely.
So, dear big little brother and all my faithful readers and friends of past, present and future, I am working on that promise. I have shifted my mindset from simply surviving to living expansively; enjoying the good times, crying through the sad times, but with the understanding that neither will last forever.
It is truly the hard times that give wings to the good times, lift us up and enable us to see how far we had fallen and how high we have risen. They are two sides of the same coin and odds are if you’re going through some hard times now, the coin will flip at some point and things will change. It’s not as though we have to wait for Fate to flip the coin, either. We have the power to change our point of view, our mindset, what we believe is true, within ourselves and outside of ourselves. We can either accept or reject others’ opinions of who we are, what we are or are not capable of and how we choose to react to people, places and things.
If times are tough, sometimes it has nothing to do with us, but it effects us just the same. If you are facing loss of a loved one, there is no substance on Earth that will take away that hole in your heart, but love and compassion can fill it and diminish the pain somewhat.
Your loved one is not gone forever, only waiting to greet you on the other side, when your time comes. Their love is where it went when they gave it to you, deep inside your heart and within ever fiber of your soul. They haven’t left you, they have just moved to a place where you can’t go yet. You can visit them anytime, just close your eyes and think of that love; let that love be the GPS that guides you to them.
Lastly, take time to marvel in the miracle that is you. How you came into this world, what you have survived and endured, what you given to others, how you have lived through what you have lived through.
Have you reinvented yourself over and over or are you still peeling through the layers of self-discovery? Either way, love the process. Love yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to love you or tell you your worth; love yourself first, know your worth is not a fixed amount, a blue light special at K-Mart. It is more like the value of a fine bottle of wine, only increasing in worth as the years pass and the wine matures, becoming less bitter or acidic and more pleasing, rich and full of mellowed temperaments and flavors blending together.
You are becoming. Your extremes are coming together to meet in the middle and time is working on smoothing your sharp edges, giving definition to your reason for being, honing your gifts and finding your tribe.
Don’t give up now and if you are discouraged or disheartened, hold onto the belief that there are riches in store for you that exceed your wildest imaginings.
The best is yet to come. I promise. I’ll meet you there and we can raise a glass together, enjoying the journey and living our dreams and I’ll write our tales along the way so that when we leave this earth, our spirits will live on forever with each telling.