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Blessings In The Messes

I tend to think about death a lot. I always have. Not in a morbid way. In fact I think death is really beautiful. Tragic, yes, but beautiful in so many ways. And I really deepened that perspective when I worked in hospice, and again when watching loved ones die.

Part of what I find beautiful about death is that I love the concept of death = rebirth. And I love watching that concept play out in life. But another big reason I think about it so much is because ever since I shifted my relationship with fear, I have become so aware of how precious and short our finite existence is.

I let fear hold me back from living the life I wanted for so long. I literally feel sick to my stomach when I think about all of the years of unlived life that I'll never get back. And it’s what motivates me every day to move towards my deepest desires. I want to live my life in full glory and not get to the end with regrets. I constantly ask myself, how will I want to look back at my life and the way I lived it?

That said, a couple of friends and I were doing one of those “6 months to live” exercises. I’ve tried doing them before and I thought they were stupid and could never get into it. But something was different this time. I’ve been deeply pondering how I’d really live if I only had 6 months to live. The good news is that I’m already living in a lot of ways that I would want. But it also made me notice something about my relationship with fear.

When I stopped letting fear hold me back, I really started actually living for what felt like the first time in my life. But this exercise pointed out some major blind spots, where I still totally let fear hold the reins.

It’s made me even more aware of how much I still live in my head. One of the most deeply life changing experiences I’ve ever been through was, amidst a very deep, dark, intense recovery process, learning mindfulness. Which was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Learning how to be present shifted everything for me and how I experience life.

But as my journey unfolds, and especially this past year, confronting on a much deeper level the traumas I’ve experienced, and the subsequent results of the traumas in my life, I realized that “living in my head” wasn’t just a general lack of awareness and presence, it was a trauma response. Having to be on guard at all times kept me in my mind, constantly scanning for danger, instead of just Being… in the moment. I disassociated from my body in a lot of ways.

But if I only had 6 months to live (or the way I’ve always pondered before is, when I pass on from this life and look back down to this earthly plane) what would I wish had experienced? How do I want to experience being human, in this body, in this life?

Yes, there are big things, like traveling more, and writing more. But this 6 months exercise has given me some new perspective of being in my body more. And how experiencing myself as being human is much more about the little things. Which really comes back around to being present (everything does).

So how do I want to experience being human, in this body, in this life? I want to feel the wind in my hair more. I want to dance more. I want to give and receive more physical affection. I want to listen to the birds sing and watch them congregate at my feeder. I want to pet all the dogs. I want to laugh as much as possible. I want to smell my favorite soap. I want to look at my favorite colors. I want to feel the aliveness in my body in ways I’ve never known before, and in ways I have known and loved.

I’ve always been pretty good at noticing the little things, but haven’t always had full awareness in my noticing. And right now, there’s a lot more awareness in me that makes the little moments so splendid.

What inspired me to write this was something that shook me awake in a beautiful way. This morning, when I woke up, I did my usual walk into my kitchen to make coffee. As I made my way to the kitchen, the sunlight came through the window and shone right onto a glass I’d left on the table. It pretty much stopped me in my tracks. Well, I kept walking at first and just thought, wow, that’s really pretty. Then I stopped, and reminded myself that when I’m done here in this body, I’ll wish I could enjoy the way the light hit the glass like that. The way it made every little bubble in it sparkle and glow. I took a couple steps back and just stood for a minute, taking in this human experience, feeling it fully, not letting it pass me by- or more honestly, not letting myself pass it by.

Before that, I wasn’t really happy about the mess I’d left on my table. Now I’m so grateful for it. It gave me that moment. And I truly believe the reason we’re here is to BE here, now.

I don’t want to miss out on this life and this human experience because I was thinking too much about everything (or, let’s be real- overthinking way too much). I absolutely believe in the cheesy cliche: we’re spiritual beings having a human experience.

I didn’t come here, to this life, to think about living. I came here to live. Thoughts can be great, but they’re really here to serve the purpose of translating our present moment feelings and experiences, and to help us carry out related tasks.

While living a life without regret might mean making different career choices, partner choices, living somewhere different, taking big leaps, it can also mean not missing out on the seemingly mundane moments that present themselves to us all day every day. The extraordinary beauty that is right in front of us, on the messy table, begging us to come back into this moment, in this body, in this life.

Let’s be here for it, shall we?

xx ~JRM


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