Imagine life from your deathbed, and other strategies for living more fully
When life is coming at me from all sides, and the situation I've created is becoming more and more 'impossible,' I breathe and look for ways to get a different perspective. I remember reading Thoreau, when he was wondering how anyone could ever be lonely when surrounded by the blades of grass. Crazy, I thought, as a teenager. Much later, I realized what he was saying.
There was this moment when I was really suffering years ago, because my mate at the time was texting another love interest. I saw those fingers moving across those keys, even on a day we'd set out to be together, and each finger just raked across me like hot coals. And then I lied down and looked up at the tree (surrendered), and saw the blades of grass moving with the wind. I felt them against my neck and fingers. 'It just happened' she said, as she continued clacking away. The movement of the grass, it was just happening. And the movement in her fingers, another happening. The difference is, I was laying a lot of meaning over those fingers.
Suddenly, I was free.
What if it is all just happening?
Gurdjieff wrote that we don't really do anything. We are instruments through which life is done. We are predictable machines, really. It's a difficult concept, and throws one into a philosophical tailspin. But ultimately its liberating. Life's energies are being balanced out through us. (I think the mistaken notion that we are machines that malfunction creates a lot of disease). Even the misunderstanding about the anatomy and function of the heart contributes to this. I go into this a little in my new book.
There is a way to become a conscious entity, that acts according to their own will, and that is what the work is about. That requires breaking addictions, severing unconscious triggers, and becoming more and more conscious. It is a process. But for the most part, we live in REACTION rather than CREATION.
The other day, I was having a difficult time because two conflicting influences were entering my life at the same time. I'm certain that this was showing up in my horoscope in some way, though I don't always have time to assess those influences. A family member was falling ill on one side of the country, and just as I'd committed to launching a business on the other. I was balancing this with family life and a two year old.
So I walked out and looked up and see the stars. I imagined where I came from... what I was sent here to do. The stress in the moment dissolved as the stars came back into focus. How long since I'd really seen them? Living in the suburb I lived in now. This is what myths are able to do for us; allow us to transcend our lives, enter other realms, and come back wiser. The myths are built around the stars, or vice versa.
I don't advocate this as any kind of escapist strategy. Simply a temporary direction for extremely stressful situations. Find the way to get out of the equation and view it from 'above' or from the side. Sometimes I have clients thing from the perspective of a write when they're going through difficult scenes; write the scene (this is why writing is healing, I think). And while sitting in the courtroom, or in the hospital, they begin to look at details they never noticed before, and find the humor in the whole thing, or the irony, or the karma. And life unfolds.
I used to run long distances, and when I did, I'd sometimes imagine myself running next to me, and I'd put any pains into that body. The key is to always summon that body back, for completion and processing.
I often think of what I'll think on my death bed. When I'm pondering something that seems so weighted, so dire, I wonder if I'll even remember it. I wonder if it will even matter then. What will I have regretted not doing, and what will I enjoy reminiscing about?
On that note, I decided to go see the family member, and then go work on the business venture, breaking in between to see my own family. No one ever really thought, on their death bed, I wish I would have worked more.
To paraphrase an Einstein quote: 'Life is like a bicycle. You need to keep moving to stay balanced.' (Exact quote: “It is the same with people as it is with riding a bike. Only when moving can one comfortably maintain one’s balance.”)
Entering the body, somatic descent, is another way to find peace from within the eye of the storm. Feel the body sensations. The throb of life. The sensations we're labeling. If we're suffering; simmering in a cauldron of despair, it usually means there are too many thoughts racing, fueling the fire. We're creating labels before we ever even experience the embodied life cues.
The mind is powerful. We only use a fraction of it. Even if we double or triple the data we focus on, it is still bursting with potential. So give it more to do and focus on, or it will create and maintain fictions.
Life is not what happens to us. Life is the story we tell ourselves about what happens; the story we're living into. Retell your yesterday to reimagine your tomorrow.
And in the meantime, feel every inch of the flow. Decline numbing influences. Let the heart break open.
Love and flow,