Sometimes when I am writing here I am aware that that I sound like I am ranting and raving, looking under every rock for a peek at God, and in many ways, I suppose I am. I know that I am searching for answers and meaning to life. It is natural when a person is no longer young and the fact of aging begins to make itself known and the possibility of lying to yourself becomes harder and harder; your mortality makes itself known. You are going to die. I am going to die.
Working with hospice has really helped me recognize my own mortality- I am going to die. So, what does that mean? What does life mean? Is there a purpose to it all? Well, I'm sure there is a purpose to it. I just haven't figured it all out and I doubt that I will.
But, this much I know is true, life is meant to be lived. Many people die without every living. Many people are so afraid, afraid of rejection, afraid of pain, afraid of looking like a fool, afraid of failure, afraid of ridicule, afraid of dying, so afraid of life that they don't every live. They exist and never know that there is anything more. I don't mean that you have to climb Mount Everest or make a solo flight over the Atlantic, although those things are exhilarating for sure. We just need to experience life... now.
In the opera Tosca, the hero Mario Cavaradossi, is condemned to die. He is in prison looking through the window at the night sky; he sings of the beauty of the stars and the earth and he says, "And desperately I die. And never before have I loved so much." Many of us wait until we hear a terrible diagnosis and prognosis before we begin to fully appreciate life and those we love. We are so tangled in our fears that we never see the truth of what is right in front of us the whole time: Life is meant to be experienced. And the only way to do that is to be here now. Not caught up in thought worrying about things that haven't happened yet or what might have been, but living life now, as it is. As it is with all of the messiness and meanness and pain. When we can feel our pain, experience our hurts we also clear the way for feeling our joys, our triumphs and our love.
Many years ago, I was really lost, at least I thought I was. I was disappointed that I didn't have a big career, I was upset that I didn't live up to what I thought I should have. You realize that all of these thoughts of failure were all my own thoughts. No one was judging me but me. Anyway, I was sitting outside of my parents place in Florida, looking at the seagulls and pelicans, enjoying the late afternoon breeze. In that moment, I felt great peace and joy. It was perfect. I said to my father, "What is so wrong with just sitting here and watching life go by?" Of course, I got the answer that we are meant to accomplish something with our lives, we need to make something of ourselves, etc. Well, that question has stayed with me all these years and I have come to the conclusion that I knew the answer all along. We are meant to experience life right now and that means being. Being just as you are, seeing life just as it is and accepting everything for the perfection that it is; even the ugly and painful parts. Then we experience life, we live our lives to the fullest.
Of course, you can climb Mt Everest or fly across the Atlantic in a Piper Cub. I want to see the Himalayas, I want to travel the Inland Waterways, I want live in a silent retreat for a year and work for children in Africa. I dream of doing these things. But even if I never get to do these things, it doesn't change the fact that I have lived my life. Because all those years ago when I asked my father my question and he gave me that answer, I knew deep within me that watching life go by, experiencing it and being a participant as well as the observer was the true meaning for me. I know that I don't have to wait until I am condemned to die like Mario Cavaradossi to look out of my prison window and say, "Never have I loved so much."