Before you take another step…Wake Up!
Caution: This journey to full consciousness is not to be taken lightly. Awakening brings acute awareness, accountability and a profound understanding of choice. No longer will you readily assume the role of victim when confronted with obstacles, disruption and hardship. Nor will you will routinely subjugate your joy and passion to the interests of others. You will instead own and be responsible for the moments of your life, all of them. Clarity lifts the gauze that both protects and restricts what you see and feel.
Okay, so here’s the deal: you’re going to die. We all are. Sorry, if that comes as a shock; and more sorry if you know this but prefer to consider it at a later time. That notion. — that we can deny, ignore or defer the reality of death — is dangerous, futile, wasted opportunity and the height of hubris.
Here’s the really sad part. Many people, when they are healthy and vibrant and not in the throes of disease or giving care to a loved one, accept the concept of death — a finite existence — only as an intellectual construct. Yes, sure, someday; someday, sure, but not now. Someday.
Here’s a fact: Most us will not die in our sleep after a wonderful fun-filled day of __________ (fill in the blank). For most of us there will be a period of illness before we die and, if you are fortunate enough to grow old, there will be the accompanying infirmities that come with time. To quote the Bard:
“…The sixth age shifts into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side; his youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide for his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion; sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
— Jaques (Act II, Scene VII, lines 139-166)
So much for being delicate. Oh, and to be more intrusive, as these blog entries continue, it is my goal to shake you out of your slumber so that you can be fully awake before you die. Yes, that’s right, most of us are sleepwalking down overcrowded sidewalks in that overcrowded Village of Someday.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can focus on the real issue, morbidity. Or, perhaps a better way of looking at it, the dash (-) that separates the date of your birth from the date of your death. The date of your birth is fixed and beyond your control. You are here, so open your eyes to all of it; the good, the bad and the truly ugly. The other date, your death, is inevitable and is simply a matter for the stonemason. That leaves the dash.
Hey Dorothy! It’s not OVER the rainbow…it IS the rainbow…
The Science of Life and the Art of Living
Because we are human we do not always do what our mothers taught us to do. We make mistakes. We slip. Sometimes we feel guilty, sad and remorseful. This is followed by a strong commitment to change; to get back on the right path, to do all those things that mom, our first-grade teacher, Captain Kangaroo, Bert & Ernie, Mr. Rogers and Oprah told us to do. Unfortunately — just like when on a bike path — once we slip off we tend to make deeper and deeper grooves in the soft grass and mud. If we stay too long the grooves just get deeper until we find ourselves in someone else’s tracks; someone who slipped off the path long before we came along. Without fast action, we quickly adapt to this new trail. It seems so much easier to just continue along in the mud. The problem is that we know we are in the mud and that we would be much safer if we could break through the rut and get back on the stable road. However, when we try to leave the sloppy and increasingly dangerous trail we are intimidated by the bumps as we smack up against the groove’s edge. So, we settle back into the rut (we’ll try again, later). We lack the courage, strength or will to risk the initial jar so we stay where we are. Such is life both on and off a bike path. The difference between life and a bike path is that, on the life path, there are plenty of people willing and anxious to tell you what’s good for you — what you need to do to live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life — to get back on the right path. Parents, teachers, priests, rabbis, monks, brahmas, mullahs, your Aunt Betty, Dr. Phil and the next-door-neighbor stand ready to offer (push) advice your way. Mostly, this advice is well intentioned, but it is often general in scope with little or no personal relevance.
Any newsstand magazine, professional website or internet blog can give you a broad wellness formula made up of good sense tips (mom told you all of this a long time ago) like eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, stay away from tobacco, drink alcohol moderately or not at all, exercise regularly, spend time with family and friends, read a good book, see your doctor and dentist annually, wear your seat belt, believe in a higher power and stay away from a steady diet of cable news.
The science of life is general and objective. Foregoing bad genes and catastrophic events, evidence shows that a life accented by a healthy blend of proper nutrition, physical activity, rest & recovery, intellectual stimulation, emotional support, spiritual engagement and social interaction tends to be long and relatively free from illness and infirmity. Science can show you how to construct a strong skeleton but YOU have to lay down the muscle and tease out the connective tissue that makes your unique system work, for you.
So, what do YOU want?
There are countless “How To…” books outlining the objective science of life complete with full-color templates. But, only YOU can explore, discover, design and nurture the unique, subjective, deeply personal, art of living your life.
The question is: What do YOU want? Where do YOU want to go? What predictably triggers and sustains those moments when you feel truly happy and satisfied with the life you’re living? Is it yoga or deep breathing exercises? How about “The Secret,” The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, or “The Four Noble Truths?” Is it truly better in the Bahamas … and does it simply take a trip to Jamaica to feel all right?
Perhaps, for you, well-being — life satisfaction — improves when you read a good book, spend time with your kids, go the movies, buy gifts for your grandchildren, drink a cold beer on a hot summer day, watch television or work till dawn on a project that comes to life and tickles you each time you give it your undivided attention? For me, every few years, it’s a quiet far-far-away mountaintop, exhausted, sleeping alone in a tent surrounded by strangers who quickly become forever-memory friends. For my wife it was once the thrill of climbing out of a perfectly good airplane, hanging from the wing strut, letting go, and floating through the sky (YIKES!).
How about you? Of course you want to increase and sustain your life satisfaction but first you must WAKE UP! You must become AWARE and take inventory of what brings meaning to your life, today. You must open all senses and pay attention.