♥ (To engage your senses and your heart even further, click play and listen while you read my post.) ♥
Dear Powerful You,
Us humans are an amazing possibility. Moment by moment, day by day, month by month (you get the picture), we each make choices, be they conscious or automatic, we choose over and over and over how to use our life energy.
We each have a choice about what and/or to whom we dedicate our presence. (By presence I also mean attention, focus … our being-ness.) We choose how we live our lives, what we contribute to our community, how we respond to people; known and unknown. We choose ideas and thoughts that become our beliefs, and our beliefs animate our bodies and fill our lives. No other person, no amount of money, nothing but YOU YOU YOU (that beautiful complete entity/soul/being/thingamajig that lives in your powerful body and uses that amazing heart to keep on keeping on) get to determine how you will use this precious life.
About 25 years ago I made what I thought was in informed choice to step away from my creative art-filled life, into a life with a lot of learning from yearning. I regret nothing and I take responsibility for the choices I made. The choices were mine. I allowed others’ opinions to shape and design my life. Through yearning, I lived and earned my life wisdom.
Eight years ago an illness consumed my body so completely, it disrupted the course of my life. My body captured my total attention. I lived with tremendous physical pain, perplexing a fleet of doctors. I became obsessed with naming what was wrong with me. I spent countless hours scouring the internet looking for answers, hours and hours reading peer-reviewed medical journals and books, trying to find a name–a reason– for my physical suffering. I believed that naming my illness would lead me to a cure. I chose time away from people I loved to search for answers and to fill my awareness with my quest … time I cannot get back. I lament this fact but I do not regret.
My physical suffering broke me into many pieces. I was unrecognizable to those who loved me, and even sadder, I became unrecognizable to myself. Everything I thought and believed about the world was tarnished. I was alive but somehow no longer living my life.
I died a little every day. I still do. (Think about it, we ALL do.) It’s sad but true. On the days when I allow myself to really feel others’ suffering, I die a little more than the day before.
About six years ago–at the height of my pain and suffering–something remarkable happened to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’ve come to see what happened to me as my awakening. (Eww, I don’t intend that to sound as ostentatious as it reads.) Before this moment I was carelessly spending my life away on the same thoughts/ideas I’d had the days before. I wasn’t thinking about contributing towards a better world, nor did I believe that what I did in my own life necessarily impacted the world. I was solely in my reptilian brain, focused on and fighting for my physical survival.
Scientists are unable to agree how many trillion cells comprise each human body but their estimates are impressive, ranging from 37.2 trillion to 70 trillion.
Given that almost factoid, I like to say that within each of us there are a GAZILLION cells existing to position our bodies where our intention moves us: A goal, a purpose, eating a USDA sustainably, humanely grown grass-fed beef cheeseburger. However many cells we have, we each have one will, one spirit, one inner voice to guide us to make choices that make us feel validated, loved, and alive.
Isn’t that what we all want, to feel love and experience life?
For about 2 years I felt like half of my cells were destroying the very idea of me. It was beyond miserable. That remarkable thing that happened? I was hurting in my body so much, something shifted. My OWN suffering paused for a brief moment and in that space I projected my attention outside my own body and considered the countless other people in the world who were simultaneously suffering with me in that very moment.
I recognized that so many more people in the world were suffering greater than I. People were suffering from pain they and did not have a nice warm, comfy bed to lay in. People were suffering and they didn’t have access to food and water. People were suffering, outside of me.
This moment and notion made me weep. Before I was crying for myself, but when I thought of the countless others around the world suffering worse than I, well, it was truly intolerable.
In that moment, I woke up, abruptly, and even though I felt some sort of entitlement or birthright to my own misery and suffering, I recognized that I had a choice about how I could spend my energy.
I came to realize that it didn’t really matter the name of my illness, but what mattered was where and how I spent my life, my energy–my chi– on a daily basis.
I decided to stop focusing on own suffering–to the best of my ability. I committed to put my two carpal-tunnel-ridden hands towards offsetting others’ suffering, somehow. I didn’t know HOW, but I was determined to use my energy and whatever amount of time I had to serve others and give of my abilities and talents to help reduce others’ pain.
I was no longer afraid to die. I had become fiercely afraid of not living the life I had. I decided to respond to the needs and vulnerabilities in my immediate community, using the gifts and talents doing activities I enjoy, with kindness in my center.
Today I continue to recognize I have a choice: I strive to choose kindness. There’s no right or wrong, but awareness of this choice is the gift.
You have a choice. What do you choose?
I’m grateful to you, dear reader, for spending a moment of your precious life reading about mine.
I’m also grateful for my suffering: Suffering led–and continues to lead–me out of myself and into a world of kindness, ultimately a life filled with more JOY.
(This post is humbly dedicated to the choices of Nelson Mandela.)
♡ ♥ becky ♡ ♥
P.S. Want to know why I chose this song? I played it at the very first Sacred Women’s Kindness Circle nearly 3 years ago. Ben Harper with Jack Johnson, With My Own Two Hands. So good I have to post it again.