I’ve a question for you.
This is significant because I think the way you answer this question could alter the balance of your life: When the time comes to leave this place, will you be able to look back on your past with fondness, gratitude, and satisfaction instead of regret and guilt? I ask you to take a deep breath and just sit with this question for a moment… marinade from the essence of its profound implications; let yourself truly feel the reality of your last day on the planet for there lies the very precious gift.
I know from experience as this is a practice I indulge from time to time. I remember over two decades ago losing my dad to complications resulting from type II diabetes. I recall the day of his burial and his coffin being lowered into the ground as though it had been only yesterday.
There was a final ending to his time here that not only touched my loved ones, but echoed throughout my life in the months and years ahead. It was though the universe grabbed me by the shoulders and said:”Wake up, son, your time is limited. Do not waste another moment because you also shall return to dust daily.”
Since that time, I made a vow to live , to be of service to others, to enrich my life and explore my potential in order to guide others to awaken theirs. The journey has been difficult, stressful and yet daring; I’ve discovered more about myself in the subsequent years than I did leading up to my dad’s passing. It was like I was jolted with a reminder that this beautiful journey known as life must inevitably end, sometimes when we least expect it.
Now, my next question for you: Can you associate?
There’s a beautiful parable told by the late Jesuit priest and psychotherapist Anthony de Mello that captures the significance of embracing life completely:
Before the visitor embarked upon discipleship, he wanted assurance from the Master:
“Can you teach me the goal of human life?”
“Or at least its significance?”
The disciples were dismayed that their Master was shown up in a bad light.
Said the Master soothingly:”Of what use is it to comprehend life’s character and life’s meaning when you have never tasted it? I had rather you ate your pudding than supposed on it.”
Anthony de Mello’s fable reminds usit is of little use to intellectualize life at the amount of your thoughts. The question is: “Are you eating your dessert”-are you partaking in the sweetness of your life?” Life is to be lived fully, which means that you’ll experience pain and suffering, however as the adage goes:”This too will pass.”
In such moments, the experience might be too much to bear. However, as the former English Prime Minister Winston Churchill once announced:”If you are going through hell, keep going.” He knew too well that if you are in the grips of despair, to retreat is to deny yourself the ability to conquer your pain and discomfort. Sorrow and misery are not the narrative of your own life story, but one chapter of it. There will be a number of chapters to come and you should not consider your struggles as permanent.
Whilst you may have regrets, remember they’re paragraphs included within the story still being written. What you’re experiencing isn’t the end of the world because there is a lot more to your life’s narrative to unfold in the years ahead.
What Is Your Soul’s Narrative?
The outcome of your choices are often right under your nose. Lots of people miss the signs because they are too busy moving from one thing to another to detect them. They are seldom present and engaged with the now to notice what’s occurring under the surface of their lives. This is because they are concerned how their lives seem to others, they don’t notice their interior life is slowly crumbling.
In many ways, they’ve forgotten the way to come home to themselves. There will come a point when people you love will stand at the edge of your interment, looking down upon you as you are lowered into the ground. They’ll contemplate the exact thoughts as I did that day at my father’s burial.
“Surely there’s more to life than that?”
For the most precious gift which you can give to yourself is to treat each day as though it were you last. Live fully and completely, knowing when the time comes, you will have been completely used up like a sponge wringed of water. May your life’s story be a compelling narrative lived truthfully.