Dear Fellow Travelers,
What do you see when you look at this picture?
I see life, life in all its stages and a delicate balance between sorrow and joy. I see the past, withered and gone, the present in full bloom and also the promise of future growth. To me, this is life – the reality of life. It is not the perfect fairytale picture we may have dreamed of as children nor is it the Greek tragedy we studied in school. It’s a constant flux of what we accept gladly into our lives along with those things we’d rather not receive. We must decide on a daily basis where our focus will be.
Of course, this plant has not always looked like this. When I brought it home from the nursery, it was full of luscious blooms and green leaves. There were no withered, dry, dead parts. But this plant had a shock. While I was away from home for some days the weather was hot and dry and it went without the water it needed. Now it’s in the recovery stage. I know how it feels. I had a shock around the same time due to the death of my brother. In my mourning of what was and my struggle to accept what is, it’s not easy to reach for what can be. My life is currently one of getting used to a new “normal”, one I never wanted to imagine even though I knew the day would come, sooner or later.
As I think of my brother’s life and the gift he has been to me, what has been foremost in my mind is the way he chose to live the past 15 years. He had something of a transformation in his 50’s when his health forced him into early retirement. He had been a widower for a few years already at that time and many men would have given in to despair becoming couch potatoes until it was their time to move on. Instead, he used his creativity and intelligence to craft something that reached beyond mere existence into a lifestyle that not only gave him pleasure, but supported others in their creative efforts and desires. Whenever he felt low, he would look for a project that could add value to someone else’s life as well as his own. I believe it was this that kept him with us many years more than anticipated, given his health issues. Creating a business around the credo: “In the highest good of all.” his wire wrap jewelry brought joy to hundreds. His symbol was the hummingbird as it represents a reminder to seek the good in life and beauty in each day. Not realizing it before, I can see now that my brother was giving me a model to follow after his transition.
My brother was my first friend and for the past 15 years, my best friend. At this point it’s difficult, at times, to imagine ever being truly happy again, but I know it will come. Sadness sometimes feels like a mantle I will carry from this point forward, but it lightens as the weeks go by. What makes life powerful is our understanding of how we fit into the cycle and part of that cycle is death.
The questions is: “How do we face loss?” whether that is through the passing of a loved one, end of a relationship or demise of a dream? I remember feeling sadness at the end of a school year when I was a young child thinking that the next year my teacher might not be as kind or kids in my class might not like me. What if I had to sit somewhere that felt weird? Mixed with the uneasiness of leaving behind something that had become comfortable, there was also a bit of nervous anticipation for the unknown possibilities of the next year. This is the balance I desire in life. To be able to move forward understanding that even though something I’ve come to value, maybe even loved, has ended, there is still possibility ahead. That doesn’t mean there is no sadness at the end of a phase or relationship. We need to give ourselves permission to grieve, but we must also allow ourselves the freedom to move forward. It’s what I’m doing now.
A friend recently shared something with me that came from her mindfulness teacher:
Sadness is real, but suffering is something optional that we create
by wanting things to be different from how they are.
There are things, such as the death of a loved one, over which we have no power. We have to choose what our reaction will be. Will we accept it and move forward to the future or become stuck in the past?It’s our choice.
If you find yourself today feeling like parts of you are dying off, follow the example of my bougainvillea. Bloom in the ways you can even while you do what’s necessary to recover full strength. Life & death exist side by side in Nature as well as in our human experience. We can choose to see the beauty and new growth among what's spent. As always, if you feel you’d like some help with your journey, it would be my honor to assist you.
Blessings & Light,
Dedicated to my brother.
Lee Alan Finney, Cognitha