April 21


Today's quotation:

We are
all so bent and determined to get what we want, we miss the lessons that could be learned from life's experiences.  Many of my AIDS patients discovered that the last year of their lives was by far their best.  Many have said they wouldn't have traded the rich quality of that last year of life for a healthier body.  Sadly, it is only when tragedy strikes that most of us begin attending to the deeper aspects of life.  It is only then that we attempt to go beyond surface concerns--what we look like, how much money we make, and so forth--to discover what's really important.

Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross

Today's Meditation:

I'm going to die one day.  I repeat this to myself fairly often, usually when I'm tempted not to do something that could be very important or that could help me to learn something new through a unique experience.  The "deeper aspects of life" are the most important ones we have, yet they are the ones that we avoid in favor of maintaining our illusions of security and consistency.  Neither true security nor consistency are possible in this great world of ours, yet we value both of them to an extreme degree it seems, and we pay for our attempts to maintain them with our neglect of the deeper, more important things.

What would you do tomorrow if you knew that you were going to die next week?

So what are you waiting for?

We would make that time valuable by telling those we love just what they mean to us.  We would look deep into ourselves to find out what we truly believe about life and love and peace and happiness.  We would find joy in the simple things that life has given us, and we would shine with that joy so that others would see us and wonder what it was that could make us so happy.  We would realize that the surface means very very little when all is said and done, and that the work that we've done to reach the depths of who we are is what has brought us to a fuller understanding of life.

But we avoid that work.  It requires solitude.  It requires us to look straight at parts of ourselves about which we may not be so proud or happy.  It forces us to make decisions and to stick by them, especially ethical and moral decisions.  It requires us to reject much of what we've been taught all our lives, and to see those teachings for exactly what they are--coping techniques that help us to ignore the deeper aspects of ourselves and our lives.

It can feel like standing at the edge of a dark, mysterious, seemingly dangerous forest, but once we take the plunge and get in there we find that the forest isn't filled with dangers that will kill us, but with obstacles that will help us grow and vast treasures that never would have been discovered if we weren't willing to go beyond the surface and give ourselves to the deeper side of life.

Questions to consider:

What's really important to you?  Does your life reflect that feeling of importance?

When was the last time that you saw something superficial as extremely important?  Was it really that important?  What made it seem so?

How much of what we do is done because of what we think others will think of us?  On the day you die, do you want to say you've lived to gain the goodwill of others?

For further thought:

We must work on our souls, enlarging and expanding them.  We do so by experiencing all of life--the beauty and the joy as well as the grief and pain.  Soul work requires paying attention to life, to the laughter and the sorrow, the enlightening and the frightening, the inspiring and the silly.

Matthew Fox

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