“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin
We’ve all heard that phrase ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone’ and may have experienced for ourselves the churning sense of loss from either losing a job, or a break in a relationship, or the loss of an opportunity, or even the loss of a loved one. When we are faced with the risk of loosing something, or in deed when we do, the most profound opportunity to appreciate presents itself – and nothing could provide a greater opportunity to appreciate than the lose of someone very close.
In November 2011 my uncle passed away after a 10 year fight against cancer. I was extremely close to him and as you can imagine it was a challenging time for myself and my family. However, I can whole-hearted say with absolute conviction it was catalyst to the most powerful, most inspiring, most meaning moments and distinctions of my entire life.
The experience for me has been truly life-changing and has confirmed that we really only appreciate the miraculous gift we have called ‘life’ when we’ve come close to death. While death is often something we fear, if we can learn to appreciate it, we can learn to apreciate life resulting in a veracious appetite to live, to love and to serve. Below is an extract of something I wrote after my uncle’s death.
“If I had just one year left to live how would I treat this day?”
What a question to ponder upon! One of those questions which few of us rarely ask ourselves. After the recent death of my uncle, the fragile and illusive line between life and death has become far more apparent. Death is something we all fear, but my journey over the last few years has helped me to appreciate what death we actually fear most – death of the ego, death of the image we maintain of ourselves in a feeble attempt to scramble for a sense of power when we insanely feel so weak. How ironic is it that through doing so we blind ourselves from really experiencing our own power.
My uncle’s death has literally transformed my life. He has been a shining example from which we all have so much to learn. Battling cancer for 10 years, walking along the journey of knowing your death is immanent, of seeing people for which you know will be the last time – you know it will be the last time that you hug them, that you embrace them.
While I may have been is some more higher risk moments in climbing when a wrong decision or misplacement of my body could lead to death, facing death head-on is not something I have ever done. I can’t speak with absolute certainty but from the little I have felt and from the experiences of walking alongside my uncle does it certainly change some paradigms, your perspective on living. You focus on what is important, on what you appreciate, on what you chose to do, think and feel.
The ironic thing is that in facing death, it is enough of a shock to overcome what the ego perceives as death. It is enough indeed for the ego to die and revel something awe-inspiringly empowering – your real life.
I’ve experienced the most mind-blowing experiences of profound appreciation, of profound awareness. I have tasted freedom, freedom from the incarceration of my mind. The world is a very different place – we drop the judgements, we drop the resistance, we drop the pathetic comparisons with others and the illusory sense of power if we perceive ourselves as being better, or the insanely destructive state of low self-worth if we feel less-than, the thoughts that put others down, the mindless arguing to defend our position in order to not look like a fool, the grasping at things to feel better, to feel control. We try so hard to be seen as important and in doing so miss just how important we already are. We project forward hoping that some point in the future will save us while we fester in the mind-made pool of dis-ease and pain. We look to the past for significance of who we believe ourselves to be – defining ourselves by what we have done. What a gross misjudgement!!! Our sense of pleasure, of happiness only comes with perceiving that something or someone will free us. We live in a world of time, a world of time that imprisons us – we stress ourselves based upon the passage of time, and we falsely attach our happiness to a moment in time. Subtly and unconsciously knowing that this doesn’t work we immerse ourselves in numbing activities to avoid pain, we avoid pain because we fail to recognise our own strength to survive and thrive, we believe we are weak and that experiencing pain is the end of us. Yet we are so incredibly wrong! As we step away from pain, we walk away from our freedom. Pain indeed liberates us, allowing ourselves to feel allows us to come closer to living as an integrated, whole human being. An integrated human being has a power that by the masses is perceived as a unique trait of the Gods, as a trait of the super-human, as a trait of genius. This is the misguided presumption – we all have that power.
For to live a life of freedom is literally a living heaven on Earth. In our peak optimal state we literally glide through each day, we feel an absolute burning intensity of certainty, or purpose, of meaning. We feel a deep burning conviction, we feel powerful and unstoppable. We live with the knowing of the power we have to create because of the affluent connection we have with consciousness beyond name and form. We feel an exhilarating rush of inspiration, of abundant energy, of ideas, of creativity, opportunities, and interactions. We marvel feeling absolutely awe-struck yet welcomingly familiar at the stunning synchronicity, connection and attraction of the ‘coincidences’ we experience every day. We laugh with astounding, breath-taking amazement at the unfolding of situations, events and distinctions when we recognise the remarkable intelligence that coordinated it all beyond what we were initially aware of.
We live with a profoundly unshakeable sense of security and confidence and a wonderfully delicious sense of lightness, joy and playfulness. We live with an insatiable compulsion to give, serve, contribute and create. We see the beauty in the simplest things, we respond with love in the face of hate, with courage and humility in the face of adversity.
We are that lovingly conspiring, empowering, infinitely intelligent one energy field that resides in and connects everything, harmoniously orchestrating an infinitely complex dynamic matrix of events and interactions in a beautifully simple symphony to miraculously and powerfully create, inspire, enliven and enable – to manifest its ever increasingly highest possible expression.
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