Wow – there are only two more days left until 2014 is over. I don’t have any idea of what to do with that reality. I suppose the truth is, there is nothing that I can do with it. Every moment has its time, and then it passes by. The only moment we truly inhabit is the present moment and yet for most of us, myself included, it is the moment that we tend to focus on the least. It is not my intention, in this moment, to go all Zen on you and say that we need to live in the moment. In a way, each one of us is like a little time travel machine. We like to spend inordinate amounts of time reliving the past – playing that movie projector in our heads over and over again, wondering what we could have, or might have, done differently. And then we look in the other direction and try to work out the myriad of possibilities and probabilities as to how our future might, or might not, unfold. And yet the truth of it is that our lives really consist of an infinitesimal amount of dotted moments of present experiences. Almost like a pointillism painting.
This is not the beginning that I had imagined for this writing. I was writing to some colleagues last night and I ended my sharing with this thought –
I have a lot of writing to do (and some of the themes came out in today’s morning pages) about this whole past year and what that has been like. It has been a year of such turmoil, strength, beauty, courage, sadness, grief, love, support, adventure, healing, dying… So much life wrapped up into so tight a package of time. It may be that I spend the rest of my life just processing everything that I’ve been through in this one single year. And yet, I do already sense new doors opening, new adventures awaiting and who knows where that will lead me? One thing I am cognizant of – my life, as it is presently configured, is a blank journal waiting to be written. Right now, I think the only constraints I have are the ones I put on myself. And there is some trepidation in accepting and fully embracing this understanding. But there is also a widening realization and acceptance that it is my Truth. In that sense, and some time ago, I realized that there was an aspect (and many aspects) of my wife’s passing that in so doing, she was offering up great gifts to me. There were so many lessons learned in what we went through, but perhaps the greatest gifts of all are those that are still to come (and I know that they are coming).
I summed up last year, 2013, in this way – “This has been a really, really crappy year.”
I cannot say that I did not know what 2014 was going to bring. I can only say that I did not know the timing of it. My beautiful, beautiful wife, the absolute and total love of my life, passed away quietly on March 8, 2014 just before 8 AM. I was the only one here at the time. There was only ever her and I – it was all that either one of us ever needed so it was fitting, somehow, that it be only her and I here in the end.
As my sisters had done for Laureen and I five months earlier, almost to the day, when my mom passed away, I called them up and told them that Laureen had passed away and I asked them to come over. And they were so loving and comforting to me in my darkest days of despair and grief. In the end, as with my mom, we all stood in the driveway and watched the hearse pull out, taking Laureen out of our lives forever. Such a surreal moment, played out twice in the course of five months.
In all of this, there was one point of relief – and that is that Laureen was no longer suffering. She had won her hard-earned release from this life.
Writing about this right now brings back the moment so sharply. Tears of sadness and longing flow.
The rest of the year, in hindsight, is something of a blur now. In the ensuing numbness of my grief, I was able to do one thing which helped me to survive and that was to go into auto-pilot and allow my intuition to take charge of discerning the people and activities that would be healing to my heart and to my spirit. And two of the first things that came to me was to start meditating and to find a massage therapist. The meditation I understood – Laureen and I had talked about that quite often – how important and healing meditation is. I cannot really explain the massage thing, or at least, I would not have been able to at the time.
The truth is, of all the things that I have done, I think the massages have been perhaps the most healing of all. In that, I was very fortunate, and perhaps also guided. I found the most extraordinary of massage therapists. Kind, compassionate, a true healer. And I learned how important the simple act of touching is in the healing process. Touching bridges that sense of isolation that we all feel. Sadly, we live in a world, and in a culture, where touch really is not the norm. Touching is connection. Touching is caring and love. It is compassion in action. In that sense, you really have to be open to being touched and by that I mean you really have to relax and just be in the moment and experience the pure physicality and the energy interplay that goes along with it. In this, I found my meditation practice most beneficial because I could focus on my breathing and simply let go of all my emotional baggage, my anxieties, and all the other heavy stuff, and just experience the simple sensation of being touched, and of touching back in return.
I do believe that Laureen somehow guided me to this experience. We were always very tactile with each other and of all the things I miss with her, it is the act of touching that I perhaps miss most of all. I can remember on our long, exploratory drives to find new antique shops, the rides home at the end of a successful day when I would be driving and she would be gently massaging my fingers as we talked excitedly about treasures found. Or as we’d get ready to sleep and be lying next to each other, the simple act of holding hands as we fell asleep. I had a habit of touching the tip of her nose quite often, as if testing her reality because I could not believe, even after thirteen years, that I had been so lucky as to have her in my life.
I do not swim too deeply or too often in these past memories because for now they remain painful reminders of what I have lost. I am mindful that as I move into the new year of 2015 it will be important to focus on the present and to continue the process I have begun in the latter half of this year to move on in my life and to re-create my life. Ironic that I am currently engaged in a class – The Artist’s Way – that is about removing the creative blocks we have so that one might live a more creative life. Here I thought it was about discovering the artist within me, when in fact it is about acknowledging and accepting the need to Create my own life anew. The world I knew, the life I was living, the path I was on – it all came to a rather abrupt ending on March 8, 2014. I cannot say that I have not been in motion since that time, but I have also not fully embraced the notion that it is time for me to Create a new life for myself. And in this is the dawning of awareness that I have a rather clean slate with which to work with. I don’t think I quite realized or accepted this at first – but it is becoming clearer with time. I am free to Create whatever future it may be that I can imagine for myself. There are essentially no limits on this.
I do not know where this will take me. I am not even sure I want to know. I have an odd sort of relationship with structure in that sense. On the one hand, I believe that in the absence of some sense of structure, I flounder a bit. But I absolutely resist structure being thrust upon me. I do have a kind of sense of things. I suppose this may be where my Taoist beliefs come to play. Flow where the moment takes you. That does not mean I can’t apply a little intention to the flow, adjusting the course as needed. I saw something last night about de-cluttering your life and the underlying principle was to remove those things, whatever they may be, that do not bring you joy. Fill your life with… things, experiences, people… anything and anyone that brings joy into your life. That sounds like a pretty good way to be and in a way, it’s basically what I have been doing this year, in small ways.
So in 2015 it is my thought that I will expand the scope of this endeavor as I gently re-direct the flow of my life so as to bring a greater sense of joy, purpose and passion into my life.