‘Your world is the people around you.’

This week I had the privilege of speaking to an older man who has lived much his long life. In conversation, he shared some of his experiences and some of his losses. As tears gently paid homage to his heart’s loves, this dear soul recounted the names and lives of those he has been with as they took their final breaths. At the side of his friends, parents, family members, child and wife, this man has sat, holding the hands of loved ones as they transitioned through death.

What do you say to someone whose heart is breaking as he realises in that moment he hasn’t got the strength to sit with another close friend who is dying; and that his own death is imminent?

Nothing.

I said nothing. Only held his hand for a moment, and listened.

And when his tears still fell but his words had ceased, we just hugged.

He thanked me for hearing him then, said that no one would. And I was pleased to have remained quietly present for him.

I think it was Tara Brach, the Buddhist psychologist, who spoke about authentic presence – being truly in the moment of relating.

We are conditioned to respond in ways often that negate our feelings and our true experience of situations. So too, we have habitual ways of being that can talk over people, say what we think they want to hear or simply reflect our own beliefs, fears, stances, minimising or vanishing the other’s voice, and heart.

Authentic presence mean pausing, feeling, listening to your inner response in the moment and moving from that place of genuine beingness rather than reactivity or habit.

It takes practice and cultivation. And getting to know yourself and how you react, respond and relate, as well as learning to feel and communicate from a place of open heartedness. 

The pause is often the hardest part to remember, but like any old habit, it can be learnt and part of our new way of being. Mindfulness practice is a fabulous beginning. 

At the end of our talk, blue eyes glistening and a gentle smile, this gentle man reflected…

‘Your world is the people around you.’

Having just returned from a celebration for the autumn equinox with companions on the magical path with me, his words resonate soundly.

The people in our life make it what it is. Let us gravitate towards those people who make our world rich and loving.

And let us love those people in turn with our rich, authentic presence.

What if this is all there is…

Recently, with my mum going into hospital, I’ve been called to consider our mortal life. When a loved one is ill or needs surgery or requires care, there is often a compelling to be closer, to say more, to reach for them. At least, that is how I’ve found it these last days, and in the past.

All this concern for my mum has led me to ponder my own existence…

What I came to realise is that I will die. And it is the same for all my family and loved ones, as it is the same for you and yours. It’s a funny ol’ thought.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? I can hear you say, ‘Ah, der, yes, Karolyne, of course you will – we all do’.

And true enough – at some point in my beautiful existence, there will no longer be a Karolyne except in the memory of those I’ve touched.

And yes, of course I knew this, but it was not really a tangible, feeling-state knowing – more a little way off, won’t happen for some time, it’s all fine, kind of awareness.

Even then, with my understanding of spirit and the indestructible nature of energy, I know that death is not a finality but merely a transitional state leading to another existence in the perpetuity of life. This gives me comfort and indeed, communication with loved ones already in spirit, is an on-going source of succour and learning.

Still, I began to think about my precious life…

I thought what if everything I believe in turns out to be wrong, and I am simply flesh and blood and my bones and flesh turn to dust upon death, and what I understand to be my consciousness is nothing but firing neurons, and they too will cease to exist upon my death – so that I no longer am in any capacity, individual, singular or even part of a greater whole of consciousness – what if death really is ‘it’…

Well, I thought… if that is so, then I want my life to stand for something. I want my life to help others to live a freer life. I want to help free people from their hurts. To help heal people of their wounds. To assist folk to find meaning in their life. And to use the Laws of the Universe to work for them, not against them.

Thinking of how proud I am of my mum. How she so courageously stood up when her community group lost it’s funding, and ran the singing class herself. How she rallied on the steps of parliament to raise awareness about the health benefits of singing. How she had radio interviews, spoke with politicians, wrote articles in the paper, and how she now runs one group and belongs to three others. Her singing, her passion, changes lives. And it has changed her life. 

The courage to be in life – no matter the circumstance of its beginning, its unfolding, the place and context you find yourself in now – the courage to live.

So in all this pondering, I realised that it doesn’t matter if I continue to exist after my death or not; it only matters that what I do with my life now has a positive, life-enhancing impact on the world. That I do not let the train pass me by.

It is my contribution that matters.

To this end, I cannot creep towards my death. I cannot settle for any circumstance that is less than exactly what I want. I cannot allow fear to hold me back, to intimidate me, to limit me in any way. I must grasp opportunity by the hands and dive in and thrive whenever the moment comes to me.

Whether I am here for a reason or not – I am deciding that my reason is to leave the world a better place; to assist and help as many people as possible to live a better life.

That is my mission.

And it is a mission I fully accept. No qualms.

It is my service, and my delight. It is my privilege.

And I wonder what is yours?

If this is your one life – if this is all there is – what will you do with it? What are you doing with it that will you be able to look back and smile contented…

Perhaps you are already living your chosen life. Perhaps you are already content. Perhaps you’ve never thought about it and aren’t really interested, and that’s fine too.

But then again, perhaps it is just now that you feel the rise within you, the fire of determination, the zest for something else…

Whether we live once or a thousand, thousand times, one thing is for sure… THIS life will not come again.

Why not live it fully? Live it true. Live every single moment in a way best aligned with your inner being…

And if not every moment, perhaps one conscious act whenever you are able… and one courageous act whenever you think you cannot.

For me, it’s starting the work on my publishing book proposal. Even though my ego-self denies my soul’s utter peace with the process I’m forging forward despite ego-fear bleats that I cannot…

What step might you take? What new thing to live your life more peacefully, positively, healthily, happily, fulfilled….

If this is all there is… which, I don’t for a minute believe… but, hypothetically… 

What single thing could you begin, change, do differently, embrace…