It is June, my favorite month of the year. Flowers are blooming, the weather is warm and my birthday is celebrated.
I will be fifty-nine this year, closing in on sixty. What an exciting time of life. I have lived a fully-packed fifty-eight years on this earth and know there is far more living to come. I feel wiser…filled with life experience. I understand the choices I have made throughout my life have shaped the way I live today.
Every day has it challenges. Having wisdom doesn’t block the bad times and heartbreak. There have been days when I looked to the Heavens and said to God – “You can take me now. I’m ready,” only to be sidelined with things that must get done and people I want to see. Thankfully, those times of not wanting to go on are fleeting moments, felt when I am particularly overwhelmed. But I now have hard-won wisdom at my fingertips, the wisdom that only comes with living life fully. Through experience, I know I can plow through it all, the good, the bad and the ugly.
I am keenly aware many people do not have the opportunity be fifty-nine or sixty. This world offers no promises on how long our life span will be. Some die in childhood, others in early adulthood. Some pass from illness, both genetic and acquired. Others leave this earth early because of an accident or “act of God.” And yet, still others make a choice to end their lives.
I could have been one of them. On the day I turned thirty, I had planned my own party – a party for two – me and a bottle of pills. But that was one festivity I am glad I didn’t attend.
In hindsight, I can see what lead me down that path. I felt overwhelmed with life, feeling powerless to change things and a deep sadness in my soul. I just didn’t want to go on. However, something simple and innocent changed the course of my life that day. Never underestimate the power of human contact and connection for it was a heart felt hug from one I hold dear which stopped me long enough to realize how much pain I would cause others if I went through with my plan. For years I had been thinking of suicide, never acting upon it and never sharing my feelings. But now, I was forced to ponder a new situation, a life of not checking out, of actively living. A new idea was presented with a fresh itinerary: I would create a road to happiness.
Having been a negative person all my life, overwhelmed with the world and in a constant state of anxiety, I realized I had grown up with people who lived a life of hopelessness. No wonder I could see no other way. Something inside of told me life didn’t have to be like that. Perhaps it could be different. I packed my emotional baggage up and set sail on a new course, a new highway, one I had never traveled – a journey to happiness.
The Dalai Lama speaks about how every human being seeks happiness and wishes not to suffer. And although at that point in my life I had not heard of The Dalai Lama, my journey to a new way of living started because I was tired of being sad and afraid and wished to be happy.
In turning fifty-nine, I can say this: I spent the first thirty years of my life in negativity and the last twenty-nine living positivity. Let me assure you, positivity is much more fun.
How did things change for me? I took responsibility for my life. In my negative existence, I blamed all the people who had, “done me wrong,” and focused on being a victim. In my new life, I had to let go of the blame and start to look at what I was doing and how I was reacting in different situations.
I found a good psychiatrist who would work along side with me as I plotted the course of my recovery. Each week I would come with questions about life that I didn’t understand. I had grown up in major dysfunction, and through the weekly conversations, he would help me dissect my life and show me how to see the world through a different, healthy perspective.
I began to question my spirituality. I had always believed in God, but I was literally a “God fearing Christian” with the emphasis on FEAR. I was so afraid of the God’s wrath, I never asked for help from Him. I knew I needed to be perfect, and since He knew I was far from perfection, I knew I was a big disappointment to HIM. How can you feel close to an entity that you know is saddened by your existence? See how dysfunction operates?
I had to change the way I related to this Spiritual Force. I had to learn to trust The Universe and came to realize the magnitude of the love and creativity that awaits me (and us all) if I would just, “let go and let God.” Perfection is not a requirement.
I read everything I could get my hands on, with subjects from personal growth to world religions.
A dear friend, knowing my quest for spiritual knowledge gave me a daily scripture verse/quote calendar with little snippets I could ponder every day.
C.S. Lewis wrote some of my favorite quotes: here is one that changed my life: “If you live for the next world, you get this one in the deal. But if you live only for this world, you lose them both.”
My interpretation: it sounded like the “greatest two for one” offer I had ever heard of! My inner bargain shopper jumped at the chance.
And so it began, living a life on Earth to make myself worthy to get pass through the Pearly Gates. How would I do this? The answer was clear…become as helpful to others as I could; be kind, smile, make people laugh, tell them how important they are to the world. In my negative life, I repelled people when I only spoke about my insecurities, my fears and myself. I mean, jeeze, no wonder I had no friends, who wants to hear that stuff?
As my new life began, I changed by simply asking people how they were and actually listening. I encouraged people to tell me about themselves, to share their hopes and dreams. It worked like magic. Being kind to others, and giving them a chance to share their thoughts, gave me my new life – friends and people who actually enjoyed being with me.
Then, I began to ponder if there was anything in my power to help them achieve those dreams. And guess what … there was. I could make connections for them, give them ideas to help them on their journey and cheer them on. Every time I helped someone, this new feeling came my way – yes, that ever eluding happiness had finally found me.
I live a life of service to others and, you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is no longer about taking actions “to get into Heaven,” it’s about living a heavenly life right here.
Who knows what the next world will be? I’ve got my ideas, but I no longer think of death or worry about age. I’m just too busy living life. I’ll be happy if I just have enough good karma to get a seat on the “shinny, clean bus,” to my next destination. Best of all, I now live in a world of beauty and possibilities. This world has not changed …I have. All those changes I made over the years have created my current life; something I could not see with negative eyes.
So, what about you? How are things going in your world? Lately, I’ve had conversations with people who are in quandaries, not knowing what their next step should be. Many are filled with fear of the future and are beginning to lose hope. What to do, oh what to do?
The key is to live life as if you wished to get into Heaven. Even an atheist can do this, as it does not mean you have to believe Heaven exists. Just imagine if it did exist, how would you have to behave in order to claim its riches. Kindness, helpfulness and love towards others are a great start.
I once heard a quote: “Remember, no one can go back and make a brand new start, but everyone can start from here and make a brand new end”.
Live a life of love and positivity – not only will all your birthdays be celebrated in your heart, you will have created a brand new ending as well.