How then shall we live? Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Friday, 17 September 2021 07:35
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Still here! If you’re one of the last few truly independent community publications left standing, this is a more than marvelous thing to say on your 19th birthday. It means that, together with our community, we’re still weathering the numerous challenges we’ve been facing over the past year and a half.

We know that, like us, most people have had to dig deep in their reserves to keep finding new levels of hope, optimism, fortitude and courage. We salute you for that. We salute you for walking the razor’s edge of continual uncertainty.

“Having awakened in a powerful way to the reality of impermanence, what does that mean to how you think, how you act, how you work, how you play, who and how you love, what you hope for, where you put your faith, how you spend your precious time, what to hold close, what to let go, when to surrender, when to hold the line, and where to direct your attention,” Joan Borysenko asks.

Joan, a medical doctor, clinical psychologist and one of the leading experts on stress, spirituality, and the mind/body connection, says the main question is: “How then shall I live?” She says that this is not a compelling question in times of ease.

“It’s a question that catches fire when things fall apart – a question that becomes insistent when we’re visited by misfortune. Think illness, death of loved ones, pandemic uncertainty, political unrest, global suffering, climate change and so forth.”

Joan says that the hardest part of this question is enduring the uncertainty. Yet, the best part is that uncertainty blocks the ego’s drive for trying to tidy things up and recreate the life and beliefs that are so familiar.  

Maybe we’re suffering because we’re still somehow trying to get back to a familiar ‘normal’. Life coach Ali Brown asks: What if the answer to correcting your stall right now is not to do more, but to embrace radical ‘white space’.

She recommends stepping into this gap – away from your to-do’s, notifications, and even away from your own modus operandi, because when you break away from what’s expected and familiar, you make room for your ‘next best thing’ to reveal itself to you. (If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘nature abhors a vacuum’, this is exactly what Ali is talking about.)

“More often than not, the answers we seek, and results we desire, lie not in doing what we’ve always done . . . but in creating opportunity for new solutions to make themselves known,” Ali says.

Swiss-born psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, says that it’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.

Actually, I don’t see much of that around me nowadays. I see people sitting around at home in ‘day pajamas’ and not an awful lot of carpe diem on the go. Maybe it’s as playwright Anton Chekhov says: “Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.”

Many of us are there right now – worn out and wondering how to love life again. Poet Ellen Bass writes: “The Thing is / to love life, to love it even / when you have no stomach for it / and everything you’ve held dear /crumbles like burnt paper in your hands . . .”

“Then you hold life like a face / between your palms, a plain face, / no charming smile, no violet eyes, ‘/ and you say, yes, I will take you / I will love you, again.”

How can we help each other to do this? Mike Dooley says that when you understand “that what most people really, really want is simply to feel good about themselves, and when you realize that with just a few well-chosen words you can help virtually anyone on the planet instantly achieve this, you begin to realize just how simple life is, how powerful you are, and that love is the key”.

How then shall you live, girlfriend? How then shall you love? How then shall you celebrate a birthday?

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