Excerpt from Exhilarated Life: Discovering Inner Happiness
The Wrong End of the Telescope
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Can a simple reversal of perspective give you the life you desire?
Perhaps, but first I have to share a word with you that is so significant to our
health and happiness, that it is the only key to our personal joy and to
the flourishing of the earth and the universe she rests in. So mystical
is this word that it frightens us and wakes us in the night, and causes
war among brothers. So magical is this word that when we say it with
understanding, we are liberated from all fears—forever. This word
represents a gift of creation so powerful that it rivals the miracle of our
And that word is Death.
Birth and death are the parenthesis of our life on earth. And what
transpires within those brackets (into the world and out) is our Life.
Life can be short and meaningful as a Japanese Haiku or fraught with
the drama of a Greek Tragedy in multiple acts. Because we fear death
more than revere it, we live our lives as if we might somehow avoid it
altogether. Illness, accident or old age—the vehicles of death always
seem to take us by surprise—as some sort of mistake in judgment or
wrong turn. If only she hadn’t smoked, if only he had made a full stop,
if only she had taken her vitamins. Death is, at once, the ultimate
certainty and the ultimate mystery.
The fact is that as surely as you are reading this you were born and as
surely as you were born you will die—sooner or later. The journey to
that final door marked Death is your true Life purpose. Forget worrying
about what your Life purpose might be—you are living it even as you
search. Forget, “When I have my own apartment, car, million, private
plane, I’ll be okay.” Forget, “When my children are grown, when I have
enough money, when I retire, I will paint, write, garden.” Replace the
word “then” with the word “now.” Take a deep breath. Exhale out loud
and listen to that exhalation. That is you breathing. That is you alive.
When the stork dropped you, he dropped you with a sack of goodies.
Rudimentary supplies to get you started. Girl, boy, black, white, yellow.
The soul of a poet; the mind of a mathematician. It is an intriguing mix
of potentialities. Your mother’s eyes, your father’s walk—immediate
stuff. But you also have a blend of their blend. Going back just two
hundred years or ten generations to 1811, 1,024 people had to have
intimate encounters for you to be here now. If you multiply 1,024 by
the number of genes—both latent and dominant—then you have a
staggering complexity of possibilities in your makeup. To follow your
line back to the beginning of time, well, you have to think in terms of
stars and galaxies to grasp the limitless possibilities.
But that’s not all! Your baby sack got dropped into a garden, concrete
jungle or war zone. And your family either thought it was a good thing
or not a good thing that you were born, and they cried, smiled or
cussed. Now imagine rising up at lightening speed above your crib
until you are amongst the stars looking down and seeing all the living
beings on the planet—nearly seven billion—and how their thoughts
and actions tilt the world mood and outcome like a teeter totter
between Nirvana and Armageddon. Now you have a minute sense of
the potential influence of heredity and environment.
But heredity and environment are only what is in your bag. It is not YOU.
Your body is the physical draping around the spark of Life that is your
pure potential. The oak within the acorn. Your brain is the recorder and
processor of information, and your conscious mind—awareness—is your
connection with all of Life. Consciousness is not a connection in the sense
of a thread or umbilical attachment, but rather like cupping your hands
under the water of the ocean. Your body is the physical envelope if you
will, but the whole of the creative Life force fills you and surrounds you
and ebbs and flows. It is in you and all around you at the same time. It is
in you and every other person, mineral, plant or planet.
Your life began with a choice and is continually micro-directed by every
subsequent choice. The first choice was not the obvious one of “him”
and “her;” otherwise all siblings would be identical. The first choice
that defined you was this sperm and that egg. Now depending on how
quickly you individuated and made your own conscious choices, the
sooner you took charge and shaped life according to your deepest
desires. You might have been allowed to pair orange and purple as
matched socks when you were little or your mother still picked out
your shirt and tie for your first job interview. Whichever the case, your
heart’s desires were either expressed or repressed.
If you have had a difficult life or are enduring a patch you don’t like,
you might complain that you didn’t choose to be born. No one in his
or her “right mind” would choose to be born to an abusive parent or
some other unfortunate circumstance, but your mind didn’t do the
choosing. In its desire for evolution and creation, Life chose to be born
through you. The difference between an animal or rock and a human
being is that the creative Life force called Nature continues to make the
choices. You, the human being, on the other hand, are aware that you
are conscious and so have the will to move with and express Nature
through your choices and actions, or override and repress Nature.
So what does that have to do with your mixed bag of heredity and
environment, and your eventual death? And what does this all have to
do with health and happiness? Well, only this: Everything. It really may
seem with all the infinite possibilities in your makeup, that finding
a thread and being solely responsible for creating your life tapestry
might seem too complex. There are just too many outside influences
and responsibilities, and on top of all that the world is in chaos.
What can you really do? You can’t change the world chaos any more
than you can hold back the tides or stop the earth in its orbit. And
if you believed you could—how would you manage those choices?
It is actually sublimely simple: What do you desire? The energy of Life
starts within and works outward. The oak is already in the acorn. When
the acorn falls on the forest floor and takes root, all its energetic focus is
on being what it is. An oak. It reaches into the soil for nourishment and
water. It reaches skyward toward the life giving light of the sun. It takes
up its space in the earth, in the forest, in the air necessary to fulfill its
wholeness. Lichen on the rock beside it, or a tiny plant of wintergreen
sprouting waxy leaves and red berries fulfill the “self” same mandate of
all that it can be. There is no competition or desire to be other than it is.
Each has its own space and influence on the whole of its environment.
As human beings, our “oak” of Self—actualized—is within us and
requires our conscious participation; our free will. We choose how we
root into the soil of our physical environment. How we create and share
in the abundance that surrounds us in our community, and ultimately
how we influence the world in which we live. As humans we are born with
basic propensities within an environmental context. Infinite possibilities.
How we play it out is entirely up to us. Pleasure or pain; joy or sorrow.
Only in following the inner wisdom of our heart’s true desires will we
know how to ride either/or on the buoyancy of a good life well lived!
When we lay our head down on the pillow for the last time, not even then
knowing exactly when we will exhale for the last time, what will be running
through our mind as important? The thing is: As we look at the infinite
odds that conspired in our unique blend of genes to become us—the
microcosm—and then look up to the night sky and imagine those trillions
of stars and galaxies—the macrocosm—we glimpse the actual significance of
our personal life role in the scheme of the whole of the universe for all time.
The only thing that matters is what our life meant to us.
Do you love? Are you loved? Are you fulfilled? If your name is called
tomorrow, are you ready to let go? Up until that last breath will you
have been all that you might be—and know the blessing that you are?
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