AND We Only Need to Wake Up

August 21st, 2016

I have long been fascinated by how we respond to loss. Why is it that a loss, whether a relationship, job, health, home, or life is what it takes to wake us up? Why don’t we choose to see the beauty in life while it is right in front of us? Why are we so unwilling to choose living from pure gratitude for what is working in our lives and recognizing the joy that that focus brings every day?

My Mom’s cousin passed away last week. She was a kind woman with an infectious laugh and welcoming way. She was also in her nineties and had lived with Alzheimer’s disease in later life. Her daughter-caregiver always acknowledged that her Mom continued to smile, laugh, and find the good in every day. While the disease may have robbed her of memories, she proved that the essential gift of who she was remained intact, upbeat, smiling, grateful.

If we were to forget all we learned about what life should be, and if we were to reject media and other sources of instruction about what is important, and if we were to ask ourselves, when we feel most alive, I suspect we might learn to connect with the reality of who we are at our core. We might re-member the forces of our hearts and minds in our lives and re-prioritize their roles. We might remember to give the heart and its dreams more power and the mind and its critical leanings the role of finding the ways to live into those dreams and see the beauty in what surrounds us.

What could happen if we didn’t wait for loss to celebrate the gifts of the people around us? I have never heard a eulogy that named all the things the deceased could have been doing to make his or her life better. What would happen if we lived our lives seeing the best in the people while they and we are alive? What could happen if we spent more time reminding the people in our lives and ourselves what it is we most appreciate, instead of how we expect them to be?

If loss reminds us to wake up and realize what we have and had, how much more gentle and welcoming might our world be, if we consciously choose to appreciate what we have while we still have it? As the old saying goes, wake up and smell the roses. They are there and already beautiful. Will we choose to see, appreciate, and celebrate the beauty before they are gone? Our choice.

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