I’m a teacher with a limited income. (How’s that for redundant?)
I contribute to my retirement funds, pay my bills, pay for my daughters’ violins, symphony fees and lessons. After that, I don’t have much left. And I don’t feel like I can treat myself to a manicure or purse. I just put the little morsels in savings, paycheck after paycheck.
But I’ve been finding myself feeling a bit empty. Do you know how Stephen Covey says you need to be mindful of emotional bank accounts in your relationships? I believe this pertains to the relationship you have with yourself, as well.
I decided to invest in myself and I have not felt this good in a very long time. I’m taking a class. It’s not cheap. But I believe it will help me achieve a lot more than if I didn’t take it. I feel empowered. Invigorated. Optimistic.
It might take just a small visit to a cupcake shop. It might mean you check yourself into a local hotel for a night or two to have peace and quiet to work on your screenplay. Or maybe it’s time for you to pursue that degree you’ve always dreamed of. Only you know for sure what will make a deposit into your own emotional bank account. But do it. Do what it takes. It will not only raise your spirits, but it’ll raise the spirits of those you love and who love you.
Two days ago, a car was t-boned right in front of me. My daughter was with me, sitting in the front passenger seat. The car flipped and landed upside down just 8 feet from my car. When it was in the air, I thought it might land on us. It didn’t. I realized at that moment – life is really short and unpredictable. When you’re on your deathbed, will you have regrets? That would be the saddest thing of all. It’s up to you. What are you waiting for?
You are not your body.
You are not your thoughts.
You are the presence of these things.
Go ahead with your ambition, but be easy with it. Be calm and unattached. If the world seems too noisy, too loud and obnoxious, then get quiet. Be still.
Allow fear to dissipate before you take action.
My students do a timed-writing exercise every day. Most of the time, the prompt is student generated. One of the prompts they came up with:
“If you had only 24 hours to live, what would you do?”
Every single student imagined a day full of fun; reckless abandonment of any homework, tests and responsibilities. I’m sure adults would come up with something similar. Each student had a different definition of fun: a day at the beach, a day at Grandpa’s, or even just staying at home with family and their pet.
Sometimes a sense of urgency brings things in focus. What would you do? Who would you spend it with? Are you taking anyone for granted? Is there something you’re yearning to do?
How can you bring some of that to your day/week/month?
Perhaps you go to bed each night, thoroughly satisfied with how you spent your day. That is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
What if real power is NOT money or jobs (such as the Presidency (sorry, Trump,)) but things that cannot be taken from you? Nothing is permanent.
Someday, we will all die.
Jobs come and go.
Our bodies will change, no matter what.
But…we can control some things permanently:
Perhaps these are the most important aspects of our lives and the ones we ought to be focused on.
For something that affects each of us without fail, the subject of death remains taboo in our culture. Why?
2016 was rife with “surprise” celebrity deaths: Rickman, Bowie, Prince, Fisher and so many more. It’s sad to lose people we admire and love.
Yet, death can be the best teacher. It reminds us that life is, in the end, pretty short. It can clarify values pretty quickly. Six and half years ago, I was told by my doctor that I had cancer. I was fortunate – it was early stage I breast cancer – and my prognosis was very good. But I was 41 and not expecting that diagnosis at all. My life got crystal clear: Family and friends were priority. I realized that my job – teaching – was something I truly valued and I was grateful for it.
As I walked out of the hospital to go home to recover from my radical mastectomy, the air was crisp, the sun shone brightly and I noticed practically every blade of grass of the hospital lawn. I felt so alive!
Realizing that we don’t have much time gives us urgency. Don’t waste a day complaining. Don’t be negative. Live in the light of positivity and gratitude. Work towards your dreams. You might not have much time.
I’ve walked this trail so many times,
in seasons of both joy and grief;
matters bloom which suspend belief,
now I’m mezzo from birth to death.
This term, I’ve come to realize,
the purpose of one’s life lodges
not in popular mirages,
but undulates upon each breath.