April 5, 2017
As I head into retirement and write the final page of this chapter of my life, I’m filled with excitement and optimism.
I welcome the clean, smooth uncluttered pages of the next stage of my journey and look forward to colouring the pages with bright bold colours I’ve never seen before.
When I look back on the next fifty years I hope those clean, smooth pages have been well written, messed up and are full of side-notes, doodles, coffee rings and wine stains, photographs of interesting places and people, concert ticket stubs, old airline boarding passes and little hearts with my initials next to someone else’s, all representing a life well lived and a life well loved.
For most of us, I think the first half of our life is about learning. Learning how to survive, learning how to love, learning about loss, gratitude, pain, grief, acceptance, success, disappointment, tolerance, indifference, worthiness, kindness, compassion and spirituality. To learn these things, we have to fully experience them, we have to be both the cause and feel the affect. The second part of life, for me anyway, will be about living this learning.
As I reflect on the first half of my journey, more than anything I’ve learnt that people matter. Titles, positions, money, popularity, material possessions are not enduring, and while they provide experiences and temporary gratification, they are empty and can not, do not, love us back.
I’ve also learnt that:
– I am the only one responsible for my happiness and my joy. It does not matter how other people have treated me or what they’ve done to me, what matters is how I respond to both the good and the bad.
– I’ve learnt that being grateful for even the hardest lessons brings settlement. We can not let anger, regret, grief, fear, jealousy, obsession or hate be our compass. When we carry these negative emotions we carry them alone, and, they are heavy. Let all that negative energy go.
– I’ve learnt that there are five types of people, that share our journey. Those that come to teach us. Those that come to learn from us. Those that are members of our soul tribe – we help each other interpret lessons and share our journey. Those that are Karma returning- either theirs or ours. And, those that bring us unconditional love. So when people show up in my life I’m always curious and explore why they are here and embrace the gifts of the learning and the emotion they bring with them, even if those gifts are painful.
– I’ve learnt that we need to love ourselves before we can love anyone else. If we don’t, we will “settle” and accept less than we are worthy of receiving. We can not look to our life partners to make us feel whole and happy, that’s an impossible expectation to place on another human being.
– Our connection with the natural world matters. We need to fall in love with the planet. Spending time in nature is essential to our wellbeing as it allows us to reflect, to process our learning and renew. Going into nature allows us to “just be” . So go into the forest and breathe!
What I’m saying with all this rambling is; life “is” the journey, such a cliche I know, but true. How we learn, how we apply our lessons and how we love matters.
So, as I pack my lessons and head into part deux of this amazing mystery ride, I look forward to travelling and meeting interesting people and learning from them. I will be always curious when new people show up in my life, especially people that are different than me and, I will never stop learning. If you think you know it all, then you know nothing.
“Live your best life. Be curious, be grateful, be loving and kind towards ALL living things. That’s all we are really here to do.”
Toni O’Keeffe, The Whimsey Angel