The List of Things We’ve Done

I went to a memorial yesterday. When you step into a church that was built in the 1960’s, the first thing that hits you is the smell. A dusty paper smell that invades your nostrils and manifests silence as you make your way into a solitary pew in the third row. People are crying, sharing stories and then there is the list. 

Mrs. Jane So and So was born on So and So a date and went to Junior United School. She enjoyed horseback riding, and driving her car way too fast down the road. She had a puppy named mittens and every summer would go fishing at Wintercrest Lake. She worked at such and such a place so she could provide for her two lovely children. 

It’s a list of the things we’ve done. We all will have them at the end of this ride. And that scares me. The places I’ve worked are many. The people I’ve known are many. But what I have to give and what I have to share? How often does that list feel like I’ve come up short? 

Everything that I have done is nothing compared to how I want to help, and there I feel that I’m short on what really matters. Every creative thought of a project I have started or not finished, every community opportunity I haven’t taken, every dinner I haven’t shared with someone I love.

They then opened up the conversation to the crowd. Anyone welcome to share a memory, a story, a happy thought. This is where things grew more dimensions. There was talk of a whole person with dimensions – someone who was always there for her neighbors, someone who loved her family very much, and someone who gave all she was to make sure that the kids in her neighborhood had fun and felt safe. 

People forget the list of things you’ve done. They never forget the way you made them feel. All the days of my life I hope to make everyone around me feel loved, respected and cherished. I hope to skip the list and go straight to the generosities, the details, the times when it came down to how unity mattered over difference of opinion. I hope that we have the chance to make the things we’ve done matter less than the people we’ve healed. I hope that everyone has the chance to let go of what they were expected to do before life got in the way, and reconnect with those who matter most and those who need most urgently. 

Sat Nam

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Conscious Communication : The Importance of the Kind Vibe

How many of us wish we could edit parts of our lives, publish the good and get support for the bad? There’s Facebook, which can always make you seem like you are having more fun than you actually are and engaging with more people than you could ever authentically do in one lifetime. I watched this video last week, and after deliberation on this form of media? What we are really craving is conscious communication with the self and the soul of others. What we are getting is the bare bones minimum of that experience, and for that we feel alone.

Yogi Bhajan talks about conscious communication in many of his lectures on purpose and projection. What truly is striking is the fact that communication starts with the soul and projection of a person, something that Facebook will never be able to communicate. I liken this feeling to when the Dalai Lama or Beyonce enter a room. The entire room goes silent or rapt with applause. They are communicating their true presence and for that, they command your attention. We may be able to fake a good time had by all last Friday night on social media, but we can’t fake our authentic self.

There have been a lot of posts related to grief lately. They make me want to reach out and hug the person inside who is either going through cancer, dying or seeing a loved one do the same. I recognize that sending out the information is important, and calling to the attention of one’s community via social media would bring a comfort in this time.

But what are the options? Someone posts “My mother is dying of cancer” and you just press…Like?

I wish there was a button for kind vibes. When you focus your attention on the person who is suffering and send out good loving thoughts their way. When you and your spiritual community gather and in their own way create a healing vibration. When the atheists don’t pray or gather but call a person who is suffering because it is the kind thing to do. When no matter what your background or faith you can send good vibes to someone, and it is important. Because instead of disconnecting with technology, you are connecting your authentic self to another person who needs direct attention of love.

My brother Michael has been a stunning example of how to display direct attention on someone who needs it. In a crazy few months where death has been near him and his loved ones, the trend has struck again. His girlfriend lost her mother to an aggressive form of cancer that took over 2/3 of a lung. Both he and Becky have been together for 6 years and I believe this is the toughest thing they have ever had to face. But they face it present with each other and with direct attention that makes me proud to have them as family.

So what does this mean for presence? Is it hard to sit with someone when they are going through rough times? Yes. But essence over vanity is always a good way to choose. Give people your conscious communication, your direct attention, and kind vibes. You never know when you are going to need those yourself.

May your week be filled with ways to heal consciously. May you follow your pain with direct attention. May you help someone who is in need of kind vibes, and give compassion to those in grief. May you live as though everyone you meet is deserving of your direct attention. May you fill your heart with grace and compassion.

Sat Nam

 

Carl

I made someone cry today. In the middle of Starbucks. Personally, I hate crying in public and the fact that I put someone through that seems a little heavy. It started because I needed to plug in next to him, and we ended up sharing a table. He told me he liked my nose, but it was probably just because it was a nose that looked like his. 

I know what you are thinking – He’s hitting on her. He’s a psychopath. She’s naive. She doesn’t understand dynamics of men and women. She thinks this is neutral. She’s too trusting. He’s too open. Well let me address this before I continue – to a certain degree yes to all of these. But there is a grey area in between where, if no one is doing harm to the other, real conversation can happen between strangers. 

If for whatever reason, you feel safe opening up to someone and know in your heart they won’t take advantage? Do it. Practice vulnerability and magical things will happen. 

I mean, come on people, you fell for that black and white video of strangers making out, but someone chokes up in a Starbucks in front of a stranger for a real reason, and you are skeptics? Read on. 

Today is the anniversary of Carl’s father’s death. Carl’s father was the pastor, he his son. Carl’s father was hard on him, in his own way, he tried to show love. Carl would disobey, try to change his father’s mind and his dad wouldn’t change. My nose was his father’s nose – the Norwegian (yes, I am half Norwegian) nose that he recognized but couldn’t talk to…it was something he wasn’t expecting.

Nor was I. 

I never know what to say in these situations. I’m not a therapist, guru or advice columnist. Earlier today, a religious group knocked on my door and asked me to consider if money was the root of all evil, and if I would be willing to look at pamphlets. The unemployed sass monster in me wanted to tell them that if they had any evil lying around, I would put it to good use. But I don’t want to hate on people who feel so much joy in something they feel bound to share, so I politely told them I wasn’t willing to listen today. 

I NEVER want to be one of those people who forces their lifestyle or beliefs on others. I don’t want to pretend like I know the answer to everything, because like our conversation life seems to exist in a grey area of right, wrong, intimacy and truth. I don’t want to pretend like my answer to how I deal with problems is the universal answer, the universal healer. Because I don’t think what works for me works for everyone else. 

So I told him what I was feeling. Lucky, because I have two parents who are still alive and healthy. Blessed, because I know people who, right now who are setting an example of how to be a solid partner when someone goes through times of grief.  And I told him he should go home, tell his wife a sincere and truthful compliment because of all the sincere truths that his father gave him. In honor of the relationships lost, he should value the relationships present and blossoming. 

Carl didn’t seem too convinced. I texted a therapist friend of mine and asked how much I should charge him. She told me to bill him $100.00 an hour or repo his car. As an unlicensed solicitor of free advice, that just doesn’t feel right. But still, we live in a grey area.

May your day be filled with random connections that open your eyes. May you open up to someone and say what you need to say. May what you do to feel good be shared in a way that doesn’t limit, but open everyone’s pathways to kindness. May what you do to feel grounded and safe allow you to make positive changes in yourself and the lives of others. May you find ways to connect to people that you never thought possible. May you live through change. May you be at peace.

Sat Nam