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

Honoring the Atypical Milestones of 2013

I don’t have a baby and I don’t intend to have one. I’m not interested in marriage until I have crossed a threshold of intimacy with someone that makes me see the joy in being someone’s twin flame. I don’t intend to die until my time. I have graduated from college and am seeking employment in a field that has led me down several paths at once, and definitely doesn’t require an office.

Here’s a question I’ve been asking over and over again : Do I have ANY milestones that are translatable? Explainable? Profitable? Are they even milestones if they don’t make sense to anyone else?

As I approach the end of 2013, I’m getting an atypical notion of what a milestone is. We teach the milestones that are most valuable to us: weddings, babies, jobs, deaths and graduations. But what about the atypical milestones that we all feel should be celebrated, or at the very least, noted?

Columnist and podcast host Dan Savage made a very interesting point about divorces. The fact is, the marriage is only deemed successful until one or both of the partners DIES without breaking the marriage. If you stuck with someone long enough that you DIED before they divorced you, then the marriage was a success.

If we apply that to other pieces of our culture, then births are only successful if the baby grows up and doesn’t commit a felony or end up on the stripper pole. Why not wait until they are 30 to REALLY celebrate their life, because when they are babies all they need to be is fed and changed. I mean, what if that baby grew up to be a total asshole, would we want to celebrate his birth before we knew anything about them?

Would a job be successful if you stayed there until you retired, although you hated it and everyone you worked for? If they fired you or you left early would it be considered a failure? What if you got a degree in finance and then left that job because you discovered you hated it? Would that not be a milestone because you were finally allowing your true self to guide your choices? There is no card for “Congratulations, you’ve realized what doesn’t work!” 

My point is, we need to start looking at the atypical achievements of our past years. Discoveries, Adventures, Obstacles Beaten and Commitments Brought to Reality are four things I’m truly interested in when it comes to marking milestones. 

Discoveries – Have you played with your inner child? Have you tried something different? Have you found something you love doing or are you attempting a discovery? Have you learned something about yourself that you never knew before? Have you discovered what you need to change, and if so, have you acted on it?

Adventures – Have you stepped out of your comfort zone? Have you seen something new? Have you immersed yourself in a book, dance, show or hobby? Have you found a process or a project that connects to an inner desire, and are you moving on that path?

Obstacles Beaten – Have you gone through a grieving process? Have you changed a habit you wanted to break? Have you blasted through an inner obstacle that you have been fighting for years? Have you beaten karma to become dharma?

Commitments Brought to Reality – Have you really loved in so deep a way that you have come to understand its true nature? Have you committed to yourself so that you can help others? Have you finished what you started? Have you continued to walk your path in spite of what other people think? Have you grown through your commitments that you truly care about?

So here are mine, for this year. I hope I have remembered all of them, but this is what I am most proud of:

DISCOVERIES:

1. I am a damn good writer and production manager. I am a horrible web designer and video editor.

2. I am part mermaid, and need to keep swimming always. I can swim 2 miles without practice in open water. Must build myself a tail.

3. I need to eat less sugar and booze and sweat and laugh more. I need to help myself first. 

4. I have found a mentor and a friend who supports me creatively, and can offer impartial advice. KEY when looking at your passions like a lost tourist with a fold out map from 1997. 

ADVENTURES:

1. I fell in love with a man who deserved it, and I told him/showed him as often as I could that it was true.

2. I saw Sigur Ros at the Fox Theatre on my birthday. 

3. I went to Wanderlust in Tahoe this year, further confirming that the yoga community is a place where I feel very much at home.

4. I salsa danced at clubs in Sacramento and Stockton, and held my own on the dance floor.

OBSTACLES BEATEN:

1. I broke it off with a man who wanted different things than I did, and I did that with grace and strength.

2. I got through the holidays without my Grandmother, and further attempted to break some karma and heal with my mother’s grief process.

3. I reconciled with a friend I haven’t talked to in years, because I was afraid of what they thought of me. I learned that true friends are genuinely happy to see you if they call, and won’t judge if you aren’t making the same choices they are. 

4. I watched my friend have her first child, held her hand through the ups and downs and confirmed that I don’t want children of my own. I managed to connect to her although her path was foreign to me, I learned to love someone through a different phase of their life and connect through the divide. 

COMMITMENTS SEEN THROUGH:

1. I finished my certificate in web development, even though I discovered I didn’t like it. I finished what I started.

2. I finished another degree that I have put off for 5 years, my undergrad degree became official in 2012.

3. I finished my first feature as a production manager for a full length feature.

4. I have done the same yoga set and meditation for 60 days, and am moving to 120. 

May you reflect on this year though all your milestones, both typical and atypical. May you honor your successes and failures with equal love and respect. May each milestone be a door and a clarity. May your open heart breathe in prosperity for the new year, as you shed old identities. May you become divine in your actions and pure in your intentions. May every step bring you closer to your truth as a living soul. 

Sat Nam.