I pick up a little book called Tuesdays with Morrie while on holidays in Spain. I saw it years ago but avoided it because the blurb on the back made me worry that it’d be a depressing read. It is about a dying professor (Morrie Schwartz) and his younger student (Mitch Albom). This time, I am ready. I devour it in two sittings. And I cry and cry and cry.
It isn’t that it’s unbearably sad. It’s just so touching, it moves me like nothing else has for a long time. I can feel Morrie’s energy with me as I finish the memoir. I love him. I can honestly say that he (and the endearingly honest Mitch) has changed my life. The gradual shift in Mitch’s attitude inspires me almost as much as Morrie’s wisdom.
Morrie allowed himself to let go, to be vulnerable, and to ask for help. He observed that, when you’re an infant, you need help from others and, when you grow old, you require their assistance also. However, what we fail to acknowledge is that we need other people in between times too.
Morrie told the tale of the little wave that witnessed other waves crashing against the shore. The wave wailed, fearfully: “Oh no, look! This is the fate that awaits us. How horrible!” Another wave reassured him: “Don’t fret, little one, for you are not a wave, you are part of the ocean.” As Rumi wrote: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.”
Morrie’s message has made me realise how closed off I’d become. I’d tell myself that “I like my own space”. I’d go home while co-workers would sit and have tea, a chat and a laugh. I’d stay alone in the flat watching episode after episode of The Good Wife. I’d spend weekends preparing classes instead of exploring the countryside with loved ones. I’d retire early rather than spend time with friends.
I still believe that there should be a balance between rest, work and play and between stillness, silence and moments of noise and interaction. But Morrie’s story has shown me that the most important thing in life is to love. To share what you have with others. To give another human being the gift of your time. Morrie said that he was always 100 per cent present with whomever he was speaking. When he was talking with Mitch, he thought only of Mitch. This resonates with me as I am often in the company of others when I’m not really there. I’m thinking of what needs to be done, or how I shouldn’t have eaten that or I might even be putting a photo through Instagram while somebody attempts to converse with me.
Morrie’s big, brave, generous heart has made me resolve to really live life, to connect with people, to appreciate nature, to question the values we’ve been brainwashed into adopting, to understand that love and peace are what’s true and priceless compared with ever-changing, unreliable material and physical possessions. One of my new goals is to do something that makes me feel alive every single day. I also promise to be present with people, as if each encounter were our last, and to ask, in the words of Robert Holden in his book Loveability: “How can I love you more?”
I have a couple of hours before I have to head for the airport. I could go for a last swim at what the locals call the “healing beach”. But it’s a bit of a walk, I mentally argue. And it’d mean packing a wet bikini. Then, I remember that I’m living life. So I set off in my flip-flops, carrying a pink towel. A line of ants and a yellow butterfly cross my path. A lone purple wildflower on this dry dirt track reduces me to tears. I offer an Hola and a smile to an old man sitting alone. He returns my smile, its corners clipped with surprise. An elderly couple stroll ahead, hand-in-hand. Yet again, my eyes mist. I beam as I spot a set of keys a stranger has carefully balanced atop a bollard.
My breasts bob and sway as my feet flap upon the sand. I feel like an ancient elephant striding across the desert. I inhale the scent of my sweat that has collected in cracks and creases. A homeless man sits on a wall behind the beach. I abandon my beach bag and strip. I don’t suck in my stomach. Not today. I duck my head into the ocean even though my hair was freshly washed this morning. I am alive.
Mitch and Morrie used to say, “We’re Tuesday people” because they usually met on Tuesdays. And I am writing this piece on a Tuesday, watching the waves surge and retreat, with tears in my eyes and a heart that’s breaking… wide open.
Image: Author’s own
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged stillness, peace, energy, nature, grief, love, death, heart, life, sadness, friends, spain, spirituality, inspiration, family, time, understanding, beauty, society, letting go, universe, thoughts, living, gratitude, sharing, impermanence, generosity, tears, heartbreak, silence, holidays, ocean, communication, truth, brainwashing, humanity, human beings, compassion, photos, gift, past, present, thinking, help, appreciation, vulnerability, future, loved ones, physical, attitude, togetherness, rumi, robert holden, people, tuesdays with morrie, mitch albom, instagram, smartphone, material, spiritual, values, loveability, drop, waves, whole, shift, morrie schwartz
I was about to leave my family home this morning when I spotted a daddy-long-legs (crane fly) moving on the spare bed in my childhood bedroom. I’d first seen it on Saturday night. Half of its legs lay a couple of inches away from its body. I’d presumed it dead. But it had been suffering there for at least two days. I agonised over what to do.
The humane option would be to kill it, I thought. But why should I have the power to decide to end its life? If I lost a leg, I’d still have the will to live. I’d still have hope for my survival. But there were no other daddy-long-legs rushing to its rescue and there were no daddy-long-leg hospitals that I knew of. It would be easier to simply leave it there but who knew how long it would remain in pain before it eventually died. It was all alone. I brought my face close and inspected it. Did it have a chance? “I’m sorry,” I whispered.
Lots of people don’t think twice about killing healthy insects. Mosquitoes, ants, even spiders. But I didn’t want to kill any living creature. Was that selfish of me? I would allow it to continue to writhe there because I didn’t want to feel bad. I was going to feel bad either way. If I believed in reincarnation, the daddy-long-legs wouldn’t die as such, it would simply move on to the next part of its journey. Maybe it would come back as something much better than a daddy-long-legs. Then again, who am I to judge what a good incarnation is? Oftentimes, being a human is so complicated that maybe living as a daddy-long-legs would be a relief.
I probably shouldn’t interfere with its fate, I pondered. Perhaps I could throw it out the window, let it back outdoors where it belonged. Although if I had just had my leg amputated, being thrown from a two-storey building would be my very last preference. If I squished it, would that be a sin? Surely not if I believed I was doing the right thing.
Eventually, I scooped it up in a piece of tissue and killed it. It was difficult but, once I decided to do it, I did it quick. I brought it to the bathroom, flushed it down the toilet, then sat on the edge of the bath and cried. I have no idea if I made the correct choice. I’m sorry, little guy. I really am.
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged afterlife, agony, animals, belief, choice, crane fly, daddy-long-legs, emotion, euthanasia, fate, forgiveness, guilt, heaven, humanity, killing, kindness, life, murder, pain, power, reincarnation, right and wrong, sadness, selfish, selfless, sin, spirituality, suffering
Have you ever had One Of Those Days when you’re just fed up? That’s sort of a rhetorical question because you’re human and this is life so of course you have. I came home this evening with a whopper of a headache after a number of things had gone “wrong”. A number of things were going right too but, when you’re having One Of Those Days, you choose to ignore them. I wanted to crawl under the duvet and pretend that life didn’t have to go on.
Then, I remembered the Winston Churchill quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Even though I didn’t feel like it, I switched on Hay House Radio just as Denise Linn was speaking these words: “I choose to believe that things will get better.”
Sometimes, we feel so beaten down that it’s tempting to just not get up any more. Rumi wrote: “When the world pushes you to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.” It is during these dark moments that we need to ask for help, from a friend or family member or simply by offering a prayer up to the heavens. This is when we need to surrender to some higher wisdom. This is when we need to understand that the bigger picture is so big that we can’t yet see how it’s all meant to fit together. Marilyn Monroe said: “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
I don’t know how all the parts of my life are going to come together. Sometimes, I try to jam pieces together when they’re clearly not the right shape and then I cry with frustration when I break them. And occasionally, I feel broken too. Caroline Myss wrote: “We will all have experiences meant to ‘break our hearts’ – not in half but wide open.”
We all have days when we feel like giving up. When we no longer have all the answers. I’ve quoted five people in this article. Sometimes, it’s a quote you read or hear on the radio that rekindles that tiny flicker of hope. Sometimes, all you’ve got is a quote. Here’s five of them. I hope they help.
Posted in Positive Thinking
Tagged caroline myss, denise linn, depression, difficulty, hardship, hay house radio, heartbreak, help, hope, inspiration, life, marilyn monroe, prayer, quotes, rumi, support, surrender, winston churchill, wisdom
I turn off the tap and sweep the water from my body using my hands. I saw an ex-boyfriend doing this and I continue to do it long after we’ve broken up. I step out of the shower and start to think of all the other habits I’ve caught from former boyfriends and even old friends. How I no longer close my bedroom curtains at night. How I add paprika to my scrambled eggs. And how I know that a glass of milk with dates (the dried fruit, not a rendezvous with a potential love buddy) is a surprisingly delicious combination.
I’ve held on to these things because they make sense to me. Because I’d rather not have puddles on my bathroom floor. And because I love to look out at the stars and wake to the morning light. But what about the habits and beliefs I’ve latched on to that definitely aren’t serving me? The ones I thought were a part of me but that actually came from other people. From parents, partners, teachers and friends.
Are the beliefs that are running our lives really ours? The ones that instruct us on how to look, feel and behave, and on what to do, say and even like. Are these second-hand belief systems right for us at all?
It’s time for a spring clean. A thorough clear out. Pick up and inspect each belief. If it makes you feel good, keep it. You can reexamine it in another while. If it makes you feel bad, chuck it. It was never yours anyway. Once you’ve decluttered your headspace, make sure to only decorate it with things that are authentic and functional. Things that make you smile. Living with yourself will be a lot more pleasant once you’ve feng shui’d your mind.
Posted in Personal development
Tagged be yourself, belief systems, beliefs, change, declutter, feng shui, free your mind, habits, headspace, life, mind, relationships, self-acceptance, self-love, thoughts
“I have an idea for a blog post for you,” someone told me this morning. “I was walking and, because it was raining, all the worms were out. I hate worms! Then, I realised that I always walk with my head down.”
I interjected: “That mustn’t be very enjoyable.”
“No it’s not,” she agreed.
“It’s great when you get these insights,” I commented. She nodded. “So, what’s the deeper meaning? The analogy for life,” I asked.
“Well,” she mused, “isn’t there some saying that goes like: ‘When you look down, all you see is the muck and the worms. When you look up, you can see the stars.’ Or something?”
Em, I’ve never heard that one before but I love the message that this woman has taken from it. When we’re plodding along in life, we’re focusing on the ugly and the mundane. All we can see is what’s wrong in our lives and what we’re afraid of. But when we have the confidence to hold our heads high, we catch a glimpse of the miraculous beauty and abundance that surrounds us.
Insight can visit us in the strangest of ways. Keep your head up and your eyes open and you’ll be amazed at what’s staring you right in the face. This morning, the rain-inspired worms helped open one lady’s eyes to the possibilities that lay just one chin-tilt away…
Posted in Random
Tagged abundance, awakening, beauty, boring, fear, insight, inspiration, life, mundane, nature, wisdom
I just received a gift. A big one. I am shocked and delighted. And I can see how much pleasure these extremely generous people are deriving from my reaction. Yet there is an element of resistance within me. It’s like I feel it is unfair for me to be presented with this when other people would have to work hard to get it.
For the past number of months, every morning before I get out of bed and sometimes before I fall asleep, I’ve been giving gratitude for all the wonderful aspects of my life. For those who haven’t heard of the law of attraction, the theory is that whatever you put your attention on multiplies. I don’t believe it’s really about material manifestations. Rather, it involves generating more of that beautiful feeling of gratitude, and this means creating more things in your life that you’re grateful for.
So even though I hadn’t specifically asked for this, and a part of me feels oddly guilty upon receiving it, my attitude of gratitude is working. Clearly, I have issues I need to be aware of. So I can start believing I deserve good things in my life. So I can understand that guilt is a useless, destructive emotion. So I can realise that things don’t have to be difficult. And so I can stop caring what others might think of me. If I manage to achieve all that, who knows what other exciting surprises are just around the corner.
I want amazing things for you too so I suggest that you start practising gratitude daily. Keep a gratitude journal or mentally list off a number of things you’re thankful for each day. And watch the little (and large) miracles that come your way. Enjoy. You deserve it.
Posted in Positive Thinking
Tagged acceptance, confidence, difficulty, generosity, gift, gratitude, guilt, law of attraction, life, manifestation, miracles, positive thinking, present, self-love, self-worth
Today, I overheard a man ask a woman a rather unusual question: “What would you do if you had a big bag of feathers and the wind caught it and blew the feathers all over the place?” I couldn’t hear the woman’s response but she looked indignant. The man considered his companion’s answer before saying: “You should see it as a challenge. You should look at what kind of day it is and enjoy picking up each and every feather.”
I felt like I needed to hear this strange conversation. Just earlier, I had read an article that caught my attention because its title was “Having a Low Point is Actually a Good Thing”. And tonight, a friend was texting me about living in the present moment. Yet again, life was waving a giant banner in my line of sight until I could ignore it no longer.
I’ve written a lot about acceptance and being present yet I still struggle when I trip up. It was only a few days ago when I stumbled upon (excuse the pun) this quote:
“The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping-stones is how you use them.” Even though I believe that everything happens for a reason, I grow impatient every once in a while. I curse my “bad luck”. I wonder if I’ll ever have all the things I want to have. I try to control when things happen and what they’re going to look like. I know it’s foolish. And I know it’s impossible to forecast the outcome of every situation. Woody Allen once said: If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
I realise that what I think would be best for me may in fact limit me in the long run. This is why, when people ask God or The Universe for something, they add: “This or something better.” I can’t tell what wonderful things are waiting for me in the wings. But I do know that worrying about the future or feeling lack instead of abundance is not helping me get where I want to get or, more importantly, enjoy where I am right now.
Tonight, as I flicked through Thich Nhat Hanh’s Anger, I came across a simple meditation. It involves silently saying these words: “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. In, out.” Now, that is taking life moment by moment. It may appear boring or tedious or frustrating but it is simple. And simple is exactly what I need. In, out. Here, now. Feather by beautiful feather.
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged abundance, acceptance, alissa finerman, anger, beauty, breath, challenge, control, destiny, fate, frustration, future, god, impatience, lack, life, limitations, luck, manifestation, meditation, patience, plans, positively positive, present moment, regret, struggle, the universe, thich nhat hanh, woody allen, worry
|On Sunday, I put my back out at the gym. For the rest of the day, I was in a considerable amount of pain and could hardly move. I felt rather sorry for myself as I lay in bed. I was cranky and bored. I realised that I don’t make a very good patient. In fact, I am incredibly impatient because I want to get better quickly so that I can do all the things I had planned.
Last night, I went to see The Sessions in The Riverbank Arts Centre. The movie is based on a man with polio who was mostly paralysed from the neck down. He was a poet and a journalist with a great sense of humour. Despite his predicament, he was able to reach out to experience life and love.
This morning, I sipped a soy latte in the Keadeen Hotel while a large group of deaf people laughed and signed excitedly beside me. They were full of fun and togetherness.
And I just watched a clip from The Saturday Night Show with 16-year-old Donal Walsh who is terminally ill with cancer. This brave, inspiring young man spoke out about suicide and how he is grateful for every extra day he has to live. He hopes that his death will make people appreciate life more. He is sad to be leaving behind all the beautiful things of this world. Since his prognosis, he has given up school, travelled, and raised over €50,000 for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
It was as though I was being constantly reminded of how lucky I am and how I need to put things into perspective. A healthy or seemingly perfect life may not be as rich as the lives of some of these so-called dying or disabled people. If you are able to open yourself to love, able to share and enjoy the wonderful moments of life with family and friends, able to laugh and learn and experience, and able to really live life, then you are truly blessed. It is then that you are really alive.
Posted in Health
Tagged depression, suicide, love, relationships, life, illness, cancer, acceptance, gym, health, positivity, living, impatience, gratitude, laughter, boredom, mental illness, terminal illness, patience, paralysis, openness, joy, surrender, enjoyment, charity, back pain, divine timing, donal walsh, the saturday night show, deaf, the riverbank arts centre, the sessions, polio, disabled, iron lung