I've been listening to Oprah and Deepak's Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life. This is a 21-day mediation experience that is happening now. Each day Oprah and then Deepak provide some centering thoughts related to helping listeners get unstuck by connecting with untapped creativity and then providing time for meditation. Each session lasts for about 20 minutes. The purpose is to help uncover how to compose a creative life through some centering thoughts and meditation. Since, I have come home from France, I have been listening. The focus for the first week is on how to be in the present moment. In week two, the focus is on choosing expansiveness, letting go of the past, and living creatively. In week three, sharing the spirit of creative awareness with others is the focus.
There were several things I heard during the first week that I especially wanted to remember--ideas I appreciated and yet quarreled with. On day 3, Deepak said:
"Stuckness keeps us from accessing our creative potential, which is our birthright. To begin a more creative way of life some basic points are important. First stop comparing today to yesterday. Look upon every day as a new world, because in truth it is. Only are stuckness makes it old."
I found the idea of not comparing today to yesterday to be a bit alarming. I can't think of a day that has gone by where I have not compared my days with Rob to the absence of him in my life now. As I listened to Deepak speak, I thought that neither he nor Oprah could have experienced what I am experiencing and so his directive to stop comparing today to yesterday must surely be for other situations, not mine.
The more I listened, I began to realize that often I was agreeing, but I also found that I would qualify what had been said when it might require me to live more deliberately and move on from the loss of Rob--to not hold myself in some waiting pattern as if Rob was coming home. And this idea of waiting for Rob to come home made me stop and ask, What is it I would have him do when he arrived? I had no immediate answer. And so I told myself that the ideas professed by Oprah and Deepak were quite sound and that these ideas did not always apply to me. For example on Day 4, Oprah quoted Eckhart Tolle:
"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you're having at the moment."
I thought, Yes, that can be true, but not for me now. Not at this time. Surely these words are not meant for someone who has suffered the loss I have. Surely this tragedy is not a help in any way.
I conflated not comparing today with yesterday with requiring me to forget all about Rob. I also thought that some experiences, such as the death of a husband, are too tragic to ever serve as object lessons. Somehow my words began to ring a bit hollow and doubt entered. I began to question if perhaps, just perhaps, some of what Oprah and Deepak were saying might also apply to me even as I resisted the two ideas. It wasn't until I got to day 7 that I realized that living brilliantly as Rob asked me to do requires first and foremost, that I live and be responsible for my life.
On day 7, Oprah asked,
What makes one person react to bad news with grace and dignity, while another person experiences the same news with a sense of hopelessness, resentment, or anger? Why does one person get stuck while another uses the moment to make changes and reorient his or her way of being in the world? Our perceptions. Our perceptions paint our personal realities...As the author of your life, you can rewrite the story by changing your perceptions. That's a key to getting unstuck...
Years ago on a classroom wall, I quoted a line from Hamlet I found pertinent. Hamlet is explaining to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about the relativity of thought. Hamlet concludes, "...there is nothing either good or/bad, but thinking makes it so."
Perhaps there were lessons here I needed to heed.
Saying out loud that living, brilliantly or otherwise, requires me to be present in my life is a step towards wholeness.
A big step.
I must be responsible for my life. I realize that I have wanted Rob to be responsible-- from the grave--for my happiness. Even as he lived, he was not responsible for my life, my happiness although I have surely placed that responsibility in his hands these last few months.
I have forgotten that happiness and contentment are not the absence of grief. For the longest time I have been waiting for my dead husband to return and remedy my grief. I have been waiting for my own personal Lazarus to arise and take this responsibility from my hands.
But being responsible for another person's happiness is not a definition of love. Love is far less selfish. And though Rob loved me, he was neither able nor responsible for my happiness. That rested in my own hands. It rests there presently and no amount of wishing can diminish that truth.
Grief cannot be remedied. It is not diminished by the number of activities done, the trips made, the sacrifices accounted, the good deeds done, or the events attended. None of these make a critical difference when it comes to healing. Rather, healing is determined by the perceptions I hold regarding the relationship between Rob's death and the quality of my life.
Only I am responsible for my life.
|Collage made from pages altered by Citra Solv |
(M.A. Reilly, July 2016)
Patience and time. Healing requires both. Knowing I am responsible for my life is a big step. It is a big step that I will surely forget.
My intentions are often larger than what I can manage. A week from now, perhaps even a day and it will be as if I never wrote these words and I will need to rediscover them again.
Ahead of me are lots of rehearsals where I will remember the gift of responsibility and accept the ambiguity that accompanies it.
I will remember and forget well before I more fully author my life.