Sitting in a room with other beautiful souls, participating in a Kirtan Concert with Bachan Kaur, I let the heavenly music wash over me. Eyes closed, heart open, the songs flowed and danced and invited me to settle deep and relax, let go.
At the end of the evening, we were invited to share some personal discovery or bit of wisdom with the gathering. This is what came to me, “If I were to die tomorrow, how would I have wanted to live my today?” In speaking those words, I realized this question has become the benchmark for many of the choices I’ve been making.
In years past, at various workshops, I was prompted to write about how I would spend my life if I only had six months left to live. I never understood the question so urgently as I do now. I always thought I had time, more time. To figure it out. More time to get there, wherever there was.
In truth, my life was good, great even. I had most everything a woman could want. I had my family, our home, a job I really enjoyed, good friends. I wrote, and had recently completed directing and producing “Skins I Have Worn,” a life transforming experience.
And then Mike died. And my tomorrow became my today.
For the past months, I have only had room for survival, for getting from point A to point B. Adjusting from couple to single, married to widow. It has been a long winter. But the weather is changing, spring is in the air, and with it a new sensation, a yearning.
Up until his passing, I loved my job, had a wonderful business colleague, we did good work, important work. And yet, after Mike’s death, that work no longer called to me in the same way. Each day the sensation grew stronger, as I came to resist anything that was not writing, performing, expressing, or being with others speaking of creativity, spirit, death and the meaning of life. Until there was no choice.
So, I have given notice, to this wonderful friend, who understands well, and wishes me luck and good fortune. I am a little nervous, but oddly not as afraid as I thought I would be. Of course, that may change on my first Monday on my own, but it will be ok. I’ve survived much worse.
I don’t know exactly what this new life will look like, but I recognize my compass points: writing, performing, nature, communion, an ever-deepening spiritual quest. Alaska sits on the horizon as does a vision quest. It seems I have a great desire to go into the wilderness both physically and spiritually.
As I will be 56 next month, it is hard to ignore the question that nags, “Why did I wait so long to commit fully to this creative life, this life that lights me up, this life of the artist? And bigger yet, “Why did I have to lose him to realize it?” Fear, doubt, comparison. Old stories about my parents, starving artists, scarcity, being Jewish, being a woman, the list goes on. We all have our own, very long lists.
But as my dear friend Deborah Brown often quotes to me, “The best time to have planted a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.”
I can’t go back and do it differently. I have to let go of any regret about choices I made. In fact, I must trust that it has taken the time it has because I needed to learn what I have learned. Every step has brought me here. To this moment in time. Perfect.
I know I am not done with the grieving. Only the day before I had a meltdown in a grocery store, collapsing into my car in bitter sobs (seems I do my best crying in the car). At breakfast the week before, I asked a friend how was it possible that I could miss him so much and yet see a future for myself that brought me joy? Sweet paradox, I guess. The ‘and’ in everything.
I feel Mike at my shoulder, encouraging me, he always only wanted me to be happy. And I feel my own soul within me. She is rising up with a basket of flowers, tossing them across the path, dancing and laughing as I answer her call, saying ‘yes.’ At long last, this, ‘yes.’ To my heart I say yes, to my life I say yes.
I also know I am not alone on this journey. There are so many other beautiful souls stepping out onto this crazy migration – towards the essence of who they are, the land of the sweet unknown, the ultimate journey, each of them steered by their own north star.
We are all pilgrims, adventurers, in this thing called life. And so, we courageously walk, dance, spin, leap, crawl, out into the wilderness of our own lives as best we can. And goodness, how we want that, need that, yearn for that, desperately. To answer our own call, to heed our own heart, to rise up and say “yes,” to our deepest, richest life.
To your journey.