I love how Bernie Siegel’s talk actually addresses some of what John Douillard had to say. “Embrace your mortality,” he says. Our collective addiction to small mood altering activities stands in stark contrast to that rare person completely at peace with her mortality, who sees the end of her life as not something to be avoided, but as simply a part of life. Instead of living for the next hit of dopamine and its fleeting high, she strives for a full and finite life of balance that is filled with gratitude, purpose, and love. She understands that she isn’t taking care of her body in order to live forever, but taking care of herself so she can live well for as long as she lives.
And life doesn’t come without wounds. Is that because God wants to punish us, see us unhappy, or teach us lessons? No. But we cannot grow without pain, without the small deaths that come in the form of disappointment, disillusionment, heartbreak, and grief. When I think back on all those “sad” events in my life, I do see them as blessings, new beginnings, and wake up calls. I wonder if you think honestly on your own life, if you see things the same way.
The grand purpose of life is for us to grow… to continually grow into the people we were created to be, and hopefully, to grow in love. And what is love? Bernie quotes Woody Allen: “To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.”
Or as my dad said matter-of-factly to the hospice nurse a few days before he died, “Hey. Death is just a part of life.”
It’s all of one part. Embrace your mortality, embrace your life, embrace it all. With love.
Beautiful reflections this afternoon.