I realized something last night. I was cataloging of all the negative “life events” that have occurred since mid-2005 – death of one grandfather, explosion of one side of family due to fights over estate, mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, father diagnosed with prostate cancer, other grandfather diagnosed with kidney cancer leading to multiple surgeries, increasing stress at work leading to my having multiple work-related “burnouts”, my diagnoses of sleep apnea and acid reflux, divorce, my complete and total mental breakdown, death of my mother, a stress-filled move to Georgia, death of my first dog and closest companion, and now death of my other grandfather after a fairly long and drawn out battle with cancer – and I realized something strange, very strange considering that almost nothing bad had ever happened to me before this period:
I’m actually happier now than I was before all of this started.
How can this be? I learned to turn inward and discovered that there is something stable there. I’ve made many changes, and they have almost all occurred in the mind – in my thoughts, attitudes, and understanding (somewhat of the world, but mostly of myself). Our minds affect everything that happens to us – the reality that we “observe” is truly a subjective one – we live in the world created in our minds. By changing your mind, therefore, you can truly change the world (at least the world that you experience).
For the first time in my life, I know what I want to do and I have a relatively full vision of who I am, who I want to be, and how to get there. I know what I value and I know what I consider to be right and wrong (for me). And it’s about time! I’m starting to get these weird little grey hairs in my beard. And I think that is great! I’m not holding on to youth. My adolescence and early adulthood was, inwardly at least, incredibly turbulent. I expect whatever time I have left (which if I have inherited the gene for early Alzheimer’s Disease from my mother might only be about 20 years or so) to be the best of my life. The reason? I’m no longer drifting about aimlessly – I’ve set my course and am making way. Of course, I’m still subject to the winds, currents, tides, and other forces outside of my control. I choose to look at these as creating some interesting diversions along the path that create opportunities to learn and strengthen resolve and equanimity.
The fact that we exit at all – and that we are able to recognize that we exist – is the great mystery. I see no reason to think that we have figured out why, and I hope we never do. The mystery, and our inevitable and ultimate demise, is what makes this life worth living. I’m not worried about the time left flying by – I’ve learned how to slow it down by paying attention, enjoying it more, and wasting less time.
May we all make it a little further down our paths!