"Nice ordinary people, human beings" those were the words of an 88 year old in Palliative care telling her life story to my friend Anna so she could write it on her behalf. Anna is a volunteer for the St Vincent's Hospital Biography Service. A service that offers free of charge, volunteers to assist those who want to leave a memory of their lives behind.
I felt surprised at first then confused, why being ordinary was such a quality in that ladies' eyes?
Up until then ordinary for me had been in the same category as boring, half asleep, not living your full potential etc...
Twice in a row? It made me laugh!
I had actually been thinking about this concept since my lunch with Anna yesterday and I had come to realise that the wish to have an ordinary life was actually really relaxing, giving permission to just be, to let go.
This painting of the Lacemaker by Johannes Vermeer from the Dutch Golden Age (1669), depicts really well that sense of being in present time, creating, just being. It feels peaceful, nurturing. There is no multi tasking happening here.
I feel coming back to a sense of simplicity is really what we need in a society that is trying to juggle so many things at once. Too many appointments in one day, too much on the to do list, too many demands put upon us. Our lives sometimes look like an obstacle course, and we arrive in bed at night exhausted. We might feel like we won or we lost the battle and in either case, our sleeping gets compromised and less restorative because our nervous system cannot let go. It is still in "obstacle course" mode.
So the idea of simplifying our lives goes a long way and is primordial to healing our mind, body and spirit.
Leaning to say no.
A good rule of thumb, if it feels too complicated, say no, If you are hesitating, say no.
You can always come back later with a yes and surprise people rather than disappoint them and yourself by not being able to keep your word.
Learning to discover what our needs are.
It's a discovery process as a few of us may have no idea of what it is that they need or want. They never thought about it and haven't been in the habit to ask themselves that question too often and they were not necessarily asked either. We most often hear especially in childhood, "I need you to do this" more than "what is it that you need in order to contribute"
Learning to prioritise.
We are often taught especially in religious institutions that we need to look after others and while I totally agree with this, this not need to be instead of looking after ourselves.
My belief is that as we look after ourselves and when we are able to meet our needs, we become naturally altruistic, generous people and we can participate in society from a loving, generous and nurturing energy rather than from a dutiful, slightly guilty kind of energy.
Learning to create win/win situations where everyone is honoured, seen and hear. No one looses, no victims.
Learning to know and appreciate one's limitations. Accepting than even thought we would love to take away our friend's problem or difficulty for instance is actually impossible because this is part of her/his learning and you can't take it away from them even if you tried as hard as you could. It only creates energetic confusion.
So a good ordinary life, is a life of being connected to self, to what our needs are in order to be the human being we want to be . One who is in integrity with its truths and values, one that doesn't sell it self short in order to please and fulfil the perceived needs of others. It's a human being that has the courage to love and accept who he is, humbly.
This is how I understand I can create peace in the world, by making peace with myself. When I know how to listen, see and acknowledge what my body is telling me either through physical, mental or emotional symptoms. When I know how to translate what my world is reflecting back to me, when I understand that what is happening outside of me is a reflection of my inner world, of my sub conscious beliefs systems. Am I having positive, friendly interaction with my familly, my work mates, the waiter/waitress etc.. How are the events in my life making me feel? What are they showing me?
When I know how to take this within and without information on board and with gentleness, a sense of humour and humility, I retrieve my part of accountability for what is happening, I can free myself of what it is I do not want anymore in my life .
This requires growing from a state of victimhood, the child within, to a state of creator, the adult, soft in nature, forgiving and compassionate. He who has understood that this journey on earth might not be about anything more then to learn to journey out of the ego and into the heart.
This requires letting go of the terrible, low self esteemed driven habit of wanting to look, be or feel perfect.
This requires letting go of self righteousness and of self limiting barriers put in place with lies and deceitfulness, in order to protect ourselves from a "dangerous" society.
There are so many different type of therapies available to us now in order for each of us to free his/herself of the suffering and confusion coming down the family tree. If you ever wanted to make a difference on the planet, now is the time and love is the way!
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