I wanted to share something I found really powerful this past week.
I interviewed an amazing guest for my podcast, Fiercely Human (slated to come out next month, March 2019), and I cannot wait to share her story with you all when it comes out.
Her name is Worthy Stokes. Yes, she was born with the name Worthy.
And the timing of the interview (that I had scheduled weeks before recording) wasn’t lost on me, as a few people in my life had big and unexpected losses in between that left me gobsmacked with my hand over my heart. The last one affected me personally and left me reeling. Landen embodied child-like joy, authenticity, and BIG LOVE. He lost his life way too early for comprehension (while in the act of helping someone else) and it has been devastating to the communities I am a part of.
In divine timing, speaking with Worthy was helping me to process.
Worthy is a seasoned Heart-Mind meditation teacher, Traumatic Brain Injury
What I learned from Worthy in the episode surprised and profoundly moved me (in a really cool way), as we focused a lot less on the actual experience and much more on how to live fully and fiercely in these human bodies, which is what I’m focusing on more and more with my tribe.
One of the most powerful things that I took from the conversation was this:
Our entire lives, we are building a sand mandala, and at the end of our lives, it will all be washed away.
Now, I didn’t know what a sand mandala was (I had to google it), so in my mind, I saw a sand castle. We build and build these beautiful and elaborate constructs that are made of sand, and the tide will always come in and wash them away.
At the end of this human experience, everything we have worked for bought strived for, struggled through, built, bought and achieved will be washed away. We are left with how we evolved through them.
Of course, it felt disconcerting at first. And then, strangely beautiful.
We hear this all the time. You can’t take it with you.
But hearing her say it in this way reminded me in a very deep way that we never actually “have” anything.
The gift of life is the experience of life and what we get to feel, sense, see, touch, the emotional oceans we get to ride, the taste of things, the joy, the despair. We get to feel every possible shade of it.
We suffer when we try to control it and find certainty within it. We suffer when we hold on too long to something when the moment has passed. We lose it when we focus on the distractions that keep us from feeling it all.
If we can learn how to hold every person, every moment, so so so close to our hearts and then let it go, we are becoming one with it.
It reminded me of a moment I had with my son a couple of years back. He was in his toddler bed, had just turned two and had this hair that had been bleached by the son and he was falling asleep in the dark sucking on his pacifier. I was singing to him sitting on the floor with my hand over his heart (because I was so very pregnant and couldn’t hold him anymore). His brown eyes stared into mine and felt his breath rise and fall and rise and fall, and as I sang softly as I heard him sucking away. I thought my heart couldn’t contain any more joy.
I have heard people describe that feeling (of being 500% present) both in joyful moments and extremely harrowing or painful moments. They come to see that there is beauty in pain and pain in beauty. Life is a dance that contains all of it, in every moment if we can become present to it.
I understood it all at that moment. That moment would never happen the same way again, that I was losing my baby every day, replacing himself with a new version of himself. I realized he was changing on a molecular level every moment I had him and the idea that I “had him” or “he was mine” was an illusion.
I am witnessing him. I am experiencing him. I am watching life dance its way through him. I am in a relationship with an energy that is ever changing.
Which is also what is happening with life.
I thought about every accomplishment I had ever had, every achievement, every gig I booked, every accolade I had received. I thought about when I was at my most physically beautiful, and I thought I had “arrived.” And it was always falling away and being replaced with something new, very much like a sand castle being washed out to see.
I have never “had” anything but the experience of life itself.
So, if this sand castle is getting completely washed away in the end, and all we have left is the presence that we have become through the experience of life, why spend a moment of life building a sand castle that doesn’t MOVE THE HELL out of us?
Because that is what I got.
I got that the point is that the BUILDING of the sand castle and the experience we have while doing it.
We are here to be moved.
That is all we have…that we have been moved by this human existence.
Life is happening through us, but the illusion that we acquire something; whether that be an achievement, or accomplishment, or identity, or people, or certainty, or security, that we “arrive” to a place of being able to sit back and relax is just that, an illusion.
Are we going to build a sand castle built on our own desires, truth and what MOVES us? Or are we going to build the sand castle we think we should build, on our conditioning and our fear?
Because that will drastically affect our EXPERIENCE of joy and being moved by this physical existence. We get to live in this human skins. We get to feel, to think, to taste, see and be. We get to touch and move about with our free will. We get to experiment, dance and jump. We get to have sex, give birth, eat chocolate. We get to say goodbye to all of it too. We also get to feel great pain.
It’s all ending at some point, whether its tomorrow or eighty years from now.
Why not hold life, other humans and experiences as close to our hearts as possible while we build that sand castle? Because each moment will never happen again here the same way, in this strange and mysterious human experience.
It made me think of the quote from the last act of “Our Town” (remember that play from high school?).
At the end of Act III after Emily, one of the main characters passes away, and for the first time understands what life truly is, she bids farewell to life.
Emily: One more look. Good-bye, Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners
Stage Manager: No. (pause) The saints and poets, maybe they do some.
What are you going to build your sand-castle out of?
Rock On & Be Well,