I lost my neighbor and dear friend early this day. He was an inspiration and a joy to everyone that knew him. He always chose to walk on the sunny side of the street, smile at the day, breathe in each night and wave a hearty hello. He was born in Connecticut on May 25, 1914. So many things were happening then. The newness of a modern world just emerging, and with it good and bad, right and wrong. And he embodied what was the best of his era, an era that is slipping by. He was a man that loved the beauty of nature, devoted himself to his country, adored his wife and children, played the harmonica with all of his heart, put his back into his work and leaned into to his music. He loved his parents, his story, his life, and his neighbors. A tear of sorrow runs down my smudged and tired cheek as I type this. Up all night last night hoping beyond hope to see the sparkle of his eyes just once more…
in just a flicker of moment, he has become a memory.
That is how it happens, how life unfolds. Moments become memories and that is the beauty of living in the now, we can witness the force while it unfurls.
The tears I cry today are for myself; for my selfishness, for my missing him in this moment… different from the heartbreaking pain I still sob for my father who died almost a year ago next month. I think the difference is that I now know, in all honesty, that I sob for a life not lived by my father. The sadness of not following his heart, not being true to his truth, the realization of a life unfulfilled.
How can we find the courage to put aside all the should haves, could haves, supposed to's, to find our life force? To live our path? As children we declare we are going to be writers, doctors, artists, farmers and somehow we’ve lost our way… The answers our culture commands us to believe are empty promises of success and gain, when truly, if we listened to the answers in our hearts we would know that it lies in the promises we made to ourselves when we were young, when we were hopeful, when we were unburdened with gain…
The art of living is in the letting go to that promise made in a child’s heart.
We can’t blindly go along believing the stories. We have to be brave and strong. We have to turn against the answers that are given and instead follow our own truths. Find the passion, look into that heart of the child you left behind and ask yourself what songs do I want to sing? What pictures can I paint? What can I let go of to be free? How much do I really need to carry on this journey? If it could fit into a trunk what would I take?
And, where would my heart lead me? If we ignore that promise, we lose ourselves.
So, on this day I can smile for Henry, not sob in pain as I do for my father. I can rejoice in Henry’s choice to live his life fully. His choice to be brave. His choice to define his journey on his own terms. He was true to his heart even within the confines of his responsibilities, his routine, his station in life. He defined his life, his art of living, not for gain but in peace.
So here is to Life Fully Lived...
may it be the path we chose to follow.