The Roller Coaster of Life and Death – Day 329 of 365 Days to a Better You

It feels like death is all around lately. We lost my father-in-law in December. We lost our beloved family dog a couple weeks ago. Today the whole world witnessed the loss of Kobe Bryant. In this same time period millions of people and animals have died.

The thought of death is a constant for the living. We try hard to put it out of our thoughts, but when it strikes close to us, we are reminded of the mortality that affects all living things.

I find that roller coasters are a good metaphor for life and death. I love a good roller coaster. As a kid, though, when I’d ride one that scare me a little, I’d have this thought as we left the station and began climbing the first hill.

“There’s no turning back now. Even if I decide I don’t want to do this, they’re not going to stop the ride and let me off. I’m on it for the duration. Whatever drops and spins and turns and flips are on this track, I’m going to experience them. I might as well buckle in and enjoy them to the fullest because in a few minutes, one way or another, the ride will be over.”

That’s life. It’s a ride we’re in and we can’t really get off. We’re here to ride it to the end, whatever that is for us. Sometimes it seems big and scary. Sometimes it lifts you out of your seat and throws you for a loop.

We can either hold on white-knuckled with our eyes forced shut or we can laugh our head off, feel the sensations, and enjoy every moment until the ride stops.

When, where, and how our ride stops may be in the stars and beyond our control. So, let’s put our arms in the air, belly laugh constantly, and ride our ride our way.

Just in case no one else has reminded you today, you’re awesome!

Ray

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Appreciate What You Have NOW – Day 326 of 365 Days to a Better You

My apologies for being away, my friends. We’ve been traveling in Hawaii. Enjoying the incredible natural beauty here is not always conducive to blogging.

Yesterday my wife and I made one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make. We had put our beloved black lab Mia to sleep. She was 151/2 years old. She’d fought the good fight,including a cross country move back to Kansas City this year.

To say that Mia was loved would completely understate the truth. She and I had a special bond formed when she was a puppy and I was her one constant while my wife traveled for her job. Our whole family and many of our friends knew and loved Mia. She returned that love in abundance like the kind, gentle soul she was.

Death, damn you, is the constant affliction of the living. The relationships – human and animal – we form here in these brief years or decades belie the cosmic journey every living thing is on.

Despite the fact I saw Mia as my true companion for these years, she’s on her own journey and so are all of us. We touched for a few moments of this game of time and space. We formed a bond that will be forever, but we are all spinning along this path like stars swirling around a galaxy.

We live with the memories of that wonderful time together. Now, we go back about the eternal journey we were all on before we “met”this time.

Saints and philosophers have sought cures for the death that separates us from those we love in these time and space encounters. Some have proposed to stop the process of craving that manifests into these lives where we experience pain. Others have suggested that a special being or beings can save us from death.

Death defies reason or belief’s ability to comprehend. It can feel painful and unfair.

All of I’ve come to in these many years of pondering the fate of living things is this.

  1. Enjoy every moment while you have it. Don’t take your family, your friends, or your pet for granted. The time together in this place in this form is short.
  2. There is a reason and a purpose in it all. There was a reason Mia came into our lives and we came into hers. Now that momentary reason has been satisfied. It’s time for a new combination of variables so that we can all complete the path we’re on.
  3. Nothing is ever truly lost. We’re all manifestations of something all wise, all knowing, and all encompassing. As Marianne Williamson has often said, “there’s really only one of us here.” That one has a reason for the roles we each play and it’s a bond, a connection that can never be broken.

Yes, Mia’s consciousness has left the form we cherished and gone back to the great recycling bin of life, as we all one day will. Yet, we didn’t just meet 15 years ago. These forms aren’t who we really are. We’ve been bubbles on the ocean of life sticking together for a passing moment. But, you, Mia, and me are all made of ocean not bubbles. We’ve been together forever on this path.

To my sweet little girl, it’s not goodbye. It’s until we play the game together again. Thanks for being an awesome friend on this go-around.

In case no one else reminded you today, you’re awesome!

Ray

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The Ultimate Mystery – Day 89 of 365 Days to a Better You

The ultimate mystery…

“For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.”
~Khalil Gibran

We cannot leave a week of seeking the unknown without addressing the most profound unknown in our experience. Though we’re in these bodies having these experiences for a mere 100 years or less, we become attached. Few people escape the fear of death.

We have many beliefs about death and I’m not asking you to change yours. One thing is clear. None of us absolutely 100 percent knows what comes when we die. Even the most fervent religious believer, if honest, must concede that speculation about death is a matter of faith.

So, what do you do with something so frightening yet so certain? I certainly don’t have definitive answers, but here are some thoughts that I hope will help you.

  1. Be here now and live it fully. There’s no substitute for and no promise beyond this moment. “Do not go gently into that good night…rage, rage against the dying of the light,” wrote Dylan Thomas.
  2. What you believe happens when you die plays a huge role in how you live. We constantly see in our world how beliefs about the afterlife control how people live both positively and negatively. Whatever belief you arrive at, find a way to use it to make a positive contribution while you’re here.
  3. Consider the Gibran quote above. Perhaps life and death are not the separate things you think they are. They may be part of an eternal process you’ve experienced many times. For some, it provides solace that you are an old-hand at this living and dying stuff.
  4. See death as the next great adventure. I’m one of those who loves to put my hands in the air on a roller coaster. That feeling of letting go and letting the ride happen is exhilarating. The life-death cycle could be viewed like that roller coaster. Once you’re buckled in, you’re going to finish the ride. You might as well enjoy it.
  5.  How do you want to be remembered? Live your life moment-by-moment, day-by-day, year-by-year in a way that has an impact on others and the world around you.
  6. “Don’t die,” Wayne Dyer used to say, “with your song still in you.” Do what you came here to do. Be who you came here to be. Then you can go into whatever comes next with a fearless confidence.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his 1933 Inauguration Speech:

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Everyone who has ever lived has died. You are no exception, but it need not paralyze you. Let it catalyze you and make you the most amazing person you can be.

Stay inspired!

Ray

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