Recently, I came across this beautiful poem:
First I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying to marry and have children.
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work.
And then I was dying to retire.
And now I am dying...
And suddenly I realize I forgot to live.
After I read it, I felt an incredible sense of peace as it reminded me to stop and live this moment, right now, as I write this article and as you read it on your computer. For the most part, we run from one thing, to the next, to the next, to the next, without stopping to live the present moment. We think the next activity or life change will have the keys to more happiness, more peace, and in essence a better life. We go about this without realizing that we are chasing our own tails. What keeps us in this cycle? Why can’t we just stop and live in the moment right now? There are MANY reasons, but here are two that I needed to get over in order to begin to overcome this cycle myself:
- We find the quiet uncomfortable. When you stop the moving, the noise stops. When you stop the noise, it gets very quiet. Eventually, a question emerges: Who am I? At my core, apart from my husband, wife, children, parents, colleagues, and community…Who am I as a person? What do I stand for outside of “group think”? Am I willing to stand for my True Self (great article on your True Self for you to look at here) or would I rather take the mush easier route and fall back into the noise and moving pieces were I am required to think less and follow more?
- We find the “nothingness” uncomfortable. Once you get past the above, the question that will eventually creep up is “What is this all about?”. If it’s not about moving from one thing to the next, completing tasks, and putting out fires, “What is this all about?” It makes us tremendously uncomfortable to not know the answer to this question (there is an answer for you), and so we just fall back into the noise and moving pieces, rather than believe that we can find our own answer to this question.
As a Latina, culturally the behavior this poem depicts has its own particular spin. I remember the first time I realized this about 10 years ago, when my younger cousin was feeling frustrated with the push-back she was getting from those around her as she was moving out of her home and in to her own apartment after college. She told me: “Judith, what frustrates me most is that we are not expected to live for ourselves. As kids we are taught to listen to what our parents say, and there isn’t much regard to our own personality needs. We are then not allowed to leave the house until we get married. We then get married and are taught that our priority is our husband. We then have children and our priority becomes the children. Then we take on the care of our aging parents. When we try to live for ourselves in any of those moments we are seen as selfish and called 'egoista' (selfish). We are expected to move from one thing to the next without living."
So you can see there are many reasons this poem strikes a nerve and becomes a reality in our lives. Not only do we have to overcome our own limiting beliefs, but we then have to overcome the expectations of those around us (and in my experience, quite specific ones as a Latina). One tip I do want to share with you that helped me overcome the expectations of others is to become very, very comfortable with words such as “egoista” (selfish). Because I have become OK with such words, I can no longer be manipulated by them. The people that choose to call you “egoista”/selfish/etc. are usually people that are resentful at seeing you choose to live your life the way you want to live it. They resent the fact that they didn’t make the same choice, and hence do not want others to have the freedom to make this choice. If you get past the hurt and pain that results from such labeling to the point that it doesn’t bother you anymore, those around you will not be able to manipulate you into their own agenda, attempting you have you live your life in a way that doesn’t feel threating to them and allows them to feel most comfortable.
At the end of the day, we are asked to take true responsibility for our lives. It takes work, and it’s tremendously uncomfortable as we fall short of the expectations those around us project unto us. Yet the alternative is to die knowing you forgot to live. And that’s not an option.
I hope this helps you! I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this post, share it with your friends and family!
Lots of love,