“She said she usually cried at least once each day not because
she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short.”
Lately I have been reminded about how beautiful and short life is. When I hear about another mass shooting, the devastating fires in California, regular natural disasters throughout the country and world, and unexpected illnesses and deaths of family and friends, I cannot escape this foundational truth. Yet finding ways not sink into despair, grief, and hopeless is absolutely critical for my mental health and essential in these challenging times.
One of the ways I transform my grief and despair into meaning is by thinking about people who have inspired me to live life to the fullest, like my father Bob and my meditation teacher Tom. My dad embraced life fully, joyfully, and was a true force of nature! At his memorial service almost 20 years ago, the George Bernard Shaw’s poem was read and summed up the reason for his zest for living fully.
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
This poem gave meaning to my dad’s remarkable but shortened life and embodied his commitment to living fully, with a heart wide open and filled with gratitude, and burning as brightly as possible for a greater good. I am honored and grateful for this inspiration and for my dad’s example of embracing the nurturing power of now!
At Tom’s memorial service, his amazing wife and fellow meditation teacher Julie shared that if Tom were to share anything it would be don’t wait! Life your life now! Experience this present moment with all its beauty, awe, and wonder.
To this day, I am still moved by this simple and profound message and the inspiration of Tom’s grace filled example of living and dying with purpose, intention, kindness, and true presence. Indeed, embracing the nurturing power of now allows us to live fully on this beautiful planet and appreciate the beauty, awe, and wonder.
As I continue to reflect on ways to integrate this wisdom into my everyday life, I periodically ask myself what am I “waiting” to do? What activities am I putting off thinking I have plenty of time on this earth, when that actually may not be the case? What activities am I committed to that don’t bring me joy or add to my experience of living fully on this planet?
Today my “waiting to do” list includes international travel, seeing more live music, reading more books, hiking weekly, visiting friends throughout the country, writing my book on self-nurturing, planting a garden, and doing more yoga. I know that in my rich and full life, I will have to say no to some things to create more space for these nurturing experiences. I have found the following questions to be supportive in this process and invite you to reflect on them:
- What is on my “waiting to do” list?
- Why have I put these nurturing activities or experiences off?
- How would my life be enriched if I embraced the nurturing power of now and added these activities into my day?
- What can I commit to doing today that will connect me to the wonder and awe of being alive?
- How will living fully and authentically nurture me?
Since we have this one beautiful and short life, we must live fully, authentically, and without apology. I love the Jack Kerouac quote, “Love, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” In this spirit, I am committed to bring more joy and gratitude into my everyday life and deepen my experience of living fully on this beautiful earth, embracing the nurturing power of now!
In the wise words of Bob Marley, “Love the life you live, and live the life you love.”
May you embrace the nurturing power of now and live fully and joyfully, as you continue to nurture peace in the world from the inside out!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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