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The measure of a life

“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; There is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”

Anais Nin

Last week we lost a dear friend to cancer, someone we had known since college who was not even 50. Sadly this was not unexpected but losing a friend so young and so full of joy was and still is beyond difficult. It is moments like these that make us all stop in our tracks and hit the reset button to think about what is truly important? I found myself asking how am I  using my precious time  and what really matters?

I came home from the service a bit numb, sad and depressed. I decided to read to try to take my mind off the days events. I began to read an article about Paul Allen, Microsoft’s co-founder who had also just passed away. The article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy talked about Paul Allen’s passion for life. It discussed his love of learning, of music, sports, exploring ideas and world’s unknown. Paul Allen donated over 2.3 billion dollars in his lifetime and in addition to that he also took the Giving Pledge, vowing to donate more than half of his estate to charity.

When he took the giving pledge he had to write an essay and in it he said, “My philanthropic strategy is informed by my enduring belief in the power of new ideas.  By dedicating resources that can help some of the world’s most creative thinkers accelerate discovery, I hope to serve as a catalyst for progress-in large part, by encouraging closer collaboration and challenging conventional thinking. When smart people work together with vision and determination, there is little we can’t accomplish.”

Each life, whether our friends, Paul Allen’s or our own is ultimately only as good as the meaning we give it. We are the author, we have the pen and now to script that meaning, our individual plot, our novel and our book. The meaning is for each of us to find and to live.

 

Charity Matters.

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The Year of Magical Thinking

the-year-of-magical-thinking

One of my favorite books is Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. It is the real life story of loss and grief. A book I have given to many a friend who has lost a loved one.

What makes this book magical is that it talks about what triggers these emotions, in such a beautiful way. This year, has been a year of magical thinking. No, I have not lost a loved one but there has been much loss. We moved from the home where we raised our sons, we didn’t just get rid of the house, but most of everything inside…who knew that purging is loss? Our second son went off to college, our new house was truly empty, the dog died and I realized that perhaps my youth was on its way out too.

All loss but in a different way. It just chips away at you little by little, rather than in that large earthquake of loss that we experience with death. But the sadness, the feeling of loss is still there. Joan Didion writes, “we are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. as we were. as we are no longer. as we will one day not be at all.”

Loss is life, it is change, it is growth and renewal and it is hard. Whether it comes to you in an earthquake or is chipped away piece by piece it is a process that each of us must endure in our own way. This past year of loss, has once again, been a year of magical thinking.

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Simply No words

sangabriel mountains

In almost five years of blogging, I have rarely re-posted previous work. Last Saturday, I wrote a post about the Year of Magical thinking and loss. Little did I know that an earthquake of loss would hit our community within hours of writing it. Sadly, with a heavy heart, I am reposting this from a few years back…because there simply are no words…

 

Twelve years ago I had a phone call that changed my life, a car accident, a death and nothing was simply ever the same after that call. A dear friend just received that same call and so it all comes flooding back…the pain, the loss, the heart-break that feels like it will never end….it is simply too much. There are simply no words….

As I struggle with how to hold up my friend, I find myself thinking about loss and growth. I think many of us feel that growth comes in tiny layers added up over time and that each day’s journey gets us a little closer to inner-growth. I have a different theory.

I believe life is like an earthquakes where huge jolts cause cataclysmic shifts like tectonic plates to our souls. In nature these shifts result in mountains. Inside each of  us is a similar experience. When the rocking stops we somehow come out shifted. Our vision becomes clearer, we see what is important for the first time, we learn gratitude in everything and the growth is as monumental as a mountain. It is the growth of our soul.

When I sat down to write this week about soul, I had no idea how I would conclude. I certainly didn’t envision this, but as I struggle and question why? I know that why an earthquake has leveled a family, I can only pray that the shift will bring the strength, foundation, and the beauty of a mountain to each of them.

These are simply words, when there really are none…

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.