Death and loss have been front and center lately.
Michael’s father passed away 2 years ago. I lost my father one year ago this past February. My mother passed away just a little over a month ago.
About 48 hours ago, my brother in law was in a tragic accident and suffered severe head trauma. He is in a coma, and barring a miracle, he will likely never recover. If we go by his wishes, he too will soon be gone, fully. Although it already feels like he is.
Sorry for the morbid opening. This is life. It is hard. Its lessons come fast, often and are sometimes brutal.
So why are we talking about this?
Because life is hard, but it is also so incredibly amazing that despite the incredible suffering that happens on this planet we cling to it ferociously, until literally, our last dying breath.
It is very much worth living, fully.
With these losses so near to our hearts, it reminds us to love deeply, to be more compassionate, and to put aside our differences with friends, family members, co-workers, etc.
On Easter Sunday, my wife and I went over to my brother in law’s family’s home for their Easter party. It was a beautiful sunny day and we’d thought about going hiking but instead decided to go there to spend time with our nephews and the rest of the family.
After the party was over we were all sitting on the couch watching Ben-Hur — he loved all the classic films — my brother in law, Lyndon, asked my wife and me to come back to his place with him and the kids to watch another film and hang out. We said no, we had to get back to the city, but and a few minutes later he asked again, and then again.
My wife and I looked at each other thinking how odd this was for him. He’d asked us to hang out before but this was different somehow. It was very specific, in that he asked back to back as if saying, are you sure you can’t come over? On the drive home on the highway we almost turned back, but we didn’t.
Here’s the hard part. I chose not to come over because there was a place in my heart that was angry with him. As we all do, he had his flaws, and he had done some things that I felt made him a person that was better to be with in small doses.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed spending time with him. He was the life of the party. Always balancing objects, big or small on his chin, or his head. He was like a circus act. He loved grilling, and I truly enjoyed breaking bread with him. His two kids are as if they were my own. But there was always a part of him that I couldn’t move beyond.
And now, he is practically gone. Alive, but dead at the same time, and it is now killing me that I didn’t see beyond that part of him. That I didn’t say yes to hanging out with him one more time. I wish I’d invited him hiking more often, but I didn’t. He had a hard way about him that I failed to move beyond, to some degree.
And now the flood of tears reminds me just how much I cared for this person I knew for almost a decade.
This is our call to action for you
We all have flaws. That’s just the way it goes. I don’t blame myself for creating space. It was warranted because I knew the limit of my own flaws. And that’s where it lies.
Our reactions to other people are only reactions to our own faults. He was a mirror image for me. He reminded me that I had to keep working deeply on this part of myself and in this moment, I feel like I failed him.
I know I’m being hard on myself, after all, I am human and I acknowledge my flaws. He was hard on himself, and others close to him as well.
But there is a concept in Buddhism that says that desires are enlightenment. What it means is that we use our earthly desires to drive our charge for enlightenment. To me, this applies to moments like this one.
Use your flaws to drive your mission for self-improvement. Use the moments that challenge you to go deeper so that you can become the best, or at least a better version of yourself than you were the day before.
Because the world needs us to be better, stronger in will and resolve. To be more than we can be so we can move beyond all the petty stories we tell ourselves to live more fulfilling lives.
Life is bigger than any one moment, even when that moment seems like the biggest deal in the world. But it is in these small, “big moments” that growth can happen.
What situation in your life is perhaps calling you to go deeper? Is there resistance there, and how do you think you can move beyond it?
Let us know in the comments section below. Go deep and love from that space.
Pablo and Michael