Have you ever noticed how people struggle with the idea of saying “goodbye.” People have a tendency of finding me abrupt when it comes to phone conversations or at the end of social events. The way I see it: “When it’s time to go, it’s time to go!” I don’t like the hesitation, the resistance, the fear and unease that people go through when it gets close to say “good bye, goodnight, or see you later.” From my point of view if people played around with the idea of “death” whenever it manifests in some shape or form in their life, they would eventually move beyond their limitations and gain so much from the teachings.
People define death at something negative, something tragic and something they would love to refuse rather than surrender to. The fact of the matter is death is inevitable and as far as anyone knows “it opens up to an unknown”.
Statistically speaking the divorce rate has never been so high. I’ve never met so many people who are not in relationships or who complain about not being able to find adequate boyfriends and girlfriends. And yet through all of this people increasingly have difficulty when it comes to break ups. A lot of people I’ve talked to blamed technology, and how e-mails and text messaging makes it easier for people to walk away without having to face any consequences or negative reactions. Personally I find that it’s become too easy to blame television, rock music, drugs and now technology for our modern, human shortcomings. I tend to believe that no matter the century humans are humans. If we can shy away from what makes us uncomfortable we will. We’ll even invent great excuses to do so…
When you sit down with people who are struggling with their relationships you’ll often come across the same fears or worries. People fear rejection, abandonment and being blamed for the unhappiness of a loved one or the failure of a relationship. Listening to young people these days I’ve come across new concerns that weren’t so much an issue 30 years ago when I was dating. Lots of today’s youth for example fear betrayal, sexually transmitted disease and regretting. I’ve heard my daughter say a few times that “she didn’t want to regret loving someone or giving so much of herself to others.” It’s as if these days relationships start with so many boundaries that it’s impossible to ever get to a degree of intimacy where people can truly come from their hearts and be 100% committed to their mates. I find that countless relationships these days are doomed to fail because of the way they start.
In the ‘90’s when I had my children I was told in pre-natal classes how important it was to teach children to socialize. I’m not sure if it was because of how society was changing with both parents often working in a household or because of scientific research; but I felt often pressured by the people around me to get my kids involved with other children their age. Day care, pre-kindergarten, play groups and afterschool projects were popular. I’m not saying “I disagree with the idea of socializing”; but I can’t say that we teach our children more or better positive attitudes or socializing skills than what our parents or grand-parents received from their childhood experiences. I’d even go as far as to say that today’s youth get less than they ever did before.
Six years ago, at a conference in Quebec city on the topic of teenage suicides, drugs and peer pressure, I was asked during an open-mic question-and-answer session what I thought was important to teach children in order to give them a fighting chance against these major issues? I answered: “As a parent I teach my kids that we never stop growing up. We never stop learning and healing. I show my kids every day what I can do and in turn there’s no way they can’t do it too.”
I remember when my daughter started learning how to write and count, it was the same year that my husband was promoted to a new position at work. He was struggling with new responsibilities and coming home with a level of stress that often made him more aggressive and introspective. The kids felt that there was something going on with their father. At first they identified it as “something wrong” because ET was acting somewhat negatively. Kids and animals pick up on vibes or energy. When we become adults we somehow forget how to translate this language even though our body continues to record it. I was just starting to apply the Medicine Wheel to my life when an elder gave me a wonderful suggestion. She said: “Get inspired by the life you are living Lisa rather than letting it get you down.”
So, I started telling the kids about what was going on with their father and with me. The idea wasn’t for them to understand it from our level of awareness; but to grasp something out of it. I always tell the people who come to hear me speak that it’s not important that they retain or understand everything that I’m saying; but rather they should leave with one or two statements that can make their life easier, empowering, inspiring etc… in the month that follows. Learning implies picking up jewels left behind from the stories of others. When I explained to the kids that their father wasn’t quite grasping the math within his new job similarly to how they sometimes struggled with their lessons and homework they quickly reacted. CT approached his dad after supper one night and said: “Daddy I’m pretty good at math maybe I could help you.”
During those early childhood years we managed to teach our children through our own experiences and how we met life’s challenges. I’m someone who doesn’t believe in coincidences. Whatever the Universe threw our way was meant to be shared as a family. It would influence how each of us would grow up. Too many parents come with the social program “if they are parents then, they are grown up.” The fact of the matter is parenthood is just another life experience within the journey of growth and change. It makes a world of different when you figure out that you’re no where near to being grown up ever… It’s a never ending process. Hiding, resisting and ignoring can only cheat us from the beauty and abundance of our personal story.
Just recently I heard my daughter tell her boyfriend “in our house everyone fits and has his or her spot that nobody else can fill.” In that moment I felt in her a strong sense of self-esteem. Her words got me understanding that self-confidence occurs when we feel like we belong, we’re important, we’re valued and we’re needed. When I told her that I was nowhere near that kind of inner strength at her age, she replied: “Contrary to me, you didn’t have the kind of family and environment that worked together and towards the same common goal.” She explained quite eloquently that what she learnt in the 20 years of her life is that when people commit to the same Wheel everyone benefits from it.
Twelve years ago, EC a friend, teacher and Passamaquody elder said to me: “The Sacred Circle Tradition teaches us about the finite and infinite dimensions of Life. We get to choose how we explore it all. I suggest you always keep your eye on what’s beauty and abundant. This way you’ll be happy.”
It’s impossible to live a life without any hardship but if you always focus on what you can learn and what you heal through life’s challenges it is not impossible to live a life of pure beauty and abundance. I certainly devoted my life to this kind of thinking and made sure I taught my kids to face the “good and the bad” as if they were gifts from the gods. From my point of view, it was important to teach my kids about life and death; which are two natural realities in everything we do.
“We die every night when we fall asleep,” I often said “and we are reborn every morning when we wake up.”
I taught them how to finish every day with a moment of integration. If they felt horrible about something it was best to deal with it day by day and not carry guilt, regret and shame. Forgiveness came at the end of every day so that they could be reborn new. Both CT and KT are not individuals who carry burdens and I’m impressed with that… It took me years to learn to detach. 20 years later I see more than ever how important it is to teach our children how to live fully and die peacefully. These aren’t just poetic words they are practical and empirical lessons that can be recognized daily. None of it is about the macabre or even eerie. It just simple, clear, reasonable and healthy living.
If you’re asking yourself the question: Why did she write about this today?
It’s because five times today I met up with people who complained about friends or family members. All five of these people dealt with issues where they couldn’t put their foot down and say: “No!” Or they couldn’t once and for all take a break from toxic relationships. On all accounts it came down to the fact that these people didn’t know how to say “goodbye.” They worried about judgments, persecution, conflict and long term unresolved; but didn’t realize that one way or another that’s exactly what they were dealing with.
After sharing my day with my husband he said: “What are they missing?”
My reply was: “Learning how to say goodbye. Goodbye to their programs, their expectations, their own issues and fears. And eventually goodbye to the programs of others, their expectations, and their issues and fears. If only people could learn to die a little bit each day...”