We name these events and tell our story in a state of amnesia, forgetting that there are seasons, cycles and the infinite unknown, present and influencing our lives naturally and continually, even when things look bad.
When a person has a near miss or a near death experience, a visceral awakening to the brevity of a lifetime occurs. Perspectives, interests, priorities and consciousness quake and shift.
I woke up after a near death experience with ninety-six staples from stem to stern. Ouch.
I had been a very busy person, on the go, with a never ending “to do” list, always improving things, excited about life and making a difference, curious and willing to grow. Boom.
The moment I realized that this was it, my life was ending, a single awareness remained: How can this be over…I have done nothing. That’s right Ms. Busy Accomplishing had done nothing. Trust me, this is not a good feeling when your last breath is immanent.
After that experience I had one primary animating desire: When I inevitably arrive at that moment again I would be grateful to feel very differently. I had no idea what would change, how my life and world would shift. I was open. What would “doing something” feel and look like?
While in recovery, I read about the great physicist, James Clerk Maxwell. Every modern convenience and technology has the indelible mark of his feat: the unification of the phenomena of magnetism, electricity, and light. As Maxwell lay on his deathbed he spoke to a colleague and old friend: “What is done by what is called myself, I feel, done by something greater than myself in me.”
Is this our cultural problem? Do we squish everyday, moment and year, packing time with infinite and important “to do’s” leaving no room for something greater to come through? Maybe the enduring state of “to doing” was the cause of my sense of having done nothing. Paradox.
Near death and near misses change us. We learn and long to power up to “something more”.
Fortunately we have many power ups and practices that shift our energies. We all have our favorites, these are three of mine:
1. If you don’t love or have passion for what you do, whether it is a job or a responsibility, find a way to love the way you do it. The energy of “the way” is as vital as “the what”.
2. Practice fearless generosity by sharing something that is valuable to another, that is not owed or expected and that money can’t buy.
3. Replace feelings of fear with embodied gratitude, no matter how fleeting. We make room for the “something more” with patience and practice.
“Now the wind is changing, and people are again realizing that they are far more than they themselves can know.” Tor Norretranders