Twirling the yarn strings to her snow hat, as we stood in the elevator, I asked this little adorable pixie: "How old are you?" Grinning ear to ear, she held out four pink fingers and said: "Four and three-fourths!" It was clear that she was proud of her station in life, and happily anticipating her new liberated status when spring arrives.
When do we stop celebrating the "fraction" when asked our age? I can assure you that, as 66 approaches Jan. 28, I am no longer adding more details! The question is, whatever our chronological years, do we share the same sense of delight, as little Pink Cap?
Age is relative, after all. Thirty years ago, today, I asked my mother, on her death bed: "What's it like to be at this place in your life?" She paused, and quietly mused: "It is a shock, actually. Age is not what you think. Most of the time, I look at this 74-year-old husk of a body and tell myself, 'This cannot be mine!' Inside, sometimes I feel like 21, or 43, or 37. I suppose we are many ages wrapped up in one, depending on how you are counting. The important thing is gather the moments today. These are the pearls on your necklace, the moments that become memories. I hope your necklace is long." Elsa was not long on words, but these I have never forgotten. I wish you, as well, a long necklace of pearl moments.
How do we proceed? Ernest Holmes gives us a clue: "Every day is a fresh beginning, every day is the world made new... That moment in the eternal present when we are no longer conditioned by the past and when anticipation of the future does not condition the present -- we shall be free."
What conditioning gets in our way? It is so easy to slip into stale stories that keep us imprisoned. We allow ourselves to get hooked by dramas, traumas, bad news and tales of victimization to which many are life-long subscribers. Frankly, that metaphorical newspaper, I can do without. How about you?
A case in point. The fact is that it is much easier to explain why we cannot move on, be free, than it is to take a risk. Several weeks ago, a man told me that we all are lucky he did not take his own life. I asked him what would improve his situation? His retort: "There's nothing I can do. I am alone all day. I might die at any moment. I am stuck." Twenty years younger than I am, I assured him that any of us could die at any moment, regardless whether we are home or not. You know me. I couldn't resist. So I asked: "What if you dared to take a risk, step out, get out, and find some life in it? What if you dared to live?" He shook his head, proclaiming "It's too late for me."
It is if we say so. We write our narrative. Either we write new chapters, or we stay stuck in the old, cardboard, dry, lifeless dusty pages as if they belonged to today. I am not saying that it doesn't take some sweat equity to find a new storyline. I am only saying that life gets a heck of a lot more interesting if we do! It's not enough to argue for what we don't want. Sooner or later, if we want Lady Liberty in our life, we've got to hold the torch ourselves, illuminate where we have lost ourselves, our verve, our joy, our humor, our passion in the darkness, and reclaim the life that is ours to live.
Some might call this a small thing. I think not. I'm with Wallace Wattles, a pioneer in the field of what creates abundance and prosperity, who discovered long ago: "You can render to God and humanity no greater service than to make the most of yourself."
This time, last year, our brothers and sisters in Japan had no idea that by Pink Cap's fourth birthday, many of their lives would change dramatically. Since March 2011, many celebrated their final birthdays, others ushered in their first. The love and courage that shines through the lives lost and found is a glowing testimonial to what is possible. Each time one person is willing to open their eyes and ears, clear their minds from the clamor of the world, and unbind their heart, something truly beautiful emerges. Whenever we are willing to remember that we are all one family, the good comes alive through our service to what lives beyond our self-created stories of victimization and self-imposed litany of "can't."
Turn away from the clock, and restore your spirit via this video. Watch the whole story. Trust me. You will be glad you did. Someone very special has a message for you even if it is not your birthday yet.
What I know for certain from a 66-year trek is that it is not what happens to us that is the key to a well-lived and liberated life. Rather, it is our willingness to stand in the fire, trust that we are not alone, and shed our fear, release our anger, and become an empty vessel for grace to come again through baby steps and patience, as we go out into the world, hold hands, and find the miracle in the remains of what has been.
A special note to long-time readers: This past week, my own feet have been very much in the fire. I want to personally thank you for your compassion, caring and courage you show one another week after week. I am told there is nothing like this community at our café on the web. I believe it. Serving life and one another as you do brings me deep gratitude for the gift of life. My gratitude your way.
Love letter for the man who fears going out into the world:
I have thought a great deal about you. It must be a terrible thing to believe that you are trapped, that nothing you do will help. I cannot imagine. What I do know is that you came into this world with purpose. What I do know is that just as a diamond needs all its facets shining for the gem to have greatest value, our world needs your participation in it, putting your best self forward, if we are all to advance in the direction of our dream to create a better place for our children and our children's children. Your birth was not an accident. Your life need not be a disaster if you decide to make it better. Why settle for playing small? Decide. A master teacher once said: "Let the dead bury the dead." Release the thinking that haunts you as ghosts in the night. Embrace what is fresh. Go outside. Smell the air. Notice winter: that while you cannot see it, new growth is incubating beneath the surface. Hang in there. This is so with you, right here, and right now.
Your turn: What would it take for you to be liberated by your next birthday? What was the most liberating moment/experience you've had since your last birthday, and what made it so? I'm listening!
New: For those who have asked, the first copies of The Love Project: Coming Home will be available in several weeks, according to the university press.
Meanwhile, I'd love to find the agent who is a "fit" for this newborn. Hints? Contacts????
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