Tag Archives: “loving yourself”

Chasing Bliss

"Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option." -Maya Angelou

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
-Maya Angelou

She’d been in the back of the truck outside the bar for hours. He would come out at some point, drunk. It smelled like snow was on the way, and Dahlia was cold. She had always waited in the truck; her job was to guard the truck.

It was not a loving relationship with her master. He loved his truck and beer, not her–she could be any dog.

Dahlia felt uncertain about her future as she stood in the bed of the truck, shivering. She was getting older; the situation was very predictable and never going to get better. She could have felt hopeless and full of despair, but Dahlia’s imagination was her best friend. Suddenly she was gripped by an unexpected urge that excited her so much, she almost couldn’t contain herself. So she didn’t. Dahlia looked around. The path was clear. She jumped out of the truck and ran. Dahlia felt there was a better life waiting for her, somewhere.

When her master had brought her home after picking her from the litter seven years earlier, she felt so special. She got bored when he was at work and began to chew on some things to pass the time. He was angry when he got home and found the dissected TV remote control. Then he saw the barely recognizable cowboy boot in the middle of the living room rug. He yelled at her and kicked her until she yelped in pain, before throwing her outside, forever. He didn’t understand her new teeth hurt and she was bored. Dahlia never saw the inside of the house again. He was always mean to her, even though her chewing days were long gone. He paid no attention to her other than giving her some dry food and water. He considered “play” to be taking her with him to watch the truck while he drank with his buddies. She wasn’t going to wait for him to be happy with her.

Being outside had its benefits. She heard all the dog gossip in the neighborhood. She got to chatting with the other neighborhood dogs while he was at work. Everyone had a story to tell. Walks, road trips, naps on the couch, toys and table scraps—especially the food the kids didn’t like. She discovered she had not lucked out in the lifestyle lottery. She had grown to enjoy the outdoors but would have liked to have a choice to go inside when the weather was bad. She was happy for the others—it gave her hope. She wanted to feel loved and appreciated for who she was too. She had a lot of love to offer in return.

After traveling for hours, she was thirsty, hungry, cold and exhausted. Even a bit afraid. It was getting dark. Dahlia found a nice soft place to sleep under a large bush that barely sheltered her from the chilly wind. Before she closed her eyes, she looked up at the moon. She asked that she be shown the way to a joyful life—one meant just for her.

Dahlia awoke to a light dusting of snow surrounding her. It was beautiful and very cold. Her immediate goals were water and something to eat. She walked until she reached a bay where the calm water had frozen over. She ventured out onto the smooth surface and licked the ice. She surveyed the scene, still full of exhilaration over the adventure that awaited her, but worried about food.

A small black thing bouncing through the ice distracted her. What was that little thing? She watched it bounce up, each time a cracking sound. Then, down it went. It moved rhythmically up and down through the ice again, now several yards away. She wanted to chase it, catch it and perhaps eat it! Chasing it was great fun! She never knew where it would pop up, and she became happily lost in the challenge of it all. She did not remember when she felt so blissful.

At the edge of the bay she was confused as the little black thing sped out to deeper water. She was mesmerized as it rose up, exploding out of the water in a spectacular display of power and grace. A whale! She had been chasing a whale! It crashed down into the choppy water and swam back to where she was pacing excitedly on the frozen bay. A gigantic head poked through the water.
“Hey, that was a lot of fun. I bet you weren’t expecting that! What’s your name?”
“Dahlia. I was having so much fun I lost all track of time chasing you! I even forgot how hungry I was,” she said, a little dismayed he was not food.
The whale blinked his enormous eye at Dahlia.
“Wait here,” he said.

The big head was gone. Ripples of icy water sloshed at her paws as she stood on the edge of the frozen bay. She watched the spot where he’d disappeared, having no idea what she was waiting for. Up he came with a burst, spewing a mountain of wiggling fish onto the ice for her to feast on! And feast she did, until she could hold no more. She burped.

“I’m so sorry; you have been so thoughtful and kind! Thank you for the fish. I don’t even know your name.” Dahlia hung her head in embarrassment.
“Tahi. The pleasure has all been mine. I hope we can play again soon!”

With that, he turned and disappeared under the water. Dahlia smiled as she wandered off with her bulging belly. What a difference a simple act of kindness made, she thought as she felt her spirits buoyed. Now she needed to find better shelter than the bush she’d slept under.
She spotted a grouping of rocks a short distance away and walked with new energy to investigate. As she walked around the huge, grey boulders she saw nothing that could be considered shelter. She spied a small opening near the bottom of one of the rocks. It looked barely big enough to fit her and her full tummy. She squeezed herself under it, burying her claws into the ground to pull herself inside. Dahlia was amazed to see that once inside the rocks, there was a cavern. A perfectly sheltered, hollow area where she could stand up easily and walk around. An ideal new home. She promptly turned three times, laid down and took a long nap.

Tahi and Dahlia grew very close over the months; they were inseparable. Tahi would take Dahlia for exciting rides on his back and bring her bounty from the sea. Dahlia would lick his salty face with loving kisses of gratitude. She’d run in circles on the beach, barking while he frolicked in the waves, putting on a show for her.

One night, nestled in her cavern, she was struck with how easily things started to go right, months ago. It was only when she decided she deserved better that she found better. When she followed her happiness, it grew into something unimaginable. Her happiness was her guide; it pointed where she needed to go next. All of her needs that she had worried over had been fulfilled in the most remarkable ways. She’d put forth effort, but it was enjoyable. She couldn’t explain it. She laid her head down to sleep as Tahi wished her a soulful good night off in the distance.

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.

-Rumi

Advertisements

The Forest Cats

"When the solution is simple, God is answering." -Albert Einstein

“When the solution is simple, God is answering.”
-Albert Einstein

As Lulu stared into the stars, she knew her life would never be the same.

The day started out with the other forest cats in Lulu’s tribe arguing amongst themselves.
Who was the best looking? Who had the best lair? Who had the best stash of dead mice and birds for the coming winter?

In truth, they were all fearful of sickness or a storm that could destroy it all. Lulu quickly tired of the bickering and boasting. She wondered why she could not muster the interest to join in. They always had more than enough to feast on every winter. Everyone was unique-looking, as was their skill set at hunting and lair building. It was quite pointless. Why was the tribe always trying to be separate from each other? They were never satisfied. Their strength was in working together, using all their different talents.

“Is there more to existence than this?” Lulu asked.
Nobody heard her. She felt she was having something akin to a dark night of the soul.

Lulu became restless and started to wander off for some solitude. A pale blue flash caught her eye. It looked like a rabbit. It ran like a rabbit. It stopped and watched her with the most unusual and penetrating sapphire blue eyes. Unlike any rabbit she’d ever seen. She took off after it. The rabbit hop-skipped a narrow rutted path ahead of her. Every so often he would stop and turn back to look at her, teasing, to make sure she was following. She was, and felt a little silly with her head low, crouching, moving slowly and deliberately. He was in charge, not her. He wanted her to follow him. Lulu had every intention of doing just that.

As he ran into the nearby open field he took off at an unworldly pace. Effortlessly, he floated through the field. She tried her best to keep up, with the tall, dry field grass whipping her face. She never took her eyes off him. Then he suddenly stopped. He turned back to look at her with those magnetic eyes. She stopped in her tracks as she watched him become a tiny tornado of swirling blue light. Moments later, he dissolved from the bottom up.

She rushed to the spot only to find a typical rabbit hole. She wasn’t sure what just happened, but she was sure it happened.

She moved closer to the hole and cautiously peeked down into it. She felt a vastness drift through her—as though she were pure energy, her body gone. She stared in amazement as the entire universe stared back, drawing her further into its eternity.

“Everything is upside down.”

Words tumbled into her consciousness, as if they were not her own—but yet they were. Lulu listened, purring with excitement and anticipation. It was as if some other consciousness was downloading information into her mind, yet it was familiar.

“The others are living from the outside in. Perceiving they never have enough. Looking for happiness in more of the same, which keeps them in a state of lack. Their egos are never satisfied. There is never, ever, going to be enough to fill the emptiness inside. The only thing that fills the emptiness is my love. Through my love, you learn to love yourself—your uniqueness and the uniqueness of everyone around you. Look inside—not outside—for a love like no other. No matter how many mice and birds you have, no matter what you look like, or where you live…I will always love you.”

Silence.

As Lulu stepped back from the hole, she was purring at a deafening volume. She was suddenly aware of her surroundings, the soft dirt under her paws. She inhaled the gentle breeze, gazing up at the beautiful white clouds drifting overhead. She felt awash with a sense of comfort, a joy on a level she had never experienced. She could not wait to get back to the tribe to tell them of her adventure and bring them all to see and experience the hole!

“Come quick, everyone!” Lulu shouted as she got within earshot, closing in on the still bickering tribe. “I have to show you, everything is going to be okay, I can’t even explain it, but it will change everything!”

All being curious, they jumped up and followed her out to the field. She stood over the hole and said, “Go ahead; you have to look inside.” She waited for someone to step forward. Nobody seemed to want to look inside.

One by one the forest cats started laughing. Pretty soon they were all joined in laughing and rolling on the ground. “Look inside!” someone would shout and they’d all laugh again hysterically. Lulu didn’t understand they couldn’t see the hole.

They all wandered back to camp, enjoying the joke. Lulu tagged behind while they chanted “Look inside, look inside,” laughing anew, and never tiring of the ridicule. Finally one forest cat turned to her and said, “You’ve gone mad. I sincerely hope you do not become a burden and drain our resources.”

Lulu felt an unwavering security within herself that whatever happened, she would be fine. She didn’t understand the reaction of the tribe at all; she thought they’d be excited.

Bebe was a quiet forest cat, older—and mostly she kept to herself. Even during the recent commotion she steered clear. Lulu watched as Bebe sauntered up to her.
“I was wondering when someone else would discover the hole,” she said purring loudly and smiling at Lulu. “The others can’t see it Lulu. I’m sorry.”
“Why?” Lulu asked. The thought never occurred to her.

“Because they purr at such a low vibration, always living from the outside in. They don’t want change—even though they are never satisfied, they believe it’s as good as it gets. What you are seeing in the hole is the universe inside yourself. When I look in the hole, I see the universe inside myself. The point being, we are seeing the same universe because we are both a part of it. As are the others. We are all One. All connected by a knowingness inside. The others strive because they resist the knowingness, but it will be there if they ask. You must have asked if there was more to life. It always answers. Eventually. If you remain open for the answer.”

Lulu thought about how this changed everything for her. She couldn’t condemn the other forest cats for something they couldn’t see. She felt compassion for the others but knew she could never go back to life before following the strange rabbit to the hole.

Winter came in like a bull. The storm destroyed everything in its path. All the lairs and food supplies were gone. The forest cats were getting sick and weak, losing patches of fur and feeling very scared. Lulu marveled at the strength of the storm and what it had done. She couldn’t help thinking some good would come from it all. Even though the suffering of the tribe was terrible and she was feeling very weak herself.

She and Bebe decided to go to the hole to meditate, without telling the others. Relieved it was still there, unchanged by the storm, they both peeked inside at the glorious universe. Then they sat back, closed their eyes and synchronized their purring. They desperately needed guidance.
Bebe whispered, “What now?”

It wasn’t long before the words flowed to them: “The storm was isolated. About 200 yards north from your camp it is untouched by the storm. It is near a stream loaded with fish for food and surrounded by a bank of trees that will provide shelter. Move the tribe there now.”

Bebe and Lulu rushed back to the camp and told everyone to follow them. The forest cats were too tired to argue or make fun of following crazy Lulu anywhere. The new camp was just as expected—only better. Fish jumped from the stream as the forest cats caught them in their paws. It was better than anything they had ever imagined. The shelter provided by the trees was natural, providing strength by having grown through many storms. The cats surrounded Bebe and Lulu, dancing in a circle and celebrating their genius.

“How did you know this was here Lulu?” asked one scraggly forest cat.
“A blue rabbit told me it would be purrrrrrfect for us.” She winked at Bebe. Confused, he walked away saying, “Lulu, you’re as crazy as you ever were.”

“As the saying goes,” said Bebe, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” She and Lulu lay down, stretching out in the sun.

“To understand the true nature of the Universe,

one must think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

-Nikola Tesla

SKYVAC 1.1

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." -Nora Ephron

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
-Nora Ephron

Lola sat on one of the intake ramps of the SKYVAC 1.1. She sipped her wine as she stared at the culprit, the murderous intake facilitator. She was a failure. All she could feel was the intake sucking her dreams out of her. She felt all her fear and anxiety rush in to fill the void. Ten years of her life a waste—a failure. The test cities, New Delhi and Beijing, wanted nothing to do with her now.

She had invented the SKYVAC 1.1. It was a sophisticated vacuum cleaner for the sky. It was intended to float above the world’s cities with the dirtiest air, quietly sucking in polluted air and expelling clean and filtered air out the other end. Thinking she had considered everything, she had forgotten the birds. Curious birds were sucked in too. Not good. Now she had P.E.T.A. on her back. The self-flagellation continued to chatter in her head as she stared at the intake. How could she have been so stupid?
Lola thought aloud, “Who decided it was a failure?”
“Everyone,” she answered.

Something nagged at her though. It was that “don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater” thing. The rest of SKYVAC 1.1 worked perfectly. She looked heavenward.
“Some help for the bird murderer, please?”

It was all Lola could think of, as a tear rolled down her cheek. Everything sucked everything.
She took another sip of wine and watched a small bird land on the rim of the intake. A moment later, a larger bird landed on the other side of the rim, scaring the little bird off. Lola froze. Her mind raced. She was able to picture exactly how to make the SKYVAC 1.1 into a giant bird! It would have giant flapping wings that would scare the birds. They’d never want to come near it in the first place! She had to do this! She prayed they would give her another chance once they saw it.

A few months later, the ArgentaVac 1.2 was born. Named after the largest known pre-historic bird ever to exist, the Argentavis. It had a wing span of 25 feet and weighed about 200 pounds. She invited the reluctant and doubtful clients to the hanger and was grateful for another chance.

Their jaws dropped in unison as she rolled the concealing screen to the side, revealing the enormous bird. They were speechless; she couldn’t tell if they loved it or hated it.
“Say something,” Lola said under her breath.
Beijing smiled and nodded in the affirmative, saying, “This is brilliant, it will work!”
Pretty soon New Delhi was smiling too. “This will be something tourists will come to see—and it will not only clean the air, but it will help our economy too!”

Lola let out the breath she’d been holding. She breathed deeply and smiled along with them.
Word spread quickly, as orders from dirty cities all over the world poured in. Everyone wanted the spectacle of the giant bird flying over their city, cleaning the air and delighting children. It wasn’t long before it was ironically nicknamed the Bird Fart. F-resh, A-ir, R-elease, T-ransformer.

One evening, as she lay in bed, she thought about her supposed “failure.” She was sorry for the birds that were lost. She saw the whole story in a way that boggled her mind. Birds had ended her life as she’d dreamed it would be. Then, birds also led her to an inspired new and better life, for everyone. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It was not a failure after all, but merely a direction correction. She never would have come up with the ArgentaVac 1.2 had the SKYVAC 1.1 not been such a ghastly experience. What if she had quit then and there?

As she lay there thinking, it occurred to her that the most significant lesson in all of this had been when she had surrendered and asked for help. Then she watched the answer come to her, as if on the wings of birds.

“Remember your dreams and fight for them.  You must know what you want from life.  There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.”

-Paulo Coelho

Always A Race Horse

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
-Mark Twain

Savannah was beginning to feel the gloom of her surroundings. Only a week ago she was living on a preschool playground with lots of friends. That was until the gang member kidnapped her as part of his initiation. Only no ransom would be demanded. It was over—everyone laughed at how clever he’d been.

Life in the “cave,” as they called the long since abandoned building, was depressing. They came there in the evening to do drugs and put out their cigarettes on her. They strutted around displaying various acts of bravado fueled by lots of liquid courage. Then, the grand crescendo, smashing their bottles against the back wall. Mostly they got into fights with each other and tagged the walls.

She missed the playground with its lush trees and laughing children. The children had called her the Race Horse. It made her feel invincible. Obviously, there was more to being invincible, Savannah decided. She had to keep believing that was still who she was, even if nothing else around her indicated that.

As she looked around at the graffiti, she began to appreciate some of it as being quite artistic. Some with very vibrant colors and 3D effects. But the messages all of it sent were the same, some more blunt than others. Hatred, fear, despair, jealousy, insecurity, lots of anger, blame, hopelessness and no love for themselves or the world. Some she didn’t understand at all. Surely they had once been just like the children at the preschool. Full of joy, excitement and the wonder of life. Somewhere they had gotten abandoned, or worse—just like the building they gravitated to. Here they were, all of them together. They had found each other, like magnets, drawn to one another. All wanting from the others what they couldn’t give themselves—unconditional love. She felt compassion for all of them. The garbage smelled.

If she closed her eyes, she could imagine herself back on the playground. She could hear peals of laughter as the kids bantered over whose turn it was to ride the Race Horse. She imagined herself, a white Arabian horse, galloping on the beach, kicking up sand in the ocean air. She did not have to be her environment. Savannah realized she was the same inside, no matter where she was. She was still the Race Horse, because that’s what made her happiest.

The night stretched into the wee hours. It degenerated into gunfire into the desert sky as they all moved outside to shoot beer bottles. A typical raucous night with her new family. All had gone quiet as the gang dissipated, going their separate ways. A few hours later, Savannah heard a large vehicle just outside. Its headlights shining into the little windowless hole in the wall. It was very early morning, still dark. Something was up.

Three men with hard hats and flashlights entered the cave. Three beams of light painted the walls every which way.
“We might be able to salvage the bricks and resell them,” the tallest one said, looking around. “This will come down pretty fast, and I do think we could get something for the bricks. The paint might even make them sell better to some ‘artsy fartsy’ people.” They laughed.

Savannah felt panic shoot through her as she realized they were talking about tearing down the building! Just when she didn’t think her life could get more challenging, it did.
“Hey, check this out! Pretty cool—I’m going to take it home for the kids and clean it up,” the youngest one said. It took Savannah a minute before she realized she had been saved. “Help me get her on the truck, will you?”

Savannah felt herself being hoisted up and out into the dizzying fresh air. She gulped fresh air deeply, breathing out, ahhh… no garbage. They set her down on the bed of the truck and secured her with straps so she would be safe. Yes, they knew how to take care of a Race Horse, she giggled to herself. She sat in the back of the truck for another hour as they surveyed the rest of the building. She grew anxious waiting. Finally they all came out and piled into the truck.
After a bumpy ride, they stopped abruptly and the engine went quiet. A cloud of dust from the dirt road enveloped her. She couldn’t see a thing but she could hear.

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! Is that a horse? Is that for us?”
Several young voices were all talking excitedly over each other. As the dust settled, she could see three young girls and one quiet, overwhelmed little boy. Eyes transfixed on Savannah. They all gathered around as the men lifted her down off the truck and carried her to the garage.

Savannah sat there in the garage for the rest of the day with an occasional visit from one of the children. That evening they watched their Daddy as he carefully cleaned the dust off Savannah. He filled her cigarette holes with putty. He sanded and applied matching white paint to the wounds. Just for fun, he grabbed some tar paper and crafted little blinders for the side of each eye. One little girl said in hushed amazement, “Daddy, she looks just like a race horse!”
Savannah knew she was home.

                                                                                      Be as you wish to seem. – Socrates

Castle Of Love

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab life by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
-Maya Angelou

Sophia watched as he kicked over the spire she had just carefully crafted for her sand castle of love. Bradley was getting her back for telling him he wasn’t doing it the way she wanted it to be done. He’d asked if she would teach him to build by letting him help her. Then, as soon as he got a shovel in his hand, he was directing the whole project without a clue on how to do it.
“I wish I could push you off a cliff!” Bradley said. He folded his arms and stuck out his bottom lip.
“I’m firing you from my Castle of Love Club,” Sophia said glumly. She watched as Bradley threw down his shovel and trundled down the beach, his pants full of sand and falling down. She found the whole thing ironic.

Sophia resolved to build her castle of love by herself to herself. Dressed in her pink party dress now wet and covered with sand, she got to work. She worked tirelessly, hoping to finish it before the tide came in. As she went for more water to fill her bucket she began to worry that the tide would wash it away before she could finish. If only she hadn’t wasted so much time trying to train Bradley…but everything happens for a reason, she supposed. Poor Bradley, she thought. He just didn’t get it. Maybe someday he will build his own castle of love.

As the water inched up the beach, she found herself deeper and deeper. At first she didn’t believe she saw what she saw. She dismissed it as a sort of choppy water shadow. But then there was no mistaking it. It was a big, slick bald head, with whiskers and dark soulful eyes, looking right at her. Sophia’s first reaction was to scream.
“Please, don’t be frightened! I’m so sorry; there is no other way to come up for air other than to just pop up!”
Sophia shook her head in agreement, not taking her eyes off the seal.
“Hey, nice castle. My name is Lilo. Yours?”
“Thanks Lilo. I’m Sophia. I’m sorry for screaming.”
“Can I help you finish this before the tide comes in? You will need to train me, but I’m a good student.”
Sophia took a few minutes to show Lilo what he needed to do, and placed Bradley’s little blue shovel in his mouth. He proved to be invaluable and had such a supportive attitude. He worked fast and was able to pat down the sand quickly with his strong foreflippers. They had built a magnificent castle of love—it was even more beautiful than she’d imagined it.

Lilo was so excited to be involved in the project that he wanted to do it again. They agreed to meet again, and again, and again. Within a short time, they were a team. Hotels advertised them as a “must see” attraction. Soon beach walkers came from all around to see the amazing castles built by Sophia and Lilo. They threw money in their little red bucket which she’d then split, buying fish for Lilo with his half.

The two built castles daily for the tourists to enjoy, and they grew very close. Each inspired the other to try new and more imaginative challenges. Sophia felt her life was very full, and she cherished her friendship with Lilo. Lilo was very protective of Sophia and once chased Bradley down the beach. Bradley discovered them one day building the most ambitious castle yet. It had motes and a drawbridge, and was very, very tall. Bradley told them the castle was ugly and they would die dumb from building dumb, ugly castles. That was enough for Lilo, who barked while chasing after Bradley as he cried in fear, running down the beach, and peeing his pants.

Sophia lay in an almost overflowing bath of bubbles. It had been a particularly profitable day. She thought about how determined she had been to build her castle of love, by herself. Not until then did she attract others who were supportive and wanted to help.

So, for now, young Sophia found it was easier to train a seal to help build her castle of love, than it was to train a boy.

Awesome

“Dying seems less sad than having lived too little.”
-Gloria Steinem

Lila tossed and turned in the poppies. Finally, after an hour of staring at the moon, she rolled over, opened her book and tried to read. But Lila couldn’t focus. Not so deep down anymore, feelings of dread struggled to the surface. She knew what she had to do, and she begged for the timing to feel right.

How had her life gotten away from her? How did she have a job she hated and a lazy, unsupportive mate? Working for Awesome Life, Corp. was depressing. They bought life insurance policies from those who were dying so they could cash them in, sooner rather than later. She was Head Field Investigator. Her job was to check in from time to time to see how the clients were doing. She felt predatory and cold.

Company policy was strictly enforced. When anyone was asked, “How are you doing?” “How do you feel about the company?” or, “How was your weekend?” they were to reply, “Awesome!” Or they would be fired immediately. She hated it. Compensation was excellent, and she felt guilty for feeling ungrateful. Her mate was unsupportive of her quitting, as he had no intention of working, ever.

One day she was checking in to see if her young client might die soon. She was shocked to find him swimming laps in the pool. Her files indicated he should have been on life support or receiving hospice care by that time. She had not seen him in six months.
“Hi, how are you? So sorry to just pop in like this—I hope I’m not interrupting…” Lila watched him emerge from the pool with all the energy and musculature of an Olympic athlete. Giving her a huge grin, he replied, “I’m awesome!” He laughed.
Lila laughed along as if she’d never heard it before. “You look good—so healthy,” she said with mixed emotions.

“Thank you,” he said, still beaming at her. “I’ve made a full recovery since our last meeting. There is no sign of disease anywhere in my body—it’s all gone. Isn’t that amazing?”
Suddenly Lila felt a change come over her; she felt his happiness, and she actually was happy for him. “Yes, that is amazing. What changed?” Lila asked, genuinely interested.

“Well, I found myself at a crossroads without much time to choose. I fast-forwarded my thoughts to me on my deathbed, one day in the not so distant future. I wondered what I’d regret once it was all over. The answer came so fast and so simply. I was going to regret never using my gifts to make a difference for others. I worked at a job that paid well, but I hated it. My relationship was over a long time ago, and that was how I would die. In a sea of regret over the two things I spent the majority of my life doing. I would regret not living my life. Doing what gives me joy instead of doing what others think I should do. So I quit. I ended my terrible relationship where I felt used and abused, and I started my own business. I now do what I love and make others smile.”

He wrapped a towel around himself, and she followed him into the house. Her nostrils filled with the most soothing scent. She watched as he pulled a tray off of a rack and proudly handed Lila a gorgeous, chocolate butterfly, its wings resplendent and artfully decorated with tiny, ornate and delicate designs.

“This is a work of art,” Lila said, sheepishly taking a bite out of one of the wings. It melted in her mouth as chocolate and orange did a succulent dance on her tongue. Lila closed her eyes and smiled.

He continued. “I’m making more money now than I ever dreamed of, but that’s not the point. I’m doing what I love, so it doesn’t feel like work at all. But what I didn’t expect was how good I would feel about myself for taking action before it was too late. As I felt better and better, I felt a shift: I love being me—all of me, unconditionally. All my life, every person, every event, was perfect in what I learned. It all prepared me for what I needed to know, to be here now, doing this. The doctors are baffled. Three weeks after starting my business, my symptoms vanished. Sure there are some struggles, but they are small compared to watching others feel good by me sharing what makes me feel good. I feel I have a purpose for being alive—it all makes sense.”

Lila felt like a mirror was being held up for her to see her own life in his, only she didn’t like what it was reflecting. It was everything that kept her up at night. Everything she knew she had to do but needed the faith and courage to do it. Right there, she decided she would do what he did—and before it was too late. She too felt a shift of exhilaration fill her as she saw her current struggle with new eyes. She felt powerful as she thought about going back to the office and seeing how “awesome” they thought his story was.
And then she would quit.

They talked for a long time before she left with two more chocolate butterflies in her briefcase. Lila was excited about the idea of living a life created especially for her, by her.

She arrived at the office late, having spent a beautiful afternoon with someone living rather than dying. Sitting down across from her boss and his “Yes, sir” assistant, she told them the client’s story. She watched their faces drop at his good fortune. Then she told them that she would be leaving to open her own sleep disorder clinic.
“Isn’t that awesome?” she added, smiling as she walked out the door.

As she arrived home to find her mate sleeping in the sun, she calmly informed him she’d quit. She listened to him go into a rage that carried on well into the night. Oddly, she felt so utterly calm inside—like she would be fine because she was finally doing the right thing for herself. After he calmed down, she told him it was over. She realized it was a lesson that needed no further teaching. She got it.

As she wandered out to her poppy field she could still hear him. She slept fitfully for 10 hours. Life really was awesome.

“I’ve learned that making a living is not the same as making a life.”

-Maya Angelou