“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
If you could see me now, I am sitting on a reclining red deck chair resting upon a sprawling wooden platform listening to the roar of the British Columbia interior’s Nahatlatch River and its white water rapids. As I begin to write this it is 10am Pacific time. It also happens to be a milestone birthday.
I arrived here late the previous afternoon after the conclusion of a week long business trip also here in BC. For some, this appears to be an odd way of celebrating a milestone birthday such as this is. Travelling alone, landing here on my inaugural yoga retreat with strangers is not entirely a commonplace practice for – okay – a 60th birthday celebration. There, I said it. But since the day I turned 59, I have not quite dreaded this day, for what is the alternative – tragically I have been shockingly reminded of it. Yet I have had my mind negatively preoccupied with what this day represented to me!
So who are these strangers? Well, they are beautiful human beings hailing from; Australia, Spain, Los Angeles, Canada – Ontario, BC, and Alberta, New Zealand, Fiji, South Dakota, France and elsewhere. They are; students, yogis, several types of therapists, a construction worker, a doctor, professional white water rapids guides, an Ontario cop, photographers, a TV studio set designer and even an international fireworks architect.
I have revelled in the multiple daily yoga practices – but above of all I will always cherish the conversations I have had with several of the precious souls here with whom I made a deeper connection. Where else but sitting 10 metres from this beautiful river in front of us can someone describe and literally point out to me her interpretation of spirituality as, “nature is my church”? Those trees and raging river we are gazing out at clearly are not man made, she went on to say. So many other forms of spirituality originate from a book, whether written by man or at least inspired into man – nature is just there for all to see and marvel in the power of a source or unlabelled creator of nature and by definition – of us. And then there is the unexpected depth and joy of discussion with a 19 year-old summer worker. He is a very bright and inquisitive young man mature beyond his years. He firsts asks me if I believe in love and soulmates. Next he asks if I have any regrets in life as he seeks advice from this “erudite” new sexagenarian.
Soulmates? Wow. That one hit home. How does one know? Do both parties have to realize it for it to be your true soulmate? Or perchance it’s not the right time for the soulmates to light on fire. Can there be more than one in a lifetime? And therefore if the is yes answer, then timing must be a factor since by most western norms, morals and practises one can’t be involved with two soulmates simultaneously. And a 19 year-old is asking “me” about my life’s regrets in the hope of not making the similar mistakes as I have? In those two astounding questions he somehow condensed all I had been worrying about at turning 60. At a later discussion over dinner he confided to me that both his parents are social workers – okay so he is evidently a good listener particularly around the dinner table at home.
Most of you would agree that life is about those who occupy space around us – like family and also those we meet along the way. Those who impact us and vise versa. One of the yogis and I were having a general dialogue regarding the meaning of life. What is my purpose she asks? I gave her my answer. She then challenges me, “Why are you not following it”? Hmmmmm …
I am feeling rejuvenated here. I love these people. I am captivated by the Nature enveloping me. I can’t wait for my next hike. I am excited by what I will find later through the lens of my camera. I love all of my family and adore being with them.
Find your motivator. Don’t settle. Know when the time is right to make changes in your life.
I do know this. I don’t want to settle. I don’t want to go through the motions. I want to make meaning as Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning and as I referenced in my book, When Walls Become Bridges.
And for all this worry about turning 60, I just learned that the 34 year-old son of one of my dearest friends died of a drug overdose on my birthday …