Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Cost

It was Christmas Eve … the one and only night that I was assured that my children and I would have together … for the whole night. I live in one small room … so pallets made of foam pads and folded blankets made their bedding on the floor. They were tucked in and ready for sleep … and there was a knock on the door. A beautiful woman stood there … with a familiar and loved smile.

She was my first high-school Love. We had not seen each other since just after high school. I had, in the interim, married (for twenty years), had two children, a career, and a divorce. I knew that she had won the Miss Tampa beauty pageant … but past that I only knew what I did of her travels, college degrees, published books, and practice in clinical psychology, from the updates that were shared with me by her sister … when we bumped into each other at the market. And here she stood … on Christmas eve … smiling.

She asked my children (after the introductions), if she could borrow me ... for a cup of coffee. They shyly agreed. And she and I went to a convenient, twenty-four-hour breakfast place, for coffee.

After exchanges of many years’ of accumulated details and facts, she understood (what I could relate) the statistics of my story … and I filled in the blanks of hers. And I knew that she had a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer … that terrified her. So our conversation flowed into our developed philosophies and understandings. She asked me a question that caused a moment’s pause. “What did it cost you … when you shifted your life’s focus from all of life’s “Doings,” to “Being” alive?” Such a magnificent question!

Though I knew what she was considering ... the Marriage, Career, prominence in the Community, Church Role, etc. ... my Heart knew the answer. “It cost me nothing. Not a thing!” I replied. “For, don’t you see, “I,” was not present in all of those years of doing all of the stuff that was expected, required, and demanded by all of my life’s environment. I … was not functioning as an Individual then. There was no "Me" in all of that. Simply, that Person ... performing all of those Roles. All of the “lights” were on … but nobody was at home. I was a “non-person” fulfilling all of the requirements scripted out for me by circumstances and Others. Hence, there was no cost to Me, when I realized the importance of becoming a Human-Being … as opposed to existing as a Human-Doing. For, I had not existed.” She slowly nodded in quiet understanding and agreement.

We returned to my place. She went her way. We exchanged a couple of phone calls … her on the West coast; me here, in Florida. We wrote … only once, each. The letters were unfortunate exchanges of misunderstandings. And I never heard from her again.

But I will forever remember her question. “What did it cost …?” And I consider that question now … once again. For, My Dear Reader, there is, indeed, an ever-present Reality in living. Nothing is free. There is always a cost/reward relationship to every choice that we make. My living as a “Doer,” was at the unwitting expense of Self. I had never developed my ultimate responsibility … my Self. I, ignorantly and blindly, substituted activity and performance for personal growth and responsibility. I had energetically charged into life’s fray with the battle cry of “Do something great,” and “Make some-Thing of yourself” ringing in my ears. I heard no voice crying, “Make some-One of your Self … and only then, apply that developed Self, to the fulfillment of your Soul’s bliss.” It was not ’til many decades into living, that I became aware of that Voice.

So, today, I ask You, Dear One, “What are the costs in your life? What have you invested your Self in?” You are not answerable to me … or, in fact, to anyone else in this life. You, just as I, are ultimately, answerable only to that private and sacred inner You … and Eternity.


Classic Charm said...

Hello my friend. This post is very though provoking. Not sure how to answer...but my wheels are spinning. :)

John-Michael said...

A great big, gentle, and Heartfelt hug to You, My Darling Rose. I absolutely love your sweet comment. For, you see, My fondest hope was to get some private, intimate, and secret "wheels" turning in some Spirits made ready for such considerations by this moment in life. I have complete confidence in Life whispering messages appropriate for each Soul willing to listen.

Loving You ...

Linda Pendleton said...

Excellent post, John Michael. For too much of our lives we live a role that is not really who we truly are, always trying to live to others expectations, and setting our own self-expections aside.

John-Michael said...

May I suggest, My Darling Linda, that we can best enjoy our Self-Appreciations in lieu of that demanding Demon .. "expectations." Just permit yourself to feel the difference in your inner anxiety/comfort levels when considering the two options. Knowing how much I appreciate You, I have no reservations about the wonder of your embracing an honorable appreciation of who You were so wondrously created to Be.

I love loving You [smile] ...

San said...

A profound question you ask, John-Michael. We all need to take stock, from time to time, of our costs. Sometimes we need to cut them.

nitebyrd said...

This is truly a thought provoking post. I'm at that crossroad of wanting to be and letting go of am. Can I be brave and strong enough to choose the right path?

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