Sunday, June 07, 2009
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.
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