I volunteered again the other day to help out at a natural burial.
It was my 3rd time, but this one hit way harder.
The woman we were there to bury was a 28 year old (like me). She had a 6 year old daughter too (like me). She had a husband and what seemed like a loving family in general.
It's perplexing and soul-shaking to be a fly on the wall at something so similar to your own life. It gives a whole new meaning to Near-Death Experience.
It's something that we typically would only see when it's a loved one or someone from our lives. Rarely would it ever be a complete stranger's. Yet, even so, the human connection is still there.
I didn't know these people, but I felt for them.
There were a few powerful moments that stick out and I hope you can feel into them.
As we walked up to the burial site, a peaceful wildflower meadow with shade from a tall tree all tucked away in the woods at Larkspur, we see the sunlight shining down through the tree tops specifically on this woman's body as she laid flat with a rose red shroud.
She was on a beautiful wooden board, surrounded by the most intentional of scenes. As we all gathered around the site and settled into the moment, a unique breeze blew through all the trees above us, as if the woman was letting us know she was there and aware.
With that, the family began sharing their heartfelt words, stories, and memories.
This went round and round for a bit, but then a few people's words really struck me (a total stranger) to the core. The woman's older brother walked up and explained that he hadn't talked to his sister in 5 years. Not because of some beef, but because of lack of priority. You could see the pain and regret in his eyes so clearly. It wrecked him.
Though I've never been in that situation, I totally related.
This whole time, the 6yr old daughter has been off to the side with some family, in what seemed like a world of her own, coloring her mom a picture.
Then she decided to stand in front of us all and speak. Right before she did, the unique breeze blew through the trees above us again.
"My mom was a good person, who taught me good things."
"She's here now and will never leave us"
"I love you momma"
I cry again as I write this. It's impossible to put into words the impact this had on my heart. To see it in & of itself for this little girl, but to also imagine this being my funeral and my 6yr old daughter sharing something similar.
Exposing myself to these types of experiences with unflinching eyes is priceless.
Where else could I get such a radical shift in priorities of what's important?
The question that's been stuck in my head since that experience:
If someone you never knew attended your funeral and heard what was said, what would their view of you be?
How we answer that question says a lot about how we ought to be living day to day.
Most of the advice I'm given I don't actually apply.
Not because it's bad advice or that I'm lazy. It's because I don't want to be like that person. If I don't want their life, I don't want their advice.
BUT, there is still a lot of value in seeking out other people's advice.
Even though you may have no intention of doing what they say, in hearing it, you have a chance to see how your soul responds to it.
You can feel it in your body if you pay attention as the other person speaks.
The advice may be worthless in and of itself, but the ideas it triggers for you may be the gold that you seek - you never know 'til you ask.
Here's the thing though about OPOs:
Their opinions and advice should be taken with a grain of salt because they lack the complete context of your situation. They will say what they say based on what they know, but it's impossible for them to know it as you do. Remember this.
On the other hand, there will be advice from time to time that cuts right through all the context and applies regardless. This, if anything, is where a high degree of consideration comes into play.
Don't wait for the world to love and accept you before you take action.
Otherwise it'll be the eternal wait and you will not have moved. We're attracted to momentum naturally. We like to see things 'in the works'.
Movement and motion, however straightforward, grabs our awareness more than anything.
We love to see people going for it. We love to see those daring in the arena. We pay no mind to those in the stands, blending in and indistinct.
A true player doesn't need permission to play.
Permission is defined as the act of allowing, a yielding on another's behalf.
When you choose to start living in a permissionless way, you remove these made up obstacles.
There's no one needing to yield out of your way and 'let you get by' because you didn't even ask, you just did it.
If you think of a plant that wants to grow, but only did so with the permission of other plants, it's almost inevitable that it wouldn't grow very much right?
Whereas, the permissionless plant would be growing wild, toward the sun however it wants. Growing as it sees fit.
If you examine your desires close enough, you'll start to see a pattern. 99% of them are desirable to you only because they were desirable to someone else first.
You looked where they looked. You got value-hacked.
When you're feeling anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or confused - it's for a reason. If you spend enough time in true self-examination, your life has to change.
Sitting with your thoughts long enough will force you to address how your life is actually going.
Anxiety is a friend, delivering the mail.
Depression is a friend, delivering the mail.
Overwhelm is a friend, delivering the mail.
Confusion is a friend, delivering the mail.
At some point, you have to read the damn mail.
Turns out there can be a lot of overlap between building design and building a life. John Ruskin (unknowingly perhaps) tells us how to live life better.
It's never too late to stumble upon an underlying principle of reality. (Especially one that can be put to use immediately)