Lately I have been training to become a hospice volunteer.
Encouraged by a close and fellow recovered friend who counts being a hospice volunteer as one of the most moving and meaningful experiences of her life to date, I have waded into an arena that my nuts-and-bolts, reasonable, answers-happy self knows little if anything about.
That part of me isn’t too comfortable with hospice.
Where do we go when we die? What happens before we die? When will I die? Would I want to know approximately when I will die, or would I prefer to go suddenly, and unprepared?
These are the questions my training class has been discussing. After my first nine hour class, I came home feeling kind of grumpy. Unsettled. Restless. Impatient. And already somehow burned out.
As I sat with these feelings, and talked more with my friend, I realized that as I casually categorized examining my approach towards what is potentially the most meaning-rich time in our lives as “talking about death” or “death class,” I was doing what I had often done in the years I was struggling to recover from my eating disorder.
I was trivializing the profound, dumbing down the divine, and mechanizing the mysterious so I wouldn’t have to feel uncertainty, doubt or fear.
Oh, how I cheated myself of life in those years!
And how ironic, considering that I stare daily at a vision board I made of all the elements I feel add deep meaning and value to my life – many of which I haven’t even attempted yet.
How unfair – given that one of the primary motivations I had to offer myself during my recovering years was the thought of not wanting to lay on my deathbed and regret that I never tried this or experienced that, loved this person or helped that person when I saw their need.
As I looked into this, I saw that I was scared, but that that was normal. Unlike in the way of my past, when I would feel the fear and tell myself there must be something wrong with me for fearing a new experience, today I can be a witness and friend to myself to recognize that profound uncertainty that may accompany a desired new experience, and choose to have it anyway.
Today’s Takeaway: Where are you allowing fear to talk you into holding back, dumbing down, trivializing, or mechanizing the meaningful moments in your own life, in the process cheating yourself of the fullness what even small moments in your day have to offer you?