Risk and Reward

I’ve recently learned of the passing of a few people who touched my life.

Over the years I’ve developed friendships with some women who were much older than I, and saw them as honored, trusted friends and advisers. These women had good, happy, long lives – cause to celebrate! Yet I feel just as sad as I would if the circumstances had been different. In one case it was different. One of the people was a man I ‘saw’ only on Facebook, although his being a contemporary of mine made it harder to accept. It was so unexpected.

Are you someone who is comfortable speaking about death, eternity, transitions, goodbyes, or does the sense of loss and unknowing cause you so much discomfort that you ignore it? I don’t know if it’s something I’ll ever feel comfortable doing, but it’s a necessary part of living a compassionate life, isn’t it? We have to learn how to comfort each other – or at the very least, simply be with someone in need of support.

Transitions and goodbyes are not always about death, although some of us treat them as if they are and are just as scared to experience them. Do you construct strong walls around your heart in order to save yourself from the possible heartache of a relationship ending? Do you believe that the pain you will feel will be so intolerable that you couldn’t possibly bear it, so you decide you’d rather not risk it at all? The unfortunate thing is what you are actually giving up is not the pain of separation, because you don’t know for sure it will end – and end badly at that. What you are absolutely losing out on is the joy you would experience by being in the relationship! I am willing to bet that would outweigh the sadness, but you’ll never know it.

What if the emotions you fear having down the road are actually not as intense as the suffering you are subjecting yourself to now, in anticipation? What if an emotion in its pure form, without the resistance that adds an extra weight, is actually more bearable than the angst you envision that makes you hide?

How would your life be different if you take action from anticipation of joy rather than assumption of sorrow?

When I had the honor of being a full-time foster mama I took that baby out for a walk every day, and every day, as I was pushing that stroller I met women who said that they’d always wanted to foster. When I asked each of them why they weren’t doing it, 90% of them said, “I could never become attached to a baby and have to let it go.”

Our lives are a series of meetings and partings, with various time intervals and intensities of association in between. After the baby went to another home I cried for a week. One week. If I’d decided ahead of time that a parting would be too much to bear, and that I couldn’t engage as a foster mama at all because of it, I would have missed all the joy and laughter I experienced for four months– and that is what I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life!

After a while when you protect yourself from ever feeling negative emotions you’ll also be insulating yourself from experiencing all the good! You need to feel some discomfort in life in order to appreciate, understand, experience, the contrast of the good. Allow in the love, laughter, joy! Right now, take a moment and affirm to yourself:

Emotions enrich me and I am willing and able to feel all the emotions that a full life brings!