Lesson # 21: Learn, love, and serve—the end!
One of the things that I admire about my father was his insatiable appetite for learning. No, he never actually sat down with me and explained it. I didn’t have a good, close relationship with him growing up. He did weird, eccentric things that a child wouldn’t appreciate. I remember him giving me some kind of traditional remedy for my inflamed tonsils to avoid surgery. He forced me to chew different roots he gathered (no idea what they were), mixed with raw rice, all wrapped in some leaf (no idea, again) and he stood there to make sure I didn’t spit it out. It was the most horrible taste and I hated him for it. Yet, I didn’t have to go through the surgery already scheduled for me.
I remember him teaching me yoga positions to relieve a stuffy nose. I remember him applying some pressure (acupressure perhaps, I had no idea at that time) to stop a cough. Sometimes, he brought home some honeycomb and instructed me to chew it and sucked the honey out of it. He would tell me to rub orange peels on my skin. I hated it when he made me collect gingko biloba leaves for him (to reduce his cholesterol, he told me). He would take me to a lake at midnight and wanted me to meditate in the water (all I could think about was what creatures were biting my legs while I was freezing in there). Or the time he made me sit in our front garden in the middle of the night, close my eyes, and not to open my eyes until he returned. I remember him holding many, many intellectual debates with the college students about different topics at our dining room table. At that time I was annoyed because my bedroom was next to the dining room and we had no door, just a curtain for privacy. As a child, I failed to see the lessons in all of these events.
Looking back as an adult, I could see what he was trying to do. I appreciated his creative ways of gleaning such vast knowledge about all kinds of things when he didn’t even finish high school. He tried to pass that knowledge down to me, bless his heart, but he often rubbed me the wrong way. Yet, there I was, years later after he had passed away, beginning to understand his passion for learning and teaching what he knew to others.
And as much as we swear to never turn into our parents, I found myself doing exactly what he had done. Most of my clients appreciate what I share with them. But just like me in my younger days, my own child is not always thrilled to learn from me. Perhaps I also rub her the wrong way. But then again, if history was to repeat itself, one day after I’ve been gone for years, she, too, will be able to look back with deeper appreciation. With this in mind, I was able to slowly let go of the need to make sure she gets what I tried to teach her. I trust that time will be working with the universe and her ever growing inner wisdom to help her learn what she needs to learn, understand what she needs to understand to live her best life. What parent doesn’t want that for their child?
As for me, my intention is to continue learning for as long as I am still breathing. Sometimes, I glean intellectual knowledge (by taking courses, reading textbooks, practicing skills, etc.) to help clients with past traumas, or how to alleviate depression/anxiety, or how to improve their relationships. Other times, I cultivate spiritual knowledge (by reading spiritual books, watching nature, focusing on any lessons offered by any events, etc.) to deepen my understanding of God, universal love, forgiveness and gratitude. Through meditation, talking to life coaches, and enrolling in personal growth training, I learn to develop and trust my intuition, to recognize my own gifts, and the best way to share them with the world.
As much as I can, I take the time to learn to let go of the need to control others, to hold them in their highest state of being, and to love them unconditionally; and will I practice these skills often. I will learn to work with my own emotions, using them appropriately to build and nurture harmonious relationships.
I intend to remind myself that I cannot teach others something I haven’t embodied. I could preach to them, of course, but I would preach an empty lesson. Sure, they may not know that, but I know, and that’s what matters. I cannot teach about the courage to heal, the courage to rise above our pain and past failures, and having faith that all will be well while cowering in the corner, watching but not participating in the wild, wild world.
To teach courage is to let people see me fall and rise again. I will let them see me struggle, in pain, confused, and scared, while I continue to take steps as much as I can. I want to let people see me challenging my own outdated, unhelpful beliefs and replacing them with new, empowering beliefs to live by.
I believe that is why we are placed here on earth for a period of time: to learn (from everyone and everything we encounter) and to teach others what we have learned through our chosen profession and through the roles we play in life (as a mother, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, student, etc.) I know some people think that it is pointless to do anything beyond what is necessary to live because we will eventually die anyway. Ashes to ashes; dust to dust, they say. That may be so, but I believe that we are placed here on earth with a clear purpose: to serve others. We can serve others better if we never stop learning. The moment we stop learning, we stop growing. And anything that stops growing is basically spiritually dying. We are all physically dying, but we don’t have to give up living to our full potential.
Rather than thinking in terms of ‘dust to dust,’ I’d like to think in term of ‘energy to energy.’ Energy cannot be destroyed, but energy can be transferred and transformed. We came from an energy source, we show up as a form of energy that is tangible to the senses, and when we die, we will return to the energy source from where all things come. In that manner, I’d like to think that we are eternal beings, living momentarily in physical form to learn, love, and serve before returning to our source.
It has been an honor for me to share with you all 21 lessons I learned since my husband died in 1999. My hope is that they will stir your soul. And that they will help you see your own strengths despite any past losses, mistakes, and failures. It will be my privilege to walk with you in your journey just as many have accompanied me in my journey thus far. Give me your hand, and together, we will go much, much farther…