This past year, I’ve attended my fair share of funerals – two, this past week alone. Quite unusual for me. I remember losing my paternal grandparents within six months of each other, back when I was nine, but until recently, this has been a new kind of experience for me.
I am a big cry baby – I cry at the drop of a hat – in the movie theatre, listening to a song in my car, or even watching the news. My kids are sick of me. But I can’t help it. What “gets” me, is deep human feeling. Pain, love, sadness, joy, just hook me in the heart.
You might think then, at funerals I would be one wet, sappy, mess. But truth is, I only, occasionally, cry at funerals, and it’s never for the great things someone has accomplished (I know I’m not alone here) – how many buildings they built, how tireless an activist they were, or how many lives they saved. It’s always when their true loved one is speaking about them. Isn’t it? A son about his father, a wife about her husband, a friend about a dear friend, it’s about – love and true connection, patience and understanding, unconditional acceptance, true friendship and loyalty.
While it is undoubtedly important that we accomplish the big things in life (our souls, after all, may simply be driven in a particular way) I feel there is something of deep significance here.
Listening to a eulogy, it can become clear. There is the idea of our life – what we believe we are doing, what we intend to be doing, what we would like to be doing; and then there is the reality – what we really are doing, and what we are in fact creating. And it seems to me that we spend so much time absorbed with the “idea”, we are often blinded to the “fact.”
When we live, we create an energetic imprint (of whatever degree) on the world and on those whose lives we touch. The deepest imprint, naturally, is made on those truly close to us. The people closest to us (in physical proximity and in spirit) experience us as we really are. They feel the energy we carry, from moment to moment; they are intimately acquainted with our choices of emotion, the habit-patterns we inhabit, and the sides of ourselves that we hesitate to share with our wider circles.
Sitting in the chapel at Hillside Memorial this Sunday, I was pondering: What imprint am I really making on those I care about? How can I actually be a force for good in the lives of those closest to me? What does true love (versus the usual conditional sort) look like from day to day? How does one unconditionally accept another? And what about loyalty, what is true loyalty?
How do I ensure that my life does mean good things to those that I love? Being all things to all people is neither possible nor desirable. Then what is the answer? It’s not about pleasing others to make them happy, that can have most destructive consequences to both parties. It’s not about spending one’s time looking for ways to “help” the people you love. You’d likely drive them crazy or drive them away.
I concluded, that I must first be true to myself, loyal to myself, loving to myself (when I say self I mean higher self). Only then, would I be able to bring those qualities to others. Why? Because love, acceptance, and loyalty are, first, and fundamentally, energy. For the quality to be real for others it has to come from within me. For the quality to be within me, it has to be the way that I am already (to some meaningful degree) treating myself. When we really love ourselves (who we really are in our essence) we can and will love others. If we do not love ourselves, we are not equipped with the love we need to “love” another. If we are not accepting of ourselves (faults, weaknesses and all) we cannot really be accepting of another. Similarly, if we are not loyal to ourselves, we cannot be loyal to another.
The way I want to treat others, I must first treat myself. Duh! Like fundamental law of the Universe. And it so goes against the grain of how we’ve been trained.
Remarkable, the things you can learn at a funeral…