Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I remember the first time I died

If you want to catch a butterfly,
open your hand.

I remember the first time I died. I was twelve. 

We were living in a four flat apartment, lower middle class neighborhood and my parents were frozen in a cube of unhappiness. It was twilight on a fall day when I decided I would not live my life like theirs. 

This was the first time I died. It took a while to be reborn.

Six years later, on a winter night, I snuck out of my house, and with the help of my best friend's older brother, I left for good. 

It would be years before I saw my parents again and even more years when I opened my heart to let them in. 

In that six year period, I met a man - really a boy becoming a man. He taught me, through his unconditional love, my worth and my ability to love and to be loved. I was reborn. 

The second time I died was 17 years later. I left that now fully formed man. We had taught each other all we could and for some reason, like a deflated balloon, we lost the oxygen of our love. I saw the desert of my life before me and thought,
I can't live this way. I won't live this way. 

I was only in my mid 30's and the thought of living in quiet despair killed me. I left that life, not without consequences, but I accept them. 

I have learned in my 66 precious years on this planet, that we die everytime we change course, find a new path, and are reborn a better, more open person. These are not physical deaths, these are deaths of thoughts and habits, so we can create new thoughts and attitudes. 

Sometimes the people we know best, don't want us to make these changes, but if we don't we die a different kind of death, the death of living without purpose.This jaded death leaves us numb. 

Live with your heart, first, then join your mind. The mind is about boundaries and survival. The heart is about unconditional love and the gifts we receive when we give. These periodic deaths are simply the act of letting go. We can't travel forward if we drag the corpses of old behaviors. We must die to change. 

Remember the last time you did something with no conditions, with no expectations of something in return? That's the feeling of love.  Live there. And welcome these deaths of change.