It is not the chronological events that tell the story of a life: the birthplace, upbringing, education, cultural/social/religious connections, and profession. Those, in many ways arrive with us, happen to us, or accompany us along the way. It is through them, but not because of them, or sometimes despite them that we become who we are. It’s the inner impressions, awakenings and recurring themes that tell the true story, and only we can tell it truly. But first, we have to go within ourselves and find or recreate our “soul” biography.
Then it may become apparent how our life unfolds out of a more mysterious force, or spirit, if you like, which unfolds to challenge us, guide us and shape us. It can be recognized and felt in both seemingly insignificant, as well as in the more obvious and/or traumatic experiences. It is important to explore the dark places, the small spaces--like in a fading dream—for something in a word, a look, an image, something left unsaid, whispered or shouted at us, which may have awakened us in some way, burdened us, comforted us, released us. All together these moments integrate into a mysterious and complex composition— notes of light and dark tones that embody a theme with variations. We just have to learn, and sometimes struggle, to hear it in all its parts!
As I review my life, I search for experiences that have had the most powerful and lasting effects on me in relation to my thoughts, feelings and actions. Some are/were easier to identify than others; some already loomed large and I know where to look, but other, seemingly insignificant ones, can be identified as being just as important. As l begin to understand the parts and their relationship to one another, I imagine the formation of a whole piece that comprise the theme of my life: my soul biography. I then can also claim the hard-won wisdom from my spirit life which appears to have guided and shaped me, arising out of specific experiences and circumstances. The individual parts have to do with the following:
Being aware of and accepting a sadness of soul—a dirge underlying life, which I have come to identify as loss.
Experiencing, appreciating and creating beauty in all its forms and manifestations
Finding, making and taking opportunities for dear family and friends to be together for key moments in our lives and also for the sheer joy, fun, play and laughter to be shared.
Recognizing that everyone has a story, circumstances and conditions which they come out of, which forms and shapes them in positive and negative way, and while that may not be an "excuse" for bad behavior, it is a reason--and understanding/compassion can go a long way toward inner peace.
Acknowledging pain and sorrow in ourselves and others and allowing ourselves/others to experience grief, to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Often, to the extent are able to do this, we are able to also feel and create joy and open up to life.
Gratitude for the gifts I and others have been given. Being aware of the support and encouragement I receive from others and remembering to do the same.
Creating a quiet space and time to reflect to see what works and what doesn’t; and what effect we may have (or had) on others, both helpful and hurtful, by our words and deeds (or lack of them).
Being available to help, comfort and affirm others (even in small ways) and to honor those connections we have established and being open to making new ones.
Maintaining emotional equilibrium and accepting life on its own terms, especially when it is clear that there is nothing to be done, but at the same time striving for the greatest freedom for myself and others.
Striving for self-knowledge and consciousness in context -- why am I saying or doing something--for what purpose and what will likely be the effect on me and others?
Remembering not to take myself too seriously.
While many of the above do not sound like revelations, and may even seem like “old, worn out tunes” (and they are if given as advice), they are truly "researched" insights, understood on a deeper level because I found the situations and events in my life which focused them for me in their contexts and in what effect they may have had on my behavior, perspective and approach to life. This, of course, is a work in progress--the compostion that is never completed.
Out of these insights has come a measure of peace. They are the variations on the theme of my life, which are familiar, but which I must still remember to listen to from time to time between distractions and responsibilities of the louder, more insistent music and noise of that parallel life that to be lheard only on the surface of time and space.