Before I Die ….

What is it that YOU want to ……….. before you die?

A retreat with Chris Saade (philosopher, psychotherapist, author and activist) prompted me to revisit this question. Based on Chris’ teachings, to tap into one’s truth or authentic self requires genuinely and deeply honoring one’s …

  • choices and struggles of freedom
  • unique personality
  • profound wounds and failures
  • heart
  • spirit force
  • passionate and generous love
  • passionate and particular calling

From this position one is able to also honor the same in others and support them in their own search for authenticity. Living authentically promotes freedom, mutual respect, harmony and inner and outer peace.

The question is: What is authentically me, and what is a learned perception of me? It takes some soul searching to be able to discern one from the other. Sometimes it helps to think back to childhood. What were my interests and passions when I was still an ‘uncarved block’? The answer may lie there.

Wounds of Neglect

When you look at this cactus the first thing you probably notice is that it is imperfect. It’s tall and healthy, but uneven in size from its base to its top.

This is my cactus. I rescued it from Walmart some years ago when it was only about an inch tall and a half inch in diameter. It was obvious that they had not watered it in a while. Its soil was so dry that it had separated from the wall of the pot. The cactus was very young and already looked pale from thirst.

At home, I nursed it back to health. Its color changed from almost yellow to green, and it grew in width and height. Then something happened. I did not pay it as much attention anymore. I was busy with work and myself and started to water it infrequently. It never occurred to me to give it some plant food. I bet, looking at the photo, you can tell at which point in the cactus’ life this happened.

My spiritual path, however, redirected my attention to it and to all my other plants, for that matter. Plants and animals are living beings just like us. And they suffer just like us. I could no longer ignore my cactus and water and feed it only when I happened to think of it. Of course, as one might expect, it reacted to the renewed TLC treatment by gaining in size and weight and growing straight and tall.

Lesson learned: A living being may be marked for life by unfavorable experiences or conditions, but it CAN recover its health with some TLC and reach its potential. As domesticated as so many plants and animals often are, they may always be dependent on humans to give them the care they need. After all, where else would a house plant get its water from? But once humans reach adulthood, they are typically no longer dependent on caretakers. At this point they have the option to give themselves the care and love they may not have gotten earlier in life and still reach for the stars.