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The Cry of My Soul

Photo by Simón Pais-Thomas

We had a blissfully fun time in Hawaii, filled with sun, laughter, and relaxation. It was truly an occasion of celebration for love and life. But in life, the opposite extreme also exists within the same time and space continuum.

Shortly after returning from our honeymoon, while still wearing our ear-to-ear smiles, we got news that my grandpa Lozier passed away on the day of our flight home, at the age of 95.

I was deeply saddened by this news and spent the next three weeks in silent mourning. Suddenly, all the problems created by my imagination seemed insignificant and petty, and I began to ponder my own mortality.

I reviewed the previous week, and regretted fighting with my mom in Hawaii. I regretted making her sad and angry with my immature and occasionally lingering teenage ways. I regretted not spending more time with grandma and grandpa Lozier. I regretted not spending more quality time with my parents while in Hawaii. I regretted all the time I spent thinking hateful thoughts about things I had no control over. I wished I could take it all back. I felt sorrow at the realization of lost time, and that I could never get it back again.

This is a record of what I’ve learned over the past few weeks in my pondering of life, death and regret.

Personal Story

Coincidentally, Jeremy had gone overseas for work during this time, and I spent these weeks in my own solitary retreat, reflecting on these emotions.

I had turned off the internet and the phone, and spent my time wandering between coffee shops and restaurants and parks, always with a book in my hand – usually fiction, so I could allow my mind to escape into someone else’s fantasy. I allowed myself to become absorbed with reading, people-watching, and thinking.

But when we are alone with our thoughts, our “pain-body” always finds a way to rear its ugly head and push the bad thoughts to the front. Despite things looking incredibly happy and positive for me, my mind wandered through thoughts of injustice, of guilt, of pain, and of the past which I could not change. What’s worst, my mind painted scenarios and stories that justified those heated thoughts that caused me the pain.

I struggled. I struggled with battling my own mind, my ego, and the reoccurring vision of injustice and regret.

And then it happened… I read a passage in “The Time Traveler’s Wife” that shook me out of the negative state I was in. It said:

Everything happens the way it happens. Once and only once.”

“Ah!! It’s so simple!” I said to no one and everyone at the same time.

I closed my eyes and savored the words. I thought of each of the immediate problems that were bothering me, and repeated the sentence, as an application over the problem statement. And miraculously, it was the answer to all my “problems”.

A sense of peace washed over my Being. I smiled.

What I Learned

We love problems. Our ego thrives on problems. Even when everything is going as planned, we find a way to create conflicts, issues, and unhappiness in our own lives.

We allow our fears of the future and regrets from the past to consume much of our conscious attention.

We feel that we are unable to let go of grievances, of unfairness that we endured, of regrets. We feel unable to forgive someone who has hurt us, or seemingly took advantage of us, or who treated us unfairly.

We grasp onto these thoughts and hang onto them for “dear life”, yet simultaneously, they are causing us the pain from which we want to be freed of. It’s a vicious cycle, that takes us no where we actually want to be.

So what do we do?

The antidote that worked well for me was to ponder this sentence whenever my mind drifted towards a memory from the past that is causing me pain, “Everything happens the way it happens. Once and only once. And there is nothing I can do to change it. It is what it is. Life is short, I don’t want to dwell on this anymore. Let’s move on!

This moment is all that we have. This moment is the only thing that is real, and in this moment, life happens. Let’s not pollute this moment with our past, which is no longer here.

“But wait, I do want to be happy”, you may say. Great! Then let’s stop dwelling on the past!

I am learning that there is no such thing as a mistake, rather everything that’s ever happened is part of our experience in this life, and it contributes towards our growth and development. Everything is the way it is, and it’s beautiful. Accept and allow the past to be.

 

What Can We Do?

awake-from-pain2.jpg
Photo: Cindy Loughridge (flickr stream)

1. Forgive

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds
on the heel that has crushed it.
~ Mark Twain

Forgiveness isn’t to “let them off easy” for the people you hold grudges against, but a gift to yourself, to allow the healing process to start. Nobody will benefit this more than you. And by you being well, you will spread the fragrance of wellness, compassion and joy to others who come in contact with you.

Being unable to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It pollutes our inner space and disturbs our inner stillness.

It’s easy to say, but much tougher to act upon. It’s true, but it doesn’t mean that we should give up trying, and continuously working on our ability to forgive others, and ourselves.

Forgive our family members, forgive our ex-lovers, forgive our ex-friends, forgive those scenarios that didn’t go our way, forgive those strangers who may have unknowingly hurt us. Know that by forgiving them, we are liberating ourselves to enjoy a happier future. We have nothing to prove. It’s not worth it.

Deepak Chopra has a guided meditation CD that includes the forgiveness process. If you are having a hard time doing so on your own, I recommend it.

2. Death Bed Exercise

A better way to spend our energy, I believe, is to focus on something that we do want. If you found out that you were going to die tomorrow, or within the next month. Would you still be holding on to your regrets, resentments and problems? Won’t they seem petty in comparison?

Grab some paper and sit down somewhere you won’t be disturbed or disrupted. Close your eyes and imagine that you are on your death bed, you can’t move, you can’t speak. Knowing that you only have a day or two left, and then you’re gone forever. Make the images as real as possible, and feel the feelings of being in that position.

Now, imagine all the things you might regret not doing in your life time. Write them down, as fast as possible, without editing. Alternatively, imagine all the things you are grateful for from your life (things that your older self has experienced), things that are most important to your older self, during the last stages of your life. Write them down.

In your current state of consciousness, these are the things most important to you. Make these your priorities, and focus on these things, instead of things from your past that haunt you and hurt you.

3. Follow Your Heart

Create time for yourself, every week (everyday if you are brave) to spend on something you are passionate about. Do something that expresses your creatively, or something that you enjoy quietly. Listen to your heart and follow its whispers of desire.

Take up drawing, acting, dancing, cooking, singing, jogging, music, photography, or writing. Learn a new language you’ve always been curious of. Get lost in a wonderful book. Work on a project that aligns with what you want to see exist in this world.

And if you don’t know what your passions are, don’t worry, create the time anyways, and with enough exploration, you will be sure to fill that space with something that expresses yourself. Trust me, in time, you will find your passion. In the meantime, to do something that feeds your soul.

4. Visual Cues

Momentarily, I find myself slipping and giving into the allures of my mind and pain-body. Please be patient with yourself when this happens. It’s okay to fall backward sometimes, as long as you are moving forward as a whole.

I found it helpful to post visual cues around the house to remind me of the power I have in shifting my emotional state. I have printed and posted the following on my wall near my desk:

Everything happens the way it happens. Once and only once.

And there isn’t anything we can do to change it. Accept the past as the past, and accept that everything happened which serves us for a happier future.

Let it go.

Find a quote or a saying that you connect with, and helps to ground you to the power of the present moment. Either post it on a wall where you can see it, or put it on a small card and carry it with you in a journal or wallet.

Parting Words

Life is a journey of experiences, of learning, of growth, of loving, and ultimately, of contribution. But among the hectic demands of daily life, we forget why we are here and what matters to us most. Our judgment becomes clouded, and we forget to connect authentically and intimately with others. We forget to find meaning, we drift away from our passion and we forget to live in Joy.

Sometimes, life takes a traumatic turn before we are shaken awake, and become reminded that we won’t live forever, that our time in this physical body is limited, and to reflect on questions like; What can I do to contribute to this world? What do I want to leave behind? How do I want to spend my time? Can I forgive this person in order to end the suffering for myself? How can I make every minute count?

** What is most important to you? What thoughts are running through your head that are causing you to suffer? Share your stories and thoughts with us in the comment section. See you there!

In loving memory of Augustin Lozier, 1914-2009.

grandpa-lozier.jpg

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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54 thoughts on The Cry of My Soul

  1. Thanks for another great (albeit, in some ways, sad) post. I really enjoyed reading your personal story and your words were definitely inspiring. It’s so critical to realize that it does no good to focus on the negative. Everything happens for a reason and there is very little we can do to undo what has already been done. What we can do is focus on the moment and focus on the positive aspects of our lives as they are right now.

  2. “Forgiveness is a gift to yourself”— I really needed to hear that today. How easy to lapse into an “ought to” or “must” or other negative type reason for forgiving, instead of embracing it as something wonderful & life-giving that we are doing for us. Thank you again for sharing your heart & your life, Tina.

  3. I recently came back to Quebec to take care of my grandfather who is in the hospital after a stroke. I feel lucky knowing that I still have time to spend with him, and I’m doing just that. Letting him know we’re there for him, and we love him. I know you didn’t have a chance to do that, but I’m sure your grandfather knows you love him very much!

  4. Great article! It’s true that we dwell on the past far too much – we all say we want to live our lives fully, but how many of us really do? There’s quite a bit in my past that I find myself hanging onto, almost as though I want the pain to continue. I’ve found that purging myself of things that are only subtle reminders has also helped, even more than than just keeping busy.

    Thanks for sharing such an intimate process with us. :)

  5. A good friend of mine once said:

    “life boils down to relationship: relationship to yourself, to your spouse, to your family, your friends, your work or calling, your community, to the world, and to existence itself.”

    If you take care of your relationships beginning with yourself, then extend that outward, all of the pieces will fall into place. It will all make sense.

  6. Leave time for yourself.

    Spend lots of time with the people you love.

    And spend the rest doing something you are proud of.

    That’s what works for me. ;-)

  7. This article really spoke to me. My grandmother actually passed away last night. Some of my recent thoughts:

    They say the most common regrets on the death bed deal with two things: 1. not contributing more. 2. not spending more time with the people they love…

    “happiness is only real when shared.”

  8. So sorry to hear about this sadness. Though it is probably worth celebrating and being happy that he lived to 95.

    One big hug from me to you, through the intertubes.

    I’ve gotten really good at letting things go, and sometimes helping people try to let things go when they get stuck on them.

    A story I would like to share. My kids, my parents and I went to Boston for a day. We went to lunch before hitting a museum, and then I went ahead of everybody else to get in line for tickets. I had my camera with me, and my Mom said, “I’ll hold onto that for you.”

    So I got the tickets, and met my parents at the gate with the kids. I asked Mom for my camera. She forgot it at the table. A look of horror over her face… She ran back to get it.

    Now my Dad gets worked up… and she comes back saying it was gone. Ugh. At that point, my Dad starts in. “What were you thinking! Get your head on straight.” I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish, but all he did was belittle her. She felt horrible enough as it was.

    She started to cry, came over to me, and I just gave her a hug and said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal. Sh*t happens, but it’s not the end of the world by any stretch.”

    Seriously… in the grand scheme of things…

    It was an $850 camera… 8 years ago… Now they probably sell on eBay for $150-$200. Besides, I’ve been really wanting to upgrade to a digital SLR and perhaps now I would be forced into it (twist my arm… you know what I mean?)

    Mom continued to try to apologize, and I had to stop her from doing it. It really is not a big deal, even though it may have seemed that way, or that some people (Dad… Grrrr) made it seem that way.

    I gave her hugs and said, “Let’s go have some fun.”

    I hung back for a few seconds so that I could let my Dad know that he was a bit out of line and that “we’re hear to have fun, and that it was not the end of the world, and that I think Mom fully understood and felt bad about what happened.”

    We walked past the information both and I thought, “let me check… just in case.” As I inquired if anybody brought a camera by, out of the corner of my eye, I see it sitting on the counter in the booth.

    Everything ends well… Well, except for two things…

    1) Mom took almost an hour to get out of the funk that Dad put her into. (Dad! Grrr!)

    2) I didn’t get that nice digital SLR that I wanted and 3 years later, I’m still using my old camera. :-(

  9. A very moving post…I’m so sorry to hear about the passing away of your grandpa. I’m constantly trying to shake myself out of complacency and taking my small life for granted by reminding myself this is the only life I have. Despite how others around me live their lives, this journey is mine, and I have to carve out the life that I want….and love as deeply, live as passionately as I can stand.

    Thank you for the reminder!

  10. @Mark S

    Aww…. thank you for sharing your story of your family and the lost camera. It made me smile and feel bad for your mom at the same time. :)

    In all seriousness, I’ve been in the position of your Dad before, being mean to someone we love, unreasonably. When I am in that state, it’s so hard to get out of it. I feel that I can’t get out of it. But as Tony Robbins always say, “If you can’t, you must!”

    You could still get a DSLR today, you can get an older model canon one for a much lower price than the new released ones, and still very good quality. I sold my 10D to a friend last year for like $300, great camera!

  11. Andy Tay

    Great post, i share your sorrows, and rejoice in your reflections! :)

  12. So sorry to hear about the loss of your grandpa.

    On the other hand, I’m glad to learn that you’ve managed to find some peace. Death of our loved ones often provide us an opportunity for deep reflection. It’s great that you’ve managed to gain some key lessons for living well.

  13. My grandpa passed away at the age of 86 in Wuhan, China. I think death is a long term vacation for us.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  14. hey Tina, I share your sadness in the loss of your grandfather and marvel at the way you eventually transitioned it into something a little better.
    Maybe it worked out better that you were alone at that time because even though the bad thoughts came to the front of your mind, you were able to work through it in your head.

    Its nice to have people around, they always mean well when they offer consolation and although its a necessary distraction, in the end we need to find a way to heal ourselves.
    With regards to what you said about falling back a bit, as long as we’re moving forward, I think we need to fall back a little bit. It’s ok to be sad when remembering someone we’ve lost and wishing they were still with us, as long as you don’t stop living yourself.

    All that being said, I still wish I was closer to you and could’ve offered a big hug because everyone needs one of those from time to time! = )
    My grandfather died a long time ago, but I remember it hit me hard, partly because I don’t handle death that well generally and partly because I thought he was invincible. I couldn’t even remember a time when he even had a cold, but he smoked for many years and eventually that’s what caught up to him.

    Death is something that makes me feel helpless, because you have no control over it, be able to hear that persons voice, see them etc And you mentioned having many regrets, which i think everyone has, because we all get caught up in the busyness of “life”.

    Those regrets should lead to the ultimate lesson of “live with no regret” and instead of saying woulda, coulda, shoulda, just pick up the phone and call that someone we haven’t talked to in a long time, but kept meaning to.

    Its funny, because I get consumed with all that stuff which would be exactly how you described it, if we found out tomorrow was our last day….petty. Because all that “stuff” we focus too much on would no longer matter.

    I will think most about what you said about forgiveness, because sometimes I’m too quick to forgive and sometimes I refuse to, depending on who or why. But that shouldn’t matter should it. I try to justify not forgiving by deciding whether or not a person meant to hurt or anger me.

    I dunno, you got my mind working too much for 12:23 am! haha hope what I said made sense, I had to keep going back to see what I wrote and how I wrote it. = )
    Anyways, thanks for sharing your stories and insight because it helps to know you better, along with getting to know ourselves and how to better deal with every day life!

    night night, SMILE!!

  15. Tina, I am sorry for your grandpa.
    I have a quote for you, Tina :
    “You can shed tears that he is gone or you can smile because he has lived.”

    Great contemplation. We always have the chance to change, but we often adjourn it. Your article has reminded.

    Thank you Tina for sharing.

  16. Uzma

    Dear Tina, That was a moving post. Indeed, the pain body does like to fight back , when one has found happy. Yet this is a good thing, as then we realize that the ego is being threatened as its on its way out. It’s like a battle, where the ego is the wounded soldier and its hitting out , one last sword swing at you, before it vanishes and dies.
    This happens to me after I meditate and find peace. Suddenly things go bad, people get nasty. It’s life testing my resolve and letting core issues emerge so I can, let go of them.

    Also , the remaining lessons that are meant to be learnt, are showing themselves, so you can move into greater peace and learning.
    Further, forgiveness, in such a situation, apart from others , has also to be for ourselves. We need to forgive ourselves for not spending enough time with elders, or arguing etc.

    Your quote is beautiful. When I am troubled and perturbed, I realize that this happens as my connection with Source or God isn’t strong enough. When we see ourselves as souls, on a journey, when we see Divine Mercy everywhere, our silly issues tend to dissolve. We see the beauty, mystery and learning that is Life. Grace descends. Hope you revel in Grace and Love.

  17. Thanks Tina for sharing this article. Your question on “what’s important to you…” made me ponder. I was watching Steve Job’s speech in 2005 at Harvard and there was one quote which he mentioned on how we live our lives today as though its the last. Who we would want to meet, be with, or spend our moments with.

    Definitely not wanting to be alone if my last is today.

  18. Uzma

    My deepest condolences to you on the demise of your grandpa.
    I know these are hard times, as one is grieving. Yet hang in there.
    Our support and blessings are always with you.
    God bless

  19. oh tina, what a beautiful entry… amidst the events that have occurred in your life, i would like to say that your entry speaks volumes on inner strength.

    this really brought me back to the present moment, and allowed me to revel in the moment, not in my regrets, and stress-filled plans for tomorrow…

    may your heart find peace during this time, and my prayers are with you and your family…

  20. Hi Tina,

    I know losing a loved one is very hard and there is nothing that I can say that can ease your pain. My mother passed away from terminal cancer at a young age. She passed away within six months of being diagnosed. I was her primary caregiver. It was a very tough time and a great teacher.

    I think if people fully accepted the fact that they will die, then they would truly start to live. Life is so short and so beautiful. We get out of it as much as we put into it.

  21. The Time Traveler’s Wife also put a few things in perspective for me. I was weeping by the end. And all of a sudden, my husband’s quirks that can be frustrating seemed like blessings. If he were to pass, I’d never want to move the jacket that’s always flung carelessly over a chair. All the little signs of “him” suddenly turned from clutter and mess to proof of how lucky I am.

  22. Hiya

    Thank you for your personal reflections. I feel this is an uplifting, loving and life-affirming post.
    During the days after my father’s death, amongst all the calls, talks and tears, I purposefully ran through only the good times we shared together. It helped me feel better that I’d spent many happy occassions with him and it helped me shift alot of emotions.
    Life’s a uniquely beautiful thing and this post reminds me of that.

    Thanks
    Jens

  23. Whether we die today, or have a long life like your beloved grandfather, we all die (or appear to).

    Eckhart Tolle’s insights on how to “die before you die”, in “The Power of Now” are helpful.

    A book and process that absolutely shifted and continues to change my life experience is “The Presence Process” by Michael Brown. (His website is: http://www.thepresenceportal.com/.)

    Thank you for sharing these personal and truthful insights.

  24. It’s so true. The clarity you got through this is your grandfather’s parting gift to you and through you, to all of us who need to hear.

    My life’s ‘aha’ moment was when I lost the second cousin to cancer – I live far away from them but that’s no excuse for how little I’d bothered to include them in my life despite knowing that I really enjoyed them as people and how great they were as people too.

    I made a commitment to get back in touch with family and friends and cherish them as an integral part of my living. I still have work to do in this area and cherishing my Dad in ALL his ‘annoying’ eccentricities is my main challenge! I feel SO good when I set aside my own miserable ego and forgive and love him for himself and his humanity and allow myself to smile and be so grateful for him. And it helps me remember that I live in a big ol’ glass house!

    I appreciate your writing because it’s so real, from the heart. Thanks.

  25. Laura

    Wonderful post Tina. Thank you for sharing your creativity and emotions with others.
    Peace to you and your family.

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