LOST AT SEA
When my daughter Monique died, I was beside myself; literally “beside myself”- in shock, somehow floating alongside my body, out of whack with everything, in a dream-like state of numb agony. I forgot to eat and drink. Time sagged and slowed for me, but the outside world continued to spin like a happy carousel, as though nothing had happened. Alarm bells were ringing in my head. I was heading out to sea in a panic to save someone who had already slipped beneath the waves. The awful sense of helplessness and futility were exhausting, and I realized early on that I was drifting in unknown waters, with no clear sense of what to do and where to go. I was lost.
Ironically, one of my favorite memories of my daughter is playing
Lost at Sea, a word game she invented to pass time on car trips.
She would start with a word, such as “car” and I would say, “Lincoln.”
She’d say “President”. I’d say “Bush”, She’d say “tree”, etc.
Eventually, we would run out of connections and be sufficiently “lost.”
The challenge was to find our way back to “shore”, i.e. the word “car”
without repeating any of the words that charted our original course
“out to sea.”
It was a surreal experience to plan a funeral. I was determined not to allow my daughter’s illness to define her. I wanted the people attending her funeral to know the full range of her life and those things that made her unique and precious. I wanted to please her somehow, and to honor her wishes to the degree I knew them. It was also important and personally healing that all her dear friends and siblings played a part in honoring her memory.
Human kindness took on an angelic aura and it taught me that all the little things people do at a time like this really do matter: the help with guests and housework, the food, the planning, the cards, the calls, the stories, the listening, the attendance, the hugs, and the steady gathering of ordinary people with extraordinary compassion.
One of the odd things I experienced early on was an excess of energy that gave a manic edge to everything. It was helpful when someone who had survived a physical assault told me of their own similar feelings of relief and euphoria in the days that followed their crisis. I can now embrace the experience with marvel that our brains have the capacity to uplift us with a chemical surge of endorphins when we are under great stress and pain.
On the other end of the spectrum, much of the time I’ve felt numb. In a journal entry I wrote: “My heart and my head are heavy as lead. It feels like they’ve been novocained”. At these times I have often envied those who cry easily, and openly exhibit the profound pain that testifies to profound loss. “What’s wrong with me?” I would ask. “Where is my heart?” I once had someone look me in the eye and say scoldingly “you’re not grieving her.” Self doubt would weigh me down, and make me question whether I was doing things correctly. What I remembered, fortunately, is that sometimes when we are deluged with feelings, and overwhelmed, we can in fact feel very little - or nothing at all.
Months went by and then, one day in a restaurant, out of the blue, came a wave of emotion so powerful I thought it might literally crack my chest in two as I wept at the table. It reminded me of the stories people tell of feeling broadsided by their grief in the middle of the grocery store. This journey of grief can be a sloppy and bewildering process.
The other night I had a dream:
I was seated in an empty theatre and suddenly, my daughter was there, sitting beside me. “Hi,” she said and smiled. We pressed our foreheads together and cried. After some time she said, “OK, Dad, listen! It’s like Lost at Sea; you have to find your way back to shore, but you can’t get there the same way you got here. You have to find a new way. Take your time. Ride the waves. Trust. Feel. You’re creative, Dad. You can do it.”
And then she was gone.
The guiding lights and signs are everywhere. Something I read.
Something I look up and see. Something I feel. Something I dream.
My “port” may be destroyed, but there is always a shoreline;
a place where mystery laps up against the things I know as real;
a place of possibility.
Now, a year from that fateful day my daughter died,
I no longer describe myself as desperate and free floating.
Although I ride the waves of grief practically every day,
the swells of emotion are not as large and overwhelming,
and the waves are fewer and farther between.
To all of us destined to travel this path I’d suggest that
if nature is full of surprises, then so are we.
We can do this.
We’re finding our way.
- wmh / community hospice 2008
Teachings by Ken Keyes, Jr.
From the Handbook to Higher Consciousness: The Science of Happiness - Appendix 2
“Happiness happens when your consciousness is not dominated by emotional addictions and demands
– and you experience life as a Parade of Preferences.”
The Law of Higher Consciousness:
Love Everyone Unconditionally – Including Yourself.
The Purpose of our Lives:
The purpose of our lives is to be free of all addictive traps, and thus become One with the Ocean of Living Love.
The Twelve Pathways To the Higher Consciousness Planes of Unconditional Love and Oneness:
1. I am freeing myself from security, sensation, and power addictions that make me try to forcefully control situations in my life, and thus destroy my serenity and keep me from loving myself and others.
2. I am discovering how my consciousness-dominating additions create my illusory versions of the changing world of people and situations around me.
3. I welcome the opportunity (even if painful) that my minute-to-minute experience offers me to become aware of the addictions I must reprogram to be liberated from my robot-like emotional patterns.
BEING HERE NOW
4. I always remember that I have everything I need to enjoy my here and now – unless I am letting my consciousness be dominated by demands and expectations based on the dead past or the imagined future.
5. I take full responsibility here and now for everything I experience, for it is my own programming that creates my actions and also influences the reactions of people around me.
6. I accept myself completely here and now and consciously experience everything I feel, think, say and do (including my emotion-backed addictions) as a necessary part of my growth into higher consciousness.
INTERACTING WITH OTHERS
7. I open myself genuinely to all people by being willing to fully communicate my deepest feelings, since hiding in any degree keeps me stuck in my illusion of separateness from other people.
8. I feel with loving compassion the problems of others without getting caught up emotionally in their predicaments that are offering them messages they need for their growth.
9. I act freely when I am tuned in, centered, and loving, but if possible I avoid acting when Ii am emotionally upset and depriving myself of the wisdom that flows from love and expanded consciousness.
DISCOVERING MY CONSCIOUSNESS-AWARENESS
10. I am continually calming the restless scanning of my rational mind in order to perceive the finer energies that enable me to unitively merge with everything around me.
11. I am constantly aware of which of the Seven Centers of Consciousness I am using, and I feel my energy, perceptiveness, love and inner peace growing as I open all of the Centers of Consciousness.
12. I am perceiving everyone, including myself, as an awakening being who is here to claim his or her birthright to the higher consciousness planes of unconditional love and oneness.
The Scale for Knowing Your Center of Consciousness at Each Moment: The Seven Centers of Consciousness:
The Security Center
The Sensation Center
The Power Center
The Love Center
The Cornucopia Center
The Conscious-Awareness Center
The Cosmic Consciousness Center
The Five Methods Plus the Instant Consciousness Doubler:
Memorize the Twelve Pathways and apply them to your problems.
Be aware at all times of which Center of Consciousness you are using to perceive your world.
Become more consciously conscious of the cause-effect relationship between your addictions and the resulting unhappiness.
Use the Catalyst ALL WAYS US LIVING LOVE as a tool for cognitive centering.
Use the Consciousness Focusing Method to accelerate the reprogramming of heavy addictions.
Instant Consciousness Doubler:
Expand your love, your consciousness, and your loving compassion by experiencing everything that everyone does or says as though you had done or said it.