I’m feeling a bit unsettled at the moment.
As life becomes increasingly normal, many of the aspirations and possibilities which lit me up during the first lockdown period are disappearing, and I can’t quite explain it.
It’s almost like the break in the norm gave rise to a feeling that anything was possible, and with it came a fearless creativity.
It doesn’t feel that way anymore.
I can feel a slide back into set habits and routines, along with the rise of the doubting voice at the back of my mind.
I’ve managed to hold onto a few of the new ones, like not drinking much, meditating, writing and being a bit more easy going (mostly), but I can’t seem to access the carefree, childlike aspect of myself which I found during the first lockdown: the one who became convinced that life is much simpler than we make it.
I feel less comfortable in my own skin. (Maybe I only feel comfortable in it when my interactions remain in my comfort zone!)
I’ve also stopped taking action. I research lots of different things, but sometimes I don’t quite manage to put ideas into practice, particularly if they involve big changes.
I have a hard time understanding if some of the ideas that fascinate me are worth pursuing or are just pipe dreams.
I can get lost in my own head.
When I’m struggling with direction, I find the death bed exercise can help bring me back to my heart and remind me what truly matters to me.
I imagine myself on my death bed, looking back at a life well lived:
My light and frail body is cocooned in soft sheets, my papery skin is liver spotted and smooth to the touch, my hair is grey, fly away and wispy. I know I’m taking my last breaths, but I’m smiling. I’m smiling because I have lived a good life. I’ve lived a good life because I was there for the people that mattered to me. I had time for them. I spent time with them. I showed them how much I loved them. My heart was open, compassionate and loving. I had my interests and passions and I followed these, but they didn’t define me. I was open, playful, and curious. I embraced the ordinary wonder around me. I was serious when I needed to be, but I laughed a lot too. I didn’t sweat the small stuff. I knew that the most important things aren’t the legacy left behind in money or measurable impact, but the small acts of love and kindness in daily life that ripple outwards. I wasn’t a loud leader, but I was a quiet friend. I gave my time, my love, and my words.
Of course I have other dreams and aspirations. I’d like to travel again, I’d love to write a book, I’m still searching high and low for my dream camper van (a VW California if anyone out there is offering), but these things are secondary to love, connection and finding the joy in life.
I think that’s what the first lockdown gave me: a clarity of values and a sincere gratitude for all that I have, a perspective that often only comes when faced with the possibility of losing it.
As time has gone on, and the fear has faded, it’s harder to hold on to what really matters, especially when life gets in the way.
So that’s my challenge: to hold on to the knowledge of what really matters to me, even as I’m cursing my to do list and the number of unopened emails in my inbox.
Should be easy, right?
If I’m still writing this blog when I’m on my deathbed I’ll let you know how it went.
How about you, have you ever tried this exercise? Or are your values always easy to pinpoint?
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