Postcard from Asheville, NC
Discarded papers and file folders lay heaped upon the floor like sleeping dogs. Nothing simplifies life faster than a terminal disease.
Earlier this month, I traveled with a dear friend to New York so that he could close down his apartment and say good-bye to friends and former coworkers. My friend has cancer; his diagnosis isn't good.
BC, before cancer, he was the executive director of a prestigious arts organization based in Manhattan. His employees loved him. Most people do. They threw an intimate luncheon to say good-bye. After lunch, my friend stood up and spoke. His voice was strong; the room was silent. "I've learned a lot since January," he began. "And one of the most important is to coexist with this disease, rather than fight it."
He went on to say that cancer will be with him until he dies, and that his goal is to make the most of each day he has. He shared how his many friends have supported him; he feels blessed.
Once again, I am in awe. My friend is dealing with this harsh disease with gentleness and grace. He is teaching me much about acceptance and how to appreciate every moment of life. Most importantly, he's showing me how to put first things first, and that nothing is more important than our relationships.
P.S. I've redesigned my website to make it simpler and easier to use! Instead of two websites, BuildYourLeaders.com (for organizations) and BuildYourInfluence.com (for individuals), you'll find everything you need on http://www.BuildYourLeaders.com, including my blog and slew of free resources. Check it out!
How to Bring Doing to Being
Life is a classroom, and one of the major lessons that's being presented to me these days is how to bring more "being" to "doing." As I have written before, my work has slowed, and time has become heavy causing me anxiety.
I am learning anxiety is a wise messenger when I take time to listen. Still, I've been unsure what it really means to bring "being" to "doing." Being a pragmatist, I want action steps. I want someone to tell me how.
It's been written that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. My teacher has appeared in the form of Stephen Cope's wonderful book Yoga and the Quest for the True Self. I found this passage in the final chapter: "...there is no need to renounce action in the world. Rather, what we must renounce is our attachment to the fruits of that action." Turn your actions to God, and let God hold their fruits, he advises.
We are not the doer; God is the doer, and when we allow God to do God's thing, we are at our most productive. Cope writes, "Flow (being in the state of flow) means allowing ourselves to be surrendered to life, to the way it is, and to forget ourselves in pure involvement with our work, our task at hand, our love-without worry over the outcome."
Cope explains that in the yogic view, what holds us back is desire, our desire for life to be the way we want it to be, rather than the way it is.
Cope helped me better understand how to bring more "being" to "doing." Here are five action steps that I've come up with so far.
- Be present to life by engaging head, hearts, and gut. (I wrote about this last month. Here's the link.)
- Slow down to move forward.
- Tap into my gratitude for all I have right this minute.
- Trust in the divine order of things.
- Use my passion, energy, and gifts to be of service, but don't be attached to a specific outcome.
Like most things, it's far easier to write these steps than to live them, but in them may lay one of the secrets to living a happier, more productive life.