I was thinking the other day about life simply being a process we go through. We all go through the same process,yet is is different. So really, life is a dichotomy – it is the same, but it is different. That is sort of cool and a little bit confusing. What is exactly the same, is that we will all be born. We will all grow up. And we will all die. That process is the same. The start is the same. The finish is the same.
The journey is different.
So then I started to think, so maybe it is not a dichotomy. Maybe it is a mistake to see life as a process that is all the same. Maybe this process, which on one look seems the same, is different for each and every one of us. A unique experience which is totally our own.
We can really only truly know our own experience and not that of anybody else. At the end of the day we are the person who will be with us through all of this process. We will never leave our own side, unless we become unable to connect with ourselves. Sadly, mental illness, greed, drugs and alcohol, can all lead us away from ourselves. And our mind can take over, so that we don’t even really understand or know ourselves.
The sad and tragic death of Whitney Houston this week shows us this is true. As do the countless deaths of those before her who have walked similar pathways in their process. Whitney’s final destination also reminded me that this process, this journey we are all on – the one that is the same but different – it is easy to think it will be far better if we are rich, famous, privileged. Clearly this is not the case.
The people you see that seem to have worked out what makes the process a little happier, a little warmer, a little more satisfying, a little easier to understand? They are the ones who are at peace with the process itself. The ones who understand there is nothing we can do to stop the process. There is nothing we can do to stop the sun rise and set each night. To stop the seasons changing, the wrinkles growing, the hair graying. They also understand that no amount of money, this thing we created, we decided upon but now stand in awe of, makes the process better.
We humans act like we have no control over money – that money controls us. We run around going ” oh my gosh, look at those stock markets going down”; “look at the dollar!”; ” GFC – what to do, what to do?”. These people who have things worked out, seem to realise that accumulating wealth, fame and popularity do not make for a better process.
What does make for a better process? Waking up with a glimmer of sunlight falling through the closed blind across the bed and noticing the way it makes the dust dance across the room. Rolling over and putting your arms around someone you love. Putting the key in your front door after a long day at work, or time away and walking into home. Putting you warm feet onto a cold floor in the morning and feeling all your senses as you get out of bed. Hearing the birds singing to the morning sun as you put on the kettle and sitting sipping the warm, soothing drink, as you plan your day. Hearing the first notes of a song you love, turning it up loud and singing as loud as you can. Catching the smell of cut grass on a summery morning or that amazing smell of damp earth when the first fat drops of a summer storm start to fall.
It’s all the sounds, smells, sensations, sights, thoughts and feeling that bombard you as you start your day, start your tasks, start your process – no matter where you are in the world. It’s hearing about someone who has stumbled across a cure for cancer, or sailed around the world alone at the age of 16, or walked across the Antarctic. It’s hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, feeling them kick, meeting them and seeing their beautiful face. It’s watching your parent sink into dementia, that horrible part of the process that denies you and them so much, while you ache to have them back. It’s all the wonderful and all the painful and all the in between boredom, loss, grief and hope.
That’s what makes the process. That’s what makes us the same but different. That’s what makes us human.