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Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Life-Changing Lesson of 2017

Hot on the heels of the Year From Hell in 2016, I now look back on what was 2017 with one lesson to share.  

It is the single, biggest, most powerful and life changing lesson I could share with you.

This lesson came to me as, this year, I wrestled some more with depression and dark thoughts, cogitating more deeply upon the fall out of everything breast cancer.   (Did you know that, in any given year, according to BeyondBlue, around one million Australians have depression and around 2 million have anxiety?) 

Perhaps the outlines of it came as I canoed around Antarctica and trudged through Argentina and Uruguay, communing with nature as I dared to go where no lone, breast-less 53 year old has dared to tread before.  

It may have gained further structure as I toured through Botswana, Namibia and Cape Town in Africa, thus managing to strike off the seven continents on my bucket list.

Some of it may have been annealed as  I pursued my mission - through various forms of social media - to destigmatise the truly glorious state of being that is not simply daring to fly solo - but embracing it heart and soul.  (What fun!)

It may have densified as I dallied with bird photography, song writing and producing, hoop dancing, life drawing, and more forays into stand-up comedy (and, yes, I am actually funny).

It may have truly solidified as I dealt with feelings, such as loneliness, after officially 'empty nesting' - setting up my second son, Ben, in his own digs. 

As the year progressed it became more and more clear.

And here it is.


I don't mean this in the sense that 'things happen for a reason'.  No.  I simply put it to you that everything that happens to us, from the most mundane and trivial to the significant and life changing, is inevitable.  

As a (these days) deeply fatalistic person, I have come to  believe that for each of us, our stories are written in the stars the day we are conceived.

As that sperm hastens toward the egg, it trails behind it a narrative - our story - over which we have no control.  That narrative is comprised not just of DNA, but of the residue of our ancestors who pass on the leftovers of all the good and evil they have wrought in their combined lifetimes.  After all, do not the prophets across all religions claim that 'the sins of our fathers are visited upon their sons'?    

That's why I really believe that  at the glorious moment of fertilisation, there is the transfer not just of sperm to egg, but a fate comprised of the millions of thoughts, experiences, actions, interactions and so on that is our destiny.

And we are unerringly moved forward toward it... The egg, down the fallopian tube, into the womb, and after gestation, as babes out into the world.

We are wrenched thus from our mothers, the umbilical cord detached and then .... and then....

Cut loose, set forth upon uncertain tides, a rush of water, a pull and suck, pooling here, gushing there, a hurly burly of times, good and bad.

To fight appears fruitless.  You can only tread water, swim or float.

My preferred approach is to 'go with the flow' or, as Buddha might have put it, to practice the wonderful thing that is acceptance, trusting - that good, bad or ugly - all I experience is part of a plan - the plan that forces I will never understand created for me, perhaps aeons ago.

I am not going to lie to you and tell you that plan is necessarily a good one or even a vaguely pleasant one.  

Which is why acceptance is the key.

By accepting that any action, reaction and  interaction in your day - positive or negtaive - was simply meant to happen, what you end up with is a deep sense of meaning (being a derivative of the word 'meant').

This is what I now call the sweet mystery of life and, as part of this lesson, I ask you only to trust that your life is unfolding as it was written - everything that happens and what you do as a result is meant.

It all then comes down to the art of not just accepting but owning your story - every glorious, horrible, uplifting, depressing, shining, shattering, glorious, pathetic, brilliant, banal, incredible, forgettable, exciting and dull  minute of it.

And in the process of accepting that your story, however dire, is your story,  I believe, like me, you will gain strength and pride in realising that you are the hero or heroine of it.  Imagine that!  You are a star!

And best of all, none of us knows what the end of that story might involve - it's rivetting!

The sense of excitement as you turn the next page and the next discovery, I think, is really what keeps us moving forward (as fate intends all of us to).

Perhaps this really is the essence.... of Hope.

And on that note, here is my wish that your life next year is a page turner of the best kind - the one where in the end, perhaps good triumphs over evil, the hero achieves redemption or everyone really does live happily ever after!