I have a good friend who is really into enneagram typing.  She’s been doing it for years, has a certification and everything. She offered to type Tywana and I for free many months ago (probably over a year). Finally, we got around to doing it.

I’m not much for type tests.  I attended a church where the Meyers-Briggs thing was huge. People would walk around saying “I’m an INFP”, the response would be “I’m an INPJ.”  And, that was all you needed to know about that person.  I’ve never liked being put into a box. I struggle with personality tests. When given the choice of two scenarios, my first thought is usually “It depends”. Sometimes I like to be around people. Sometimes I like to be alone. “Would you rather go to a party or sit at home and watch a movie?”  Well, how about we go to the party for a while, then watch a movie?   I’m not particularly adventuresome, but I do like learning new things.  When asked how others perceive me, I wonder because I am many different things to many different people. I think some people probably see me as pretty friendly, but a lot of people think I’m aloof and intimidating.   And I’m nothing like I was 25 or 30 years ago. The people I went to high school wouldn’t even recognize me today.  

The enneagram divides people into 9 different types with strong influences from other types.  I turn out to be a type 9 with influences of type 1 and type 8.  OK, I read the type 9 description and that kind of fits me, but there are elements of the other types that seem to fit pretty well, too.  Then, Deb tells me that one of the traits of type 9s is we tend to think we are all of the other types. So, yeah, I guess I am a type 9.  

Last night as I was reading “The Seat of The Soul”, the author made a distinction between personality and the soul.  A whole person, as I understand it, will have his personality aligned with his soul. This brings to mind something I have been wrestling with for several years.  Some of us feel like we were born into the wrong family, the wrong culture, even the wrong time. There is something about our souls that wants to be one way, but everything and everyone around us wants us to be another way. Humans are amazingly adaptable animals and we quickly learn to give people what they want so we can get what we want and need from them.  Socialization isn’t just a nicety, it’s  a matter of survival. We have to please people not only so life is pleasant, but so that we can earn a living.  As we mold our personalities to fit what they want, we give up on who we truly are, who we are at our souls level. Some of us hit a dark night of the soul which can last years or even decades as we realize we are not being who we really are, who we really want to be.

Over the last couple of decades, I have been trying to align more with who I really am.  It freaks some people out. And even after all of these years, I realize that I’m not there yet. I struggled to answer some of Deb’s questions on the typing test, wondering if I should ask from the way I act or the way I feel like I really am.  Should I answer the way 20-year-old Brian was- is that the real me? Or, should I answer the way 55-year-old Brian would- the me I’ve become?

Deb left me with a book that describes the types and it’ll probably help me understand myself a little better and maybe understand Tywana a little better.  I do know I want to be the type who is truly who I am supposed to be.

Roberta Grimes is a Christian or former Christian, I’m not sure quite how she describes herself these days, who had a couple of spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) that led her to do an in-depth study of the afterlife, lasting for a few decades. She’s a former United Church of Christ attendee.  After that she became a devout Catholic. Roberta has read the Bible cover-to-cover several times. So, in many ways, her life is similar to mine.  And we’ve come to many of the same, life-affirming and freeing conclusions.

She has come to the conclusion that the Christian doctrines are mostly poppycock and that the Bible has a lot of things wrong. The one thing she thinks the Bible gets right is the words of Jesus which dovetail very nicely with her studies of the afterlife.  She’s laid that case out in a couple of previous books.  Roberta has written about this extensively in Liberating Jesus, The Fun of Dying and The Fun of Staying In Touch.  I’ve read all three. If you’re in the process of deconstructing Christianity or you’ve already torn it down to its foundation, I recommend them highly.  

Her most recent work, The Fun Of Growing Forever, has been highly anticipated by me. Roberta says she “gave her life to God” at about the age of 65 I believe it was. Remember this if after being a devout Christian her entire life.  She went through a radical transformation by combining what she had learned about the after-life with the teachings of Jesus.  he took a fresh look at the words of Jesus and distilled his teachings into a simple path she could follow that led to amazing rapid spiritual growth. I’ve listened to every one of her Podcasts and she alludes to this many times, so I couldn’t wait to get the book to see how she did it

Basically, Roberta has distilled Jesus’ two commandments (which He took from 10) into three easy steps. The two commandments are, of course, to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Roberta says the key is to start with an attitude of gratitude, move to radical forgiveness and then to radical and unconditional love. That’s it.  

In the book, she gives techniques she has discovered to accomplish each of these three steps in a way that is simple to follow and doesn’t require an awful lot of effort.  And the motivation is there to change yourself, change the world, make life more fun and to store up treasures for yourself in heaven.

Jesus’ words are simple, but not easy. What He commands is easier said than done, particularly the love God part- if you’ve been raised to fear God.  Fearing someone and loving them are incompatible because they are polar opposites. This was the bane of my existence as a child. I knew I had to love God so that he wouldn’t send me to Hell, but I couldn’t love Him because I knew He was capable of sending me to Hell.  I pretended to love God, but I knew He could see through the charade. I just could not love someone who would torture me, or anyone.

The book is a short easy read.  About 40% of it is appendices which refer to material that will help you understand why you shouldn’t fear God, why you should believe you are an eternal loved child of God and why you should not fear death because there is no judgment.  

Full disclosure:  I did receive a copy of this book for free and I consider myself to be a friend of the author.

Today I start a course on raising my vibrational level in hopes of having more direct after death communications.  It’s been a weird several days.  We want signs from Shayna, but if what’s been happening lately are signs, we can hold off on the signs for a while. A few of weeks ago when we took Kayla back to school, I discovered a $1,700 problem with her car.  The refrigerator suddenly stopped working just a couple of weeks after that.  A light switch stopped working entirely, then started kinda working.  I’ve had three hard drives crash including two on the same day. Two of those drives were backup drives, but one is the main drive on Tywana’s computer which now needs to be replaced. And, the ceiling fan in our bedroom keeps turning itself on and off including the light. A couple of nights ago as we were trying to fall asleep the light flashed on and off and the fan changed speeds.  OK, Shayna, if you’re going to give us signs, please try not to make them destructive.

As I’m falling asleep I decide to try praying for a dream visit.  Several people have recommended asking for dream visits, but I’m hesitant to ask. I’m not good at asking for things because I don’t want to be disappointed when I don’t receive.  I ask for a visit and I fall asleep.

I wake up around 5:45 AM. I normally get up around 6:30-7:00.  I’ve had the most amazing dream, but my first thought is a bit of a disappointment, but not surprise, that I did not have a dream visit from Shayna.  

In my dream, I’m at a big family gathering in a house I don’t recognize. It’s a huge gathering full of adults, children, laughter, food, the whole nine yards.  Even though I don’t recognize the home or most of the people, I feel safe and fully at Home.  There is this little baby, an infant, no more than a few months old.  She is a beautiful baby girl. I don’t even know her name. She can speak clearly though and she says she’s really, really sleepy and wants me to put her down for a nap.  I take her tiny body and hold her close to me.  I cradle her in my left arm.  I wrap my right hand around her tiny head to support it, my thumb on one side and just three fingers on the other side. She looks up and me.  I love the feeling of holding her, protecting her and knowing she is totally dependent on me.  I feel like she is mine even though I don’t even know her name.  I take her into the bedroom and there is a place made up on the bed to put her down for a nap.  As I lay her down on the bed, she looks up at me and tells me she will see me when she wakes up. I leave the room so that she can sleep and join the rest of the party.  Then I spot another little girl walking across the floor. She is so sleepy she can barely keep walking. Her body is that of a one year old, just about the age when they can start walking, but her face is that of an adult.  She’s a beautiful girl, big round fat face.  Her name is Dorene (I don’t know anyone named Dorene).  She’s ready for a nap, too.  I convince her to go lie down.  I sit and enjoy the party until I finally wake up.  I’ve got the most wonderful feeling.  I would pay a million dollars to feel that feeling I had as I held that little girl.  Being a Daddy was the best thing I’ve ever experienced in my life and even though it was just in a dream, I had that feeling for a few more moments.

As I wake up, my thought is the girl I put down for the nap is a metaphor for those who pass on before we do, they sleep while we’re awake, then they wake up to join us. But I quickly realize this thought is wrong. It’s not the “dead” who are asleep.  It’s us. And they don’t “wake up” to rejoin us, we wake up to go be with them.  Then, it hits me, that little girl I held and put down for a nap was Shayna.  The disappointment of not having the dream visit I hoped for passes quickly.

6:20 rolls around. I might as well get up. I go into the bathroom to get dressed so I don’t disturb Tywana.  As I come out of the room where the toilet is I notice the light in the bedroom is on. I didn’t turn it on.  Why would Tywana have the light on so early?  I look out and she’s asleep.  I ask her why the light is on. She doesn’t know. She hadn’t turned it on.

Today as I’m deleting about 1,000 emails, I run across a headline from one of the spiritual lists I’m on.  The subject “Life Is Supposed to Be Fun”.  I delete it without even thinking because I’m on a roll, half a second later. I’m thinking “Wait?  What? I’ve got to read that.”  I go back. It’s from the same pastor I heard speak when Tywana and I were in Phoenix earlier this summer. The title of his talk “It’s Hell In The Hallway”- the subject basically being that life is a series of painful lessons that take us from place to place of learning and growth, but it’s hell in between the time one door is closed and another opens.  So which is it?  Is life fun? Or, is life full of painful lessons?

Tywana’s watching Super Soul Sunday and the guest this week talks about how she now embraces the painful moments in life because they are learning opportunities. She sits with them and holds them and tries to determine the lesson.  This woman is leaning into life’s painful moments. Moments- ha!  Life’s painful eras.

I’m reading my friend Roberta Grimes’ book “The Fun of Growing Forever”.  It’s a primer of how to take the teachings of Jesus and apply them to our lives, in a non-religious way, to maximize our happiness and spiritual growth while we are here.  This line from the book jumps out at me.  The truth is that our lives on earth are brief, trivial, and full of pain. That is by design. Nothing of this world that we think we are gaining turns out be of any value, and attaching undue importance to even modest riches and status can set us far back spiritually.”

So, two out of three sources are telling me that life isn’t so much about being fun as life is about pain. What has my experience been?  Life can be quite joyful.  There are many beautiful things on this planet to enjoy- traveling, friends, family, good food, wine, the stunning beauty of nature. It’s a good place.  However, the fact remains that, if you’re here long enough, you’re going to feel pain. I’ve always known it. I steeled myself, braced for the pain of losign a parent or even a sibling.  I’m in my mid 50s.  It was bound to happen. It’s life.  I was not ready to lose Shayna.

Atheists often become atheists because of this “problem of pain” given the fancy name “theodicy”.  I saw a meme just yesterday presenting God with a multiple choice question as to why He lets bad things happen. Can He not stop them? Does He not care?  Does He want them to happen?  Nowhere among the selections was the choice “Maybe they’re not really bad”

Our bodies and egos are programmed to avoid the very things that Earth school is here for us to experience. We seek pleasure and we avoid pain.  Separation, weakness, loneliness, frustration, pain, doubt, fear,  all of these are bad and to be avoided at all costs.  But, what if our Souls, our greater eternal natures, crave more than anything spiritual growth? How would they go about getting it in an environment where they never feel lack, where they never can show compassion because no one needs it, where they never have to make a choice between someone else’s good and their own?  Would they be willing to temporarily limit themselves to go to a place like Earth, a place with the opportunity to really test who they are and to make themselves better?  Would they even be grateful for the chance to come here and be abused?

The purpose of life is another one of those great mysteries, right up there with why evil is allowed to exist.  Why do we want to or need to grow?  I haven’t found a satisfactory answer to that, but what seems to be evident and pretty much a consensus from the afterlife evidence given to us is that we do seek growth and this is the place to do it.

A couple of days ago I referenced Byron Katie’s The Work and Loving What Is.  Just the words Loving What Is get my hackles up, as I elaborated on at length there.  I don’t want to  love “what is”, I want “what is” to be what I want.  As I was reading Roberta’s three major steps to living this better life, I tripped over the first one- An Attitude of Gratitude.  This keeps coming up, too. And it’s the first step on many spiritual practices. We’re supposed to not only accept what is, we’re supposed to be grateful for it. As a parent of a child who is no longer with me and who will never be with me as long as I’m trapped in this body of flesh, I’m having a lot of difficulty generating this gratitude.  Yet, they tell me if I can’t do that, I’m stuck.  Stuck on step one, unable to progress to Step 2.

There is only one way I can be grateful for what is right now. I have to look at is as temporary and for my greater good.  I cannot be happy with the separation, the loneliness, and the pain.  I cannot be happy looking at Kayla and Tywana and knowing they are going through the same hell I am.  I can’t be grateful for that.  What I have to do is make a paradigm shift.  If I look at this as a growth opportunity planned by our souls, maybe I can start to be grateful for it.  If I can look at this life as an afternoon in the gym and Shayna’s death as a set on a particularly difficult piece of equipment, maybe I can be grateful for it because I know it’s going to help me build those muscles I desire.

Nobody likes going to the gym, except maybe those crazy CrossFit people. We don’t go to the gym to have fun.  The gym might have a movie theater and a smoothie bar, but the gym is a place we go to work.  We dread going and we love the feeling of accomplishment we have when we leave.  

Tonight, Tywana and I watch Miracles From Heaven, a movie starring Jennifer Garner. It’s about a little girl who is suffering from a terminal illness, has a NDE and is miraculously healed.  It came recommended by some people in my NDE group and I’m surprised they recommended it since it looks like it’s probably one of those cheesy Christian movies with bad acting.  It turned out to be pretty good, though.

There may be some spoilers below but really nothing more than you’d find in the trailer. The movie isn’t full of surprises.

Anna is about four years old when she starts having stomach issues. She experiences intense pain. She is misdiagnosed with everything from lactose intolerance to acid reflux. Finally, after nearly dying, she is diagnosed with a rare and usually terminal disease.  Her family is facing not only her death, but financial ruin as the only doctor in the country who can treat her is in Boston and they live in Texas.  In the movie, she spends about a year traveling back and forth. In real life, it was closer to five years. That’s one of the issues I have with the movie, they compressed the timeline- maybe so they wouldn’t have to hire different kids to play Anna and her two sisters, but it really takes away from just what this little girl went through. When she tells her mother she is ready to die to escape the pain, it makes a lot more sense when it’s been nearly five years.

Anna is back home playing with her sisters one day when they decide to climb a 30 foot tree like they did before she got sick. Anna falls down the middle of this hollowed out dead tree and lands on her head.  She has an NDE and is told if she comes back she will be healed.  She comes back and is healed. There are no more signs of her disease.  Today, Anna is a normal healthy teenager.  

The movie took a couple more liberties that I didn’t find necessary and one that I found really took away from the story.  Christy, her mother, totally loses her faith in the movie. She stops going to church.  A couple of “church ladies” approach her one day telling her that either she, her husband or Anna must have sinned. This is a pretty common doctrine still.  It’s appealing because those who think they without sin are protected.  If they tell themselves you’re sick or your child is sick because of sin, it’s a way of making sure it doesn’t happen to them.  Christy is devastated by this notion and leaves the church.  Christy says this didn’t happen. The other thing though is I think the NDE was underplayed in the movie. We get a glimpse of what Anna saw, but we don’t get to see her interact with the Spirit that sent her back. Also, they had her unconscious when pulled from the tree.  That didn’t make a lot of sense to me because she was sent back into her body and told she would be healed.  I don’t know of any NDE accounts when a person returns to an unconscious body (other than those under anesthesia).  In real life, Anna said she returned to her body and a guardian angel stayed with her until they lowered a rope and she stepped into it so they could pull her out.

Whenever I watch a movie and someone goes to the hospital now and people are fervently praying and that person recovers, it takes me back to June 24, 2015 when I prayed as hard as I’ve ever prayed for God to just send Shayna back. The chaplain was with us by that point and he was praying for God’s will to be done. Damn God’s will.  Just send her back to me. That’s what I was praying.  But, there was no miracle from heaven for us.  Anna was in the hospital with a little girl who was also very ill. That girl’s family were not believers.  In fact, the girl’s father asked Anna’s mother to stop filling her with false hope. I don’t know if they were real people are not, but that girl died, while Anna was saved.  I think this was a not so subtle reference to the Christian girl getting the miracle while the unbeliever perished.     

The fact is we don’t all get the miracle and it’s not because we’ve sinned or not sinned or do or do not have faith.  Some think the world is totally random. Doctors call Anna’s recovery a “spontaneous remission”. That’s only because they don’t like the word miracle. It’s a way of saying “We don’t know what happened.”  I happen to believe that whatever happens was meant to happen.  Anna could have died from the fall that triggered the NDE where she was told she was going to be healed.  Was the fall necessary?  Was the NDE necessary? Did she hit her head in just the right way to “reset” her system so that the nerves in her intestines that were not firing just started firing again?  

Thankfully, I’m not caught up in regrets about what we could have done different or why Anna’s family got a miracle and we did not.  I know that what is is what was meant to be even while I hate it with every fiber of my being right now.  I believe that one day I will see how this entire thing was a miracle that has gone just as planned.  Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight.

For several years now I’ve been running in circles where Byron Katie’s “The Work” keeps coming up.  I’m not a big fan of modern formulaic solutions to life’s problems.  I am highly skeptical as I’ve found many/most of them to be just ancient wisdom, repackaged to sell a program and/or a book.  That doesn’t mean they are all worthless, but I think most are.

I’m not all that that familiar with “The Work” but one thing I’ve bristled at is the concept of “Loving What Is”.  I always hear that”  To put it in Donald Trump terms, loving what is is for losers.  I am an American, a male. I was trained to change what is.  I have little patience for people who whine and moan about things they could easily, or even not so easily, change.  If you don’t like something, don’t complain about it,  do something about it. That’s been my motto.

Loving What Is about accepting reality. There is one battle you are sure to lose every time, should you choose to fight it. That is the battle against what is.  Sure, we can bend the future, but the future isn’t here yet and we really do not know that the future that is in our mind will be the actual future.  We can try to influence our path, but we can’t know what it will be.  We certainly can’t change the past.  And, we cannot change what is- only how we react to it.

I have come to realize that my wanting to escape from this world is my way of  fighting against the reality of Shayna not being here.  I have not accepted it. I don’t want to accept it.  It’s not in me to accept it.  So I fight it.  But, all of the tools I have for changing things are completely useless against this reality.  I envision a future that I cannot bear to think about. So, my “fix” is to wish it away.  There’s no changing the reality as long as I’m on this plane, so let me off of this plane.

I have also come to realize this is something that cannot endure. It’s not fair to me because it makes me miserable. It’s not fair to those who love me because it sends the message that they are not good enough to make we want to stay here, but frankly I feel torn in half.  One moment I’m willing to be here, the next moment all I want to do is escape.

If half the battle is identifying the problem, then maybe I’ve won half the battle.  I have to learn to love what is.  It won’t be forever.  That’s my salvation.  But, for today, for this moment, I’ve got to learn to love what is.

Now, how do I start?

Today I am talking to a mother whose son has passed.  It’s been two years, so she’s further along than I am, on this road no one wants to be on.  Whenever I talk to a bereaved parent (again, there’s no single word for us- there should be) I compare where they are on their journey to where I am.  If they’re not as far along- maybe a few months or even weeks, I recall what that felt like.   If they’re farther down the road, I wonder if I’ll be where they are when I get to that point in time.  A few days ago I was speaking with a woman whose daughter died over 30 years ago. That’s helpful because she seemed to be doing OK.  I’ve spoken with people 10 years passed and they are no better than they were the day it happened.  That’s not helpful.

This mother though is not doing OK.  It’s been two years and she tells me it’s just as bad as it was the day it happened.  The thoughts rush in. I get this feeling of despair. Her despair becomes my despair.  I can feel myself starting to lose heart, to lose hope. “What if that’s me?  What if things never get better?”  Then I remember some wisdom I heard many years ago.  If I’m going to do this work, if I’m going to keep talking to these people, I have to not jump into the quicksand with them.  When I talk to people who are not struggling, I can throw them a line, but I have to stay on solid ground.  Getting into the quicksand with them does neither of us any good.  I tell myself this won’t necessarily be me in two years.  And, if I keep doing the right things, it won’t be.  And I stay on dry ground.

Tywana listened to a Podcast today.  The guest being interviewed is a woman whose son has passed. Since, she has become a medium and has had many signs from her son.  Two of the signs she mentioned were lights coming on and off and the fan changing speeds on its own.  There is a circuit of lights in our house that stopped working a few months ago. I’m pretty sure it’s the switch. I bought a new switch, but they’re lights we rarely use, so I haven’t installed it.  Today, when I get up, the lights are on. They wouldn’t not turn on at all before. I turned them off and didn’t think much about it. 

Later in the day I go upstairs to our bedroom and the ceiling fan is running and the light is on. I’m always on Tywana and Kayla about leaving the ceiling fan on, but Kayla isn’t here and Tywana doesn’t turn the light on during the day. I wonder why she’s left it on, I turn it off and think no more about it.  

Later in the day I go upstairs again and the light is on again.  So, I ask Tywana why she keeps turning the light and the fan on. She says she didn’t do it. On top of that, she had come up during the day and found the fan runnning. So that’s at least three times. As we’re going to bed, she tells me about the signs she heard about in the Podcast and the light comes on again.  We are no where near the remote.  

This seems like a very straightforward, yes or no, closed-ended question.  "Yes or no, do you believe in God?“  I am reminded this morning how conflicted I am about this question as an atheist friend of mine who is an avid afterlife researcher threatened to quit a forum because people keep mentioning God.  He claimed that the fastest way to shut down people from any afterlife conversation is to invoke God.

It’s a strange perspective, given that the vast majority of people for the vast majority of human history have had a belief in God or, probably more accurately, gods.  Atheism is a modern development and still a minority position.  Yet, there are atheists who would have nothing to do with me and even dismiss my views on the afterlife if I say I have a belief in God. 

If the question "Do you believe in God” is put to me, I have to answer like a politician, like Bill Clinton.  Clinton famously said: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”  For me, you’d have to define God.  I asked my friend to do so and he came up with a definition that says God is a being, basically a very large, very powerful person. This is basically the Sunday school definition many of us grew up with.  No, I do not believe in this God. Some NDErs claim to see God or at least a “Being of Light”.  Almost all claim to feel an overwhelming sense of unconditional Love from a  source that loves us more than a parent loves a child. To me, God is both immanent and transcendent. God is not a person.  God is not personal, but God is not impersonal. God is transpersonal. If God is Love, as the Bible says and as NDErs say, then how can God be impersonal. God is Consciousness. God is our Source.    Most of all, God is ineffable.  Trying to define God, trying to understand God, is like a dog trying to understand quantum physics.  I believe God is simply beyond our ability to conceive of or define. 

Because I do not believe God is a being, sitting on a throne, pulling the strings and waiting to judge me when I die, Christians think I’m a heretic. Some would call me an atheist. Any conversation I would have with them would be immediately shut down because I do not believe in their image of God and I don’t believe He wrote the Bible that they call his word.  

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone,to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

I say to the atheists who don’t believe in a big man on a throne, who don’t believe in a judge waiting to throw us into Hell, who don’t believe He’s pulling the strings of our life.  Me, too.  I don’t believe in that guy either.  I say to the Christians who say they do believe that they are spiritual beings, that they are sons and daughters of the most high and they will live forever because of who they are.  Me, too. I believe that, too.

Today I am chatting with a friend over Facebook. She asks me how I’ve changed since Shayna passed.  Wow. That’s a big question.  My first thought is “I don’t know.”  It’s way too soon how I will change, but asking how I have changed so far is certainly a fair question.

The first thing that comes to mind is even more of a detachment from this world.  I have never felt I fit in here. I don’t know if I meet the true definition of an empath, but I have always been way too sensitive for this world. The injustice, the loneliness, the competition, the separation, it’s always seemed “off” to me.  I remember being a young child and watching the evening news when they’d report on Viet Nam and give the daily body counts.  What kind of a place are we living in where people intentionally kill as many other people as they can?  To this day, I cannot understand war.  I cannot understand developing technology to kill as many people are possible. I cannot accept it as normal to send people off to foreign lands where someone else tries to blow them up and they come back missing arms, legs, with traumatic brain injuries- and those are just the injuries we see.

I could not understand and I still do not understand how one man can have enough wealth for 1,000 or 10,000 homes while another man starves.  I used to think of a utopia where people simply worked for the good of everyone and shared with everyone who had a need.  Later I would find out that is called socialism, and socialism is evil.  

People like me tend to be depressed and, for a good part of my life, I was.  Meeting Tywana gave me something to live for, someone else I was responsible for and the first true sense of purpose I had here on Earth, other than just marking days. Living just for the sake of growing older has never appealed to me. A long life has never been something I aspired towards. When the girls were born, first Kayla, then Shayna, I knew I had something to be here for- to build a future for them. For the first time, I set a goal for longevity. I wanted to live at least long enough to see Shayna graduate from college.  I wanted to be here for them. 

So, what has changed since Shayna passed is the grip the world got on me, the feeling of this place being somewhat “normal” has lessened significantly. I see through the maya- the illusion of this world.  I see the aimless wandering (samsara) that most of us participate in.  I am torn because I feel I still have a purpose here. I know I have a purpose here. I have two people I have committed to.  But, I see clearly who I truly am, where the road leads and I know who and what is waiting for me at the end of the road.  

So, what does that all mean? Well, I live every day now with the end in mind. I am mindful of most of the things I do, at least more than I was before. I think of everything in terms of its impact on my karma, how I will view it one day in my life review. I try  to discern and work towards my life purpose to make this life as fruitful as possible. And I live in the tension between the pain I’m enduring now and the joy that comes in the morning.