Today I am at the monthly meeting of the Cincinnati IANDS group (International Association for Near-Death Studies). It’s the first Sunday of the month and our Helping Parents Heal meeting is tonight. I haven’t had an NDE, but going to the group allows me to hear stories that help in the transformation I am trying to make.
During the meeting, someone mentions a book I’d like to read, so I pull out my iPhone and take a note. As I’m driving home, I glance at my phone as I’m turning on the directions to get home and the Notes app is up. I see the headline of a note I took a few weeks ago. It was a reminder to myself for a blog post idea. The post was about how I was taught that if you don’t like something change it. The title of the note was simply “If you don’t like something, change it.”. I keep seeing that title over and over again as I open my Notes app and each time I think “Yeah. But, what if you can’t change it?” It’s just a quick, almost subliminal thought.
I shut down the Notes app and the next screen I see is my Facebook page. My friend Alison has just posted a quote by Maya Angelou “If you don’t like something, change it.” Hey, that’s literally the exact words I was just looking at in my note. I haven’t heard this Maya Angelou quote before, but that’s not a sentence that’s only been uttered once in history. So, it’s not exactly a miracle. There’s more to the quote, though. It continues: “If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”.
Then it dawns on me this is what I have been doing. Tywana and I were discussing this morning a Swedenborg Podcast that I just listened to on gratitude. It’s hard to find things to be grateful for when your daughter has just passed. Yeah, I could be grateful for health, but I’d give up my health to have her back. I could be grateful for life, but this life is a prison without her. I try to practice gratitude, but it’s easier said than done right now. If I think of this life as all there is, gratitude is difficult to come by- nigh impossible. What helps me is this, though. If I shift my perspective and think of this life as an opportunity to learn, a temporary “school” that will be over in a relative blink of an eye, I can change my attitude about the bad things that come in this life. Shayna’s passing can never be fixed in the context of my physical existence on this planet. It’s impossible for me to be grateful for it as long as I stay in this paradigm of a material world. When I step outside of looking at this body as Brian and this life as all there is and look at this body as a vehicle I occupy for a short time and Brian as that soul that will benefit from these experiences, I can begin to practice gratitude. If I can even begin to trust that every experience serves some greater benefit, no matter how it might seem today, I can begin to say “I don’t understand this now, but I believe I will understand it one day. ” I listen to the people who have had NDEs who see their lives looking backward and from a higher perspective and say “Wow. Of course. That makes sense now. How could I have forgotten?” I can be grateful that even though I don’t have that perspective yet, I have faith that one day I will. And, I can give thanks for the fact that while I may be miserable today, I know that trouble don’t last always. While I cannot change this circumstance, I can change my attitude. And that will have to be enough.