I've been reading this book, called "The Untethered Soul", by Michael A. Singer. This book came to me by way of Marie Forleo (www.marieforleo.com). She is one of my spiritual "teachers" though we have never met. In a recent email, she recommended this book as one of her top three. I had no idea who Michael Singer was, or thought I didn't. But then, of course, as soon as I looked him up, I recognized having watched him on one of Oprah's Super Soul Sessions.
Today also happens to be Mother's Day. I lost my mom in December of 2004, the 21st to be exact. I miss her terribly, of course. But she was also an incredible gift to me. After reading, Chapter 13 in this book, entitled "Far, Far Beyond", I understand better what I mean when I say she was a gift. Not just in her life, but also in her death. This is not an easy conclusion for me to come to, and it has taken me years of internal work to be able to step back and objectively see her life in this way.
What my mother's death did for me was send me out in the beyond. Everything I thought I knew simply fell apart and I knew nothing would or could ever be the same again. If she had not left, I am not sure I would have become the person I am today because I had no choice. All the things that used to work didn't anymore, and I had to reconfigure my entire life. If she were still here, I am truly not sure that would have happened.
Michael Singer says, "Going beyond means going beyond the borders of the cage. There should be no cage. The soul is infinite. It is free to expand everywhere. It is free to experience all of life. This can only happen when you are willing to face reality without mental boundaries. If you still have barriers, and you know what they are because you hit them every day, you must be willing to go beyond them. Otherwise you remain within your cage. And remember, decorating your cage with beautiful experiences, fond memories and great dreams is not the same as going beyond. A cage by any other name is still a cage."
I had the good fortune to spend a month in Ireland in January of 2015. One of my destinations was the Cliffs of Moher. Absolutely breathtaking, hundreds of meters above a sheer drop to the Atlantic ocean. I am not terribly fond of heights, but my desire to walk the path on the cliff overcame the need to be safe. At one point, the path looked like it swung dangerously out over the ocean and I knew I would fall to certain death. So I stopped and had a talk with myself. I assured myself that we would be okay, that I would take one step at a time, and that if the path became too dangerous I would turn back. And then I reminded myself that this was what I had come to Ireland for and I refused to let my own fear define my experience. As I approached the point in the path, it was much wider than I had first believed and I proceeded to walk the entire southern length of the cliffs. That little tower you see in the distance, I walked all the way there and all the way back. On my trek back I welcomed the incredible views of the ocean instead of being afraid of them because I went beyond my edges, in a very literal sense, and came face to face with a beauty I had only imagined and seen in picture. Now I had actually lived one of my dreams! To walk the Cliffs of Moher.
I don't know why it takes an event like that for some of us. It forced me to come directly into contact with a whole lot of things I never expected to deal with. I also became a person I don't ever think I would have without first the solid foundation of her love, and then her leaving. The truth is I still feel her with me and still talk to her. Even now, 13 years later, I still want to tell her things and then remember I have to do it in a different way. It is a spiritual relationship now, rather than a physical one. I often have dreams where I am looking for her and cannot find her. But the truth is, she lives on, just in a different way.
Michael Singer also says, "Eventually you will realize that it cannot actually hurt you to go beyond your psychological limits. If you are willing to just stand at the edge and keep walking you will go beyond. You used to pull back when it got uncomfortable. Now you relax and go past that point. That is all it takes to go beyond...you realize that you will always be fine. Nothing can ever bother you except your edges, and now you know what to do with them. You end up loving your edges because they point your way to freedom. All you have to do is constantly relax and lean into them. Then one day, when you least expect it, you fall through into the infinite. That is what it means to go beyond."
His words touched something in my soul and it all came tumbling together and I teared up. I understood, maybe for even the first time, how her death taught me as much as her life. I was forced to confront my edges, pushed to the very limits and then beyond what I thought I could ever imagine. And as I sit here, typing, with her pictures on my desk, I miss her and at the same time I am so, so grateful to her. She gave me everything I would need to navigate this life. I love you Mom.