By Tanya Tiger
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” ~ Jill Bolte Taylor
When I found this quote it really hit home with me.
Anyone who follows my writing knows that I suffered an immeasurable loss in 2014 when my youngest daughter died unexpectedly. While this experience went way beyond the “normal chaos of a hectic life” the quote still held truth for me.
The loss of my daughter not only shook me to my core it threw my life into absolute chaos. On the outside I seemed to be holding it all together. On the inside lived a far more turbulent truth. As a family we had already overcome so much and as a mother I was—and remain—fiercely protective of my children. To not be able to protect her killed me. Having braced myself for a rough road ahead with Kristin’s medical issues, I had finally settled into a sense of peace, a sense of “everything is going to be ok”.
And it was ok, we were ok, until the day she left us.
My peace was shattered into a million pieces like stardust through the sky. The shards blinded me and cut me deeply. I was beyond wounded but in such a deep state of shock I didn’t realize that I was metaphorically “bleeding-out”. It was as if my ribcage had been torn in two and my heart had been ripped from my chest. My soul was strangled under the weight of disbelief and despair. My little light, who burned so bright she could warm the coldest heart with her smile, was gone.
She left behind an older sister, only 2 ½ at the time who to this day asks me when her sissy is coming home. She left behind parents who are still picking up the pieces of their broken hearts. She left behind grandparents and other family, friends, and teachers who are still seeking meaning behind what happened. She also left behind a whole lotta love and the promises we made to her to keep her spirit alive by making this world a better place in her honor.
I begin with this part of my story because for as long as I can remember I have been a “seeker”. I have been seeking peace, wisdom, understanding, the meaning of life… you know, the easy stuff (*smirk*). I was always looking for mentors, gurus, books, experts, etc. to point me in the right direction. I forgot how to listen to my own heart and follow my own instincts.
This led me down many, many roads that never felt right to me but I stayed the course because it’s what (insert famous person’s name here) said worked for them or it came “highly recommended” by So & So. I spent so much time looking outward that I neglected my inner-self. I lost my internal compass. I became a spiritual puppet.
Now, I can look back at all of this and recognize that it was all a necessary part of my journey. How could I recognize what did work if I didn’t also figure out what didn’t? The culmination of my spiritual crisis hit as I sat in Kristin’s hospital room realizing that I didn’t even know how to pray, who to pray to, or if prayer was even something I believed in. I had been searching for all these years and I was left directionless.
Here I sat with all of these loving people supporting me but I still felt utterly alone, spiritually speaking. And then, as I held Kristin in my arms and the machines stopped breathing for her, I placed my hand upon her heart and felt its beating slow…and then…stop.
In that heartbreaking moment, with a profound sense of permanence, I breathed her in and found my compass again.
My seeking turned inward. She gifted a new spiritual insight to me as she passed on to the next realm. She gave me some semblance of peace in that moment of chaos. Her dying light rekindled mine.
From that day to this one, I continue to hold that moment in my heart. It was deeply painful at first but the aching has begun to ebb, replaced with a sense of calm and connectedness. I am realizing that life will not always be blissful, sometimes it will be breathtakingly painful, but that does not mean that I cannot find peace.
Peace echoes in the darkest recesses of our minds. It lives in the shadows we dance with during tumultuous times. Peace holds us in its arms as we struggle through the hardships of daily life. Peace is there, always, if we open our eyes and hold out our hands.
So now, I no longer seek meaning and peace outside of myself. Instead I get quiet and recognize that the peace I need is inside of me already, tucked inside my heart, waiting to be invited into being. I have learned to open myself to new methods, tools, books, and opinions about connecting to peace without attaching myself too tightly to them. I remind myself that I don’t have to walk down every path I come across. I also realize that I can always blaze my own trail, which is often the most fun way to explore anyway.
My friends, may you seek until you find what it is you’re looking for, and when you’ve sought out everyone else’s way, remember to return to your own soul’s door.
That is where the answers live.
(As a side note: I love Jill’s story. If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch her TED talk, you should take the time, it’s more than worth it. I won’t spoil the story for you. It’s a doozy!)
Editor: Marcee Murray King