The last few months, as we all know, have been so full of change. We have all seen things collapse and disappear, with new configurations arising and defining. Whether it’s how we do business, how we congregate or how we live. Each and every one of us has been impacted together these last months.
And, there has been much change in my own personal life. June 24 my family lost our beloved black lab. Aimee was 11, and her body started to collapse although her will to live was still strong. It was a hard decision and a harder change for all of us, including Aimee.
Then, my daughter, who has been living with me since March 18, left back to Amsterdam a few days ago, where she’s been living doing her Masters. Another big change.
Last weekend, we fit in a camping trip together as one of our last adventures before she leaves. It was a mother-daughter “double-date” – my daughter and I, together with another mother and daughter. We’ve all known each other for 20 years and we’ve created these escapades into nature for quite a few of those years.
While camping, my mom-friend read a bit from an article about Carl Rogers to us. Here we were, all four of us tucked nicely in our tent, after having watched a spectacular sunset and having spent a wonderful day by the ocean and amongst the trees. We were all starting to get sleepy as she read us our bedtime story, excerpts from the philosophy of this great humanitarian, author, therapist and Nobel Prize nominee (for his work in South Africa and Ireland in conflict resolution).
One part really struck me about the nature of change and life, and I want to share that beautiful quote with you here:
“lt has been my experience that persons have a basically positive direction. Life, at its best, is a flowing, changing process in which nothing is fixed. In my clients and in myself I find that when life is richest and most rewarding it is a flowing process. To experience this is both fascinating and a little frightening. I find I am at my best when I can let the flow of my experience carry me, in a direction which appears to be forward, toward goals of which I am but dimly aware.”
Carl Rogers, “On Becoming a Person”
In that same article, my friend Julie also shared how Rogers believed making a good life for oneself involved accepting the true, authentic self. He believed there was an essential practice to acceptance, something he called “unconditional positive regard.”
As Julie ead about this concept of radical acceptance of self and other, I could feel a palpable rest fall over all of us in the tent. The definition was so delicious, so vivid and so real for all of us. – as it illustrated something that we had just experienced. Only hours before, all four of us had stood on the side of an ocean-side hill, looking at probably the most spectacular sunset any of us had ever seen in our lives. We must have spent 30 minutes ooohhing and aaawwing and cooing. It was pure pleasure, which left at least for me, a few sun spots for a bit, as I closed my eyes!
The picture above is from that sunset.
Here is the Carl Roger’s definition Julie read us that captured us all in the tent:
“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, ‘Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.’ I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.”
Just having had our sunset experience, it was easy to go from one to the other and to really feel the weight and power of Roger’s words.
To truly watch each other as if each and every one of us is like a sunset, like a glorious sunset – like the most wonderful sunset you have ever seen! What could the world be like if we watched each other like the magnificent beauty of the descending light of the sun.
As I say goodbye to my beloved dog, Aimee and say goodbye to my beloved daughter Erinne as she settles back to Amsterdam, I feel the precious, time-limited and fading aspects of life. Life changes and flows always. It is when we are too in it that we can easily forget its glory.
Each and every one of us is a precious, beautiful and time-limited sunset. To feel each other as this kind of every-changing flowing energy as well – we are here and then we are gone – gives the taste and bitter-sweet flavour of gratitude.
Please go squeeze your loved ones for me.
Sending you much summer love,
PS – If you’d like to jump into the whole Carl Rogers article yourself, here you go – makes for nice summer reading.