When to Take Your Pants Off: A Spiritual Lesson on Dealing with a Difficult Person

Got a figurative Pit Bull chomping at the bit?

Our greatest teachers are often the ones that bring the hardest lessons to learn. Their lessons require us to lean into discomfort. When we walk through them, we emerge stronger, kinder, and more resilient. I guess there’s a reason we refer to them as growing pains.

Signs of a Toxic Person

You know those humans who make you feel like you are walking on eggshells? You know, the ones who make you feel like you’re going crazy, accusing you of the very things they do? The ones who are never wrong, who lack empathy, who attempt to control everything and everyone? Those humans make Life’s greatest teachers.

Why Toxic People Make the Greatest Teachers

Contrast is what propels us forward in this thing called Life. We would not appreciate sweet without bitter nor salty without the sour. Likewise, contrast provides the conduit for our growth. The greater the contrast, the more opportunity for our growth.

When you experience control, gaslighting, manipulation, or any other form of emotional/mental toxicity, you learn about the importance of setting boundaries, speaking up, and saying no.

Why You Want to Remove Your Pants

So there I was, on the phone, with a dear friend of mine who, like me, has experienced a lifetime of toxic people. He was helping me work through one particular toxic person in my Life who has used repeated (5+ at the writing of this piece)litigation and financial power to manipulate and control. This toxic person was now threatening another litigation. Up until this point, I had fought back. It wasn’t vengefulness on my part; it was self-defense. It was using my voice — something this particular Toxic person didn’t like.

What do I do?

You fought the good fight. You stood up for what you knew was right. But when there’s a Pit Bull chomping at your leg, you gotta take off your pants.

And there it was: my greatest lesson. Sometimes, when dealing with a toxic person, the lesson is to simply let go, to accept where you are and what the Pit Bull is doing.

The Pit Bull and The Pants

So, the Pit Bull (aka, the Lover of Litigation) has my “pants” (i.e., another day in court). Here’s the gem: I am not the pants. I am free to live my life however I choose. The Pit Bull may follow through on Litigation #6, but that doesn’t stop me from living in the gift of the present moment.

We can’t control the way someone else will behave in this Life. We find peace when we surrender our figurative pants to a Pit Bull. The Pit Bull wants the “meat” of us — they want a reaction. Emotion feeds the Pit Bull; to starve them is your ticket to inner peace and happiness.

Sometimes, we need to surrender our pants in order to unearth our Zen.

Parallel Lives:

Writing the Story Behind the Surface

Discover a powerful writing technique for understanding ourselves and our experiences.

Teaching English to middle school students during the peak of Covid last year often rendered me daydreaming for a lobotomy. It wasn’t the students. It was the eggshell-like-fear the teachers and students felt each day, not knowing how close to sit or converse, not knowing when to remove our masks to eat.

The inconsistent hybrid learning didn’t make teaching or learning any easier. Students’ WIFI would cause them to freeze mid-sentence, someone’s volume in the classroom would cause a deafening high pitch, or a student would choose not to show their face in our Microsoft Team’s meeting.

Staff was still expected to meet progress report and report card deadlines, attend 504 accommodation meetings, create curriculum, monitor students’ progress, discipline, nurture—you name it, teachers were meant to do it. 

English teachers are the ones who receive poetry and stories and personal essays bleeding with pain. We are most commonly the ones who notify the guidance counselor and make that call to CPS. 

Even though I’m no longer in the classroom, I am still a teacher. I’m still the person students share their creative stories with, fiction and nonfiction. It is a gift to be on the receiving end of their writing.

The teenagers I work with instinctively know that writing is a process. It helps them connect the dots in their lives, helps them to understand the world around them and their place in it.

Here’s the truth: we are all students. We are all trying to make sense of this topsy-turvy world on a macro and micro level. 

The gifted writer, Anna Quindlen, addresses this need for writing as a means of processing our very lives. We write to know ourselves, and in many ways, to heal ourselves. Writing as self-reflection is therapeutic.

Dr. Charon and Parallel Charts

Dr. Rita Charon founded a writing technique at Columbia University’s medical school called Parallel Charts. In Quindlen’s book, Write for Your Life, Quindlen quotes a summary of Dr. Charon’s Parallel Chart technique assigned to 3rd year medical students:

“If your patient dying of prostate cancer reminds you of your grandfather, who died of that disease last summer, and each time you go into the patient’s room, you weep for your grandfather, you cannot write that in the hospital chart. We will not let you. And yet it has to be written somewhere.  You write it in the Parallel Chart.”

Students and Adults Alike: The Need for Parallel Charts

Whether we are a student grappling with a tough home life, or an adult challenged by a difficult boss, we all experience stressors that can’t always be handled head on. Parallel Charts allows us to process and work through difficult emotions and situations.

Quindlen offers us an opportunity to do Parallel Charts in any circumstance:

“Take a look at your calendar, or your class schedule. Dates, numbers, times, and yet, for each, there is an observation, or a sentiment, behind it, whether of that specific event or course or of how you were feeling that day. There is a story behind our to-do lists.”

The Magic of Parallel Charts:

There’s an alchemy that occurs when we write the underbelly of our thoughts, when we connect with the surface of the day’s experiences and take time to digest them. When we write that we have a doctor’s appointment at noon, there’s the feel of the plastic chairs in your mind, the kind man behind the desk who has a picture of his daughter and wife next to a block calendar. When we write what we are experiencing behind the scenes, we boost our connection to the world around us and our place in it.

Are You Laughing in Pain?

Great comedians like Robbin Williams and Lucille Ball did it. They laughed despite their pain. Learn the difference between humor as a release and humor as a deflective strategy.


I have a dear friend from college who I refer to as The Deflection King. When things get serious, he goes for humor. It takes intelligence to throw out the quick zingers he often does. Most of the time, his comedy is welcome, but there are times when his personal stand-up routine is both sad and frustrating.

What Does Deflection Mean Anyway?

The word deflect comes from the Latin word deflectere. De means away from + flectere means to bend. Humor is my friend’s way of deflecting a barrage of whatever unpleasant experiences come his way.

I happen to love humor, and like my friend, I’ve spent time on stages performing as a stand-up comic. Humor can be a fantastic balm to a hurting spirit. Humor sugar coats some often painful medicine, allowing it a more palatable digestion.

Humor as a Band-aid

But when we use humor to deflect, it becomes a coping strategy, a comedic Band-aid that prevents us from growing and moving forward. Deflection becomes armor that might keep us from getting hurt, but it also keeps us from experiencing life fully. Over time, that armor becomes a weight, and we might wonder why we feel so alone.

Deflection is defined as causing (something) to change direction by interposing something. Verbal deflection pushes loved ones away and keeps the deflector “safe” from feeling anything of substance. Deflection is the young sibling of Denial and will literally keep us away from the chance of experiencing a genuine connection.

My dear friend has a heart of gold. He is loyal to his family and friends. He also has uncanny comedic timing and possesses the ability to make a crowd wish they were sporting Depends. But this King of Deflection is in pain and no amount of sharp jokes will remove the turmoil in his eyes.

Comedians in Pain

I think of the late and great Robbin Williams, bringing tears of laughter to millions of people through the years. I think of Christopher Titus whose mother and sister both committed suicide; I think of Lucille Ball whose offscreen personal life did not look anything like the slapstick humor the late comedic genius displayed onscreen. Humor can be wonderfully therapeutic, but we also need to be willing to look under the spiritual hood.

So, the next time you find yourself or a loved one tapping a funny bone, ask yourself: is there a bigger story here that I’m ignoring? Humor can often be the vehicle to truth.

They Myth of Empathy: What It Is and Isn’t

The notion that empathy can deplete our mental resources or hurt us is an unarticulated myth.We can appreciate someone else’s suffering without the need to experience it.

A good friend has a car accident. Your uncle has dementia. A sibling has breast cancer. In each of these situations, as in any challenging time in the lives of loved ones, our heart has the opportunity to open and experience compassion.

But sometimes, we humans confuse Compassion’s powerful sibling, Empathy, for a virus that’s potentially contagious. 

So, we close up, emotionally distancing ourselves from whatever turmoil a loved one is experiencing, not because we don’t care, but because we are afraid to care too much.

Empathy Fear in Action

Years ago, a friend of mine saw I was struggling with a family issue. When I articulated what was going on, she told me the following:

“You know I love you, but I can’t be around you while you are going through this. It’s too hard for me. Once it’s over, let’s get together.”

Despite knowing me for years, my friend equated “being there for me” with somehow catching the challenges I was facing.

What Empathy is Not

Empathy is not something that requires physical, emotional, or spiritual stamina. It doesn’t ask us to drain our health, bank account, or time. Empathy doesn’t infringe or demand. It isn’t a cosmic paramecium, feeding off of us to help another.

What Empathy Is

The prefix EM means to put into or bring to a certain state. The root word PATHY means feeling or suffering. To have empathy to imagine what another feels in a given situation. We are imagining the Other’s experience, but we are not in the situation itself. Empathy is the emotional lubricant that allows humanity to connect. By putting ourselves in another’s shoes, we stimulate Compassion.

Empathy in Action

My friend’s fear of empathy ironically prevented her from experiencing it. When someone loses a loved one, when there’s a difficult divorce, when a family member is robbed — the greatest thing we can do for that person is be present. The sufferer does not expect their friend to BE in pain, only to acknowledge that it’s there.

Empathy is a silent or verbal acknowledgement to let the sufferer know they are not alone. It can manifest in anything from a homemade pie to a text, letting them know you’re thinking of them.

The Myth of Empathy

There’s this unspoken fear that demonstrating empathy, allowing ourselves to “go there” for someone in pain, is going to break us. 

But the opposite is true: when we open our hearts to someone else’s pain, our heart gets stronger, not weaker. Our ability to put ourselves in another’s figurative shoes makes us more powerful, not less.

A Surprising Benefit to Empathy

When we lean into empathy for another’s suffering, we strengthen self-compassion for ourselves. By welcoming the unwelcome in others, we grow more understanding and forgiving of our own imperfections and challenges.

What’s the Big Deal with Meditation?

Meditation is about giving the fractured parts of us a space to commune.

Last night, the rain slammed against the windows of my home and woke me up, thunder making sure I stayed awake. I tossed and turned, not quite asleep but not awake either, as the light bled into the bedroom with the dawn.

A couple of years ago, a storm like that would have easily rendered me hitting my pillow, counting, and recounting the hours of sleep I was missing. A couple of years ago, I perceived life coming at me more than coming through me. A couple of years ago, I saw my brain’s worst-case-scenario game as something belonging to me instead of a mere function of that organ warehoused in my body.

My external life hasn’t changed much in these past couple of years. There’s still bills to pay, traffic to maneuver through, personal challenges to face — you name it, life stressors continue.

So, what’s changed? What’s given me the gift of inner peace, the ability to both strive and surrender, to relish experience over destination, to trust that everything is always working out — even at those times when my brain is telling me a very different story?

Meditation. I love it and cannot recommend it enough.

The prefix medi is Latin for middle. When we meditate, we are putting ourselves into this middle space between waking and dreaming. We are both in our physical bodies and beyond them.

In the middle, we are able to watch our thoughts without judgment or censorship. Meditation allows us to go from a micro to macro perspective. The late and great, Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote powerfully about this in his book, The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning:

“Becoming the observer (step back) you begin to live in process, trusting where our source is taking you. You begin to detach from the outcome. That detachment allows you to stop fighting and allows things to just come to you…You get to a place where you begin to be guided by something greater than yourself.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer

The gift of meditation grows over time. Each time I take those 10–15 minutes in the morning to meditate, my spiritual muscles are stronger than the day before. If I find myself in what I perceive to be a stressful situation, I am able to catch myself that much sooner and breathe through any unpleasant feelings that arise, “welcoming the unwelcome” (Pema Chodron), knowing as the pithy goes, “This too shall pass.”

There is no wrong way to meditate. Go for a walk, listen to the air conditioning as you sit comfortably on a chair, fold laundry, paying attention to the sensations of the fabrics your fingers touch.

Meditation is about giving the fractured parts of us a space to commune. It’s an opportunity to slow down and observe, to watch without fixing, to feel without concealing, to allow our sheer being to just…be. Over time, you learn to trust both the Universe and your inner knowing (which, in my book, are one in the same).

“People can tell you all kinds of wrong directions, lead you around any corner. You can’t trust any of that. You can’t even trust me. What do they say in car adverts? About the navigation system? Comes as standard. Everything you need to know about right and wrong is already there. It comes as standard. It’s like music. You just have to listen.” How to Stop Time (author, Matt Haig).

Meditation is the portal to listening and by extension, knowing ourselves.

What’s the big deal about meditation?

In my opinion, everything. Cultivating our inner compass is where the real magic happens.

Got Anxiety? (It’s Not You)

The heart-racing-sweaty-brow unpleasant-sensations are byproducts that aren’t you!

There’s this organ that can wreak havoc on our body and spirit — if we permit it. It’s a clever organ with the best of good intentions, like a toddler who decides to surprise their parents with a “homemade breakfast.” You know that kitchen is going to look like a disaster area when that two-year old is finished making your special meal.

So, what’s this organ that behaves like a toddler? The brain.

The brain does everything to protect you if it senses the slightest danger. Sometimes, as in the case of a fire or a robbery, it does exactly what it’s meant to do, acting quickly on our behalf — no different than that thoughtful toddler who brings home a necklace for you out of Fruit-loops’ cereal. Beautiful intention and outcome align.

But sometimes, our well-meaning brain works against us, offering up a mess of what-if scenarios we don’t need. Anxiety creeps in, all of the cortisol activity from our fight-or-flight manifesting in anything from panic attacks to irrational fears.

When anxiety takes the driver’s seat, we can’t seem to steer our way out of fear. Reason seems miles away.

What can we do when anxiety is driving our lives?

Here are three powerful tools to put YOU back into the driver’s seat and dispel anxiety:

1. Depersonalize anxiety: When your well-meaning toddler made you breakfast, they left several cracked and sticky eggshells all over the kitchen floor, syrup spilling at the edge of the counter, and caked flour stuck on the fridge door. The room is amess! But do you get mad at that toddler? Of course not.

Your well-meaning brain is only doing what it knows how to do. You can give that overworking-well-intentioned organ a heartfelt thank you and not take the mess of thoughts they create personally.

2. Objectify anxiety: We tend to see anxiety as a part of us, but it is nothing more than emotion passing through us. When the weather is stormy with skies the color of slate, we don’t say “Oh no, I must have done something terrible.” We know that the state of weather is not a reflection of us.

Our anxiety is no different from the weather. Anxiety is an emotion that is no different than any other emotion. When we see it as something separate from us, passing through us, we remember that we are whole and happen to experience this particular emotion that is not us.

3. Welcome anxiety: I know, I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but it works! When we lean into the very thing we fear, the fear dissipates. We are no longer fighting what feels like an uphill battle. Our brains want to fight something to help us; when we surrender to those unpleasant feelings, they ironically, pass through us that much faster.

As the late French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Anxiety, like everything else in life, is moving through you. Anxiety is an experience created by our active, well-meaning brains. But we are not our brains. We are spiritual beings. When we observe without attaching, we can enjoy the ride even more.

The Most Important Bank Account

The most important bank account has nothing to do with your 401K.

            It’s not the number of stocks or annuities in your retirement portfolio, nor the percent of interest accruing in your money market account. It isn’t the bonus received or expected from work or the amount of dollars in your checking and savings.

            The most important bank account isn’t measured in cryptocurrency, gold, or one’s investment in semi-conductors. Those values, like everything else fiscally measured, will rise and fall. Just peruse renowned investor’s Ray Dalio’s recent books, Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail to discover the cyclical nature of economic abundance and poverty.

            After our most basic needs are met—thank you Maslow (air, water, food, shelter, sleep), our spiritual bank accounts require our attention.

            Only we humans possess an affinity to avoid pain and discomfort. We flee from hurt, instead of looking at it directly. We hide behind schedules or alcohol, or addiction to numb our pain.

            Avoiding the pain, denying what we are feeling creates two potential outcomes over time:

  1. Mountain-out-of-a-molehill behavior 
  2. Illness in the body and mind

Author and speaker, Brene Brown (Atlas of the Heart), refers to this tendency to be triggered over something seemingly insignificant as “chandeliering.” 

We see this triggered behavior all over the world and in our own backyards: 

-the “Karen” ready to attack someone for having a different opinion

-the road rage against a total stranger on the highway

-the friend who starts cursing up a storm when their iPad won’t charge

In all of these examples, the anger lashing out is not about what appears to be the source of their anger. The anger is a symptom of an inner pain that is going unaddressed.

The anger is misplaced, unexamined pain and a symptom of a depleted spiritual bank account.

Then there is the manifestation of pain in our body:

-the back pain that worsens in traffic

-the chest pain that “comes out of nowhere”

-the panic attacks 

-the frequent malaise

Brene Brown refers to our tendency to swallow our pain, pushing it down, so it can’t see the light of day as “stockpiling.” These are the folks who say everything is fine, like a spiritual Unikitty (Lego movie) when things are feeling far from fine.

If we are in denial like a super-charged positive Unikitty, ignoring our wounds, they will fester. And if we aren’t “chandeliering,” we are likely to “stockpile” our negative emotion until they show up in our bodies.

It’s human nature to avoid pain and seek pleasure. But there’s a real danger in denial, in running from our negative emotion or swallowing it and swimming like a duck through life—graceful on the surface but fighting for our lives below.

Unexamined and untended to pain that remains hidden will fester, affecting either others (when we lash out) or our own bodies negatively.

When we take time to look our wounds directly in the eye, something wonderful happens: the wound itself begins to heal.

Our spiritual bank accounts fill when we honor our journey and respect the emotions we experience along the way. Emotions, like the weather, change; it’s only when we deny their existence or demand that certain ones stay that our bank account falters.

What Wealth Feels Like

Wealth is more a state of mind than a bank statement.

            I drove a Range Rover—the high end with all of the bells and whistles. I lived in a Mediterranean style “home” just shy of 6,000 square feet. I had a second home—a 3- bedroom condo off the water with a balcony. Financially, I wanted for nothing. My net worth put me in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest.

            I was miserable.

            According to Merriam-Webster, the first two definitions of wealth pertain to abundance in value, resources, and supply.

            So why was I miserable?

Despite having the “value, resources, and supply” in fiscal abundance, I was living an impoverished life in other aspects. A friend recently referred to my life before as “a canary trapped in a gilded cage.”

The abundance of dollars in the bank is neither good nor bad. It is our relationship with our “value, resources, and supply,” that determines a genuine sense of wealth. After all, there are those with millions in the bank who use money to control and manipulate others or who hide behind the “stuff” that money can buy yet remain miserable.

I didn’t begin to experience wealth until I left my figurative gilded cage.  True wealth is not measured by dollar signs; true wealth is the feeling of ease and pleasure.

Think of the late billionaire, Jean Paul Getty (portrayed by the late Christopher Plummer in the film, All the Money in The World) whose 16-year-old grandson, John Paul Getty III was kidnapped and held for ransom. The wealthy grandfather refused to pay ransom to rescue his grandson, and in the end, the grandfather dies alone in a 72-room mansion, alone with his German shepherds.

Wealth is more a state of mind than a bank statement. 

Since I flew out of my figurative bird cage, my bank account looks very different. I paid a fiscal price for my spiritual wealth, and I would do it all over again.

Wealth is knowing time and choices are yours. 

Think about those days when, for whatever reason, you hadn’t eaten all day. Maybe you were stuck on a delayed flight; maybe it was a religious fast—regardless, how amazing did that first bite of food taste? The feeling, the sheer pleasure experienced in abundantly enjoying that morsel was an experience of wealth.

Regardless of the number in your bank account now, you always have the option to choose wealth, to experience a sense of abundance and ease.

Ease, freedom, fun—this is what we all want to experience.

I wish each of you dear readers, great wealth.

What They Don’t Tell You About Childbirth

Doctors and well-meaning friends inform about the not-so-fun effects of childbirth, yet somehow leave this one out…

Postpartum depression. Weight gain. Tender breasts. There’s a whole gamut of physical and psychological changes a woman experiences upon giving birth. One area I see unrepresented: back issues.

A woman’s pelvic bones shift to prepare for the growing fetus. That alone is 9 months’ work of alignment changes! Ever wonder why women often experience urinary incontinence post childbirth? It’s often due to the misalignment of those pelvic bones during the perinatal period.

Pain is another effect of that pelvic misalignment; since our bodies are like a Rue Goldberg machine, an off-kilter pelvis can easily throw our spine out of whack. 

Growing up, I remember childbearing women complain about their swollen ankles (edema), larger shoe sizes, and even their hair falling out post birth. 

By the time I was pregnant with my first child, I thought I knew all there was to know about the underbelly of pregnancy and childbirth: everything from the fluctuating hormones to the fluctuating weight; the heartburn to the headaches; the breast tenderness to the clogged nipples.

I attended the birthing classes, took the requisite prenatal vitamins, and heeded my obstetrician’s advice.

But no one warned me of the bigger picture that was whispering to me each day from the start of my pregnancy: back pain.

“I have back pain,” I told my doctor. I was a few months into my first pregnancy.

“Yes, that’s to be expected.” He suggested going for walks and moving a tennis ball on my lower back.

Some days in the pregnancy, the back pain was so bad, I only found relief on all fours.

Our pain may start out as a whisper, but if you don’t heed its warning, it will only grow louder.

Fast forward, that oldest child is almost 19 years old today. The whispers that began when he was in utero are now loud and clear: an MRI revealed I have a herniated disc and 3 bone spurs.  The pain in my lower back had screamed loud enough for me to cancel a work meeting last minute, my back spasming like labor pains.

Immobile, I listened to what my body had been trying to tell me all along. The back had literally been tapping me to get some TLC for decades.

I want better for you.

Whether you are reading this as an expectant mom or someone suffering with the whispers of back pain, I share with you what I wish someone had told me: pregnancy alters our pelvic and spinal structure. If you are experiencing pain now that comes and goes, please don’t ignore it or push past it like I did. Your body is trying to help you NOW. The earlier you address the pain, the more mobility you will experience in the future.

A happy body is one that is heeded.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6799872/

The Space Between Life and Death

Underneath the Busy-ness of Life is the silent awareness that we are only visiting planet Earth.

This past week, my mother went into the hospital for a minor procedure. Small. Common. Something that caused nothing more than a mental note to check up on her that afternoon to hear, what I had naively assumed, would be filled with verbal green lights and thumbs up.

There’s a famous quote from one of my favorite books, The Art of Racing in the Rain (author Garth Stein):

“People and their rituals. They cling to things so hard sometimes.”

Mom is 78. Deep down, I know any procedure—young or old—is risky. Deep down, are feelings too painful to ponder. So, when I wished her good luck on her procedure and assumed all was well, I clung to my work and the business of life. Work, chores, responsibilities—the Building Blocks of Busy-ness that help stave off thoughts often too daunting to face.

Seconds before her procedure began, my mother went into AFib: an abnormal heart rhythm which can cause a stroke or death.

While we waited for my mother to be stabilized, I spoke with my father. Normally, he is the King of Busy-ness—always in a great hurry to do something and get somewhere. He is also the King of Rituals. Whether it is how he likes to keep track of bills or how he plans his day, there is a long unwritten list of routines he “must” (a word he will often use) do. The rituals and busy-ness have altered through the decades, but the theme remains.

All that changed when his wife, my mother, went into atrial fibrillation.

Several years back, my parents were in a terrible car accident. My father walked away with nothing more than a few scratches. My mom was severely injured and is still in pain as a result of that car wreck, years later. 

My father was driving when the other car slammed into them.

Yet, it wasn’t until my mom’s life was in immediate danger that he shared sentiments with me never before expressed:

“Your mom’s in pain because of me. She saw that man coming at 90 miles an hour at us. I didn’t react in time. I see pictures of her from before the accident. She used to smile. I loved seeing her smile. But since the accident, she doesn’t smile anymore. It’s all my fault.”

If life were like a Pac-man video game, where three lives were guaranteed, would my father have expressed such raw emotions? My father’s voice overflowed with yearning to see his wife’s smile. Would such yearning be felt if he knew she would return from the hospital like she looked and felt before the car accident?

This fleeting time between life and death is a gift. It’s life’s brevity that makes each moment matter. Mortality is like caffeine for the soul—a wakeup call to make moments matter.

My father shared more while we waited to hear news from the doctor. 

“I keep looking at that picture of us outside all those years ago. Remember that one? You were about 6, your sisters 10 and 3. Oh, and your mom looked so happy. Those were the best days.”

I didn’t tell him what I was thinking. Yes, that snapshot captured a precious memory of our nuclear family in the backyard of our Long Island home. But it didn’t show my father filled with Busy-ness before and after the Kodak camera’s click.

Mom is back home and stable, a prescription of Beta blockers, the latest change in her life. I spoke with her today, and she sounded the happiest I’ve heard in a long time. And my father’s voice beamed through the phone and made me think of George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life.

“I have my wife back,” he said.

   There’s a powerful line in Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library:

     “In the face of death, life seemed more attractive.”

      Here’s the truth: We are in the face of death (we just forget this or choose to forget this—thank you Busy-ness and Denial). Moments in this Earth School are precious because they are just that—moments. Each of us has a finite number of days on this planet to live!  Some of us know or can sense this (Just look at our American Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton and the late and great American Composer, Jonathan Larson). There’s an inner fire ignited when one is cognizant of their mortality.

     Consider the ecstasy felt upon eating food after fasting or sitting beside a fire after hours spent in the kind of cold that numbs your extremities. Or how about a petite mort—the French expression for an orgasm (translation: a little death). It’s living on the edge of things that make us feel so alive, that allows us to taste the juice of life with all of our senses.

https://www.medicinenet.com/atrial_fibrillation/article.htm