Living Well, Dying Well

Mary Friedel-Hunt

Have you ever tried walking a tight rope? It is a pretty tough challenge. The higher it is off the ground, the more challenging and perhaps frightening it is. There are those who literally do tightrope walking to entertain others. I read about one who walked across the Grand Canyon and we have all seen those who do this in a circus.
I believe we all walk tightropes every day as we attempt to provide balance in our lives, an ongoing challenge. And like the tightrope walker, without awareness and presence, I believe it to be an impossible challenge. One thing we know for certain about all those who walk tightropes is that success depends on presence. The minute we take our awareness and presence out of the picture, we tend to lose our balance. We know this can be devastating.
When I lose my center (presence) or get too busy and thus distracted, the balance I strive for ceases to exist. I become forgetful. I tend to ignore the needs and feelings of other people as well as my own. Eating well and exercising regularly can go out the window allowing feelings of agitation to come in. My meditation practice becomes less peaceful because I am no longer present. Red flags are seeking my attention. It is then that I know I must just STOP. It is time to sit down in silence and solitude (both matter) or take a walk through nature alone, or if those are not options at the time … return to my breath and do some relaxed deep breathing. When I do any of these, I am pretty certain that I will regain my center and become present to myself and others again.
Tightrope walkers know that in order to cross those wires, they must keep their center of mass directly over the ground, keep moving forward, and stay totally present. By doing this, external forces like wind or distractions will not deter them. In a sense we must do the same every day in order to reach our goals of being present and balancing our lives.
The end of summer can typically be a transition from an atmosphere of relaxation to the busyness of returning to school, getting more focused at work, taking on projects that are waiting for our attention and even the anticipation of the year winding down complete with holidays ahead. Whew!
September is a month of transition … and change is both positive and negative. It means an ending and a beginning. Transitions are a good time to use those tightrope walking skills and create the balance we need in order to walk peacefully through them. Time to be totally present, which demands periods of solitude, silence and breathing often … even many times a day.

“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.” ― Charlotte Eriksson
“Be here now.” ― Ram Dass

Mary Friedel-Hunt MA LCSW is a clinical social worker, thanotologist and certified bereavement counselor. She can be reached at mfriedelhunt@charter.net; P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588; or www.PersonalGrowthandGriefSupportCenter.com. Vincent Kavaloski’s “Parables and Ponderings” will return next month.