Experience is a powerful ocean

This particular column and I have been dancing partners for many months. We have tangoed and waltzed together, and I dare say met each other on painful ballet tippy toes.
This column is precious to me because it’s the closing number on what has been a very powerful ocean of personal experience in 2012.
I keep a daily diary and I’ve done so for decades. At the end of each year, before I close off my journal to start a new one, I revisit the 12-month period and re-acquaint myself with myself.
I also look back at my year’s worth of column writing for the same reason.
It’s all about reflection.
On Jan. 1, 2012, I had written the following sentence in my diary: “Change is coming and I am okay with my changes. I am still learning to sail my ship.”
I went back a bit further in my old columns, and perused the one that bid farewell to 2011 and welcomed 2012.
My sentences smacked of magical thinking. All that talk about staying open to change. Wow, what I didn’t know then.
By the time Jan. 27, 2012 had rolled around, some eight days after the suicide of Dr. Jon Fistler, my diary entry read: “It is all I can do not to fall down weeping and disappear into the earth.”
There were times in the early months of 2012 when I thought I was going to suffocate and drown in that ocean of grief. Regret and remorse were more than happy to keep me company.
I wanted to give in to the belief that “the future was no longer a kingdom of possibility and wonder, but a yoke of obligation, and only the unattainable past offered a hospitable place to live.”
But I didn’t give in and I didn’t disappear and I didn’t drown. A very wise counsellor told me I deserved to be happy. A very wise doctor told me I was allowed to feel anything but remorse.
I believed them both right from the get-go, and I’ve worked my way forward ever since—sometimes inching along, sometimes leaping, sometimes stumbling, but forward and I will not be moved from the journey.
I made a conscious choice about the “how” of my living.
And I think grief counselling saved my life. Grief wears many different hats and this is a case in favour of “The More You Know.” Treating grief honourably and with understanding means a whole lot less anger and despair in our lives.
And, for sure, there’s a whole lot less regret—and regret is an appalling waste of energy (to paraphrase Katherine Mansfield).
One of the greatest personal challenges I’ve had since January is to practice paying forward in action those six little words I once wrote about. It is far from easy, but therein lies the lesson because I very much want to be there for you, too, when you need to talk.
I strive to keep my “mouth closed, ears open, presence available.” I think, by far, it’s the greatest gift a true friend can give another.
When I read through my 2012 diary and columns, and see how my life has been lived since that brutally cold winter’s day, there is no doubt in my mind that I am the luckiest girl I know.
I have been given new horizons to sail on and I am so very grateful to be standing on the crest of 2013 and be able to say I love my life. And so as I repeat some of what I wrote in the final column of 2011, this time it means so much more to me when I say;
My dear readers, stand on the horizon of 2013 and look back at what you’ve seen and done and learned, and what you’ve lived through, cried through, laughed through, and shared, and then grant yourself peace and go forward.
The Four Noble Truths encourage us to show up, pay attention, and tell the truth or keep noble silence, and stay wide open to change.
Stay wide open.
Moving forward through the intersections of life is risky. Look both ways and go.

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