‘What is your unfinished business?’ Gilda asked me a few days ago. We were discussing Alzheimer’s and the dying process. Needless to say her question haunted me. My darling old people are always contemplating that question whether they are aware of it or not. But can you imagine if we asked ourselves that question and gave it the gravitas and urgency it required? What would we do or stop doing in response to it? I am convinced it would alter the trajectory of our lives…
I spend half of my time alone and the other half around older people. At the Pecha Kutcha speech (where I shared how being an ambassador to TLC Alzheimer’s Homes shifted my life), I mentioned that the greatest gift I learnt was how to give space to another. Just like everyone else I had issues with my father, yeah Daddy issues that lead to man issues later! Yet once I was able to see my father as an individual in his own right with his own secret histories, identity, fears and struggles not only did I shift but so did the dynamics of our relationship. I came to the startling conclusion that it does not serve me nor him to hang on to a past that cannot be altered. David Whyte once said
“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”
Life keeps us so busy,the media is invested in keeping us distracted from looking within, from deep investigation. From asking questions like…why am I still at this shitty job? Why am I still angry at that neighbor? And was I wrong when I punched that c*nt on a rainy night when no one was around….blah, blah, blah. These questions although silly hint at some deeper lying issues and those are the ones screaming to be investigated. Now old people have a lot of time on their hands. Of course they will deny this, as they should. But many take the time and reflect on their lives and where things went right or wrong.
As Doug was dying he said, Auriol, don’t be scared to lie! In fact don’t be scared of anything!’ And he was scared of nothing, was my Grumpy Doug…except dying in the end. Ironically, as I watched him die I discovered I was scared of living, of stepping out and into something greater than myself. Of stepping into a space where I was uncertain and unsure. And the one thing I feared most was allowing myself to be loved.
In this year so many things have changed. I was forced to ask myself at every turn…does this really matter, does this person really mean as much to me, how honest am I being….and do I leave a good taste in their mouths when I am gone, do they leave a good taste in mine?
‘People love creating theories about how best to live and function in this world. A theory here, another theory there. All this theory does not help!’ a good friend of mine said a while back. When he saw my shocked face he simplified matters.’Just answer one question. It all comes down to one question….does it feel good? If it does…then go with that!’
Again I remember what Gilda said, ” Most people kill themselves trying to fix their unfinished business. And by then it is too late….they are out of time. ” Whether you chose to engage in your unfinished business or not is up to you. Yet life carries on despite our fears. New people and experiences lurk around every corner and the question posed to us is always the same….what will you chose now?
I will leave you with something my Person said to me. “Never say you are sorry for your past. You seem to forget that to me your love is a gift…” We are molded by every experience we face, every disappointment we endure, every victory we claim. And sometimes it is our unfinished business that informs our decisions and changes our destiny. I will leave you with the words of David Whyte and he echoes the sentiments shared by my Special Human Being…
“… to be human
is to become visible
what is hidden
as a gift to others…”
Live people. It is what we are meant to do. Live with your fears…and through them if you can.