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ask a simple question

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I went to a residential training program a while ago. When I first spied the quantity of chairs in our class room (150, in fact) I began to fret: how can we have meaningful exchanges in such large a crowd. Little did I know.

During our first assembly the teacher asked us to reflect on what had brought us: “Why are you here?” He then passed around four microphones and invited comments. After a few responses he changed the question to “Why are you really here?”

Unsure of what to say, I nevertheless reached for a passing mic. The reason I’m here is to learn new skills, to be able to offer this training to … halfway through my earnest declaration, the teacher expanded the question once more: “Why are you really really here?”

After five years in end-of-life care I want to shift to being alive. Directly from my heart, bypassing reason and expectations, the voice of truth. In an instant, I felt as if the burden of and self-imposed penance for ‘being with dying’ had been lifted — replaced by fresh air to fill my longues.

“Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question,” writes e. e. cummings.

What would you say if asked, “What do you want to do? … and then … “What do you really really want to do with your life?”

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5 responses »

  1. you changed your post!

    i had to go and think about ‘what i really really want to do with my life’ more and more, i realize its less and less. haven’t quite got the answer yet though – recently read Jack Kornfeld’s question – when is it time to redirect your life? i shall let you know my answer!

    Reply
  2. “learn to love the question,” R M Rilke advises us.

    p.s. nancy, i imagine it’s annoying when i change text and title after publishing a post. darn impermanence :-).

    Reply
    • i recall you first mentioned living amongst death and now wanted to be among the living… or something like that. it is similar to what i am experiencing at the moment – death or dying all around me. it makes me want to really LIVE my life. not waste one precious moment. because as you mention there is always that darn impermenance. one blink and its gone! so… what do i really, really want to do with my life? right now, lie down! i have had a full and wonderful day…

      Reply
  3. What I really really want to do with my life is sit with my laptop and leave a reply to the “ask a simple question” blog posting.

    Reply
  4. Kristy Brugman

    Hello Peter,
    we met recently at a course where you were speaking about your service at Hospice. I happened to come across your blog on a “looking for something but don’t know what” late night internet intuitive search…. and it is no coincidence I encountered your post. What do I really really want to do and the need to fill my lungs with air have been the theme of the week and the question “Is it possible instantly follows my answer to “what do you really really want to do?”. It is encouraging to read your post. Thank you.

    Reply

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