Originally published December 13, 2018.
A few Christmases ago, and long before yoga, I had what I like to call a “George Bailey moment.” While I wasn’t about to jump off a bridge, I had reached the dreaded “middle age” and questioned my life and its purpose, much like the main character in the iconic Frank Capra film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Most of us have seen the classic Christmas movie dozens of times.
At some point in our lives, I think we all have a George Bailey moment. We don’t fully appreciate what we have nor do we fully understand how much we’ve impacted our own corner of the world. We create a tidy picture of what our lives should look like: places we’d like to visit, people we’d like to meet, stuff we’d like to have. We exchange Divine hopes for worldly goals. We make plans.
But we can’t plan the outcome. If we don’t find the personal success or financial riches we want…or sometimes even if we do…we let our inner Drama Queen out to play and view our life as one big fat failure.
In It’s a Wonderful Life, Clarence the Angel helped George Bailey realize that what he wanted out of life and how he spent his time isn’t nearly as important as the vital human connections he had, woven in the everyday fabric of living. Clarence told George how he had touched so many other lives, and if he were gone, he would leave an awfully big hole in the world. George, an earthly being without Clarence’s celestial vision, couldn’t see it. The film reminds us of how God, the Divine, is the only one who can see the bigger purpose of our lives, which is ultimately to help others.
American writer, Kurt Vonnegut, said; “our lives are full of wonder, it seems, by the mere fact of our interconnectedness. We are here to help each other get through this thing called life.”
As we wrestle with the hustle and bustle of another busy holiday season, let me share one of my favorite sayings: We are all connected. It’s a perfect mantra for this time of year, when daylight comes late in the morning and darkness arrives before most of us get home from our jobs. Yet the stars are shining at their brightest in the dark December sky. We feel connected, not just to each other, but to the universe. The very molecules that make up our bodies come from atoms traceable to the centers of giant star masses, which exploded into the galaxy, enriching the clouds with the chemistry of life. The biology of human life, connected to the chemistry of the universe and the infinity of God, make us one. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.
In Zen philosophy, light and the darkness create an opposition, yet mutually depend upon each other. They are as one step going forward and another going backwards.
The meaning of success has many definitions. My cranial brain may view success in terms of measurable results. Money. Customers. Instagram hits. My yogic heart brain knows it’s not about money, a job or how much of my stuff came from Pottery Barn. It’s about the difference we make in people’s lives, the hand we hold out to those in need, the words of comfort we offer to those in pain. That is real success, something I’ve learned in recent years running yoga studios.
This season, meditate on the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.
Shine on Lovelies! Happy Holidays!