Adventure following loss

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

Following a significant loss, some people are consumed by a state of depression, while others find a way to get beyond their suffering and lead a life of adventure.

My dad had just returned from a last-minute two-week adventure in Florida and the Bahamas. Now in his late 50s but living with the spirit of a man in his 30s, he was enthusiastically telling me about all the watersport activities he took part in.

While jet-skiing, he went super fast, with no worries about falling off – he was wearing a life jacket and there were coast guards all around in case of emergency.

When snorkelling, he jumped off a platform over two storeys high to get into the water – just to beat a 20 minute wait going down the normal route – again with life guards around in case he needed help.

As he was telling me all this and more with eyes lit up, I knew he’d had a whale of a time.

In essence, living by example, here’s what he was telling me:

  • It’s ok to take risks: Do a little planning, take the necessary precautions, step a little outside your comfort zone, but surely take a leap.

  • Have fun: This life is hard enough as it is – don’t weigh yourself down further with stresses or worries. Enjoy what you do, whatever you do.

  • Life is for living: This life is rare. This moment is precious. Who knows what will happen later in life. Live with zeal. Live with adventure.

This September it will be 7 years since mum died, but for my dad, he seems to have really embraced life. I have noticed as he has transitioned over the last few years, from frustration and sadness, through to zeal and adventure. Most of all, he’s taken life by the reins, rather than letting it rule him. I’m proud of him for leading by example.

Dad, on this special day, I wish you a very happy birthday. You’re awesome. Enjoy your celebratory weekend ahead filled with fun and adventure.

Love,
Suraj

Sticking to that commitment

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

Sticking to a commitment is important.

Until recently, I have been rubbish at sticking to my commitments. I’m still not all that great now, but am improving.

This morning I had a bereavement support visit planned for 11am. At 9.30am I looked outside the window, saw the snow falling and settling on the ground and reconsidered my half-hour walk each way.

After deliberating on it for a few minutes, I called the client, suggesting we postpone to the following week. I could immediately hear disappointment in his voice. He explained how he had psyched himself up for the session (it was our very first session), “but hey”, he said, “it’s not as bad as other things I’ve been through recently”. His wife had died a month earlier.

That sadness in his voice woke me up to my own selfish intentions… and melted them. I was so much more concerned about my own comforts that I had forgotten about his pain, his needs, his suffering.

I decided there and then that I would make sure I got to that session, come rain, shine or snow! Yes it was a half-hour trek in the snow, and yes I was frozen when I reached there, but the session was worth it. I placed someone else’s need above my own and it felt damn good.

Commitments are so important

Nomatter how crappy we may be feeling inside, we have no idea what impact not sticking to a commitment will have on the person we have promised to meet or do something for.

It could have gone so many ways. He may have given up hope in support from others. He may have got angry and complained to the organisation that I represent when making these visits. He may have drowned his sorrows (with alcohol) and hidden from the world.

On the flip side, it was an effective session for him and certainly a valuable experience for me.

What’s more, it shook me up to my priorities, what’s important to me and doing the work that’s important. I feel a great sense of purpose in bereavement support work and this morning’s deliberation not only made me act unprofessionally… it took away something that is so important in my life.

So when I took that leap and decided to make that trek in the snow to keep my commitment, all the right stuff fell back into place.

As time moves forward, make fewer commitments (focusing on the important ones) and then stick to each of them. The world will be better for it.

Get out of bed

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

There are some days that I just don’t want to get out of bed, but I’ve chanced upon something that guarantees I arise in the morning with zeal.

The warm comforting trap of the duvet

For some reason there are mornings when I feel shitty about myself yet all safe and warm wrapped up in the duvet. I tend to indulge in the comfort and can’t bear to face the world.

Perhaps I’m dissatisfied with who I am or the way I look. Perhaps I’m not challenged enough at work, or I feel disconnected from the people who matter to me. Perhaps I’m not keeping the promises I make to myself and so letting myself down and disappointing those around me.

Whatever the reason, on those days I feel horrible and just don’t want to get out of bed.

But here’s the thing – it turns out there’s a sure-fire way of shaking off that funk.

What I’m about to share with you, I don’t manage everyday, but when I do manage it, it makes the world of difference.

Arise from the delusion of comfort; Live to serve

There comes a point while I am gradually waking up that I start to think about the people in my life – those around me who I care about and who deeply care about me.

I think about who they are, where in the world they live and what they need the most.

I think about what they say and what is left unsaid. I recall the expressions on their face and the things they do.

It wakes me up, literally, to the important needs of the people around me.

It reminds me of how everyone is the same. How everyone craves love and how everyone has fears.

Then I think about who I am and what I have, right now, to offer that love, to heal the pain, to pacify their fears.

Magically, as my delusion of comfort starts to shift, my heart fills with energy and I look forward to waking up.

As I arise from my slumber and push my own dissatisfaction to the side, I realise that I ought to get out of bed.

Only then can I offer love. Only then can I pacify fears. Only then can I heal pain.

It’s only then that I can serve and only then can I truly live.

Good morning!