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“That’s Life.” People use this phrase all the time, and always for unjust or generally negative situations. A man loses his job. “That’s Life.” Someone fixes up a house, gets ready to move in, and a flood hits. “That’s Life.”
I have always found this a bit disturbing. That’s not to say that negative situations aren’t part of Life, but they’re only part of the whole picture. Birth is Life. Winning an award is Life. Feeling happy enough to dance around is Life. My walks in the park show me Life everywhere – trees whispering in the puffs of breeze, birds chirping and fluttering between them, dogs chasing Frisbees or running up to say hello and get petted – all of it is Life.
You know, it’s rather interesting that we talk about Life as if we know exactly what it is. And yet nobody has a firm grasp on what Life actually is, not even physicists or biologists.
The thing is, Life is an abstract. When I used to teach my students about abstract nouns, I explained to them that an abstract noun names something that you cannot see, except if it’s in something else. So, for example, you can’t see Love walking down the street, or sweetness, or anger. Only when these qualities are embodied in something are they visible to us.
You can’t see Life all by itself, but Life is in everything – it’s in stars and starfish, pencils and pineapples. Every atom, molecule, creature and plant is full of Life. Life pervades everything.
When I plant a tiny seed, and green shoots rise up our of the earth, that’s a demonstration of Life. And when I devour the fruit from those seeds, that, too, is Life. Rain and rainbows, sun and sandstorms – all of it is Life. Butterflies, snowflakes and slugs. Life. A young child crying her heart out for a pet who has died is full of life, even if it is not the part of life one wishes to manifest all the time. Even Death is part of Life, and we don’t really understand that, either. In fact, if we really understood what Life is, we might have a better grasp of what Death is, and not be so afraid of it. And maybe even vice versa.
I was thinking about what it means to be “full of Life.” Well, the trees in the park are full of Life. Little kids playing soccer are full of Life. I think a person who uses all of his allotment of energy during the time he has on Earth, who develops his mind, body and spirit and uses his faculties to create, and expand the lives around him, is full of Life. Someone like that seems to create more energy wherever he is. Clint Eastwood comes to mind. At 80, he is writing, producing, directing and starring in films, as well as writing the musical score for them. Every actor in Hollywood and elsewhere wants to be in a Clint Eastwood film. He creates a sense of joy, of accomplishment and cooperation, and each of his films is about deep truths.
People who are full of Life seem to bring Light with them. (And, as physicists will tell you, we don’t really know what light is, either!) Gandhi, Mother Teresa, The Dalai Lama, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Jesus and Mohammed, Byron Katie, Jean Houston, Carolyn Myss, Andrew Cohen and Craig Hamilton, – all are light bearers, and all are full of Life. They illuminate, and Life is their most important product. So I think being “full of Life” means one is full of light – uplifting, joyful, and illuminating.
Now, we can’t ignore the other side – darkness, fear, anger, sorrow and other such emotions. They exist. People who see nothing but their own need, and who will do anything to get what they want, seem to travel in darkness. They breed fear and contraction rather than courage and expansion. And yes, they are part of Life. They are using the energy Life has given them, but they do not bring more Life to those around them. This is so, so sad. These people seem to feel they have to suck the Life out of things, as if they don’t think there’s enough for everyone. We don’t have to look far for these people. They’re around, and in much evidence, thanks to all the news reports.
But despite what the media would have us believe, they’re only a tiny fraction of what Life is. Life is everywhere; it’s impartial. It doesn’t pick on one person to have a lot, and another to be in want. Part of that is choice, and part of that is luck and circumstance. But Life fills us with potential, with light, and with possibility for good. Every day we get the gift of Life; how we live that day is our thank-you note.
So the next time you see a sunset, say to yourself, “That’s Life.” The next time your child gets an ‘A’ on a test, tell him, “That’s Life.” When you see a hummingbird flutter its wings right in front of you, whisper to yourself, “That’s Life.” Affirm Life by giving it its due. And if you read this and feel good, tell yourself, “That’s Life.”