The Seven Stones Blog

Where Is My Life?

By Sue Richardson

I’ve had lots of conversations over the past few years initiated because aging parents have downsized or a remaining parent has died leaving their children to sort through all their accumulated stuff. I found the process of sorting through my mother’s things difficult because in some way I felt like I was disassembling her actual life. I had this recurring, nagging feeling that not keeping any of her stuff was tantamount to erasing her very existence.

It has made me ask myself just where does LIFE reside? What houses my life? Your life? This thing we call LIFE? When we say “what should I do with my life?” or “what is my life about?” or “she had a good life” or “he’s wasting his life” or “that’s life”, where is that life? I ask because I want to tend to my life—take good care of it. I know it’s a gift and I don’t want to squander it because I was mistakenly paying attention to the wrong thing—unaware of where to look.

Was my mother’s life contained inside the cheap metal desk that she had in the corner of her office jammed with tiny post-it notes of long lists of things to accomplish? (not important to the question at hand, but for the sake of the visual here, she wrote in a very, very small font.) Is my life with my husband in the coffee table we had custom-made 20 years ago? The desk was important to her—the table is part of our collective expression as a couple. There are ways in which some of our things do matter to us. Despite that fact, I think we can agree that our stuff does not contain our life.

I’m currently experimenting with life being contained in time—which to my consternation—raises another question:  What part of time is life contained in?

  • Is my life contained somewhere in the future when I am ready to live it because I finally got everything done I am worried about getting done? Or because this moment isn’t meeting my expectations?  Well, this seems like a bad way to go—we know there is no moment in time when we arrive at the future, so this would leave me never tending to my life because I would never get there.
  • Is it contained in my memories? Well, maybe, and sometimes it’s really wonderful to enjoy thinking about the past. But when you think about it our memories are really just a collection of moments that at the time were just….now.

So I am starting an experiment of living as if NOW is the answer to the question: where does my life reside? My life is contained in this moment. So far I have found this to be very empowering because I can actually attend to this moment. I can take care of it. I can be anyway in and do anything with this moment.

Where do you think life is contained?

What will you do and how will you be in this moment of your life? Right now? Will you just grin and bear it until you can get to your “actual” life? Or will you give yourself over to it gently and completely—surrender, take it in?

4 thoughts on “Where Is My Life?

  1. Sounds like you’ve adopted an existentialist stance to life. Does life have meaning or does existence precede essence requiring each of us to create meaning. We are a meaning driven species rather than an instinct driven species.

    Two pictures painted by your mother (and my sister) hang on my music room wall and my heart smiles when I look at them.

    The gift of life is to be enjoyed. It isn’t a test. If it were you’d have been given better instructions.

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