It was the second day of a 3-day conference, and I returned to my hotel room in the evening, feeling the kind of deep fullness one has when attending a rich experience that infuses new life into your very soul.
As I turned my doorknob to close the door, glad to be in the silence of my room (as an introvert, I really need that silence and space to process and recharge), I had the thought that I’m returning to my room a changed person from when I left it that morning. Of course, the intensity of a conference (or workshop, retreat, etc.) is easily conducive to that sense of growth, the almost visceral awareness of time having sped up as one drinks deeply from the well of experience. It’s exciting, and a little overwhelming (or very overwhelming, as the case may be). One can soak it up almost *because* it’s condensed into a short amount of time.
The point of this blog is not to try to think about how to hold onto these deep, profound experiences of insight, change, and growth, how to carry them into everyday life. But that moment when I closed my hotel door, feeling the deep internal shifts, I also realized that whether I return from a rich conference, a day of seeing clients, a vacation, or a grocery store trip, I am never the same as when I left. It looks pithy when written down like this — haven’t we seen enough Facebook posts about embracing the moment??
But I sensed a powerful truth to that thought on a deep level beyond words. One never steps into the same river twice. Writing this blog post from a bumpy airplane flight on my way back home, like almost everyone on it with me, I’m more aware than usual that our days are all numbered. This truth is avoided with the most intense vehemence by most because of the enormity of grief we do not want to face, but there is massive freedom that comes with a deep acceptance of it. When my 70-year-old grandma would say to my mother and I, “So when I’m gone, I want you to have the…[coffee table, brooch, painting, etc.]”, my mother would always wave her off with a “Mom!! Stop that.” But what freedom it might have been for my grandma to know that, having just a few years left on this planet, she can choose to leave gifts to her family in her wake. It is a paradox, but what freedom might each one of us experience if we were to fully acknowledge the finiteness of our lives.
Much has been written on this subject that I cannot hope to reference or survey here. My purpose here is to share a single enlightened moment of turning my doorknob during a conference weekend, and to convey perhaps a droplet of feeling that you might take with you wherever you go next.
A few exceptional authors on this subject do come to mind: