I listened to Parker Palmer giving this commencement address to the graduating class at Naropa University, and several times I got goose bumps and shivers. For me, those have become telltale signs that there’s something important and/or very true being shared.
The six suggestions Parker provides on living a life worth exploring are simple. And powerful. So powerful I followed my urge to split this recommendation into six consecutive blog posts. You can read my thoughts on the first, second, third, fourth and fifth suggestion here.
The sixth suggestion is: ”Daily, keep your death before your eyes.” – St Benedict
If you hold a healthy awareness of your own mortality, your eyes will be opened to the grandeur and glory of life, and that will evoke all of the virtues I have named, as well as those I haven’t, such as hope, generosity and gratitude.
We get to chose what virtues we hold high, which ones we try to model in the world. And the beauty is, we get a new chance to do so – model it, I mean – over and over again, moment by moment. And in a strange way, there is no tomorrow. Well, of course there is a tomorrow, but postponing my way of showing up in the world until tomorrow, that’s risky business. Because you might not be around tomorrow, and that’s a fact. There will come a tomorrow when I am not here, in this form at least, and the worst thing about that for me would be if I never got around to showing up as me, with my virtues and values held high, because I kept pushing it forward to the next moment, the next moment, the next moment.
Yes, it can be tricky to live according to your values. We are only human after all. That’s why it’s so important to be gentle with ourselves in our humanness. At the same time – it will never get less tricky, less awkward, less strange and unfamiliar, if I don’t start to act in accordance with my view of these virtues. And that’s actually something to ponder as well. I mean – virtues are all fine and dandy, love, hope, understanding, generosity, gratitude and so on. But how do I do them? How to express them in the world? How do I live in accordance with them, so that my actions mimics my beliefs? How do you do love for instance? Or gratitude?