I’ve read some reports recently of near death experiences, and it reminded me of my own back in the pounding surf near Tulum in Mexico all those years ago. I was barely thigh deep in water, jumping over the Caribbean waves with a couple of others, having fun, when I was knocked over by an unexpectedly large curler. Shocked by the force, I struggled to regain my footing as wave after wave piled in on top of me. My lungs screamed to breathe as my feet scrabbled to find the ground beneath me. I didn’t know which way was up or down, and the water, filled with sand, was impenetrable to the eye. I started to panic, knowing that if I inhaled I’d be breathing in deathly water.
Then all of a sudden, I relaxed. My world turned a beautiful turquoise white. I felt floaty, although I was still being pounded by the surf. Suddenly everything felt alright. Serene. I started to rise out of my body. Then my feet found the seabed and kicked upward sharply and I burst through the surface dragging the air into my body in huge gulps. The serenity of the previous moment deserted me, as I struggled to stay upright, and make for the shore, all but two or three metres away.
I’d forgotten that moment until I read the reports, and by chance the same day overheard a little girl enjoying the park telling her mum this was heaven as she swung high into the sky. It got me thinking. What if this is heaven?
What if I had drowned on the beach that day and gone to heaven? This heaven. This life that I am living now, that seems so real, and at times hard and dispiriting, and at other so joyous and uplifting – what if this is heaven?
In heaven, surely, everything is supposed to be like paradise. Set up purely for your enjoyment. You get what you want.
If that’s so, why do I keep getting these blips of poverty or unhappiness? Why has my dog just climbed all over the newly cleaned sofa to sit next to me leaving incredibly dirty paw prints, and yes, chunks of mud and grass, when I’ve got people coming round tonight? (In his defence, we’ve just had the funniest five minutes as I’ve attempted to chase him round with his towel to wipe his feet.)
If this is heaven I can do what I want. I’m free to be me – not simply a wife, step-mum, cleaner, trainer, writer, and hand-holder to friends and clients alike – I’m this awesome kind of super-woman. I go where my attention focuses.
Isn’t that already happening, though? Am I not expressing the full, authentic me. I like to help other people. I love it when I’ve cooked a delicious meal, and we’re all sat round the table enjoying and appreciating it. I live for those moments in class or in a coaching session where someone gets one of those ‘a-ha’ moments that reveals some inner truth that enables them to change in the way they desire. I adore walking and playing with my dog. I may have a few things to work on – like cleaning the house, I don’t really enjoy that much. Or do I? The satisfaction when everything is clean and tidy is immense. I’m smiling just thinking about it – then I see the paw prints. I should be mad but no. They’re making me chuckle!
What about those occasions when the bills and debts get too much, surely they’re not part of heaven. And those loved ones that have died – I miss them tremendously. I believed you were reunited with them when you died. But then, if I don’t believe I’m dead and in heaven, maybe I won’t see them.
It’s all so confusing, but also liberating, because if this is heaven I can do anything I want. I choose to be as wondrous and curious as a child. I choose to love with my whole heart. I shan’t ignore the bills, but I do choose to take action and pursue my passions. And I choose to notice more instances where fun and joy are to be found, even if at first glance it doesn’t look like an opportunity for play. Come here, dog, you heavenly creature. Where’s your ball?
Come to Train Your brain – Looking on the Bright Side and see what heaven you can find on Earth. See events page for details.