Finding your life lesson

October 5, 2016

Photos: Scott Swanson.

One of the most beautiful songs of my generation is Cat Stevens’ Father and Son.

i had a difficult relationship with my father, especially as an adolescent and so when that song came out in 1970 on his album Tea for the Tillerman, it really struck a chord. I have at least one male friend for whom it also resonated, but really, I think it touched our entire generation, because we really were very different from our parents.  Since I listen to mostly 1960s rock, I’ve heard it many, many times since. Coming home from the gym the other day I heard it again and thought about this verse:

All the times that I cried
Keeping all the things I knew inside
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it

I knew young that I was very different from other kids. I lived in my head most of the time, always observing and thinking. The world seemed a strange place to me. Still does, really, but back then I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. I’m still not sure, to be honest. We can spend our whole lives trying to figure the world out, I suspect.

About 18 months ago I had a between-lives regression. That exercise is meant to take us to the time before this life, between lives, for those of us who believe in reincarnation, and the goal is to get clarity about the purpose of this life, the life lesson.

But my experience was a little different.

life-lessonWhen the regressionist guided me to a past life i really struggled. I just couldn’t see much of it at all and the struggle was evident in my voice and also in my body as I fidgeted on the sofa in her hotel room. But when she brought me to my death and into the afterlife, it was a completely different story. Very confidently, I described what I saw, what I was doing and what others around me were doing. I remember that feeling of amazement at the work I was doing in that realm with a team of two others, and even MORE amazing was the remarkable way we interacted. Unlike my past life experience, these images were vivid and detailed. The regressionist was excited at what I was describing.

“You might entertain the idea that you have not had an incarnation on earth before,” she said, “but work in the afterlife.”

Maybe, I thought to myself, who knows. We won’t know til we get there.

A few months ago at school our mentor/professor regressed our class and again, I went to the afterlife, a place where I seem to be very comfortable.  Which is ironic, since I’ve had long period of time when I feared death. So there I was, up the stairs in that place. When it was time to return to this time and place, I didn’t want to. I REALLY didn’t want to; I could feel my reluctance to return, the tears on my cheeks as I stood on top of a staircase preparing to come back down it and re-enter this life. My father was with me at the top of the stairs and, seeing my tears, said to me, “It’s hard to be human, Carol, isn’t it?”

Those words have rung in my ears ever since. Because it IS hard to be human.

I’ve heard earth referred to as Soul School and it’s evident why. We’re here to learn and grow.  There’s at least one big lesson for every life and maybe more and sometimes those lessons are hard. They’re MEANT to be hard, too, to challenge us to grow.

I was pretty sure I’d figured out my one big lesson a few years ago, and some of the deep diving we’ve done as part of my graduate school homework–work in which we charted and found patterns in our lives– has reinforced my belief. Of course, at 65, I have a lot of data that I wouldn’t have had at, say, age 40.

Why is it important to learn the purpose of this life?

Because being happy usually requires that we understand the big picture, how all “stuff”, including all the bad stuff, fits together into a lesson. A life lesson.  It’s a perspective that’s worth the work, too.

The other day I read something written by a widow about the blessings that have come about from her husband’s death. Now, most people would see that as a topsy-turvy way of looking at widowhood.  But I get it.

Shi* gonna happen. That’s just life.  The real question is what do we make of it? And also what do we learn from it?

Many people aren’t comfortable with the search for meaning. Me? I love it. I like to figure out how things fit together.

And I have to say that by figuring out my big life lesson for this go-round–to learn forgiveness–I’ve been able to put a lot of the shi* in my life in a new and healthier perspective.

Have you figured out the meaning of your life? The lessons?




27 comments on “Finding your life lesson
  1. Leanne says:

    I have no idea about the ultimate meaning of life, but if we’re not here for a purpose then I wonder why we bother. As we get older and wiser and our characters develop it would seem to be a complete waste to just die and fade into nothing. So, I definitely think there is a higher purpose for us after our time on earth – how we interpret that is up to us.

  2. Carla says:

    I am so grateful you share your journey because it’s been so enlightening and helpful to me.
    While not the ultimate point of your post the phrase “it’s hard to be a human” resonated with me as it’s one I used frequently at home. It simply feels more authentic than saying to my daughter: I know, it’s hard to be 10. It is hard to be 10. But it’s just hard and confusing and frustrating and amazing to be a HUMAN.

  3. Kim Tackett says:

    I love that…it’s hard to be human. Yes, it is. I don’t know about my life lesson, but a while ago, I figured out that my purpose was to create pathways….that’s it, just create pathways. But maybe that’s the first part of figuring out the next part.

  4. Jennifer says:

    There are lessons to be learned in this life, even if it’s only resilience.

  5. Tammy says:

    I have a hunch but I’m not really sure in a positive kinda way. That’s okay with me, as the quest continues and I remain open, willing and responsible. I’ve come to accept SO much in the past 10 years that I would never have thought I would. Living life is so much quicker that the years would tell, it all seems like a blink of an eye and an eternity all at once. My purpose? I’m still working on it, hoping to be living it, open to discover it.

  6. Amy Colgan-Niemeyer says:

    Thank you Carol for another wonderful, thought-provoking post. I can relate to each of your posts in some way. Every post seems to resonate with me and what I’m going through at the time. I love your blog.

    I haven’t quite figured out the meaning of life, although I’ve thought about it a lot. I almost died as a child, having been born with spina bifida. But I survived. No matter the issues and troubles that came up, I’d fight and survive. But I was bitter, wondering why all this happened. Why had I survived just to have more troubles? Supposedly we’re not given anything we can’t handle, but I wonder about that sometimes. The “Why me?” syndrome has plagued me in the past. So I have been working on that, writing an account of my experiences and trying to learn the lessons from that. It has helped, but I’m still trying to figure some things out. Wrestling with some demons.

  7. sue says:

    We must all have a purpose in life otherwise I don’t see the point. Unfortunately, most people get so caught up in their lives that they don’t take the time to find what their purpose is. I was interested in your ‘afterlife’ experience. I too always feared death so this surprisingly gave me comfort.

  8. My purpose is to love God and to glorify Him in all that I do. I feel like one of my gifts is the gift of encouragement, so when I am being an encourager to others, I feel fulfilled. I, like some of the others, really grasped on to the phrase “It’s hard to be human”. Yes, it is. But I try to learn the lessons from each and every hardship. And it helps to be at this stage of life and be able to look back and see some of the lessons learned. Thought provoking post, as usual, Carol!

  9. I’ll play the skeptic…why does life have to “make sense”? Does life make sense for our dogs, or wildlife, or fish? Are our lives more important than theirs are? Maybe we are more “intelligent” which means we are better at screwing up the earth than any other species. I’d love to believe there is a reason, or a purpose, or a lesson. But I just don’t know.

    • There are lots of skeptics and that’s a valid question. I just think it’s a pretty complex system here to be set up for no reason. For no purpose. But the truth is that it’s always a matter of faith. As Thomas Aquinas once said: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” I went more than 5 decades without faith and then, my journey brought me experiences so rich and so interesting that I could conclude nothing else. But everyone has their own journey. Or not.

  10. Nancy says:

    Teacher. Helper. Catalyst. Oh geesh, it is hard. I’m weary from figuring out what next, as there is always more to do. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Amber Myers says:

    This is nice. I think a purpose is to always be kind to others. Just be a good person in general.

  12. Kimberly C. says:

    Wow very interesting post. It really makes you think about life. I know life has its purpose, but to me, I just leave it all in God’s hands. Whatever he has planned, I’m open to it 100 percent. Amen!

  13. Tyane says:

    It sure is hard to be a human. Though I don’t know where I stand in life, I know I’m living for a reason. I’m glad I read this, to really put things in a different perspective 🙂

  14. For some of us, it’s hard to determine out purpose and for others, it’s so clearly laid out for them – like a calling. I’m so glad to hear that you’re learning and exploring that. How wonderful!

  15. Yes, I do know the meaning of life (for me). It’s to live my life in God’s will for me and to follow Jesus. Jesus, God and the Holy spirit are the meaning of life for me on every level. I am so glad to not be searching. Peace that passes all understanding.

  16. I think it’s definitely lessonS for me… I have been thinking and realized that the amount of events/situations in life that happen exactly how we want them to are close to none but we all live and learn how to deal with them… Tough, but so far life has been showing me it’s ALL about letting go…

  17. Elizabeth O. says:

    I don’t think I’ve figured out mine yet. But it’s an awesome journey and I’m willing to wait for the right time. It’s good to have all this wisdom to share to other and to have an open mind as well.

  18. Laura says:

    I can’t think that we’re not here for a purpose. Maybe we’re not meant to fully understand why but its nice to know that it isn’t for no reason at all.

  19. Experience is the ultimate teacher isn’t it? I love that you are able to look back on your years of experience and see how you’ve grown from it. It’s all a matter of perspective too. I think, at 33, I’ve seen some stuff. But I can’t imagine what you’ve seen!

  20. Crystal Gard says:

    Your post was very interesting, I definitely do think it is hard to be a human.

  21. DogVills says:

    Oh, there are many lessons in life. Either we learned it from the hard way or from the easy way.

  22. Wow. I literally leaned forward in my seat as I was reading this. I’ve never heard of a between-lives regression. Your experience with it is so interesting. When you describe yourself (living in your head, always observing & thinking, figuring out how things fit together)…that describes me to a T. So, of course, I’m sitting here wondering what that means…is the meaning of my life to learn forgiveness? Because damn, that really makes sense for me. I have a lot to ponder 🙂

  23. Yes, life lessons. I believe we make agreements with other spiritual beings before we incarnate to this life. We may not remember those agreements but all those in our lives now, the hard and the easy, are to help us fulfill those agreements and learn from them.

  24. Being human IS hard. That really resonated with me as I have gone through a lot of hard times lately. <3

  25. Perhaps Ive learned the meaning of my life when I have children. I am here to guide them and be a mom. I do not have a very good relationship with my father, either. I grew up without him. And it is something I really work hard to that my family stay intact no matter what.

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