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What are you most thankful for when you look at your life?

For some reason a question began to form in my mind as I woke up this morning and consciousness began to return. The question is: "What am I most thankful for as I look at my life?"

Just for fun, here's my answer.

I am thankful for the meaninglessness I felt as a young man

While I wasn't thankful for it at the time, God knows, I am very thankful now for the profound sense of meaninglessness and alienation that I felt as a young man.

I had a sense that something hugely important was missing from my life -- and from the world around me too, come to that -- but what was it?

After all, I had nothing to complain about in an outer sense. I was healthy. I had loving parents. I had a good job as a reporter on a big London daily newspaper. I even had a small sailboat, and a nice girlfriend.

Something huge and unknown was calling to me

But something huge and unknown and unprecedented was calling to me and I had to make a decision. Was I going to follow this inner urge even though I didn't know what it was or where it would lead? Even though I might never find it or it might destroy me?

Or was I going to push it down out of sight and out of mind and live a "normal" life like my parents expected, pretending to myself I never heard this inner call coming from I knew not where?

It was my own true Self calling to me

I know now that it was my own true Self calling to me and it had its own agenda and intentions for me. It was the truth of my own being calling to me, and its message was: "Be free."

I was a confused, naïve young man grappling with feelings and compulsions I could hardly begin to understand and I was being called to the greatest gift that life has to offer any of us -- the gift of true freedom.

So I gave up my familiar life -- my parents and my girlfriend too -- and traveled to a far off country called British Columbia where I didn't know a soul and had no particular prospects at all that I knew of.

But what joy I felt as I honored the impulse of my own spirit and boarded a ship called the ss Homeric, which took me from Southamption to Quebec, after which I rode a train across Canada to BC.

Life in a "new world" hasn't always been comfortable, of course. But I have found that life is trustworthy.

I have discovered that if you trust the truth at the core of your own being,  in its own way and in its own time it will reveal to you a new world of true meaning and happiness that I believe is our true destiny in this world.

As you look at your own life what are you most thankful for?

If you wish why not try answering this question for yourself? Perhaps it would help open new possibilities for you. I'd love to share any thoughts you may have on this theme.

You can create a new life at any age

In a way this post ties in with the online course I'm working on, entitled "How to look (and feel) 10 years younger in four weeks: The true promise and potential of aging." 

Because the truth is you can create a new life for yourself at any age – whether you are 21 or 91 as my friend Steven Aitchison put it in a recent email.

I'm happy to say I’m coming along very well with this course and expect to offer it in just a few weeks. 

Meanwhile what are your thoughts or concerns about aging? What questions would you ask a loving deity if you had the chance? I'd love to hear from you on this theme and your input would be most helpful to me. Bye for now and blesssings to you.

Picture credit:

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane Weston March 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I will spend some time with your suggestion, Chris, about what I am most thankful for in my life. I know and keep on learning again that gratitude transforms. I am thankful for my friends and family. For singing, playing, and sometimes harmonizing with my friends. For the long Michigan winter and the sound of the birds celebrating their return on our frosty mornings. For the aches of aging and the aching farewells to loved ones. For the retina surgery I had this morning and all the wonderful people who took care of me visibly and invisibly. I’m thankful to be on earth today, and to know beautiful people like you, Chris, and so many others who have blessed me deeply and added rich color and meaning to my life. And there is far more than this.

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Christopher Foster March 29, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Thank you Jane. Beautiful words and beautiful thoughts. Gratitude. Truly a door to freedom that never fails.

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The Vizier March 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Hi Christopher,

I too have struggled with meaninglessness and alienation in my life and I can appreciate why you are thankful for it.

In truth, this meaninglessness has forced me out of my comfort zone to create meaning in my life. Were it not for my discontent, I would never have embarked on my journey of self-discovery.

While I could have had a normal job like everyone else, instead I chose to do a blog because it was more in tune with my nature and being. Thus I appreciate the story you shared where you went on your self-discovery.

Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

Irving the Vizier
The Vizier recently posted..Avoiding Misunderstandings- Musings of the Vizier

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Christopher Foster March 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Receiving a comment from you is always a true joy for me Irving. Your clear expression from your core never fails.

I am very, very touched that you also found a sense of meaninglessness to be not an adverse event in the final analysis but to bear the potential of true freedom. I admire so much how you looked for a way to contribute to this world in tune, as you say, with your own true nature.

I wish you increasing success and fulfilment and how can you fail as long as you stay true to own true self. Blessings.

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Robin Easton March 30, 2011 at 11:29 am

Dear Chris,

Wow! You are so so deeply wise. Your whole life is reflected in your wisdom. And as I may have mentioned to you before, your wisdom isn’t from a book, spouted at us word for word, it is a deep rich pithy wisdom. What reflects this to me most? The fact that you used and STILL use EVERYTHING in your life to learn more about yourself and life, to grow. I sooooo relate to that.

I am simply thankful for a life well lived. I am thankful that I was able to develop the openness of heart to embrace it all, the seemingly ugly, along with the good. And use it ALL to grown, even the painful times, the times that seemed wasted, the mistakes, the suffering, the loss.

In fact, the more I was able to look at my life as “perfect” and exactly what I needed to grow, the more I was able to grow, the richer my life became. This also made me see the parts that were painful as less painful. Once embraced as growth, they too found their “right” place in my overall life.

Chris, you are one of the wisest souls I’ve run across on the internet. You REALLY have a lot to offer the world. It is BECAUSE your wisdom is from the heart, not the mind or other people’s books. It’s from firsthand experience. It makes you very refreshing, indeed.

Much love to you dear friend,
Robin
Robin Easton recently posted..What Are You Attracting

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Christopher Foster March 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm

You have a heart as big as all outdoors Robin. Being able to embrace the seemingly ugly as well as the good can be quite a trick — but as your own life shows we can do it if our heart is open. A teacher I love, Gangaji, likes to say, “The heart can bear it all,” and it is surely true.

Thank you for these words dear friend. It’s a privilege to know you and to be sharing this grand (sometimes terrifying) adventure with you.

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Robin Easton March 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

PS I just LOVE this line: “You can create a new life at any age”. Now THAT is a great title for a book. You could shorten it to,

“Create a New Life:
At Any Age”

I also related to the meaninglessness. I write a bit about that in my second book which I am working on. A powerful experience for anyone who goes through it. Was very touched by what you wrote on that. So moving.
Robin Easton recently posted..What Are You Attracting

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Christopher Foster March 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Hey, great thought here Robin. I’m so glad you’re working on a second book, a lot of people are going to be looking forward to it.

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Joe Wilner March 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Christopher,

You offer such valuable wisdom here, and I wish our society embraced wisdom more heavily. We live in a world that views old age as inefficient instead of seeing the value that it offers about how to live and navigate life.

Finding what we’re thankful for is something that must be passed along to us. We don’t naturally view things in this manner and I have been fortunate to take a major fall in life, which ultimately directed me to better myself and seek contentment and truth.

I am thankful for the little wisdom I have as well as the loving lessons I have learned along the way. I am also thankful that I am able to believe in myself which I didn’t always do.

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Christopher Foster March 30, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Thanks for sharing these words Joe. I was especially touched by your mention of how a major challenge in your life bore rich fruit. This has been my experience too. I’m sure it doesn’t have to be this way — but for now anyway it does seem that a wrenching experience can have the potential of deepening us in a way that might not have happened otherwise.

I love too that now you are able to believe in yourself. A victory. It’s a pleasure to share it with you. Blessings.

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Phil Malmstrom March 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I actually read this post a couple days ago Christopher, but I wanted to give the question you posed some serious thought and in the end my initial answer ended up being my final one:

I’m thankful for the trials my wife and I went through while battling with my son Jonathan’s disease.

Now, I’ll admit that this answer surprised me when it first popped into my head. That period of my life was the most painful, terrifying anguish-ridden time my wife and I have ever faced. We lived moment to moment not knowing whether he was going to live or die. So many uncertainties, so much that was uncontrolled and unknown…

…And that was also the biggest turning point in my life, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

Not to go into too much detail here, but Jonathan was born with a rare disease that was eventually diagnosed as Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. By the time they knew what it was, it was multi-system and quite advanced and the chances of his survival were ranked in the 10-20% range at 10 weeks of age. We lived on-and-off at A.I. Dupont Hospital for Children for over 14 months where he underwent a variety of treatments, chemo, therapy and rescue protocols. It was a truly dark and terrible time for us, and we held onto his life with every waking breath.

And in the midst of all that pain, and fright and unknown, God began to work on me.

I didn’t realize it at the time, and actually not for quite a while afterwards but my life was forever altered by the experiences at that hospital. I learned more about what life and spirit truly are about, and what is and isn’t important in that 14 months than if I’d lived a lifetime without that anguish. God knew I needed that pain to grow, and to learn.

Jonathan turned 11 this last December, 9 and a half years in remission. 🙂

When you talk about the unconquerable spirit Christopher, I know exactly what you mean. I was Blessed to see it over and over again, and it forever changed my life.

Thank you for a challenging question my friend. Introspection is a good thing.

Have a Blessed Day!
Phil Malmstrom recently posted..Following God’s GPS

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Christopher Foster March 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Pretty close to tears as I read your words Phil. JoAnn shared them with me. It’s a beautiful thing to think that Jonathan is still here and still blessing you and your wife and a lot of other people with his presence.

Say hello for me to Jonathan sometime. And thank you again for sharing such a remarkable and touching story. You have a blessed day too dear friend.

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Hands Free Mama March 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Christopher, your blog touches my heart. I am starting life over and this entry gives me hope.

I had a Breakdown Breakthrough 9 months ago about how I was living (or rather, not living my life). I was holding tighter to daily distraction than I was to the people who matter most to me. And I lost precious moments and beautiful memories in the process.

God spoke to me about going Hands Free. It was like the inner urge that you spoke about in your post. I took a leap of faith, and I have slowly began to let go of daily distraction in order to grasp what really matters in life. The results have been profound. I have been blessed to share my journey with others, as you are doing.

I will be visiting your website often. Your writing stands for everything I want my life to be about. Thank you for reminding me that I can start life over…at any age. You have blessed me.

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Christopher Foster March 31, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story Rachel. It’s just beautiful. I love the leap of faith you took in going “hands free” as you say. I’ll be visiting your blog lots too. Blessings.

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rob white March 31, 2011 at 5:52 am

I love the sage wisdom I find here, Christopher. I too made an unconventional decision when I felt my True Self calling me to higher things. I gave up a safe, secure teaching job for the unknown world of entrepreneurship.

My family and friends thought I was crazy for giving up a sure thing… but my inner-voice called me to the edge and I took a leap. That is what I am most thankful for. What I love about your message is the wisdom to know that that voice continues to beckon us on to experience more and more of our unrealized potential.

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Christopher Foster March 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Your words hit home for me every time Rob. Thanks for sharing. You sure did take a leap didn’t you and as you say so beautifully this inner voice doesn’t give us a nudge once and then go to sleep. I love how you say it “beckons us on” to discover yet more of our true potential. To uncover yet more of the divine masterpiece we truly are.

It’s a big change we’re talking about here isn’t it?

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Sibyl - alternaview April 1, 2011 at 8:24 am

Christopher: Really, really great post. I think this is such an important question to continually ask yourself. I really appreciated your story and how you followed your inner urge and your own truth.

I think finding your own truth is by all means one thing I am very appreciative of. We all need that guidance and pointing in the right direction and when we can hear our inner voice and find our own answers, we really are able to follow our own truth. Great post.
Sibyl – alternaview recently posted..Why You Really Should Change Your Routine

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Christopher Foster April 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Sibyl, thanks so much. Lovely to hear from you. I wish you absolutely the best of everything as you follow your truth — and it’s a pleasure to share the journey with you.

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Tess The Bold Life April 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Christopher,
Family, family, family. I got pregnant and married when I was 17 and was mom to 4 daughters by 22. Our 40th wedding anniversary is in January 2012. It was the best mistake I ever didn’t make;)

Now the girls are in their mid-to-late 30’s, I have 3 grandchildren and my life is blessed and rich.
Tess The Bold Life recently posted..Follow Their Lead…Live the Life of Your Dreams

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Christopher Foster April 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I jumped up and cheered. Good for you Tess and good for hubs.

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You bet. That will be fine. Good luck.

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