Life and Death

Anthony F. Arpaia

Anthony F. Arpaia, my father, 1898-1978

My Father and I used to take long walks around Washington, D.C., spending hours talking about life. On one of our last such walks, just before we moved away from D.C. and I got ready to leave for college, never to live at home again, my father said, “We measure out our lives with celebrations. First, you go to your friends’ weddings, then to baby showers, then to your friends’ children’s graduations and weddings, then to retirement parties, and then your calendar begins to fill more and more with funerals.” He had just lost one of his best friends, a man who was a lively participant in our lives as long as I could remember. I felt the loss, too, but I realized in that conversation it had a different significance for my father. It opened a chapter that would be filled with more loss. Or so it seemed.

I asked my Father, “It’s not possible for anyone not to die, is it?” That had never really hit me as a fundamental truth before. The journey to death begins at birth; there is only one ultimate destination in this world. My parents would die. I would die. I began to cry. “So why are we here at all?” I asked, welling with teen-age angst.

We were walking through the National Zoo, and my father pointed to a bench where we could sit a while. He pulled out his pipe and lit it, the sweetish aroma of his beloved Cherry Heering tobacco wafting past me. “We’re here to live,” he said. “To enjoy every moment of life that we have. To contribute to the story of mankind that continues to be told through the generations. We don’t need to think about death at all. When the time comes, it’s the natural outcome of life, an experience shared by every living thing, so it is nothing to fear or even consider. It’s just what ultimately happens. The point is to live every day so that when the end comes, you look back in joy and you look forward in peace.”

“So you’re not sad when your friends die?” I asked.

“Yes and no,” he said. “I’m not sad for them, just fulfilling the promise of all life. But I’m sad for myself because I enjoyed spending time with them, and I miss them. Grief is essentially a personal feeling.”

“What about people who die in horrible accidents, or war, or children who die of some disease before they even have a chance to live? Isn’t that some sort of perversion of the whole natural system?”

“No. It’s not for any of us to say who dies when. The point is to live from the outset  knowing that accidents happen and death could come at any time. So don’t waste a moment of your life. None of us knows in advance how long we have, but all of us who come into life have a chance to live each day we have to the fullest. Don’t give your life away postponing things.”

I’ve replayed that conversation many times over the years, when I was discouraged or tempted to quit something, or when I had thoughts about whether I was “ready” for some opportunity that came my way. I took it to mean, “Take what life has to offer and make the most of it.”

And now I’ve come to that point in my life where, increasingly, my contemporaries are dying. I’ve lost so many friends and colleagues in the last few years, people who were central to my life and work, whose absence changes the shape of my days and the arc of my life. And now I see more clearly the wisdom in my Father’s words. Looking back, each person who has gone did contribute to the story of mankind, accomplished things that mattered in their lifetimes, touched those who knew them in some way. While their absence is felt, so also their presence was and is still felt.

Anthony A. Quesen, my grandson, 1999-

Anthony A. Quesen, my grandson, 1999-

My Grandson, who was named for my Father and who was born almost 100 years after my Father was born, asked me, not long ago, if I was sad to be getting older. My first thought was the old saw, “Well, the alternative is much worse!” But I let that thought pass and reflected, because I wanted to honor my father’s memory with my answer to his namesake.  I told him, “No, I am grateful because every day is a gift, another opportunity to contribute to the story of mankind, another day to experience something new, to learn something, to help someone, to work at what I love to do, to understand life better. I have been ‘getting older’ since the minute I was born; so are you. All any of us has is this moment, this day, to make our life joyful and meaningful.”

“Wow,” he said. “I never thought about it that way. So it’s no big deal, getting older. You just live and do and don’t think about it. Cool.”

“Well, we can both thank my Father,” I said, and I told him the story.

“I wonder if that’s what his Father told him,” my Grandson mused.

I don’t know. But I suspect it is the wisdom of the ages, revealed generation to generation, by those who love the moment and fear nothing.


Depression and Suicide in Mining and Construction: Taking a Fresh look at Staff Wellbeing

 

Why are so many people suffering within the mining and construction industries today? While health and safety remains a huge priority within both fields of work, very little seems to be on offer for those men and women in genuine need of help.

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A person may receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), or some form of counseling or psychotherapy, but often these approaches fail to deliver any lasting help for those in need. They may attempt the help an individual solve specific problems, but lack the capacity to show people how to live a full and satisfying life while continuing to work in such challenging conditions. For some the problem may be that these male dominated workplaces create an ethos of ‘just muscling through’ problems rather than admitting they don’t feel good. Yet federal government funded OzHelp, who do a lot of good work with suicide prevention, estimate suicide rates for both industries are 70% higher than the rest of the work force and indicate that this is due to drug and alcohol problems, bullying, abuse, and what they call: ‘a low emotional capacity to work through problems’. This suggests a far greater and growing problem that needs a positive and urgent solution.

Cost is sometimes suggested as a major reason for companies holding back on seeking a resolve to this escalating problem, but the benefits of stimulating a solution far outweigh the financial expenditure. It is a well-known fact that people who feel upbeat, happy and contented with their lives, are more productive, creative and are far less likely to be off sick or make mistakes while at work. The reason for this is simple: happy people have less on their minds, they are more focused on the task at hand; feel an inner peace, communicate easily with colleagues and management, and are not generally bombarded by extraneous thoughts plaguing them for attention. The individual element in this situation is the indisputable desire in all human beings to have a good life, despite the circumstance they find themselves in.

 

So what can be done? How can these booming industries deal with their ever-evolving problem of what comes from a potentially unhappy workforce? Sustainable and self supporting programmes can be set up to teach workforce staff the fundamental basics in understanding how all humans create reality in the same way. These trainings would be based on an understanding of the state of mind of the work force.

This understanding will allow individuals to appreciate that the experiences they have in any given moment are a reflection of their unique thinking. That subjective thought creates our experience of the world as we see it in the moment. This understanding leads to a lot of psychological freedom, because when we start to see how our thinking affects our feeling and moods, we begin to appreciate that what is happening outside of us is not personal or something to necessarily get upset about.

 

Besides our loved ones and families, work is the place we spend a good measure of our time with other people, and therefore effective and constructive communication is of paramount significance if things are to run without conflict. Understanding where our thinking comes from allows us to be more rational and accepting of others when they are not feeling their best. It gives us the freedom to feel more neutral about other people’s moods, understanding that we feel unsettled and compromised sometimes too. This helps us see that other people’s negative behaviour and moods tell us far more about their state of mind in that moment, than it does about us as people.

Having a workforce that is feeling better about itself, communicating as effectively as it can, allowing itself to be more positively neutral in potentially difficult situations, and feeling more productively at peace with each other, can only lead to greater success in the industry as a whole. What company CEO would not want to put that amazing idea in to action immediately?

Looking for wellbeing solutions for you company? Curious to know more about this understanding, and how it can be implemented in you industry?

 

Programmes based on this understanding have been successfully carried out in the most male dominated macho places on earth: Prisons. What is fascinating to note is that the first thing that disappeared, even in these volatile places of incarceration was the macho posturing that men portray when they are forced in to a confined space together. If it can work in that environment – mining and construction should not be a problem. 


The Inner Gong

Picture
In April 2012, when I stopped broadcasting my live radio show, it happened in the strangest way. I had to choose to continue or not, and frankly, I just wasn't sure.  Up until the last possible cliff-hanging moment, I  didn't know whether to go on or stop. 

All I can tell you is I waited and waited and waited and I got no Inner Gong.

The sound of that "Gong" is one way I refer to the feeling that I get inside when I know something is right for me.  It can be a tingle or a feeling that my heart is bursting, or a simple internal whisper of Yes.

Which is great, except for that I had nothing. Nada. Zip.

Which meant I also wasn't getting an inner "No Way!" This was beginning to look like a bit of a problem. Then I thought, "Well, without a clear yes or a clear no, what shall I do?"  I decided to simply let go of the show and wait. 

Now if you know me, you'll know I'm a workhorse.  I can be pretty tough to keep pace with. I walk fast. I eat fast. Normally I decide fast.  I am not the kind of gal who just sits around and waits.

So maybe I should clarify what I mean by "let go and wait." 

What happened really was, I tuned in.  For once in my life, I slowed down just enough to not rush forward into the void, and began to turn my full attention inward. Not just my partial attention.

Over the last few years I've learned enough about how the mind works to know that you cannot solve problems by getting busier, speeding up, forcing things or taking on more. The only way to know yourself, to know your own mind, and therefore to really hear what you want, what you'd love and what you think would be wonderful -- you must listen. 

I have not listened for most of my life. Case in point (FYI, Elese), there's a much better chance I might not have married a heroin addict in college if I had. (Amongst other things which would take me way off topic...)


Picture
This time I opted for listening before doing.

I mean, I needed to learn how to hear, but most importantly to what. So it has been an ongoing education for me, culminating in this very strange situation with the radio.  With a quarter of million listeners behind me, I just simply didn't continue moving forward with something that was successful and growing, based on well, let's be fair, a guess.

I made a guess that if I waited, I would hear something eventually. Then it all went pretty quiet. Didn't expect that. So there I was, watching it end, with nothing new to go on and no direction to go instead.  (Here's the blog I wrote at the time) To follow my gut this time round meant allowing myself to release what was working, not for something better, but for something unknown.

I'll admit during the following months it felt like I was being stretched on a rack!  It seemed like I was in the unknown without a map and with a GPS system that refused to cooperate.  I realized I couldn't make it talk but also, since most of my mistakes happen in the gap between not-knowing and not being comfortable with that, I knew I wasn't willing to try to force it.

Tough one. If you are me.

The longer this went on, the more challenged I was.  I would get some notions, follow a few ideas, throw things out there -- but my inner gong still wouldn't play my way. 

I had got myself by the "short and curlies," as they say.

For eight months things kind of fell apart and were replaced by one increasingly large question mark.  I'd love to say I was comfortable with all of this. The truth is I went up and down a lot.  And that is the nature of the mind. Luckily I also knew that and it helped me immensely.  I was able to stay in the discomfort zone and even to relax there, and as I did, I started to get finer distinctions for myself about the different tones of the gong.  Eventually I began to be moved by something within that I could hear clearly.

There is no real end to this story, but there are some interesting conclusions. Today I have more clarity about my reason for being on this planet than I ever have, and that's pretty amazing to me. (Read my newsletter of today for more on this).  Had started this process with that in mind, I am not sure I'd have seen that result. Maybe. But that is certainly not what my clever mind thought I needed at the time.


Picture
Could I have learned all this without dropping everything?

Maybe.

At the same time I have to admit I feel so much more myself. Even though it
doesn't feel like I'm the one holding the mallet.

During eight months winding along a path of hairpin turns with no horizon in view, something else happened. One day I woke up and wrote down Ten Keys I use to recognize and tune in to my Inner Direction.  I hadn't noticed these before.

In the autumn of 2012 I shared these Ten Keys with people in the form of an free ebook, which is still around on iBooks.  I loved choosing the photographs for the book. They are amazing! You can check them out on a copy I have available here if you don't have a device with iBooks. 

In addition, many people wrote me and shared their stories of following Inner Direction. I have not compiled these in the book -- yet.  Why?  No reason, really. They are all really great and wonderful. One day I might. Or not.

Isn't it nice to know that nothing has to be wrong -- or even right -- for you to steer in any direction you want? And for no reason at all except you.

Sounds like freedom to me.

In the last two months I've added exercises to Inner Direction (based on many of the questions I asked myself going through this process of change and inner attunement) and expanded the book content, plus I've included pages you can take notes on.  More Here.

The Inner Gong

Picture
In April 2012, when I stopped broadcasting my live radio show, it happened in the strangest way. I had to choose to continue or not, and frankly, I just wasn't sure.  Up until the last possible cliff-hanging moment, I  didn't know whether to go on or stop. 

All I can tell you is I waited and waited and waited and I got no Inner Gong.

The sound of that "Gong" is one way I refer to the feeling that I get inside when I know something is right for me.  It can be a tingle or a feeling that my heart is bursting, or a simple internal whisper of Yes.

Which is great, except for that I had nothing. Nada. Zip.

Which meant I also wasn't getting an inner "No Way!" This was beginning to look like a bit of a problem. Then I thought, "Well, without a clear yes or a clear no, what shall I do?"  I decided to simply let go of the show and wait. 

Now if you know me, you'll know I'm a workhorse.  I can be pretty tough to keep pace with. I walk fast. I eat fast. Normally I decide fast.  I am not the kind of gal who just sits around and waits.

So maybe I should clarify what I mean by "let go and wait." 

What happened really was, I tuned in.  For once in my life, I slowed down just enough to not rush forward into the void, and began to turn my full attention inward. Not just my partial attention.

Over the last few years I've learned enough about how the mind works to know that you cannot solve problems by getting busier, speeding up, forcing things or taking on more. The only way to know yourself, to know your own mind, and therefore to really hear what you want, what you'd love and what you think would be wonderful -- you must listen. 

I have not listened for most of my life. Case in point (FYI, Elese), there's a much better chance I might not have married a heroin addict in college if I had. (Amongst other things which would take me way off topic...)


Picture
This time I opted for listening before doing.

I mean, I needed to learn how to hear, but most importantly to what. So it has been an ongoing education for me, culminating in this very strange situation with the radio.  With a quarter of million listeners behind me, I just simply didn't continue moving forward with something that was successful and growing, based on well, let's be fair, a guess.

I made a guess that if I waited, I would hear something eventually. Then it all went pretty quiet. Didn't expect that. So there I was, watching it end, with nothing new to go on and no direction to go instead.  (Here's the blog I wrote at the time) To follow my gut this time round meant allowing myself to release what was working, not for something better, but for something unknown.

I'll admit during the following months it felt like I was being stretched on a rack!  It seemed like I was in the unknown without a map and with a GPS system that refused to cooperate.  I realized I couldn't make it talk but also, since most of my mistakes happen in the gap between not-knowing and not being comfortable with that, I knew I wasn't willing to try to force it.

Tough one. If you are me.

The longer this went on, the more challenged I was.  I would get some notions, follow a few ideas, throw things out there -- but my inner gong still wouldn't play my way. 

I had got myself by the "short and curlies," as they say.

For eight months things kind of fell apart and were replaced by one increasingly large question mark.  I'd love to say I was comfortable with all of this. The truth is I went up and down a lot.  And that is the nature of the mind. Luckily I also knew that and it helped me immensely.  I was able to stay in the discomfort zone and even to relax there, and as I did, I started to get finer distinctions for myself about the different tones of the gong.  Eventually I began to be moved by something within that I could hear clearly.

There is no real end to this story, but there are some interesting conclusions. Today I have more clarity about my reason for being on this planet than I ever have, and that's pretty amazing to me. (Read my newsletter of today for more on this).  Had started this process with that in mind, I am not sure I'd have seen that result. Maybe. But that is certainly not what my clever mind thought I needed at the time.


Picture
Could I have learned all this without dropping everything?

Maybe.

At the same time I have to admit I feel so much more myself. Even though it
doesn't feel like I'm the one holding the mallet.

During eight months winding along a path of hairpin turns with no horizon in view, something else happened. One day I woke up and wrote down Ten Keys I use to recognize and tune in to my Inner Direction.  I hadn't noticed these before.

In the autumn of 2012 I shared these Ten Keys with people in the form of an free ebook, which is still around on iBooks.  I loved choosing the photographs for the book. They are amazing! You can check them out on a copy I have available here if you don't have a device with iBooks. 

In addition, many people wrote me and shared their stories of following Inner Direction. I have not compiled these in the book -- yet.  Why?  No reason, really. They are all really great and wonderful. One day I might. Or not.

Isn't it nice to know that nothing has to be wrong -- or even right -- for you to steer in any direction you want? And for no reason at all except you.

Sounds like freedom to me.

In the last two months I've added exercises to Inner Direction (based on many of the questions I asked myself going through this process of change and inner attunement) and expanded the book content, plus I've included pages you can take notes on.  More Here.

Does Time Really Heal All Wounds?

Does time heal all wounds... all painful memories?  Sorry.  No.  The truth is that time doesn't have anything to do with 'healing'.

Consider two scenarios: 

1) Jack and Beth couldn't stand the sight of each other after their acrimonious divorce 20 years ago. Now they are more than cordial, both feeling like they just shared a nightmare a long time ago. 

2) Andy couldn't keep a job because he was haunted by painful wartime memories. Today -- ten years later -- his memories are not a problem and he is thriving in life. 

Didn't time have something to do with their recoveries?

To understand the change in Jack, Beth and Andy would you study a calendar or clock -- or would you be interested in what happened within their minds? To do the former would suggest that insights are a function of time.  Do you really buy that?  For example, if a person realized at two o'clock that they need a solution to a problem and he or she got the needed insight at eight o'clock -- did time in any way contribute to that insight?  Or did time simply elapse before the insight arrived?

Painful thoughts and memories can be healed in an instant.  They are healed the moment a person sees that the painful feelings are simply the result of thoughts that they are thinking in that particular moment. If not for the presence of those thoughts there would be no pain. The realization that so-called psychic pain is nothing more than real-time thinking releases people from that pain on a forward-going basis. When people have that insight -- the pain goes away. It takes only a second for that insight to occur.  But that insight might come within moments -- or within years -- of the related event. 

Nothing changes until the insight happens.  Then everything changes.

Let's return to our friends Jack, Beth and Andy. If Jack and Beth really saw that their painful thoughts following their divorce were the sole source of their ongoing distress, their thinking would have changed and they could have felt better about each other years earlier. If Andy saw that he was unwittingly rethinking his wartime memories and viewing them as if they were happening in real time, he would have awakened from his daytime nightmare much sooner. 

The healing of memories does not take time, it only takes understanding.

The Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought help people change their relationship to their thinking and that new relationship makes them resilient. The Principles teach us the true nature of our psychological experience of life. We begin to understand the role of thought and its relationship to how we feel on a moment-to-moment basis. The Principlesexplain to us how our senses are informed by our thinking, thus our thinking is solely responsible for how we feel. People who understand these principles will see that this understanding is their salvation and their freedom from the prison of painful memories.