A large and often overlooked aspect of striving to be fit physically is the effort to also strive to achieve mental fitness as well. I know that one of my major fitness goals is mental fitness. My need to reduce the stress in my life and the need to release that stress is actually what led me to weight lifting in the first place. The two for me are inexorably linked.
One of my “mental fitness” exercises is to practice “Letting Go.” As a practicing Pagan I do this a lot with built up energy—especially after ritual. In my personal life I try to use it to deal with the losses of loved ones I am remembering during Samhain. The energy of so many memories builds up inside me. If I am not mindful of this energy it can build and build and work against me.
This Samhain I am remembering my Uncle Jeffrey. He is deep within my mind and this year I am planning a special alter to honor him.
Jeffrey was my godfather and even though I did not get to see him often he was a very important person in my life. The man had a lot of baggage he was holding onto. Baggage in life isn’t always a black and white term. Baggage just is. I think how you deal with it determines the weight of the luggage. My uncle’s baggage was very heavy to him – a burden he could not escape and he used drugs to lighten the load. His drug problem eventually defeated him.
I was devastated when he died. For weeks before his death I had wanted to write him letters—telling him all the things I wish I had been able to tell him to his face. I wanted those letters to bring him back to reality, to remind him that I was someone who would miss him. I was afraid to write him—which I found absurd as writing is what I do right? It’s the medium by which I express all the things in my head I’m too fucked up to say. Nope. I wrote him letters but I wrote him silly ones full of nonsense.
I think sometimes when I’m having a bad day I particularly like to torture myself into wondering “what if.” What if I had written him honest letters, what if I had actually let him into that place in my head that is so like him? In general though, I have been through this before and I know that the “what if’s” in life lead nowhere. During Samhain it is time for me to remember that instead of allowing sadness to enter my energy spectrum I need to turn it around and allow joy to alleviate that negative energy.
By honoring my Uncle I am honoring all the things I wish he could have found in the universe. I honor him by being truly and uniquely myself. I honor him by being Pagan and proud even though my religion is not main stream. I choose to not let the prejudices of others direct my stars. I honor him by remembering to be kind to myself—that a branch too rigid does not bend but breaks apart. I know that he would not want me to break but bend in all the ways he could not. To honor my uncle I need to remember to have fun in my life, to not let the burdens of my life kill the childlike nature within me. Fun for the sake of fun—we only live once.
To honor our ancestors is to bring honor to ourselves. To reach into ourselves and learn the lessons they were here to teach us. Some of these lessons are painful and full of regret—and like the Five of Cups are a warning to us that it is not too late to change the course of our lives and be the people they know we can be.
When I create my alter for my Jeffrey I will fill it with happy memories and promises for the future. I will bring into this New Year the lessons I have learned from his life and I will give us both the courage I knew he had but couldn't see. I will let go of all this energy within me, I will send it to him so he will know that yes, I am listening and yes, I can hear him.