That's when you shine
Do you ever feel that you are growing in insignificance? That you are fading away?
Many people experience this as they get older or when they retire.
I retired early this year. By this I mean I stopped working for a weekly monetary reward.
I now stay home most days. Here, in my little country property 45 km from town, I write, cook, garden, dust the furniture, keep turtles safe as they stagger up the slope from the winter lake to lay eggs in the sand above the driveway and perfect the art of making cappuccinos using the coffee machine gifted to me by my five children when I retired.
So, in a way, I am fading away.
The wider community doesn’t need me. I no longer meet and support people with dementia like I used to do in my job. I don’t attend Zoom meetings, liaise with G.P.s, discuss clients with mental health nurses, or develop care plans.
The Great Fade has started. No one is waiting for me to arrive so important things can start happening. And soon I won’t even be here, except as a pile of dust or ashes.
A few weeks ago, I was in that delightful port city of Fremantle, on the west coast of Australia. It smells of fish and ships, and there’s always sand underfoot and a salty sea breeze.
As we walked up a side street with two of our grandchildren in search of a shop famous for giant scoops of gelati on cones, I saw a fading face etched into the cement and brickwork of the two-storey Norfolk Hotel. It was so unexpected and striking that we stopped and took photos.
The artwork, a portrait of Australia’s first female senator, Dorothy Tangney, was done by the famous Portuguese graffiti artist, Alexandre Farto (AKA Vhils). He’d chiselled it into the crumbling wall with a jackhammer.
It was the fading nature of the artwork that held me spellbound. It seemed that if I stood there for a few more minutes, the senator would disappear. She was almost not there. But she didn’t mind. She looked out at the world with clear eyes and a calm smile, an inner light coming out from her. She was being more than she seemed.
The portrait reminded me of something written by Rupert Spira as a header in a newsletter on 8th January 2023:
Everything vanishes, apart from being.
When we let go of everything that we can let go of,
that which never leaves us, simply shines by itself.
As I sit here and write about diminishing, and think about my insignificance, and me vanishing, I have the photo I took of Dorothy Tangney up on the computer screen. I blow it up and stare at her face. Alexandre Farto captured her beautifully by revealing, through careful scraping and chiselling, the inner light, the inner shining that she had and that Rupert Spira says we all have.
The longer I live, the more I realise that we all have inner shining.
Babies have it in abundance, and so do peaceful old people.
It’s when we’re in the midst of the years of battling, clawing, fearing, grasping, hoping, and struggling, that we tend to block the inner shining and create darkness, dimness, and devilish dancing shadows.
I can’t undo what I’ve done in my life. I can’t go back and let out a bit more of the inner shining that was there all the time if only I’d have let it through.
However, right now I can let go of things so there’s only my inner shining left, before all the things I continue to cling to as evidence of my significance vanish naturally with my death.
It can be easier for those of us who have retired to do this – to let go of everything – because there’s less to let go of.
So, what shall I let go of?
I think the main thing I’ll let go of is my fear that I’m fading.
I will acknowledge that I am fading, and I will be thankful for that natural phenomenon, because the more I fade, the more I am what I am here to be.
I’m here to let out the light that shines by itself, the light that remains when everything else about me has vanished.
No famous graffiti artist will etch my face onto a brick wall with a jackhammer. I’m not famous enough. I haven’t been “the first” anything. But while I’m here, I’ll do my best to let out my inner shining.
Whether we’re retired or working our butts off, there is an inner shining that emerges when we let go of everything that gets in the way of the light we hold inside us – the light of our spiritual essence.
We are all more than we seem.
With love, Marlane