How to be comfortable with yourself during layoffs, temporary or not?

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 strongly disagree and 10 strongly agree, how satisfied have you been with yourself in the past weeks? What kind of thinking has been more like you? “I wish I were different?” or “I trust myself to go through this situation.”

We are at a stage of the coronavirus crisis when the personal energy of working people around the world has dropped. As a result, team conflicts in organisations have increased. To help their people go through this stage of mental exhaustion, team leaders chose to disrupt their teams. 

“So, she (the CEO) acted quite decisively on the team itself by radically changing it.” writes the author of the HBR article, If You Feel Like You’re Regressing You’re not Alone: “ She sent one team member home temporarily who was not adding value in this phase. ”

There are many people, in different professional occupations, who have been sent home. For example, in Finland, the country where I live, in week 22, 8.563 have been temporarily laid off and 10.593 have been unemployed due to the fact that the implemented restrictions affected the economy. How might these individuals feel about their current unemployment? Those whose main identity does not rely on the job that they do, may be mostly worried about their financial safety.

But what if your main identity is strongly related to your work? Like it can be the case for the person who is part of the executive team? Or if you are an artist, designer or have a small business of your own? You may have the tendency to feel less concerned over financial losses and more concerned about the impressions that you make in front of your boss, colleagues or clients. So, when your boss or client decides that you don’t add value, it’s no wonder that you end up feeling lonely, fearful, easily irritated or maybe verbally aggressive. You may be thinking, “I wish I were someone else.”

How can we make it so that the feelings of self-worth remain unaffected in face of temporary unemployment or terminated work contract? How can we continue believing in ourselves when others judge our professional competence to be disposable?

If we were Eleanor Roosevelt, we would say, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” In order to get to this place where you are psychologically independent of others’ opinions and decisions, you may consider the following three steps:

  1. Reassess what else you value, other than the opinion of your boss. Maybe you value the opinion of your family and friends? What if you’re living alone on an island? Those of you who have been isolated alone in your homes since the COVID-19 outbreak, may be familiar with this exercise of imagination. What would your sense of self relate to? Maybe you would simply value your body that carries you from one place to another? Or your breath which keeps you alive? 
  1. Respect yourself more than you respect others’ opinions. As Swami Sivananda, a teacher of Vedanta philosophy advises, “The best thing to give to yourself is respect.” What is one thing you can do today to show respect to yourself? How about writing down 5 qualities you’re proud to possess?  

Roses don’t try to be like tulips. 

Tulips don’t try to be cherry trees. 

Flowers follow their destinies by blossoming in the environments where they are planted. They display their colours and shapes at the right time, whether it’s sunny or cloudy. They spread their fragrances even when there are no passers-by to stop in admiration and fall in love with them.

In a similar way to everything else in nature, you show respect to yourself by being grateful for the qualities you were designed with. 

  1. Develop a new sense of what is possible

These unusual times are a good time for you to choose your natural qualities to cultivate in the suitable environments. For example, my YouTube Channel is the new environment where I exercise my storytelling skills. What could be your new environment? 

I’ll leave you with the following quote of the British playwright George Bernard Shaw, “You see things as they are and you say, ‘Why?’. But I dream things that never were, and I say, ‘Why not?’ ” 

How Taking Part in Webinars can Help Us Increase Our Listening Awareness

What was that? Can you say it again?

Your mic is muted. 

I cannot see your screen. 

Your screen is frozen.

Have you recently heard yourself anything similar? These must be some of the most pronounced sentences by those of us who participate in webinars. The sound or video disturbances certainly affect our learning and engagement experiences.

In one of the webinars I organised, one of the participants struggled to hear with clarity my words. The internet connections of the other participants were good. So, I expeditiously suggested she’d log out and in again. In vain. I did continue the presentation but she eventually got frustrated and left the virtual meeting. Who can blame her? What’s the point of sticking around in a meeting when the communication is broken. Either you cannot hear what they say. Or they cannot hear your questions. 

We may be thinking, “I knew it that technology cannot be trusted! So looking forward to the day when we can meet face-to-face.”. 

An experienced teacher or speaker is aware that effective communication, where the takeaways are clear, requires frequent reviews of the key information as the presentation progresses. The repetition may be annoying for the active listeners in the audience. But there’s a good reason to do it. And the reason is not that the speaker is boring.

Dr. Ralph Nichols, who spent 40 years studying the art of listening, understood that people can pay attention for a short amount of time, which can be as low as 90 seconds. Every few seconds, the speaker’s words trigger some associations in the listener’s mind, in the form of new connections, judgements or other concerns. The listener’s attention is turned inwards, chasing a new trail of thoughts. Meanwhile, the speaker has advanced with the presentation and the listener has a gap in what she/he has heard. This is why it’s important to repeat the learning points over and over again. This way the speaker is helping the listener to stay on the same page.

Effective communication in presentations and meetings is like a tango dance. Both the speaker and the listener have their share of contribution to keep up the engagement. In the end, everyone involved leaves the meeting being more inspired than at the beginning of the meeting. 

Let’s focus on the listener. What can the webinar experiences tell us about our listening abilities? A good listener is a person who can concentrate on understanding at three levels:

  • Facts.
  • Speaker’s feelings.
  • Speaker’s intentions.

It’s a reality that technology can impair our learning experience during webinars. But is it a fact that in person meetings will lead to clearer understanding? In face-to-face conversations, we are distracted by the instinct of finding some pauses when we would be adding our views. Whether present online or in person, our minds are the main barriers to understanding and learning. In a webinar, where we have the option to turn off the video and mute ourselves, there is a great opportunity to exercise our listening awareness.

Provided you’d like to improve your listening skills when attending a webinar, you may find it useful to increase awareness of what happens in those moments when your mind strolls away from the speaker’s narrative. There is a self-talk taking place in parallel with the speaker’s talk. What might the contents of the self-talk be and how could you bring your mind back to one of the three levels of listening, – facts, emotions or intention?

  1. You may be making connections between the newly received information and the information stored in your memory. You are thus getting new insights related to the topic. Jot down the new ideas and get back to listening. Or, you may be confused or having some doubts about the validity of a particular learning point. Rephrase these concerns as questions and write them down in the questions box. They may be addressed at the end of the webinar.  
  2. You may be experiencing some negative emotions, triggered by the way you judge what’s being said in the presentation. You can shortly write down these reactions, “The speaker said this … and I interpret it this way ….” Then try to remind yourself of your intention when joining the webinar. Why did you join? What were your expectations? There is always something new to learn even when the initial expectations are not met.
  3. You may be observing that you spiral down to a rabbit hole of reflections on the current life situation. Things that have nothing to do with the topic of the webinar become like a magnet to your mind. With patience, try to write down what it is that you’re worried about. “I am afraid that I will be jobless by the end of the year.” or, “Am I good enough to homeschool my kid?” or, “What is that bee doing at my window?” Once you wrote down the short notes of concerns, try to get back to the speaker’s narrative. “What is this person talking about now?” You can let go of the written concerns. How you are going to tackle them is something to work on when the webinar is over. Since they keep coming to mind, they must be important and they may want you to address them properly.

At the end of the webinar, look at the list of side notes: notes of learning points and questions, notes of judgements and notes of concerns. Which ones are predominant? You can congratulate yourself for being a good listener if the majority of notes consists of learning points and questions. However, if you see more notes of judgements and concerns, then you know that for the time being, your mind is quite distracted.   

Can you hear me?


How to use compassion to gain a new perspective to the unexpected

Week 7 of isolation. What do you find surprising or intriguing about how you manage yourself in isolation? 

Let’s do a short recap of the emotional experiences in the weeks of physical distancing, so far, shall we? After initial reactions of disbelief and outrage against the emerging disruptions, moments of acceptance of what is may have followed. The gap between rejection and acceptance was filled by finding new routines. The new routines allowed us to continue the activities we were doing before. For me, new routines came with new activities also, like online yoga, which spiced up my days. 

By week 7, life in isolation is likely to be perceived as the new normal. A normality where we may have gotten used to e-see people, both in work and personal contexts. In the webinars that I facilitate, I do miss the richness of information that I used to receive from non-verbal cues in face-to-face communications.  

The other day, one of my uncles shared some photos taken two years ago at my niece’s baptism.  It dawned on me that in the new normality, I feel out of time and place. And I’m intrigued by this state. 

“On a normal day, people interact with somewhere between 11 and 16 weak ties on the way to work, while running errands, or on a break between meetings at the office.”, write the authors of the Harvard Business Review article, Why You Miss Those Casual Friends so Much. In the last 7 weeks, I interacted once from meters distance with a neighbour, a person belonging to my weak social ties. As for my strong ties, the initial enthusiasm of reconnecting with old contacts faded away and was replaced by the fatigue of keeping up this new habit. 

Without the physical presence of people who are part of my social network, I feel I’m flying high in the sky without being able to see the proximity of land. Does this sound familiar to you? Have you recently felt that your existence has shifted into a being nowhere normality? In week 7 of isolation, nowhere is my new address.

“It’s the most important place in the world – nowhere.” writes Tatyana Tolstaya, in her collection of short stories, Aetherial Worlds. “ Everyone should spend some time there. It’s scary, empty, and cold; it’s sad beyond all bearing; it’s where all human communication is lost, where all your sins, all your shortcomings, all lies and half-truths and double-dealings emerge from the dusk to look you in the eye with neither disapproval nor empathy, but simply and matter-of-factly. Here we are. Here you are. ‘And filled with revulsion, you read the story of your life.’ And you make decisions. “

Being nowhere means we are in the absence of the physical presence of others. If we choose to, for hours on end, the stream of our consciousness can go on uninterrupted by others’ sounds. This is how it must be like in a meditation retreat. And this is the beauty of the nowhere place. It’s like watching an ongoing parade of clouds, different forms, colors and sizes crossing a clear sky. These clouds are our undisturbed thoughts emerging in aloneness. As Tatyana Tolstaya writes, some thoughts, like memories of duplicity, personal flaws and lies can be menacing. And yet, what treasure chest memories are! Who would we be without our memories, both those we are proud of and those we are ashamed of?! 

Being in the nowhere space I found a gem in flashbacks of a beloved past, of great grandfather and father. Great-grandfather fought in the Second World War. Father spent the first half of his life in communism. In the second half, when realizing that the salary of a high-school teacher would not suffice to afford a good education for my sister and me, he learned the ropes of entrepreneurship and free market economy. 

Thinking of great grandfather and father triggered an overwhelming compassion for their struggles, of which neither of them spoke about. The compassion cloud which took over the space of my consciousness showered my heart in humbleness. In the last years of life, father fought cancer. His last intelligible words were, “I am glad.” When he couldn’t talk anymore, he would simply look into my eyes with smiling eyes. 

Great-grandfather didn’t talk about his war experience. I didn’t even know he took part in the war, until two years ago when one of us, his great grandchildren visited the old house. Somewhere in a wooden shelf, a letter was found. The pages had a yellow hue. The letter was written by great-grandfather’s captain, describing his bravery. Next to the letter, there was a small cardboard box where a medal should have been. The medal couldn’t be found though.   

Compassion smoothly arose in my being nowhere space. It connected me to the past and empowered me to make decisions in the present. How about you? What kind of clouds of the past might march through your sky? Allow yourself to observe and feel whatever content you glimpse. What might you notice? 

Being in the nowhere, we may discover that our life stories are at the intersection of others’ life stories. Our destinies are captured in a matrix of decisions and actions, which entangle our lives with the lives of the people who will ever matter to us. When we contemplate on their life stories, we can see our own lives in new perspectives. 

Beloved memories and hope! These are the most rewarding moments in being nowhere.

In week 7 of isolation, what do your hard times consist of? Do you miss giving a hug to close friends? Are you tired switching back and forward between work tasks and attending kids? Are you overwhelmed with the marathon of virtual work meetings? 

Exhaustion may have crippled in. How about asking yourself, “What would my grandfather have done in this situation?”, “What would I have done if I had faced grandfather’s challenges?”

Each generation copes with unexpected changes. You may have accepted that now it’s your turn to go through difficulties. But you may have reached a point when you feel you cannot bear any longer the physical distancing and all the consequences resulting from it. Ask yourself another two questions, “In what ways does the COVID-19 disrupt my life today?”, “Under the circumstances, how can I keep focus on what is essential today?”.

The corona virus outbreak may last longer than expected. And it may take unforeseeable turns. Manage wisely your energy. Spend some time in your nowhere space. You may find some inspiring thoughts. 

Update. In the New York Times article, How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take, published on April 30th, the earliest date for the distribution of an effective vaccine against coronavirus is August 2021.

How the experience of envy can take us to our authentic selves

“Hell is other people.” wrote Sartre, the renowned French philosopher, novelist and playwright in his play, No Exit. The famous quote is in the end of the play when three characters arrive in a place that appears to be hell. While they try to figure out what crimes they committed, they realize that the three of them are trapped in a room. They continue to get on each other’s nerves when one of the characters concludes, “Hell is other people.”

What do you make of this quote? One way to interpret this is that when an individual becomes conscious of someone else’s gaze, the awareness of being watched restricts the freedom of thinking and being as an individual. 

Sartre’s quote is a witty observation into the social nature of human beings. Other people give us a frame of reference and constraints to understand ourselves, our aspirations and purpose. We can be physically next to another person. Or, we can bring the other in our thoughts. Under both scenarios, our brains automatically scan the physical or imaginary presence in attempts to answer the question, “What is my status in this relationship?”, “Am I better off or worse than the other?” By design, we compare ourselves to others. Everybody does it, one way or another.

When dealing with an unprecedented life threatening situation, like the coronavirus outbreak, we have the tendency to compare ourselves to others more than normally. How do others react to the chaos? We perceive the environment with an increased sense of vulnerability. What do others do to adapt to the new reality of remote work? Is my colleague, let’s say Mike, performing better than I am? Is he more resilient than I am? 

Every few seconds, our brains scan the environment – both physical and virtual – in search of safety. Have you heard of the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”? Our brains may be designed to ensure our survival but when comparative thinking becomes obsessive, the good intention of protecting starts to backfire. 

For some of us, the experience of envy can be one of the main outcomes of this comparative thinking. Under the current circumstances of social isolation, remote work and homeschooling, we may end up stuck with envy.

There is hope. Living among others, even if the others are in our thoughts only, can reveal glimpses of heaven in us. Are you interested in understanding yourself, aspirations and purpose with more clarity? If you are, what may be of particular interest is what can we do about the envy ensuing from the impulsive comparison to others. 

There can be four ways in which we can experience envy:

  1. We unconsciously let the invidiousness manifest in reflective words and behaviours. In the mildest forms of envy, we give The Look. You know, that green with envy look. We may be unconscious about it but the other can notice it even in video conferences. What are the more severe forms of unconscious words and behaviours of envy that you have noticed in others?   
  2. We become aware of feeling envious. Unless we are masochists, we don’t like the taste of suffering that envy brings. Envy is a toxic feeling that burns the heart. What do we do? How can we fix the poisoning effects fast? We shift the blame on the other for making us feel the way we do. Or we find excuses why the other achieved something which we crave but could’t accomplish yet. “Of course, my colleague Mike is performing better. He is in better control of remote work because he has no kids.” There we go. We feel better. Next time we’ll experience this feeling, we’ll rinse and repeat. 
  3. Some of us respond with shame over feeling envious in the first place. We try to ignore the feeling. The ideal self who wants the best of us overrules the envy. “It’s not me to feel this way.” While it’s a virtue to aim at the greatest possible good in ourselves, we end up creating an illusion of goodness when we cannot look at the envy in the eye. It would be like responding to chronic headaches by using affirmations, such as “All is well”, “I am pain free”, “I am healthy”. Do positive affirmations take away the headache? Do positive affirmations lead to understanding what causes the headache?   
  4. The fourth way of reacting increases self-awareness, when we have better odds at gaining clarity on what is the problem and what solutions we can come up with. We can observe the feeling as it arises. If you can, pause to reflect on it. If you’re into the middle of some important task, set a date in your calendar when we can take a break and get curious to understand, “What lies behind my envy? Why do I feel this way?” 

The experience of envy shows us there is a need. Unprecedented situations make us more insecure and whatever unfulfilled needs we may have had before, they become now bigger. I’m thinking of the need for safety, employment needs, status, recognition or self-actualization. One of these needs may be important for us and not fulfilled yet. 

Whenever we experience envy as a result of comparing ourselves to others, we can take it as a barometer of personal or professional fulfilment. The point of envy shows us the status quo of fulfilment. Press reset. Embrace instead the path of authenticity. What aspirations and dreams are dormant in us? 

“Comparing yourself to others is an insult to yourself.” 

Bill Gates    

Each interpersonal interaction is like a mirror that shows us how to know ourselves better. The mirror can show the best sides we perceive in others, which trigger the envy. Press reset. Breathe. Look away from the mirror. Breathe.

Look back at the mirror. What is inspiring about how your colleague Mike is coping with remote work? Breathe. Look away from the mirror. Breathe. 

Look back again. The mirror can now reflect aspects of our ideal selves. We cannot copy and paste others’ best qualities. We can only discover and practice our best qualities. Breathe. Look away from the mirror. Breathe. 

Look back again. The mirror can show reflections of our authentic selves that will help us satisfy the important needs.

In the first days of self-isolation, when I was quite blown by the novelty of the unwanted change, I received messages from a couple of friends who shared their new calendars for the stay at home week.  

It was obvious to me that discipline was my friends’ strength. I was tempted to copy my friends’ action and come up with a new daily schedule to adapt to self-isolation with children. Yet, I’ve always known that discipline is one of my weaknesses and I would not have been able to follow through the schedule. Instead, I chose to look into what purpose the discipline served for my friends? 

What my friends were doing by exercising their discipline was to claim agency over their new lives, turned upside down by the coronavirus outbreak. They created a new sense of control for themselves by writing down a daily calendar of events for their work, for their kids and for their families. 

The human brain loves to have predictability. And since the coronavirus outbreak brought lots of ambiguity and uncertainty, the way to develop predictability is to set up new daily routines.   

The interactions with my friends brought me in front of the mirror of personal strengths. “Mirror mirror on the wall, tell me what is my best strength of all?” I had to find my strength to bring predictability in the daily chaos. And my strength is to take my kids’ perspective and be flexible to their needs. What did I do? 

schedule_6_year_kidIn the morning, as we woke up, I asked them to draw a plan for the day. As you might expect and can see in the above picture, my 6 year old drew all sorts of play activities. Play was my kids’ way to have agency over the changes in our lives. Therefore, day by day, when the energy in the room would be about to get explosive, I initiated some moments of dance and other physical activities with the boys.     

The mirrors that others place in front of us help us see more earnestly what qualities or strengths we may choose to lead ourselves through a trying life situation, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

Hell is other people if we focus on the best selves of others instead of focusing on our authentic selves.


To avoid feeling like a failure when working at home, have a short break of self-compassion

“I don’t manage to do anything.”, one friend, father of 3, mentioned during one of our survival chats this week. “I don’t manage to work. I don’t even manage to go out for a walk.”

Like my friend, after the outbreak of coronavirus, some of us who moved their office work at home may find ourselves caught between the work responsibilities and the responsibility as a parent. How can we expect to have high work productivity in one room, when our kids are crying in the next room? 

To manage the chaos that happens around us, we may need to learn to manage the storm of thoughts going on inside ourselves. A working parent may have the best intentions to finish her report before the next video conference. At the same time, she may want to attend her kids who are getting into a fight because they’re lacking attention. 

At this point, the voice of the inner critic is getting louder and louder. If we chose to spend some time with the kids, the inner critic would scold, “You should be working on your report now.” If we locked ourselves in a room to focus on work, the inner critic would be whispering, “What kind of a parent would do that?”

And to make things worse, the “comparing yourself to others” voice joins the inner conversation, “Other colleagues, some superheroes, like Wonder Woman or IronMan, must be better at managing this kind of situation.”  

The duo of the two voices can bring us down to the status that my friend was talking about. When we cannot work. When we cannot attend the needs of our kids. When we get lost in guilt and shame. 

What can help? We human beings have a paradoxical nature. We have a deep need to be seen and be understood. And we are looking for understanding from those around us. We need family members and friends to say kind and encouraging words to us. Yet, it doesn’t cross our minds to give ourselves first-help.

While waiting for external help, how about being the first ones who understand our own pain? How about telling ourselves what we would tell a friend who needs compassion? “I can see your pain. You’re not alone in this. Let me know what kind of help you need.”   

Self-compassion can be our first-help tool kit. Self-compassion, a term coined by professor Kristin Neff at the University of Texas, refers to the ability to genuinely care for our wellbeing, to accept our negative emotions and have the desire to recover after a setback, such as coronavirus disruption. 

I could relate to my friend’s overwhelm. I have days when I feel exactly the same, torn between work and children. And I feel disappointed both about my work performance and the interaction I’m having with the kids. Is there something we can do in those moments? 

How about giving ourselves a short break of self-compassion? Listen to the inner voice and let it go. Listen to the “comparing yourself to others” voice. Tell it “I’ll get back to you later.” The voice may be trying to tell you something but when you’re in a low moment it’s not the best time. 

What you need in moments when you feel you’re failing at performing a task is to be kind with yourself. It doesn’t mean you start blaming your kids or your boss or any one else for the situation. It doesn’t mean you start feeling like a victim, “Poor me, what a lousy situation I find myself in”. Being kind with yourself means that you empower yourself to take constructive action in the present moment. 

“I realize that now I feel I’m failing more than in other days. What matters most for me at this moment?”

In the long run, what matters most is that these difficult times produce the best versions of ourselves. In the present, what’s more important is to grow aware about choosing one thought over another. 

According to old wisdom, “Thoughts become words, words become deeds, deeds become habits, habit becomes character, and character becomes destiny.” 

And your destiny has great influence over others’ thoughts. 


Why do we read books?

Some of us like to read. Because we are curious to know everything about anything – history, anthropology, biomedicine, artificial intelligence, etc. We are driven by the desire of understanding where we came from and where we are heading.

Some others are driven by the need to feel. They read fiction – romance, science fiction, horror, etc – to make them feel alive.

But you can’t feel alive or excel at intellectually understanding a field without having sensitivity to life. The want of sensitivity pushes us to read, to wrap our souls around the gentleness that authors bless some of their characters with. Once we gained sensitivity, we may feel one with life, a joyful connection that we sometimes see in someone else’s eyes.

Sensitivity is the light that shows us the way in the labyrinth of knowledge. Once we gained sensitivity, we may get interested in making an effort to grow the knowledge.

Knowledge does good to the mind. Kindness does good to the soul. We badly need them both. Continue reading. In addition, please practice lovingness.


The taste of impermanence

Everybody knows Notre-Dame, the cathedral at the foundation of the Parisian cultural heritage, the place where Victor Hugo imagined the plot of the novel The HunchBack of Notre-Dame.

Yesterday, the unexpected fire destroyed the loved monument. Shock and disbelief. The fire stirred the memories of millions of people who ever stepped inside and smelled the air of sanctity imbued in the old walls. It crushed the dreams of those who were about to visit.

Nothing lasts forever. We trust in transformation and hope in reconstruction. But where would Quasimodo live now?   


The Awakening of Meaning

The fundamental drive in life is the pursuit of meaning, writes Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning. Through a combination of external and internal circumstances, meaning will come to the surface of conscious awareness.

Through a grace of God or lucky coincidence, two people intersect. Their souls get swiftly entangled and magnetised. A vibrant energy shakes up their inner lives with the fullness of being. They now see that meaning is life. The meaning of exploring oneself through perceptions, senses, intuitions, interests, play and acts of courage.  


The Beauty of Being Human

Each human interaction has a flavour
Some flavours are the perfect match for the heart,
enriching it.
The rest are opening the mind to other realities.
We meet a new person.
We feel what she might feel in the moment.
We start talking, we get a glimpse into her experiences.
Beyond feelings and perspectives,
We feel an energy that is specific to that person.
I don’t know how a psychologist would call this energy.
I call it the transcendent soul.

Thoughts on the Meaning of Being Together

One month after father’s physical death, I had a strong impulse to write down some thoughts on what it means to be together. The words are failing me, but I still wanted to give myself a chance to express how I feel about the continuation of strong bonds beyond physical death.

Last December, I was in the office of one of father’s oncologists. I wanted to hear about advanced cancer treatments. At one point, the doctor stopped for few seconds, looked at me sternly and said, “You need to cut the ropes”.

Despite the sting in the heart, I understood the doctor meant well. In her world, cutting the ropes was the best thing for me to do.

But in my world, how could I conceive of cutting the ropes? How could I stop trying to help the man with whom I’ve had a strong bond ever since I’ve known myself. Metastasised colon cancer does not give much room for hope for survival. But I wanted to hope we can find a treatment to extend my father’s life.

Cutting the ropes was not something I was ready to do.

A few weeks later, my father’s illness advanced. I took a break from everything I do in order to be by his side. In one of his lasts days, I whispered in his ear, “We are together. I am with you.”

Ever since, the words, “We are together”, have been on my mind. It’s been four weeks since my father passed away. Would there be another way of being together?

I am now stepping in the territory of metaphysical assumptions about bonds between people who are living and people who pass away.

So, here I go. When you love someone so much, it’s not possible that the love stops when the other person passes away or when you yourself stop existing from the physical world.

Father and I can’t communicate the way we have been used, in this physical reality. We can’t talk on the phone, every day. We can’t have dinner at the same table, in my childhood home. We can’t spend holidays together, the way we used to. And yet, somewhere at another dimension of reality, the pure love must continue and connect us.

Cutting the ropes is not what I want. Instead, I choose to have a better understanding on how our connection can live on. In the last four weeks, I’ve had more dreams about father than ever before. Most of those dreams seem so real.

Maybe dreams hold the key to understanding that being together doesn’t mean, exclusively, two persons in the same physical space. Maybe there is some other unconscious part of ourselves that travels at night and experiences, in a similar way the conscious self experiences when we are awake.

Most certainly, father will live in my memories and the memories of those who love him. Other than that, could meditation and imagination nurture the love between father and myself? In my imagination, I want to believe that a part of myself keeps company to him in whatever reality he is now living.

Physical death can’t be the end.