Personal Evolution, Ancestors and Robin Williams?

I was talking to my daughter about All Soul’s Day a few weeks ago, explaining briefly how it was a holiday to celebrate and honor our ancestors. She asked me who her ancestors were. So, not for the first time, I reviewed her ancestors, both living and dead. Once I came to the end of the list of ancestors I could name, a vivid image emerged. It was of her immense lineage, comprised of men and women spiraling back for thousands of years. With new awareness, I told her that each of those people — every single person on that vast chain of human beings — needed to live in order for her to exist as who she is today.

That realization spawned two new trains of thought, paradoxical yet complementary. Bear with me here, I know these are not radical new revelations, but they made me feel peaceful (and who can’t use more inner peace?), so I want to share them with you!

One half of my brain said, “Wow! So many people and each one is vital to the course of things. Therefore, I am vital.” Who I am, how I am, what I radiate. These things are very important intrinsically. And also very important to remember as I go about my business in the world, whether I am interacting with others or just being with myself.

The other half of my brain said, “Wow! All those people are dead and the vast majority of them are completely forgotten.” No discernable record exists of their daily struggles, worries, minor or major achievements. They had their experience here on earth and then were gone. Maybe I should lighten up. Does what I am worrying about, or spending my time on today, really matter?

Taken together, these ideas refocused my lens on what I hold dear and consider meaningful, both internally and externally. As often happens, when I need to get a message it comes from different sources in a relatively short time frame. I recently watched the famous scene from Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams, as Prof. John Keating, is showing his young prep school charges photos of students past, encouraging them to “carpe diem.” Seize the day, this day, because, look, see the people in these photos? They thought they had all the time in the world too. They were experiencing all your same emotions, angst, hope, longing, a sense of infallibility. I’m paraphrasing and these were prep school boys, remember, but you get the picture. Fill in your own emotions, and glance back at a photo of someone from 10, 50, 100 years ago. The odds are high you share much of your emotional consciousness with them. Watching this scene reinforced my second revelation.

How did Robin Williams, a vision of the unbroken chain of ancestors, and a dream of nearly dying (I’ll save that for another time) make me feel good, you ask? In the aggregate, the meadow where those particular breadcrumbs led me was a beautiful one. While in it I experienced relief from the small burdens of this life. Burdens which the vast majority of the time feel big, and are big by our usual standards. But once you have passed on from this existence, “fertilizing daffodils,” as Prof. Keating put it, paying the mortgage or having an operation or getting a divorce, are all fairly irrelevant.

I was able to empty out in a new way. I became lighter, both in the sense of a burden being lifted from me, and also as if my being was suffused with — even becoming — light. I was appreciative yet detached. I was peaceful. I felt loved and loving. In my moment of simultaneously cosmic and very literal understanding of my place in the spectrum of things, I found some relief from the pressure of being a human being stuck in temporal reality and was able to let go and be bigger and emptier for a bit. It felt great!

For example, with great love I envisioned a moment of hugging my daughter, and the little daily stresses of homework and making lunches and practicing musical instruments and so forth were lifted. I only have this one fleeting lifetime to be with her, after all. It will burn past as quick as a spark. In that moment, and others like it, I felt clarity about what I wanted to leave for the spiral of my own potential descendants.

The “Aha!” experience I’ve just shared with you is one of a continuous series of steps in my personal evolution. I’m sure this message will spiral around many times before I can really hold on to it, feel it in my bones. But I will keep moving on that spiral. We all do, whether we intend to or not. During this process it is helpful to perceive the lessons as they arrive so you can consciously work with them towards your own growth. Working consciously and consistently on your personal evolution can help bring the changes you want to see in your life, or help you manage the changes life has brought you with as much grace as possible. I offer individual sessions to assist you in traversing your own spiral, seeing the recurring lessons in your own life and meeting them open to learning, healing and evolving. For more information please visit

Be well,


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