“You’re going to kill yourself!” Was the only misty thought I could manage to bark at my brother Nick as he was perched on the side of an icy cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean. We had just finished walking down the snowy side of Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland. The sight where Marconi’s first transatlantic signal was broadcast to England. A trifling matter in this particular moment. Working at ensuring my brother stayed alive seemed more pressing and appropriate. Neither me, nor my sister Hollie, or brothers Matt and Nick were ready for this cold unforgettable March day. But here we were. Shaking on the edge moments from releasing Dad’s ashes into the Atlantic Ocean.
My mind’s eye had visualized a scene from the movies where we’d all have perfectly spoken teary eyed dramatic words as we watched his remains spiral into the deep blue. Instead, we were all pretty hazy from the previous evening’s Irish type funeral. Our collective hangover having a different story in mind. Words were neither loose nor free as my brother Nick attempted to record the moment on his camera phone, awkwardly, precariously balancing. And when I opened the urn, a flat wind blew ashes back into our faces. Giving us all an unexpected laugh. Which was exactly how Dad wanted it. Trudging back up Signal Hill I couldn’t wait for this part of of my journey to be over. My mind racing from death.
Since that moment over 10 years ago, Signal Hill has become a mediation sanctuary whenever I visit St John’s. I spent the majority of one winter there waking up in the dark early morning, quietly getting dressed, before sneaking out of Ingrid’s nan’s house into the freezing cold. Slowly making my way to catch a rising sun.
When I’d arrive at the top, sitting in the car overlooking the vast frigid Atlantic, I’d always read a passage from my worn out Eckhart Tolle book “The Power of Now.’ Not yet ready to leave the warmth heat of the car heater, it would help me summon up enough courage to eventually walk to my favourite spot on the less busy side of the hill. Since those early days of this genie journey, I always hoped to get an opportunity to work with this beautiful spiritual teacher. A wish that was fulfilled this past April during our evening with Eckhart Tolle in Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Helping share his beautiful teachings was more than I could have imagined while sitting on that snowy hill years previous.
I tell you this story for one simple reason. If you can take your challenges and turn them into life lessons, your purest dreams, like a carefully cared for flower, will bloom. If you’re having a bad day, week or year, try to remember Anaïs Nin’s words “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Today, be courageous.