Monday, August 24, 2009


I'm enjoying myself at the Drop Zone with my friends, and we're getting ready to plan our next jump. I smooth my jeans, and suddenly I notice that my wallet is not in my back pocket where it usually is. What happened to it, I think. I reach back there again as if I had just missed it, but it's still not there. I feel a familiar sensation: a tightening around my heart, a squeeze, and all my attention is now focused not on the jump I am getting ready to make with my friends, but the lost wallet.

First I go through all my things: my purse, the car, every place I can think of where it might be. My hand continues to go to the spot where I expect it to be, hoping that I had put it somewhere else by mistake. After awhile I realize that it might be at home, as I was unsure about which pants I would wear, and I tentatively let it go and begin to concentrate on other things. But in the back of my mind, the nagging worry about where it might be continues to bother me.

Does this sound familiar? Isn't it interesting that I can be living my life, enjoying myself, and suddenly something like this happens and all my energy is focused elsewhere?

I am reading an interesting book right now: The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, which discusses the state of serenity and the lack of it. What is happening to cause this? Do I identify myself with the missing wallet? Fortunately, this wallet is not where I keep my credit cards and crucial identification, but some cash, bus pass, business cards, and various replaceable punch cards. In order to regain my serenity, I consciously let everything in that wallet go, and I immediately felt better. The tightness around my heart lessened, and I went on with my day.

In my purse I carry a larger wallet, with checks, credit cards, driver's license, the whole enchilada. Sometimes when I am getting ready to pay for something I'll reach inside my purse and root around for it. Not finding it right away, thinking to myself that maybe it's gone, I left it somewhere, oh no! and then I find it. I've been known to take it out and kiss it fervently in thanks for it being there.

What I am learning in reading this book is that I am at the mercy of these storms of emotion, and I'd like to find some serenity, some real serenity, in these cases. The reason is obvious: life is filled with these events, and I want to learn how to deal with them in ways that are healing and not gripped with paralysis. What will I do when the day comes when I have to deal with something much more life changing than losing a wallet?

Now I've been through a bit of this already. For those who don't know about the loss of my two children, read this. Or the terrible accident I experienced in 2000. But! I am on a journey of exploration, how to find my way to serenity within this life of constant change. At the age of 66, although right now I'm able to jump, hike, play, work out and blog, something could happen tomorrow to change all that.

I want to find the way to serenity. Any ideas?


  1. For me, it was Jesus. Once I realized how much God loved me and the He was always there for me, I have had peace.

  2. I wish I could give you some great insight but I'm searching as much as you. I find I am too often thrown for a loop by what amounts to something trivial.
    At least you are on the right path. I think just asking the question assures you that you will be open enough to find some sort of answer.
    Yet another book I'll have to look into.
    And did you leave the wallet at home?

  3. I am dumbfounded DJan. Of course, I had to read about your sons. And then I had to read the memorial. I had no idea and cannot comprehend how one survives such loss. I have other friends out here (and in real life) who have lost children and I don't think there would be anything LEFT of me to heal.

    You have made your loving and full life a tribute to your sons. You keep them alive in your writing and your heart, and your generous spirit.

    Isn't it amazing how the little things undo us as well? The only way I can cope with everything - and it's usually not immediate but after praying - is to know that God has a plan. My not knowing what it is doesn't change the fact. That brings me peace but I wish I didn't fall apart in the interim. Very meaningful post, DJan.

  4. Dear DJ,

    What is serenity? Is this something we can buy? Or is this a place where we can go? Absolutely not. I read your story about your sons, and I know it's pretty painful for Mom to lose a child. I knew it, when I saw my Mom cried out loud when my brother was shot in a place so far from us and my Mom can't do anything to reach out for him neither embrace my brother. I know how hard for her to get over it and how many tears were shed during those times. I kept quiet during the time when she was grieving. Because I know it's GOD's plan.

    Communication and faith to GOD is my way to find serenity because HE is the only one who can give inner peace, no matter how mean life is to us, HE won't give us hard times if HE knows we can't handle it, and in this way, it makes us even stronger to handle obstacles along the way. Everything is GOD's will,thus we have to accept it and learn to rely on him, put the burden on HIM and he will be delighted to carry out all our weaknesses.

    Love you DJ.

  5. Losing children must be the most painful thing a mother can go through, it is one of my biggest fears. I hug my little girl every day so many times imprinting her face, her sounds and her smell on me so I can remember it all in the brief times I am away from her. I can't imagine what you went through with your sons, no mother should ever have to feel that pain.

    Small things likes one's wallet are much easier to let go. Everything in there is replaceable. I lost my wallet last month, it turned up intact at a police station near where I lost it. But I realized after a day of fretting like you did that it was a small thing in the grand scheme of things. Credit cards, bus passes and drivers licenses can be made anew, people can't. Learning to let go of material things is hard though, I still struggle with it.

  6. Serenity is a very elusive emotion to grasp and hold onto. I have never been able to find it, let alone touch it. I believe that serenity means different things to different people. Possibly it varies because of culture or maybe because we have different values but I think it should always be a goal.

    You have made a remarkable journey in dealing with unimaginable losses. Losing one child is devastating, but the tragedy of losing two is far more than I can comprehend. I have always been awestruck at your adventures, but now I am overwhelmed with your capacity to be so loving, compassionate, and giving knowing about the trauma you have dealt with. It appears to me that you would be able to add a chapter to that book you are reading.
    You are an example of someone who has allowed their soul to be untethered by painful memories and emotions that would have crippled many others.

    In regards to material things, they offer little comfort in times of duress but they are a part of our identity. Losing them can be traumatic. Like the loss of family photos in a fire etc. We just have to find the perfect balance and avoid allowing possessions to override the true priorities in life such as family and friends.

  7. Wow, I'm with you on this adventure. Please share any and all insight you might glean in this exploration. Let us know if the book is worth reading. Thanks!

    I have been known to "let go" of something I found very valuable, and voila! something really good happened. Coincidence?

  8. I believe that you have already discovered Serenity. I think that you feel it on your jumps.... I cannot imagine a more peaceful few minutes...

    I feel that same sense of peace when I kayak, or when I paint. The challenge is to return to that peaceful place in times of stress.

    Please let us know how the book turn out and if it is worth the read.

  9. When I follow my out-breath for a long enough time, I find peace and serenity. Though my experience of serenity be transitory, it's worth my prolonged attention. Whenever turn my attention away from fear and onto my exhalation, at the least, I reduce the power of fear or anxiety.
    The larger issue of incorporating major losses - I think it's the same but takes a long, long time.

  10. To me, serenity is about honoring a life you were meant to lead. Your purpose here is to honor the gift of life that is yours. Make the best of your life and those around you. All the rest follows....

  11. Another great post, DJan.

    Yes, that feeling of panic, of missing something, of not being good enough, I know that feeling. I too, seek serenity and acceptance (when I'm not seeking life's thrills, challenges, my own validation, and insights...) But when the mind races at night, when one wakes up with that fist squeezing inside, those vague anxieties fluttering through the veins -- what then?

    I haven't had your particular losses, but I've grieved vicariously through your losses. I've had my own, though none so unfair. Yet I too, seek serenity, if not 24/7, then at least before I go to sleep, before I eat, and at random times throughout the day. Or perhaps I seek serenity at my core, my soul, while my puppy mind enjoys the challenges of chewing on socks and chasing balls.

    It's a journey, sister, and we're all on it together, like a band of blind refugees, unaware of each other as we stumble along.

    For me, my own form of prayer helps. And yogic breathing and meditation. Such as this : Help me do the best I can with an open heart and mind. It's not my universe, I'm not in charge. But I'm willing to do my part, please show me, guide me, and give me a loving heart. Amen.

  12. What beautiful -- and helpful -- responses from my virtual family. First, the wallet was at home, and second, my larger losses in no way help me deal with the smaller ones. Each time it's like the first time.

    I grew up in a family that had no formal religion (in fact, I think I'll write a post about that) but I found my own through sheer necessity, and I also pray. As an old hippie, I was filled with a lot "new age" spirituality long ago, and at times I've gone to church, but mostly my own connection to God is personal and intensely private.

    Thank you, every one, for your guidance. My heart is filled with gratitude for your place in my life.

  13. I'm forever checking and re-checking things like purses, doors, TV's off etc. etc. the men in my life laugh about it, but I do it anyway. I have a check list before I go out of the door.
    Serenity, yes, Wicca everytime, meditation, that sort of thing.

  14. I feel serenity when I walk alone around one of our many lakes. But my mind is often interrupted with negative and trivial details. Hearing a story of loss like yours helps to put things in perspective.


I really appreciate your comments! If you see a word verification box here, just ignore it. I don't use the darn thing and Blogger is trying to get us to use it, I guess. Ignore it and your comment will still appear.