A Way to Measure a Year (and Your Life)

Well this blog post ended up being NOTHING like I originally thought . . .

I initially happened to read a brief essay1 about how healing emotional issues usually involves “coming full circle”: working through several sequential layers of the issuelike the layers of an onionuntil finally you get to your authentic self. An interesting blog post topic.

But instead it got me thinking about the concept of “authenticity” which led me to Brené Brown . . .

Sociologist Brené Brown2 has done extensive qualitative researchand written groundbreaking bookson topics like shame, vulnerability, courage, and authenticity. So maybe this blog post could be about, as she posits, forgiving ourselves for being perfectly imperfect Human Beings, and starting a daily “practice” of being courageously vulnerable to be our authentic selves. Another great blog post topic.

But then (no accidents) I saw a Randy Rainbow youtube political parody using one of my all-time favorite songs: “Seasons of Love”3 from the Broadway play Rent. That prompted me to google and listen to a cast performance of the song. And the lyrics led me to tears . . .

Although written for the funeral of one of the main characters, the song is actually a celebration of life, of you and me. Of our challenges and triumphs, our losses and our loves. And I thought about how much unacknowledged courage and perseverance it can take for us just to wake up in the morning and face a day of personal and/or societal challenges and uncertainty, with maybe a dash of chaos thrown in.

At that thought, I experienced an intense moment of deep appreciation and love for everybody in my life, for all of you, for Humanity as a whole. I was moved to tears thinking about how magnificent we are as Beings of Light. (And yes, even those who seem to be not “of the Light” do, I believe, have a spark of Light in them.)

So definitely a celebration of life, but maybe “Seasons of Love” is also a tool we can use on our Path . . .

The song begins by asking “How do you measure a year?” and suggests some answers:

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In 525,600 minutes

Some lovely moments, and a lot of minutes. Then it asks, “How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?” and offers some possibilities:

In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned, or the way that she died

The gamut of life’s experiences. But the song’s ultimate answer to How do you measure a year or a life is:

How about love?
Measure in love.

And I immediately knew that was the topic of this blog post.

I realized that I’ve often thought of love in terms of such things as “romantic love” that’s said to be transient, or “unconditional love” that’s maybe attainable only by certain “holy” people.

Then I had the thought: maybe love also manifests as brief, intensely-felt moments of joy or compassionlike I experienced listening to that song. An intense emotion and feeling of connection with our Self, other people, or with Nature. Maybe it manifests in special happenings with family and friends, or with any of our loves (pets, a favorite book, hobbies, a hike in the mountains or desert, etc.). Maybe it’s in dancing with “wild abandonment,” or in the moment we see a finished creation of ours that expresses who we are and what we feel. Maybe it happens when we least expect it.

It can be just a nanosecond of crystal clear, “heart-felt,” soul piercing, everything-else- disappears emotion like I felt listening to that song. But maybe it’s in those brief moments, even nanoseconds, that we fully connect with and are in Oneness, experiencing “true love.” And every year, we have five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes to potentially experience that.

Using that time measure, I’ve lived almost 37,000,000 minutes. In looking back, I realize that I spent A LOT of those minutes, for example, trying to climb the corporate ladder, or dismissing a beautiful sunset because I was busy and believed there would always be another one I could enjoy. I spent time being angry or worrying about the national or global situation, and sending out negative energetic arrows, like to the other political “tribe” and its leaders.

I know that during all those many minutes, I did experience moments of joy. But now I realize, to paraphrase what John Lennon said, “Life and joy and connection are what can happen to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I think that while busy climbing the corporate ladder and doing life’s “busywork,” I may not have recognized and fully appreciated those moments of intense joy and connection. But with this new awareness, the other day I stopped the “plans”the housework I was doingand instead spent a couple minutes watching a little brown wren splashing around outside in my birdbath. Time seemed to stop, and I felt the joy emanate out from me in waves.

So maybe the answer to How do we measure our years and our life? is just that: how often we feel joy, compassion, connectionloveand then allow it to flow out from us into the world, or shoot out like a fireworks cylinder that explodes in the sky and rains Light down on everybody.

So try it . . .

Recognize and fully experience an occurrence (even if just a moment) of joy, compassion, connection.

And then do as the “Seasons of Love” song suggests:
Share love, give love, spread love.” Send it out into the world.

Really enjoy that cup of coffee or glass of wine with friends, and feel the connection between/among you (even if for now it’s on a zoom call); deeply feel time spent sharing a friend’s triumph or supporting and consoling them in challenging times; savor sitting on your deck or patio, listening to birdsong and watching white puffy clouds change shape in the blue sky. Feel the joy, compassion, connection. Feel the love, the Oneness. And send it out into the world. Day after day, month after month, season after season.

Yes, it can be done even during a pandemic. And no, it’s not Pollyanna-ish. Rather, I think it’s an excellent way we can tap into Oneness, and it’s also a means by which together we’ll co-create a global New Paradigm of Light and Peace.

And it can simply feel pretty damn good too! It can be soul nourishingmuch needed during these challenging times.

BTWI wonder if other intense emotions, like grief, also tap into Oneness. I would imagine yes. Maybe a positive emotion adds to the Oneness, and a painful emotion draws strength from the Oneness? Hmmm. I don’t know. At the very least, maybe an emotion like grief expresses our humanityif we didn’t love so intensely we wouldn’t grieve so intensely. I’d be interested in hearing what you think.

P.S. I’ve always been embarrassed by my propensity to cryviewed by this culture as being “weak.” But now, instead, I congratulate myself that I have this capacity to be sensitive and feel things so deeply that “I’m moved to tears.” As Brené Brown suggests, I give myself a “Permission Slip”4 to be as sensitive as I am. To be authentically me.

Permission Slips can be for anything, like I give myself permission to: be imperfect, say No (or Yes), take care of myself, love my body, have fun, be courageous, be silly, be serious, be sensitive—whatever might stand in the way of our authenticity. Try it. Write out your permission statement on a small piece of paper, and tuck it in your pocket to remind you that it’s OK to be who you are. Or use this Permission Slip card deck5 and let your inner-knowing guide you to pull the card you most need to practice. Have some fun with it!


1 “A New Level of Mastery” on the DailyOM website.

2 Brene Brown. I recommend you start by watching her TED Talks, and then reading her books, especially “The Gifts of Imperfection.” And check out her websitelots of cool downloads.

3 Seasons of Love youtube video with lyrics. I suggest you google and listen to other youtube performances of this powerful song, like this fun university cafeteria flashmob rendition. Or this one (with flashes of scenes from the movie version) that may get you thinking about your seasons of love.

4 How to Give Yourself Permission to Succeed a description by M. Shannon Hernandez.

5 Permission Slip Card Deck by “soulpreneur” Ayesha Hilton. I just ordered them for myself. They sound pretty cool.

4 thoughts

  1. Hi Nancy! Great post. I am a crier too. I need to let the tears out and then I am okay. Not bottling up for me. Thank you for sharing the Permission Slip Card Deck. I am working on a new one right now for spiritual entreprneurs!


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