A couple of years ago I was in a leadership program. One of the leaders cornered me. She said ‘stop what you’re doing; stop this bullshit, the story you’re telling yourself.’ She asked, ‘what is the real question for you about?’ And I said ‘choosing life’.
She said, ‘do you choose life, are you ready?’ I was 46 years old and I said yes. I am choosing life.
It didn’t happen overnight, I didn’t say the yes lightly. It was a process of choosing, having felt like I was given life but I never asked for it. It started as I moved into believing that I might as well make the best out of it. Then it was a shift into ‘the positive zone’, as I call it. Finally it was choosing life.
For me that pivotal decision is the one that enables all the others. It’s the one question.
It doesn’t mean that life, all of a sudden, is all rosy and that there’s no pain in it. But it’s the axiom around which things organize themselves, around which I lead my life. I’m not a victim of my life, at least not anymore. And I choose to lead my life in a positive way even in the painful moments.
It means also that I choose to look for what works, to look for the laughter and the joy and I so clearly see that what you look for, you find. It means choosing to laugh, choosing to hug, choosing to be positive as much as possible.
When I lost my two brothers, both times I thought ‘why not me?’ If this had to happen to our family then I would have been a better choice to go, because I was not as connected to life as they were. Not that anybody deserves to go. My father asked why didn’t he go? It’s something that parents feel strongly when they lose a child. For me I felt that my first brother was a very happy person in spite of a physical handicap and my second brother, he left 2 daughters and a loving wife.
Arnaud was a late bloomer. He was 28 when he died but he didn’t marry yet. He was in the Lockerbie plane crash. Yves was 42 and he had an infection that turned into septicemia. It was medical negligence. A very unfortunate meeting between a strong bacteria and a weak doctor; leaving behind his wife and his daughters who were only 2 and 8 years old.
Why it wasn’t me? I don’t know. Was is my karma to stay here and theirs not? I don’t understand but I guess I do have a job to do here.
I’m not sure there will be an understanding of why them or why not me or why anybody. I think it’s one of the humbling messages is that it just is, this is what it is.
And the question is what do I do with it? I’m sure there could have been other ways to learn the lesson; I don’t like the approach that this is the reason they died, so I could learn a lesson.
But they died and for me the biggest lesson is to live life fully and reach out to be in life. And that’s why I chose life. That’s why I chose to work with people.
I want to say something about my name, my connection to the meaning of my name. I chose not to have children in spite of being motherly and ‘the family kind’. I finally recently reconnected with the origin of my name, it comes the Latin word for ‘birth’, ‘native’, natalis. Now I feel that helping people live their lives is somewhat giving birth or assisting like a midwife for people giving birth to their own dreams, their connection to their own life.
Even if it’s in times of the immense grief of losing someone or losing life; there’s choosing to do, there’s creation there. There’s choosing life even when you are about to lose it.
That’s why I dance. It’s such a gift.
I actually danced after my first brother died. We buried him after 2 weeks, we had to wait until they found and identified his body. It was a different kind of order of burial and mourning.
They needed fingerprints to identify his body, so we went to his home. At some point I went downstairs and I put on music. I remember the song that I would loop and loop, ‘She comes from love’. I just kept dancing and dancing the same song over and over. And there was a moment where I wondered, is it okay to dance? My brother just died but feeling that this is what I need now, this is the way I’m grieving my brother. And the song is about love and coming from love.
I feel like it took me a long time to really find my dance in this life, and I feel privileged to have found it. To be connected with my own inside, my body to the dance, to the music and the centrality of the life that’s inside.
I have always wanted to reach out to people, whether refugees in post-conflict areas working in Kosovo, Angola, Haiti and South Tel Aviv. I really feel like everybody deserves to connect with their own body, their own life and their own sense of self to reach their full potential.
I feel like life is now. We don’t know what happens in the next moment. And living guilt or lies or loneliness is just wasting it.
Nathalie Rubin helps people live their full potential through leadership coaching and life-dancing. She can be contacted here: http://www.live-now.co.il