I went to a Jesuit college. I loved my college experience there and the connections and friends I made. One connection still stands out in my mind.
I was struggling with my parents separation and divorce my junior year of college. I ran into this man, who I had met during freshman year orientation. Amazingly, when I ran into him, he remembered my name from 2 years earlier. I told him that I'd like to talk to him and that I was having some personal struggles.
Over the next several months and into my senior year, I met with him every couple of weeks for lunch. I loved our conversations. We talked about life, love, pain, God, heartache. He was surely a mentor to me. He taught yoga in one of the dorms on a weekly basis. He was fascinated with different religions - especially buddhism. He felt it brought him closer to God.
What is so amazing about this man, is that he was a Catholic priest. Yet he spoke so openly with me when I questioned God or my faith or religion. He didn't lecture me. He didn't judge me for questioning things. He had such an amazing perspective on life.
During my senior year over Christmas break, he took a trip to India. He went on retreat for a couple weeks there. He studied the buddhist way of life and the practice of meditation.
When he got back, he emailed me to get together. I went after class to visit him at the Jesuit's house. We sat and talked and talked. He told me all about his trip. We talked about the recent passing of the school's president (who my family was close with). I remember that day so clearly. We sat by a huge bay window and watched as snow came down. It was beautiful and peaceful.
I was mentioning that I had so much I should be doing. I should take a certain class. I should try accupuncture. I should, I should, I should. He smiled warmly and said "you need to stop shoulding on yourself." We both laughed. but it was true.
After we talked some more, he walked me to the door. He was worried about me walking on the wet sidewalk back to my dorm because I was wearing heels. I laughed and went on my way.
The next day, my roommate called my cell phone. She asked if I had checked my email. I hadn't yet. I knew something was wrong. I hung up and then got a phone call from one of the other Jesuits. The man I had just talked to the day before had passed away.
He was in his late 50's and the trip to India had just been too much for his already damaged heart.
I still think of him often. Recently, I have been remembering everything I need to do. I should write the dozens of thank you notes. I should eat healthier. I should call friends back more timely. I should keep in touch better. I should, I should, I should. And then that little voice pops into my head, his voice, and I remember, I need to stop shoulding on myself.
Instead, I will focus on the fact that I can and will get stuff done. I will work on making progress. Because shoulding only creates guilt. Willing myself creates motivation.