While checking out at a grocery store I noticed that a cashier had an unusual tattoo on her forearm. “What is that tattoo?” I asked Ciani. She smiled. “It’s a copy of the EKG of my grandmother’s last heartbeat.”
Suddenly the checkout process faded to background. I wanted to hear more.
“I loved my grandma very much, and I was with her in the hospital at her last moment,” Ciani went on. “As a memory of our connection, I asked the nurse for a printout of her EKG, and I had it turned into a tattoo. Whenever I look at it, it reminds me of her and I feel close to her.”
As I drove home, I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. It jogged me to consider the value of one heartbeat. Our heart beats about 100,000 times per day and 34 million times in a year. We generally go about our business taking our heartbeats for granted. Yet I’m sure that as Ciani sat with her grandma on the threshold of her passing, she and her family would have given anything for those heartbeats to go on. In that moment one heartbeat meant everything.
One day all of our hearts will stop beating, but while they still pulse we would do well to count them all as precious. Every heartbeat represents God’s intention that you have a purpose in the world and a reason to be alive. While many of us believe we are here to achieve a notable act or make lots of money, our real mission is based on the quality of our relationships. At the end of our life it is not our time in the office we will remember, but the meaningful moments with our family and loved ones. Let’s not wait until our dear ones are gone or almost gone to honor and celebrate them. Let’s tell them, “I love you” and do things to demonstrate that love while they are with us.
You might believe that there are things you have to do that are necessarily boring or annoying, and you just have to put up with them and wait until you have some free time to enjoy yourself. Yet if your intention is to live fully, you can turn any situation into a platform for aliveness through connection.
During a shuttle bus ride from an airport to a rental car outlet, I found the van driver to be delightful. This woman was super welcoming, upbeat, and helpful. She joked with the customers and made the ride a pleasure rather than drudgery. I was so moved by the driver that I sent her manager an email complimenting her. The next time I arrived at that airport I encountered the same driver, and I told her I had sent a positive note on her behalf. Hearing that, she lit up and told me she had printed out that email, framed it, and hung it on the comwall of her home. The email took me but a few minutes to write, but its effect extended far beyond words.
A Course in Miracles tells us that the quickest route to enlightenment is to make the most of our interpersonal connections. While being with people can be annoying, it can also be exhilarating and healing. A Jewish friend of mine went to the airport to pick up a revered rabbi who was giving a presentation at the local synagogue. As the two were driving toward the exit of the airport parking lot, the driver was trying to decide whether to go through an automatic toll payment lane or a lane staffed by a person. The rabbi told my friend, “Let’s go through the lane with a person. The Creator gave us each other as gifts to enhance our lives, and we must never miss the opportunity to connect.”
The next time I went back to the grocery store I asked Ciani how she liked her job. “It’s pretty good,” she answered, “but sometimes I get bored.” I told her that I was really impressed by her story about her tattoo and I wanted to write an article about it, hopefully to inspire others to value their meaningful relationships. I asked her if I could use her story for that purpose. “Now that would be exciting!” she replied.
When we do things meaningful to us, we set into motion a ripple of positive events that moves everyone it touches. Ciani’s grandmother loved her immensely, which stimulated Ciani to get the tattoo as a memento. I was touched by seeing the tattoo and inspired to write about it. The idea of the article uplifted Ciani and suddenly her job become exciting. Perhaps reading this will inspire you to value your relationships and express your love to someone or take a mundane situation and lift it to soul reward. A Course in Miracles tells us that when you do an act of kindness, it may go on to touch thousands of people you never even meet. Behold the value of one heartbeat.
Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including the new bestselling The Tao Made Easy: Timeless Wisdom to Navigate a Changing World. Join Alan in Hawaii this December 2-7 for his life-changing seminar Transformer Training to develop your skills and/or career as a teacher, healer, or leader. For more information about this program, Alan’s books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com.