After learning that I died and received a long period of CPR, many people have asked if I experienced “the tunnel” or “the light.”  At some point in the darkness I did.  And it was vast.   It was peaceful – wondrous. More importantly, however, was not the experience of drifting through an unending realm of light – and amongst a field of gigantic and prophetic words that were floating, falling past me – but rather the light which I came back to, the light which emanated from the faces of my family, my friends, and the light radiating from the ‘every days’ of my life which have followed that experience.

Aldous Huxley said, “Experience is not what happens to a man: it is what a man does with what happens to him.” We get to choose.  We can remain our experiences or we can use them to reimagine our lives.  We can remain in our traumas, our “near death experiences,” our losses, our rejections.  We can remain bound to our troubling childhoods, our periods of self-doubt, our encounters with uncertainty and bewilderment, or,  we can become enriched and strengthened by experiences in ways that enable us to embrace the beauty that can be found in our current moments and the hopes and dreams we have for our futures.

The day before I died, I wrote a prayer to the universe in a journal.  I was discouraged, depressed, uncertain of a path forward.  After having become breathless while jogging and scheduled for a routine diagnostic angiogram I wrote, “…please let me wake up from the procedure tomorrow a changed man, a man with a differing view of my life.”  Twenty-two hours after having written this ‘prayer’ I died. My family was told that if I was resuscitated it was speculated that I could have neither brain or physical function.

Days later I did wake up, I did have the great fortune of coming home with not only thoughts and the ability to move, but with a dramatically shifted view of my life.  I was given the gift to become reacquainted with the richness of the people and world around me; to become reacquainted with life in all its beauty, in all of its sadness, challenges, losses, and gains, and the gift of an awareness of a life filled with the thousands of individual moments that go into the construction of an ordinary day.

I now spend my days working as an artist; I write, I wallow in the treasures found in mindfulness, and I share –  as I can – ideas about letting go of the past and reimagining our lives.  I share – as I can – the restorative benefits of finding gratitude, of shedding doubts, fears, perceived injustices, and ideas about how to let go of the negative narratives which can have such debilitating power over our souls and the lives of others.

Educationally I have a Master’s degree in Social Work and I studied art and design during in my undergraduate years.  While my career focused on the field of child welfare – specifically the issues of child abuse and neglect and the treatment of loss and grief issues – I have pursued, over the course of my life, my interests as an artist and a writer.

I hope you’ll join me as I and contributors to Reimagining Our Lives consider the lessons and gifts to be found in an ordinary day, thoughts about letting go of the things that are so often dragging us through the clouded dust of a yesterday, and as we share ideas about how we can rewrite those parts of our stories that prevent us from living the bountiful and creative lives that are available to us.

We all have stories in our hearts that have the potential to impact the lives of other people. If you would like to be a contributor please contact me.

My book, Parentheses, A Memoir of my life before, during, and after my death is available on Amazon.

Contact Reimagining Our Lives : f.hswan@q.com

Image: Encaustic on masa paper boats by Fred Swan for an installation titled: “River of Souls” 2017