Life Work


Think of a single word that sums up your values. A recent book asked that. I can't remember the name of the author and it has gone back to the library! However, it is a really useful question.

I looked at Hallmark words like peace or love. Then integrity, always a key one for me. But they were all partial. They lacked vitality. Not one encompassed my take in life. Peace is a wonderful word and one I repeat to myself many times a day. But it has to be balanced by action, otherwise I would be a zombie. St. Paul tells us love is the key, but how does it help when I am buying a car?

So to find a common denominator that would work across the board, I kept on reducing until what was left was life itself. Not a faint breath, but the enormous arc of life. The pulsing intelligence that lies behind creation. The tenacity that pushes a seedling to cling to a rock face and grow. The knowing trust of a newborn calf nuzzling for milk. The thrumming life that a teenager feels beating through their body as they lie on the earth.

Life crashes like thunder or lies like a milky lake at sunset. Life is joy, running into Mike's arms after separation, grief at parting. Life is triumphant. Bigger than I, but knowing I am one note in its song is enough for a lifetime.

The life force carries the wisdom of the universe, but the word has no juice, sounding flaccid – like a still life. Prana would be the better word, catching the force and flow of life itself as it pulses through our veins.

Pausing for moments to savour prana, I realize how punitive my Anglican childhood understanding was. Life was a trudge, hopefully with a passing grade on Judgment Day. Not much fun – in fact, pleasure, like sex, was disapproved of.

So now my question is: does each action grow life or stifle it? And the answer is changing my choices and, hopefully, my survival.


Everything that was, is, or shall be, is nothing but the different modes of expression of the universal force. universal prana is thus the Para-Prakiti (pure Nature), immanent energy or force which is derived from the infinite Spirit, and which permeates and sustains the universe. ~ Yogananda


About UntraveledRoads

Fascinated by life, looking for answers to chronic pain and finding unexpected gifts. Interested in people, ideas, healing and humour. I am very happily married with three children and a kitten. As English born immigrants to Canada, we have family spread overseas, a daughter in South Africa and one in England. We also run a charity in South Africa to educate black, rural South African Women. Our first girl from a rural township has just graduated as an accountant from Johannesburg University and got a good job in a bank.
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