As a new mother, with a toddler, and pregnant with my second child, the first university subject that I ever studied was ominously titled 'Death and Dying'. Which was tragically timed, as I started the course the day that my beloved Nonno passed away, with me 5 months pregnant, and staring at a seemingly insurmountable mountain of literature on death.
It could not have come at a worse time - but it also couldn't have come at a better time. That short course was instrumental in my life-long exploration of how to live my best life, with the knowledge that life is finite. It cannot go on forever, and therefore, how can I make the best use of my time here?
And perhaps that was what originally planted the tiny seed of thought that school was not the place where I wanted our children to spend their entire childhood.
In the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying , Sogyal Rinpoche (1992) talks about the Buddhist idea that impermanence is the only constant in life. And the idea that we should be living our lives every day with the knowledge that life is not a permanent state, but something that will eventually come to an end. Although I am sure that Rinpoche was not thinking about home education when he wrote this book, the thought has planted itself in the middle of my life and everything that I have done from that point onwards.
Living life like we are going to die lends incredible clarity to everything that we do and the decisions that we make.
In a similar way that some cancer survivors talk about cancer being their 'greatest teacher', recognising and really consciously thinking about the impermanence of life, can make every decision easier. Consciously and habitually recognising that at some point, at the end of our lives, we will be reflecting on the decisions that make up the tapestry of our lives, helps us to really sort the unimportant from what is vitally important.
At the end of our days, are we going to be reminiscing about the extra hours that we spent working overtime at the office, or be grateful for the hours that we spent at the beach with our children? Will we be stressing about the kind of curriculum that we chose (if any), or will we be grateful that we spent the time with our children that could have otherwise been wiled away in a classroom? Will we care about the money or lack of money that we had at certain points in time, or wishing that we had taken better care of our health when we had the choice to do so?
Life is full of decisions every single day. And each of those decisions is influenced by your thoughts and beliefs.
What you feel capable of. What you feel is the most important priority in your life. What you think other people will say about your decisions, and a million other things. But the one constant is knowing that we will not be making these decisions forever - and this knowledge is the ticket to absolute freedom.
Because it means that you have every reason to deviate from the beaten track.
To take big swerves.
To try new things.
To put yourself and your family first. Because it is your life and you are in the driver's seat.
So you can be brave and courageous in forging your own path.
And this is perhaps the greatest freedom of all.
'Artist Mum' is a writer, university tutor, musician, artist, life coach and unschool advocate who has worked with over 700 women to change the way that they live their lives. Artist Mum also runs 'Start Homeschooling Australia' and 'Teen Homeschooling Australia' supporting families to educate from home. She is raising her 4 children (one now an adult!) with 'Musician husband'. Now living by the seaside, building a growing tribe and working towards a more equitable and sustainable way of living.
*this blog is a collation of multiple websites over the years. Please be patient as posts are moved over here. It shouldn't take too long :-)