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Pi, a Rainbow and a Nudist Beach

The movie 'Life of Pi' is the story of a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.

At one point, Pi, clearly feeling like he had reached the end of his rope yelled out to God, "I lost my parents, I lost everything what more do you want."  How often in life does this same thing happen to us, where we just want pack up and move on.  When we feel like we have exhausted every avenue possible.  Henry David Thoreau  once said, “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” When the storm clouds have a chance to clear out where logic can return do things begin to make sense again.  Pi says to the writer interviewing him, "Even when God seemed to have abandoned me, he was watching. Even when he seemed indifferent to my suffering, he was watching. And when I was beyond all hope of saving, he gave me rest. Then he gave me a sign to continue my journey." God has a master plan.  We have no control over what his plan is, all we can control is our thoughts and emotions as we embark along life's journey and try to understand the message.

I was particularly struck by the conversation between Pi and the writer at the end.  Pi says, "In both stories, the ship sinks, my family dies and I suffer. So which story do you prefer?"  The writer replies, "The one with the tiger. That’s the better story." which leaves Pi to reply, "Thank you. And so it goes with God."

This part of the movie intrigues me.  The story with the cook, his mom and him is the real, and more logical story even though the one with the tiger is visually stunning.  I realized that the movie was more than just about faith in God and survival. It was about how one’s imagination can work — when one’s faith is pushed to the limits.  And then, how a movie can bring all the thoughts that run through one’s mind into such a true and visual reality so that it goes beyond capturing one’s imagination to tug at the very heart of who we are and what we can be — in God’s time.

Just like his story, where neither version makes a difference to the ultimate outcome Pi says, "Faith is a house with many rooms."  The writer asks him in response, "But no room for doubt?" wherein Pi quickly responds, "Oh plenty, on every floor. Doubt is useful, it keeps faith a living thing. After all, you cannot know the strength of your faith until it is tested."

In November I received test results that left me with more unknowns regarding my health.  Being a student of mindfulness, I understand how powerful the mind can be and the trip already booked for the middle of November proved to be perfect timing: the chance to get away, unplug, defrag and reboot my body and give it some much deserved rest.

I showed up at the airport, bags pack ready to go.  After a long delay at customs, I missed my flight and my cruise.  Devastated, confused, scared and alone.  I regrouped and decided since my bags were packed, I was going somewhere else.  So I decided to go to Cuba.

After a very long day of travel and a stiff drink, I tucked myself into bed at my Cuban resort.  Unable to shut my mind off I came to the realization that failing is OK.  Failing is what makes us grow, it makes us stronger and more resilient to the aspects of life we have no control over. If we let fear take control of us, it will make makes us stagnant and sad.   I finally fell asleep thinking about the people I hold close to my heart because that brings me more gratitude than anything else.

I awoke the next morning to a brilliant sunrise.  I forgot to close the curtains the night before, so although the wake up was earlier than I would have preferred, I could not think of a better way to be greeted by the new day.  After getting myself ready and heading out to find the beach I was filled with a renewed feeling of gratitude and opportunity.  So fortunate to have been able to change my plans at the drop of a hat and still have the chance to get away. As I turned the corner, directly in front of me was the beach and there was a stunning rainbow, it was a perfect picture that stopped me dead in my tracks. A sign from God to keep going?  I was amazed at the wonder of life.  A few steps later I was standing on the beach, sun beating down on my head, to my right the beach stretched for as far as the eye could see and to my left a nudist beach.  God has a sense of humour as well.

If you feel lost, just take a deep breath and realize that being lost can be a turning point of finding out who you truly are, and what you truly want to do.  I struggle, I feel lost at times. I’ve cried and I’ve felt embarrassed. I’ve felt like a failure and I’ve felt pity from others and from myself. But I’m at peace with myself every day.  Life is amazing. I believe we’re here to find happiness, and when we do, to share it with everyone we meet.

So even though I can’t see the future as clearly as before, every day I take the plunge in hopes that in the depths of fear, I will come out feeling more alive than ever before.  So don’t be afraid to lose yourself. The individual that comes out of the maze might just surprise you.

Kevin Cahill Guelph