Is Awakening Optional?
by Remi Valois
On February 7, 2016, while we were away on an unplanned, unexpected holiday in Maui, Hawaii, we received a phone call at 5:00 am from the Saskatoon police informing us that our home (including my in-home business) had been destroyed by fire. It was determined by the authorities to be a “total loss.” All our material possessions, all our memories, everything was gone in a flash! We came back with only the clothes on our backs. Thankfully, no one was home at that time.
This was the catalyst that really brought on an awakening for me. Call it what you may—spiritual, mental, physical, financial, and material—it was all of the above.
Every time we tried to help our insurance company to save time and money on our policy, it seemed it would be used against us. They knew from experience that we were in a vulnerable state of mind. If we did not ask them the right questions, no relevant information was provided to us. We were told that every case is assessed and calculated on an individual basis. It seemed to me this depended on our personal, economic, educational, and social status as determined by the insurance company. I felt as though we were assessed on the low end of the chart.
Two and a half years later, the insurance company basically said, “You should be happy. You have a nice new house!” Yes, I agree, we do, but we had a very nice home before. We had a life prior to the fire. Now we have a new home and a new life. Thankfully, we have the opportunity to start a new and better life in every aspect.
I could go on and on and stay in the victim mode and become bitter and depressed. Fortunately, we chose not to go down that path. We stood our ground. We won more battles than we lost and we held our heads high. We learned a lot and had good people supporting and helping us when we were at our lowest.
The strangest things then began to happen. Complete strangers would appear during our low times. I now call these people “Angels.” They would tell us important information that we needed to know at crucial times to make rational decisions. The right people came to our aid: building contractors, designers, trades people, etc.
There were messages in journals, books, and in the media that seemed to speak directly to me at specific moments that were inspiring. The more I realized and acknowledged these messages, the stronger they came. It was like the “Footprints in the Sand” poem. My faith became stronger, our belief in a higher presence was something I could actually sense and feel. It is hard to explain in words, yet I am sure other people who have been in similar situations would understand.
A memorable event happened one evening as I was digging dirt for landscaping. I don’t know how many holes and ditches I dug and later had to fill back up because I really did not know what I was doing. A stranger came by and asked me if he could help! “Sure,” I said, and handed him another shovel. He said he was a farmer from India, visiting his son-in-law and daughter who were living in Canada. His English was not the best but we managed. He told me he would come back tomorrow to help me again. He came back nearly every day for the next two months. Without his help the landscaping would not have been completed that summer.
He invited me to his home and family in the province of Gujarat in India. It seemed improbable that I would go to India. I thought it sounded exotic, an adventure you only dream about. I had been working and struggling for two years to rebuild a home and stabilize some normalcy for myself and my family, without taking any time off. As I researched about his location in India, I found out that this is where Gandhi was born and spent time helping India reclaim their country from British colonization. It was also the birth place of the Hindu god Krishna.
Again, I was following my spirit into the unknown and I had faith that it was meant to be. I believed there was a reason that this was happening. Off I went flying to Mumbai, then to Ahmedabad, and later driving to his small farming village near the city of Rajula. The province of Gujarat is on the southern west coast of India on the Arabian Sea. It was like going back in time a thousand years. It is really unimaginable unless you see it for yourself. Everyone who is able should travel to India at least once, and to other Third World countries to experience other cultures.
On my journey in India, I visited Gandhi’s Ashram and museums, many ancient and new temples, and met many people. In a country of 1.7 billion, I found that people who had the least were the friendliest and happiest I ever met. For them, just waking up everyday and being alive is a gift.
I will forever be grateful to all the people and angels that I met. It was one of the most challenging things I have done in my life and possibly the most rewarding. I was introduced there as Mr. Remi from Canada, physiotherapy doctor! In the beginning, I would try to correct them that I was a massage therapist, but as with most places in the world, “massage” has many different meanings. For me, however, I was allowed to apply hands-on therapy to men and women (as long as there was someone in attendance), and I needed a translator to understand their symptoms. This allowed me to feel I was contributing in a capacity that was helping and educating people about hands-on massage therapy.
I am grateful and aware as I now realize what we lost and what we now have, this is so much more compared to what 90 percent of our world’s people have. As I asked at the beginning, “Is awakening optional? Do we have a choice?” I believe if you are on that path and searching for it, you will find it. For some people it chooses them, most often during a tragedy or life-altering event. Then you have a choice to awaken or stay unconscious. If you choose to awaken, it is not all bliss and wonderful, it comes with new responsibilities and awareness of injustices, corruption, and wrongs in the world. You will feel empathy when you encounter these things. You will force yourself to take a stand toward peace and fairness, to help others; and you will gather more support, strength, and confidence.
Everyday I think about the prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi. It says, in part, “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
Remi Valois is a registered massage therapist (RMT) in Saskatoon offering massage therapy, laser therapy, cupping, colon hydrotherapy, and other modalities in his new clinic. His new home also has an airbnb health retreat suite where people can stay for extended periods for therapy, including catered organic meals. To contact him, call/text 306-683-1986, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www.valoismassage.ca.