Day 122 – Don’t wait!
It’s clear to me that a spiritual journey, such as one practicing Buddhism, opens up the road towards accepting life and death without having to wait for the death sentence of AIDS or the terminal diagnosis of cancer to suddenly appreciate life and realize what really matters to you.
For many people these diagnoses are the only chance in their life that they get to really start living, to see life and death for what they really are. Lucky are the few who never have to face the diseases that kill them, that simply die of old age one night in their sleep. Or are they…?
I don’t want to wait to find out.
What good is living if you don’t understand that you’re dying? That every breath you take is one of your last in this incarnation as a human on this planet?
Thinking about how I’ve lived my life over the last 30+ years I don’t believe my ignorance about dying has helped me one little bit.
Now, every breath I take that reminds me I’m dying right here, right now, is a breath that I cherish and investigate and question. I want to feel it, to experience it, to encourage it for I never know if I’ll get to take another until I breathe in once again.
However, I don’t walk around every minute of every day remembering I’m dying. I’m nowhere near to that yet. But I am grateful for the times that I do remember and don’t take life for granted, whether that reminder is in the death of an elder, the already maimed and skinny bodies of baby kittens unlikely to live through the next few months, or simply the drop of flower petals onto the grass in my garden. These reminders help me to remember that just because I’m young and human that doesn’t mean I’m immortal (although many could be forgiven for thinking so).
This clarity is what keeps me going in my practice. It keeps me striving for more insight and truth, for more mindfulness, peace and silence in my life so I can enjoy the vibrations of this planet rather than just be another one.
I am noticing more and more that as I allow myself to tap into these vibrations through practice my mind continues to open up.
Just tonight I realized that the gaps between a thought and my mindfulness practice have shrunk considerably as I sat bristling at a fellow classmate in Spanish class.
He is an extrovert, always late for class and ready to start-up a long discussion with the teacher about something that the rest of us can barely follow. Either he should be in another class or I should be in a lower one, but whatever the problem I bristled as he tried to divert the conversation back to something he could dominate the class with, yet again. Then I stuck out my bottom lip in a pout as a quick reaction that allowed me not to take things so seriously.
It reminded me to remain equanimous in a moment where I could feel my heart turn cold and contract. Just simply sticking out my bottom lip whisked me back to beginners’ mind in a flash and later tonight I realized that part of my frustration and annoyance with this person is actually misguided frustration with myself.
I’m not able to converse in Spanish as easily as my classmate, so whenever he takes over the class I can do nothing to bring the discussion back to everyone. I also get frustrated because I cannot control the class as the language teacher in me wishes to do. So much of what I feel in that class is my inability to let go and allow things to be as they are.
Clarity that wouldn’t have been achieved sitting at home on my own. Clarity that wouldn’t have been achieved without my sitting practice. Clarity that makes me thankful that I’ve taken this spiritual journey where there is no turning back, for once I learn something new and useful the path grows wider not only before me, but also behind me, meaning that even if I was to turn back the path could never again return to the way it was when I first passed over it.
Impermanence. It’s time to embrace it. I’m in for the long haul. I’m in it for eternity. That is clarity.
- Mindfulness: The practice of being “here” | 43 Folders (43folders.com)
- Jeanne Dennis: Destigmatizing Death and Dying Through Social Media (huffingtonpost.com)