There is an Asian philosophy which encourages reflection on serenity, the deeper meaning of life, even the beauty of its passing. This sort of reflection certainly appeals most strongly to left brain dominant introverts, the ones who live inside our own minds and who seek a deeper meaning in the people and events that swirl around us in chaos. We don’t have a choice in the matter; it’s how we’re wired. I’m not sure whether its a blessing or something else, but it’s never dull nor shallow.
I study things, people, events, because that’s unquestionably more interesting than gossip or television shows or parties. I would rather think about where lightening originates and what was the fuel for the “big bang” if there was no universe to provide fuel, or what makes a person behave in certain ways, than waste brain time on trivia. Obviously I’m not usually the life of the party and that’s okay. There is a world of unanswerable questions and beautiful conundrums to contemplate, and challenges which can never be bested…at least not in this lifetime, or dimension. You choose.
I buried my mother last week. You can’t prepare for that, even if you understand the course ahead of you, even if you know the suffering will end, even if your mother is tired and ready to go. You can’t prepare. But if you slow down and think, you realize there is beauty in the end of life which may be more spectacular than its beginning or even the rises and falls within it. There is no question that suffering is the worst image of humanity we ever see, particularly when it is a loved one who suffers, but when the bond between the physical world is released to that of the spiritual one, there is a peacefulness and beauty not seen at any other time in life in my observation. And I think it is beautiful because leaving the place where, upon entry you immediately begin to die, to a place where your sprit is released from physical degradation to unity with the universe, is unimaginably exciting. That’s part of it.
I have been at the bedside of several loved ones and good friends as they passed on to the next dimension. There is great honor to be able to stand beside someone you love as they leave, to witness their going, to stand guard for them, as it were. It is frightening to contemplate ending until you realize that the spirit does not end; it goes somewhere else but it does not end. It is the greatest contradiction of which I know, to feel such pain and confusion and beauty simultaneously. And yet, there it is, every time.
As my first grandchild was born, I held my daughter’s hand and for a split second I was in the past as my child was born, and in the present as her child was born. It was as though for some segment of a second, I was not in my body, but elsewhere, observing the passing of time from a distance and obviously not sequentially. It was past and present at once. As my mother passed, I was pulled all the way back to early childhood, feeling the panic I felt as a little girl when my mommy walked away from me, and yet I was an adult mourning my loss now. These events remind me that we live within our reality, but not necessarily THE reality. There is a perspective we simply cannot see clearly from our point of reference.
I am reading a book about people who experienced death, called “near death”, but I disagree. It’s death. It’s brief, not permanent death, but it is death. In any case, without fail these people describe time as being nothing like what we experience in life. I know. I get that. I’ve felt a hint of it three times now. And there’s another extended time ahead of me. Nobody gets out alive.
I try to feel better about never being able to see my mother’s face again, or touch her, or hear her voice in conversation. I know I will never stop missing her. I can say that falling leaves of Fall are never so beautiful as they cling to the tree throughout Spring and Summer. I can say that there is great beauty in the fallen leaf as it wafts to the ground, coming to rest atop other fallen leaves waiting to decompose and contribute to the circle of life. I can try to convince myself to feel okay about death being a part of life. It doesn’t work. Pain is what I feel. I grieve. And yet, great grief is a sign of great love. There is love in grief and beauty in the fallen leaf.