Archive for the ‘Death’ Category
“So in this idea, then, everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality,
the deep down basic whatever there is—and you are all that.
Only you’re pretending you’re not.”
“Most people die with their music still locked up inside them.”
“And if the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy. Punch a higher floor.”
“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots. I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”
~Willa Cather, from My Antonia
“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
Remember what it feels like when you’re snowboarding, and you start to pick up just a little too much speed, on a slope that’s just a little too steep? First the nervousness, then the fear? And how your muscles start to tighten up, until you realize you’re in more trouble now, because the stiffer your limbs get the less control you have over them, making it much more likely that you’re going to crash? And how the only solution is to release, utterly, and to let your muscles relax, and to embrace the speed?
Do you remember that?
Good. Now, release into your life.
The distinction between past, present and
future is only an illusion, however persistent.
Modern physics tells us that time does not “move” forward. Instead, time, like space, simply is. To us humans who cannot help but perceive our lives as proceeding from yesterday to today to tomorrow, this is a mind-boggling concept. So let’s try to wrap some more words around it….
The laws of physics do not, indeed cannot, distinguish between an event in the “past” or an event in the “future.” In fact, these laws do not even distinguish between change which occurs “forward” in time or “backward” in time. The arrow of time exists only in our heads.
We humans insist that the past is gone, that only those things that can be perceived right now actually exist. Physics tells us, quite clearly, that though this is our perception, it is not reality. The reality is that everything, whether in the past, present or future, simply exists. Always. This is not wishful thinking. This is what hard science tells us is true, even if this truth, like other hard truths from science, seems patently absurd to our perceptions (like the fact that every atom making up all physical objects is mostly empty space, even though we perceive things as solid.)
Why am I harping on this this morning? Because this seemingly absurd description of reality comforts me. Because it means that nothing is ever lost, nothing ever dies. It means that we are still sitting at the dinner table in the old house on Wedgemere, even though you are long gone and the house has been sold away. It means that your infectious laugh is still ringing, even if my ears can no longer hear it.
“A man walking across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!”
Of all the money that e’er I had
I’ve spent it in good company
And all the harm that e’er I’ve done
Alas it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.
~from “The Parting Glass”
a traditional folk song from Ireland and Scotland
(Ed Sheeran sings an exquisite version)