It’s not that I’m afraid to die.
I just don’t want to be there when it happens.
When I was growing up, Halloween was All Souls Day. Parties, costumes and candy had absolutely nothing to do with it. The closest it came to partying was how we had to hang out with relatives at the cemetery, saying hello to the families in the grave next door as we cleaned up family plots in honor of our dear departed. I have no doubt I would have much preferred trick or treat.
From Pema Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart”:
We are raised in a culture that fears death and hides it from us. Nevertheless, we experience it all the time. We experience it in the form of disappointment, in the form of things not working out. We experience it in the form of things always being in the process of change. When the day ends, when the second ends, when we breathe out, that’s death in everyday life.
Death in everyday life can also be defined as experiencing all the things we don’t want. Our marriage isn’t working; our job isn’t coming together. Having a relationship with death in everyday life means that we begin to be able to wait, to relax with insecurity, with panic, with embarrassment, with things, not working out. Time passing is as natural as the seasons changing and day turning into night. But getting old, getting sick losing what we love–we don’t see these events as natural occurrences. We want to ward off that sense of death, no matter what.
Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, to make friends with yourself, to not run away from yourself no matter what’s going on. Fear of death is the background of the whole thing. It’s why we feel restless, why we panic, why there’s anxiety. But if we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship, one that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death.
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From an awakened point of view, that’s life. Death is wanting to hold on to what you have to have every experience confirm you and congratulate you and make you feel completely together.
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© Sharon Birke
201 697 1947
Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother