Trust and Death
i've been thinking about death a lot lately. i'm not sure why, really. maybe it's because my mom's 73rd birthday would have been August 21st and that always brings up memories of her death as well as her life. i did, however, recently listen to a very moving episode of Radiolab (a radio show i highly recommend) called "The Bitter End" which was all about how we want to die - the quality of our death - and, ultimately, how many of us are deeply uncomfortable with even talking about it. and the truth is, everything dies. It will happen… to all of us, to everything around us. even seemingly eternal objects like mountains and skyscrapers, our planet, the sun… will eventually die. (i highly recommend reading The World Without Us if you want to learn more about this fascinating topic.) you may think i'm being morbid by bringing this up, but it's absolutely timely for this month's theme of Trust. i mean, isn't the ultimate moment of Trust when we take our last breath on this earth, stepping into the new frontier which lies beyond this life?
it's generally accepted in our culture that we're being morbid when we talk about death, but morbidity actually has nothing to do with death. the dictionary defines morbid as "psychologically unhealthy; susceptible to or characterized by preoccupation with unwholesome matters." so, really, death has nothing to do with being morbid or unwholesome; in fact, being with it and trusting the eventual end of life as we know it - however it comes - is perhaps the most wholesome thing we can do. what i think is that we're just really, really uncomfortable with it.
as i've been sitting with this whole conversation, i've come to realize that most of us walk around with a massive amount of discomfort almost all of the time, whether we're aware of it or not. during a recent meditation, i had an experience in which i got to see the immense amount of discomfort i create for myself on a daily, hourly, even minute-to-minute basis. i saw in minute detail all the ways in which i keep myself separate from others and out of the present moment by planning and worrying ("praying for disaster," as our friend Batul Trueheart calls it), regretting, wondering about different outcomes, over and over in a seemingly endless cycle. as i was witnessing this in myself, i realized that all of my discomfort stems from believing the illusion that i am separate from everyone and in doing all the things i do to prove that to myself. and that is utterly exhausting. no wonder i spent most of my life until recently chanting, "i'm tired." i was!
in noticing that i created all of these machinations in service to the ego and its attachment to fear, separation and judgment, i began to notice that doing anything other than being fully present in this moment right here, and this moment, and this one, was just my story. there truly is nothing to do, nowhere to get to and nothing to fix. it's kind of like being with death, which is always with us whether we like it or not. being with death, with someone who is dying, is the most powerful experience i've ever had in being fully present to the Now Moment. there was nowhere to go, nothing to do other than be with the one who was dying and trust the process.
you may also be asking, what does death have to do with getting that you matter? i say, it has everything to do with it. getting that you matter is about living your life to its fullest while you're here… remembering how amazing you are, that you have an impact on the world around you, bringing your dreams to light and making the greatest contributions to the world you possibly can - regardless of what they are. but consider that most of us believe we're far more "comfortable" not doing that. it can be really scary to look - really look - at our impact and all the ways it manifests… in our relationships to ourselves and others, in how we treat the planet with our everyday choices and actions, in our willingness to set aside our own wants for the good of the whole. it feels uncomfortable to grow! but consider that in trusting that we're going to grow, stretch and die whether we want to or not lies our freedom.
if, indeed, the only thing that is real is Love, then anything else is an illusion we create to keep ourselves from being responsible for the fact that we are the creators of our lives as they are in every moment. wrapping our minds around that fact can be very uncomfortable, especially if we've given ourselves experiences which we judge as unhappy, separate or unfulfilling. so the question is, can we just be with the discomfort of all the stories we tell ourselves of anything other than Love, bear witness to them, and then let them go? can we trust Life that much?
perhaps Trust has more to do with giving up the illusion that we're separate and stepping fully into taking responsibility for the fact that we are part of the whole. if it's all inseparable, how can we love and care for ourselves and love and care for the Whole at the same time, remembering that caring for the whole is caring for ourselves and visa versa? perhaps trusting that there is no separation gives us a great opportunity to remember that every thought, word and deed has an indelible impact on everything around us. perhaps humanity's finest hour lies in our trusting that we get to remember who we really are, give up our illusions of separation, and love and be loved regardless of what we've done. if we can do that, perhaps we can even trust that Oneness is all there is.