Life and Death


I have recently experienced the death of someone close to me.  The suddenness of this loss reminds me how fragile life is. 

My concerns, thoughts, and worries had certainly not been on this ‘healthy’ person. I had been preparing for others close to me to  make this transition, contemplating how their passing would affect my life.  Not Tom.  Tom was slow, steady, strong.  He was here for the long haul.  

Now, immersed in Tom’s personal papers, his things, awash in stories and memories of what he meant to people, I am reminded of the significance of every moment we live.

I don’t, however, want to write about his life.  I am writing about life.  What do we do with it?  We have it for some unspecified amount of time.  We share it with some people in a deep way, with others in a more superficial way, and somehow - albeit unknown - we share it with those billions of people who are here for the same moment we are but whom we will never meet.

Intention has been the theme of my life and my practice in recent years - knowing why, in every moment, I do and say the things I do.  But what’s the grand intention?  Is there a purpose to life?  To my life?  To your life?  I believe it is up to each of us.  We get to decide.

Cosmological physicist Brian Swimme says:

“At the very, very beginning, the universe comes into existence and these various forms of matter experience an attraction for each other. So that very attraction is what gave rise to our existence in our consciousness. In a way, the purpose of human beings is to reflect love, is to be self-aware of love, is to be conscious about love, is to be that conscious expression of love, as far as we know, in the universe.”

If you knew you had a short time to live, would you spend that time being angry at someone for cutting you off on the highway?  Or holding a grudge with your friend for forgetting to send a birthday card?  Would you spend it judging people for how they eat?  Or holding off saying something important?  Or would you choose to spend your time left cherishing every minute?  And if you chose to cherish every moment, what would you be doing? How would you being doing it, and with whom?

I encourage you to give these questions some thought, some energy, some action.  Why put it off?  For every moment you are alive, know your intentions and act on them.  For yourself, and for those you will leave behind.  

This poem by Dawna Markova, offers me inspiration and describes the grand intention for my life, which I consciously choose in every moment that I can remember.   What’s yours?

I will not live an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live,
so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.