I Am Already Dead

Metaphorically people, metaphorically.

But also at the same time, somehow literally too.

I worry.  It’s who I am, or at least who I’ve always been.  I worry that I don’t look good, I worry that I’ve hurt someone, I worry that people I love aren’t happy – the list is endless.  But sometimes (ok, often, ok, constantly) it gets out of control and every second is gut twisting, skin itching, nausea filled agony.

Then I have bursts of peace, literally little islands in the sea of insanity and they usually start with a thought about death.  Sound counterintuitive?  It used to be that the thought was of death itself; how sweet it would be to lie down and let all the turmoil drift away.  It was an intoxicating thought but dangerous and crippling.  Like a soporific it numbed my observation and kept me shackled.

After many years I realized that what looked and felt like running toward death was really a symptom of running away from it.  I was so worried about losing things that it literally consumed me.  I was so afraid of losing my job, my family, my friends, my standing, approval, etc. that the noise drowned out life.

When a former therapist used to repeatedly ask me “does it feel like you’re going to die?” I thought she was nuts.  And I still do a little.  She was asking if I was having anxiety attacks albeit in a subtle way.  I wasn’t and I didn’t realize how spot on she was while being spot off.

You see there are different kinds of death.  There’s the literal death that all of us experience, the one that is inevitable, inescapable, bone-crushingly final – and ultimately life saving.  Then there are the other deaths.  The death of our social construct self.  The death of ambition.  The death of dreams.

I’ve spent my whole life confusing the different kinds of death.  My therapist was right, it DID feel like I was dying – all the time.  Each time an important person in my life showed disappointment it felt so final.  Each time I failed at responsibility it felt so final.  Each time I contemplated calling in to work it felt like a sure path to ruination and destruction and death.  So I spent my whole life grasping at those things that we think make us worthy and dying each time one of them slipped through my fingers.

Then I realized I was confused.

Death is death.  These things are life paths and I was choosing and there is no moral imperative that I follow one above another.  If I want to work 80 hours a week and climb the corporate ladder that’s ok.  If I want to live in a travel trailer following renaissance faires where I sell feather boas that’s ok too.  If I want to do nothing but sit on a mountaintop watching cloud formations until the end that’s ok too.

My death will eventually come and it doesn’t matter if it happens in my bed or in a hospital or in a ditch, the outcome will be the same.  It doesn’t matter how many people love me, or respect me, or depend on me, or remember me, the outcome will be the same.  It doesn’t matter if I’m rich or poor, famous or unknown, good or bad, brave or coward, the outcome will be the same.

It’s only when we stop trying to build a hedge against death that we begin truly living.

So let’s live a life we love – because we’re already dead.

 

The Largesse of the Universe

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My New Mantra

Peace

Desiderata 

      Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
      and remember what peace there may be in silence.
      As far as possible without surrender
      be on good terms with all persons.
      Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
      and listen to others,
      even the dull and the ignorant;
      they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Scraps

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Grandmother’s Flower Garden

Perhaps I was born with an old woman’s soul.

This is my next creative project, a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

I’m already in love with it.

 

The Boat I Missed?

I think that perhaps if you should ever find yourself reading one of your old textbooks for pleasure it might be a sign.

My most favorite class ever was an Intro to Philosophy class I took at UNT.  I’m re-reading one of the books, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, for the third or fourth time.  Just fascinating.

Could there be a better job than moral philosopher?

Pipedream

Is it too much to ask that we collectively live an examined life?  Seriously?

 

Grief

There is no escaping grief.  Nor should we try.  To be human is to feel grief.

We live with the double-edged sword of awareness.  Awareness that we shall pass, that what we love shall pass, that it all will pass, and that time will continue none the more wearied or worried for our great grief.  We know that eternity endures and we do not.

And yet, we can only live our direct line of experience.  We can only fathom our current moment because every other moment has vaporized into the mist of nonexistent probability.  We can only see the parents we have because they are the only parents we could possibly have.  We can only see the children we have because they are the only children we could have in this very moment.  We live this moment because it is the only moment we could possibly live at this moment.

And because this moment is the only moment possible we forget the astronomical odds against our very existence – the chain of events that had to happen right from the very beginning of the universe for us to exist – any one of which with a different outcome would have resulted in our not being.

The future may be malleable but this moment is set in stone.

Because this moment is the only moment possible we forget how very lucky we are to have even met our parents, our children, our lovers, ourselves.  Out of the infinite possibilities in the universe, our possibility came true.

And so we grieve our losses because they are losses of magnitude.

We grieve because grief is the price of love.

We grieve because our hearts work.

Don’t ask for a universe with no grief, it would be a terrible place indeed.

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