Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On Death

I had a major dream last night about wanting to find someone to talk with about death. I found Gisino, a neighbor. He was in a room talking with someone else and I go in and wait for a while, but then leave. Then I am in his workshop and we are talking about our lives. I say when I grew up everyone was poor and no one thought anything about it. It was a much more peaceful time, although WWII was on. And then I awake to remember that Gisino is dead which startles me. We were the same age and both had had cancer, although different kinds, at the same time.

I have just recovered from the stomach flu. I spent one night all night alternately and sometimes simultaneously vomiting and pooping. My granddaughter had it a week before me and was fine the next day. I was not fine the next day and the lag time of my full recovery made me remember how it was possible sometime to get sick and the lag time of recovery instead fades into death. The kids say I have been brooding, but it is hard to talk to anyone about such things unless they are my age and not in denial. There is the famous dharma story about a god or guru who comes to earth and is asked what is the most amazing thing in the world and the god/guru replies that although everyone is going to die, no one talks about it.

I stepped out of my usual more participatory role in the household and coasted along, just being an observer. To my surprise, I saw this subtle program of mine that something needed to be fixed in this family and I needed to take care of fixing it. I realized there was nothing to fix. Everything was working just fine. It was a loving nurturing family. That was a shock but a very sweet shock and an insight I am grateful for.

But after my first well day, I dreamed of Gisino and awoke to awareness of death. I felt that death rules our lives yet we pay no attention to it. I felt I should bow to death every morning on awakening to acknowledge its reality and the fact that this small splinter of awareness of body and world will disappear. It gives my view another perspective. When I thought I was dying from cancer, there was a quickening sense of the preciousness of life. My actions were more informed by the understanding that hating or holding grudges is a waste of energy which could be better used enjoying life and loving. Don Juan suggested that death was always over his left shoulder. That is the context in which I wish to live.

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