I was asked by a friend who read my book, THE YEAR OF THE FROG, if I feared death. My immediate response was “No.” But after some pondering I would like to take that answer back and be as honest as I can given we are discussing a situation I’ve not consciously met.
When I think of death my body does begin to feel what my mind wants to label as fear. But I am also aware that the physiological symptoms for fear and excitement are quite the same if not identical. It is why some may mentally label a ride on a roller coaster as scary given the sensations in their body while another soul will say “oh this is exciting!”
Regardless, I think my immediate answer of “No” was because I have learned that whatever I feel is temporary and even though my body may be saying “be afraid” I will have to walk through that door anyway. I am learning to accept fear of death the way I have learned to accept sadness, not label it as anxiety or depression every chance I get looking for a way to keep from being human. All feelings are the necessary fuel for new beginnings. Whether it be fear or sadness, these feelings are part of living. I just keep reminding myself that all things end with a beginning.
Still, death scares me. My humaness wants to know what is in store for me. I want to plan and predict and make rules for my future so I have half a chance to rest in ease I know what tomorrow brings. I fight the battle daily to let go. Let go of rigid ideas engraved in my mind, let go of assumptions that leave me blind and let go of the good along with the bad so that new life, new beginnings have room to be had.
Little by little I am learning to embrace death lovingly by staying right now in this moment where everything is always okay. Bills to pay, a book I am having to self-promote battling the fact doing so feels narcissistic, no man to kiss on New Year’s Eve and friends on facebook unfriending me—all things I could let take me down if I focus only on living. But what if this is it? What if I do not awake to the new life before me in the morning? What will really matter when I take my last breath?
I won’t care I owe some government for my Summa Cum Laude means nothing now average or that some people were not ready to hear my truth and I certainly won’t care that my still programmed mentality wants a man to kiss me. I had a new friend ask me to tell him about myself and as I began my robotic confessions he looked confused saying “I don’t care about your past lives.” hmmm, He referred to yesterday as a past life. That just might be the key. Let everything die. Let everything go. Focus on the new life of today and the things that will matter in the end.
This time last year I ran away to Thailand looking for a spiritual place to give me peace. Disappointment hit at every stop because I could not go where my mind wanted me. Train tickets were sold out and planes overbooked while I was stuck in Bangkok alone wanting out of the concrete jungle so bad I hopped in a shuttle not knowing where I was going. Hours later I arrived in place where death still stung from a war I was not even aware had touched this town. I sat at the corner where the shuttle left me overlooking a sunset dropping into some 7000 tombstones while tourists photographed the image like it was something to be prized.
I walked a bridge built by those decomposed prisoners of war to get to a small cabin, the only room left, while my mind damned my circumstances. But something in me said stay and try to find some solace in this place. I walked that bridge daily feeling a deep collective pain and watched the sun warm the stone cold graves every evening until something in my heart changed.
When it did, I boarded a boat under that bridge and found a little village to stay where I slept on a raft tied to a mountain. There was no electricity only oil lamps. It was peaceful and eerie still feeling the suffering of war all around me. I stayed there days wondering why my dream of finding a spiritual village had brought me to face death.
Then I met him. A man who insisted I not spend New Year’s alone. He had seen me meditating up on the hill and invited me to his village. A Buddhist Village up the mountain only feet from where I had been wishing for peace. He introduced me to the other Monks who allowed me to meditate in the “man” only temple. Then they took me to a cave where thousands of tall sticks appeared to hold up the earth of the ancient wall. I was instructed in their ways, although their New Year was in April, they obliged my Western mind. After a brief ceremony I placed my intention stick on the cave wall for my New Year. I was told to not tell anyone my intention, and so I will not, but the intention I chose changed my life.
Death is not something to avoid, but something to face daily. In doing so I know how to live. I awake each day and think about dying to remind me I only care I have family, friends and pets who know my love; not by my words at all, but by the feeling I leave in their heart when all is said and done. At my death, I imagine I will be extremely afraid. I will panic at the thought of those that did not know. I will beg for anyone near me to tell my loves how much they mean to me. Because the feeling of having those in my life not knowing my love sickens me. I hope I have learned enough to let each day die while resting my head in peace that I let you all know my love for you is all I need. My love for you!
So on this last day of 2014 I wish you death of everything—everything that holds you back from feeling love tremendously. I wish you death of the past, good or bad, of sadness, of anxiety, of fear and anything that blocks your joy of today. I wish you the gift to imagine death so real you awake to see how amazing it is to just breathe. And on this Eve I will lay me down to sleep holding death in my mind blessed to know it was never the love you gave me, but the love I gave you that I will carry to the grave with me. ~ Juls ❤