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Archive for May 4th, 2012

Your life span is decreasing continuously.

You know, the Nine Contemplations are such an interesting phenomenon.

They are nothing that we don’t already know… but I don’t think we have a lived-sense or an embody-sense of their depth or truth.

I’ve sat with this contemplation for a while now… and so much has come up for me.

I think I wrote about this in a post not too long ago… about being at the age that I’m at and acutely aware of how much life I have lived in terms of days and years and how many decades are projected for me, given my age, where I live, my health, etc.

Our culture is really good at helping us hide from these thoughts.  But it is in our hiding that dis-ease can take place.  We cannot avoid these realizations because when we try, they go underground, unconscious and come out in ways that are often unhealthy.

Your life span is decreasing continuously.

Tick, tick, tick. . . do you hear it?  Once less inhalation.  One less exhalation.

For some, that might be fine.  They may be rooted in the belief that “this” is not all there is, that there is some greater reward or something more real out there.  And that’s great for someone to believe.

On the other hand, this might fill others with terror, if one believes that one’s last exhalation, that long, deep exhalation is all that there is.    That belief can be the very thing that keeps us up at night, worrying and fretting.  It can be the thing that makes us cling to the things and to others in our lives.  It can be the thing that makes us push away everything in our lives.

I sat in a Thai restaurant this afternoon and half-listened to three high school girls who were waiting to take food back to their dress rehearsal of some play going on in the tiny micro-town that I live in.

I listened to this kind of high-pitched, “and then he said… and then she said.. and can you believe… ” which really cracked me up because when I got to the restaurant, the wait staff was involved in a similar drama about someone who no longer works there…

And as I began to mentally roll my eyes, I took a big deep breath.  My workplace and my actions have been no different over the years. . . or just this week…   They weren’t young teen-boppers or twenty-somethings who didn’t know better… in our office, most of us in our 40s and we do the same nonsense rather than focus on what’s really important.  Is that really how we want to spend out time?

Your life span is decreasing continuously.

Probably even more than on the cushion, it is on the yoga mat where I am so keenly aware of this contemplation.

Corpse pose is a lot more comfortable than proud warrior and I need to do downward facing dog during the day to perk up and get my brain right.

I’m so fair that I don’t have gray’s coming yet, but there are certainly those moments, when they call for all staff to show up, and the younger ones go flying to make it to restraints quickly that I realize, I am no longer the youngest or most able at work and I really don’t want to (for physical as well as ethical reasons) be down on the floor, holding someone for 30 minutes or until they calm down.  I don’t want to feel stiff and sore for the next day any more than I feel regret that part of our job is to restrain people.

Your life span is decreasing continuously.

Work is also a very humbling place for me in that I am constantly an observer to how people in institutions are cared for and cared about.  There isn’t a day that goes by, despite my age, that I don’t think about living in a nursing home some day or having to be in a hospital for an extended period of time.

Someone telling me I can’t nap and I’ve always been a champion napper.

Someone medicating me because I’m up all night (and have always been a night person).

Not having the abilities to tend to the things I have learned to do throughout my life like turn a tv on and off, brush my teeth (hopefully I will still have some), or walk outside to see the full moon.

And what about personal care?  I see people with bibs and disposal briefs every day.  Somehow, I doubt that, even if I had argyle and paisley ones, would I be terribly thrilled about the prospect of either of these things in my life.

There are few of us who escape that existence, even if we are at home, in the care of our loving family, our bodies are of the nature to start to shut down over time and not work in the same way.

We move toward these places,

these instances,

with every breath.

I don’t think it is morbid to think about.  I think it reminds me of my edge. . .  what is at stake.

One day, my parents will be gone and I will have no family.

One day the sweet, soft kiss of my lover will be gone, as he takes his final breath and leaves me for the last time.

One day, I will be cold all the time, possibly unaware of time and place, and lost in a world of memories.  My hope is that when that day comes, I will remember to breathe and I will have created an interior world and a world of memories in which I want to be lost in.

Your life span is constantly decreasing.

Don’t be fooled into believing that with the right serum, pot brownie, relationship, work project, etc., all this will not come.  It has come for all sentient beings that have come before us and it will come for all of those who take our breath here and now.

Hold on to your edge and remember it as you decide if you will cautious walk through this life,

if you will meet everything head on with fury,

if you will accept what is,

or if you will walk from one relationship or experience to another with an open or armoured heart.

Your life span, my life span, is constantly decreasing.

With deep abiding compassion and love kindness,

~~~Jennifer

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Rock tombstone, Old Ship Burying Ground, Old S...

Rock tombstone, Old Ship Burying Ground, Old Ship Church, Hingham, Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our time to mourn, or time to grieve, isn’t just about going through old love letters, re-connecting with memories or friends we’ve lost touch with who come to comfort us,

it’s not just about boxing up memories, feeling our pain, having good cries wrapped up in soft blankets. . .

it’s not about being angry and throwing things or avoiding things. . .

it’s not just about the awful tuna casseroles…

There are very pragmatic things that we have to deal with after someone dies. . . and though I wish I could stop the world for you, tell the bill collectors to wait until the black clothes come off or the grave stone is seated, I cannot.

But here is a short article that describes some of the things that need to be done after someone dies.  Although the title mentions those who are widowed, I would think that this would be just as appropriate for adult children to know. . . either to help a surviving parent or when your surviving parent is the one who dies.

My most helpful suggestion. . . give yourself time to deal with the affective and spiritual/existential as well as the pragmatic. . . we don’t live in just one mode and we can’t grieve in just one either. . . be gentle. . . use a calendar to help you keep deadlines, take time for your own respite, ask others for help. . . don’t forget to breathe!

Take a look. . . if you find that there were other things you needed to do, you figured out the hard way, please leave a comment and share here.

Peace, Jennifer

http://www.hellogrief.org/a-financial-to-do-list-for-the-recently-widowed/

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