A special ask
I will get old.
I will get sick.
I will be separated from everyone and everything I love.
I will die.
My actions are my only true belongings.
These are called The Five Remembrances. Few of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings touch me so immediately.
My dad’s death made a big space for this to come in: there is rightness in mortality. There is comfort there, even completion. Turning away from it means missing half the picture.
Death used to feel like such an unacceptable outcome. There was so much fear about the big, bad “what if?” that we sometimes forgot we were still there, living. Together. I don’t ever want to go down that road again.
I almost left to go work at the coffee shop this morning. I was itching for a change of scenery, and an iced coffee is only $3, including tip.
But Spartacus asked me to stay. I opened the back door, wanting to give both dogs a chance to go pee before I left. Finn couldn’t run out fast enough– there’s something smelly near the fence that he’s eager about. Spartacus, though, stood at the top of the steps and looked at me.
His eyes were a little bigger than usual. His gaze a little less inquisitive, a little more sure. His knees a tad more sore. The hair on his face a touch more gray.
I won’t always be here, he said. Stay this time?
I am not saying that I’m thrilled with death, or that I’m even comfortable with it. I’m not here to claim that I’ve transcended something that I haven’t.
It does come to me sometimes, though. I remember: he could not outrun it, and neither will you. Even more unsettling, neither will your loved ones.
You may have to squint, but there is is joy in that unquestionable truth. Right here and now, there is something to smile about.
So stay this morning. The coffee shop can wait.
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I’d like to send you a postcard
I’m on the hunt for paper copies of pictures of some very specific items (listed below). Maybe some old magazines or newspapers or CD jackets that you’ve got laying around have what my collage needs? Here’s the list:
A flock of birds
Something from outer space, like the sun or starts or a planet
A river, a raft, or a raft on a river
A bench or a chair
A telephone (not a cell phone)
I’d really rather not go to CVS and print photos out. That would be both boring and wasteful.
If you’ve got any of what I’m looking for and you’d be willing to send it my way, please shoot me an email! I’ll give you my address, and if you’ll give me mine I’ll write you a postcard.
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Whatever you’re up to in the coming days, I hope there’s some joy and rest in the mix.