“How is this going to play out?” He asked.
Don’t you know? I wanted to say. It will end. It will die. It will pass. This is how it all plays out and this is how it all ends, it dies. Sooner or later, this will end.
“Don’t resist anything,” said the ocean last night. None of it: the darkness or the light. The fear, the pain, or the loss. The beauty, joy, or love. Don’t resist any part of your life. Let it all in. When I resist fear I resist love. When I resist pain I resist joy. You cannot have one with out the other. So allow it all.
I don’t know about you but most of my pain comes from regret: from not loving or living enough when that thing or person was in the palm of my hands, when it was ripe and alive and ready. I don’t want that for you. If you are one of the lucky and blessed enough to have someone you love nearby, Go hold them until your breath synchs up together. Breathe deeply together in silence, then tell them you love them forever, in the flesh for now but forever in spirit.
Had I not tried in vain to stall the seasons of my life. Had I only let the river continue to carry me without grasping like a mad woman at the passing shore. Had I only let my fiance go when he first put his foot out the door. Had I only allowed the information the doctors gave me: that mom was leaving for Heaven: even as they told me, I denied it, buried in illusion, and eventually caused myself so much more suffering. Had I not fought so hard to keep my world exactly the way I wanted it and the same forever in my tiny ego-mind. It’s all that devastating, terrified attachment that causes so much suffering. I didn’t love my mother enough in the present, when her sweet fleshly body breathed and walked. So when she died, I was obsessed with the past, wanting it back so badly, wanting my do-over. I brutalized and chastized myself for years for not loving her enough in the moment. I lived in the past for almost ten years, aching for her back so I could show her how much I loved her. That’s what causes so much pain, that ugly black-tar remorse. Love now, not later. Love now fully, there is no later. Don’t resist the information you are given. Don’t resist your mortality, experience it. Allow the truth to settle into your bones and make you wiser, stronger, and more awake. Don’t be afraid that we die and everything else does too, let it embolden you, let it enliven you. [“Go for it now, the future is promised to no one.” Neale Donald Walsch]
I wish for you to enter each experience knowing it is fleeting. I wish for you to hold each person and animal knowing they will die. To know it will die- Gracie, me, Dad, my sister, my loved ones- is to really love them while they are here. I wish for you to love it and live it with all your heart while it’s there, while its heart beats, the relationship, the person, the moment.
Stay present, stay present, stay present. If you are fearful, you are in the future, you are not here in the moment. Your longing for the past and your fear of future change will break your heart. You can only love now, you can only live now. It may seem like a curse but it’s actually a blessing. Look around: everything in your life right now is only for a flickering moment. The good and the bad, love it all. Gather up your loved ones before time takes them away. Gather up your loved ones before the earth gathers them back. Gather up your life before it’s a dream, a desire, before it’s only a memory. Don’t be fooled: we know how all of this will end. In dust, in memories. I see time’s marks on my face, I have buried enough loved ones’ to know where this fleshly body is eventually headed, back into the ground. And it’s the most powerful information one can process, that it all passes, and so do you.
That the end is coming is definite and real. But here’s the real mystery and the real adventure: Now what? What will you do with it while you have it and you’re here? Here’s what I know: You can do absolutely anything you want with it. Anything.
You can do anything you want. Choice is your greatest weapon, your greatest power. Choose love. Choose life, choose Now, Choose your dreams.
So for now I am here, allowing my life and the full extent of the earthly experience. Wherever the tides take me. That is my promise to this life. I already know, whether it’s tomorrow or in fifty years, this will end in loss. So I love now, so that I may let it go with grace when the time comes, without regret. This is where enlightenment meets earthly love. This is my answer for now, love now, so I may one day let it go with grace. So that one day I myself may go with grace.
This life is a bridge we walk that disappears behind us with each step. If you try to reach behind yourself, you will fall. We are only fully supported in the moment.
If there is one thing I know it’s that nothing has killed me yet. That I have a fleshy body but an indestructible, infinite, ancient spirit. I am built for storms. I can handle loss. I can let you go. I invite the unknown. I can love in the now. Don’t lie to yourself: you know how this thing ends: and that’s that it does, indeed, end.
MARY OLIVER, IN BLACKWATER WOODS.
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.