Death summons perspective. It stops us in our tracks, even if only briefly. The closer the loss is to our souls, the longer the pause. The lens through which we have grown accustomed to viewing our lives shifts. For some, it zooms out. For others, it zooms in. Things come into focus, or become blurred. What doesn't happen, is nothing.
Those who are far removed from the loss may offer a gasp or frown, or some other acknowledgement when they hear the news of the tragedy. Then they move on. It may appear that nothing has happened, but it's only a façade. At the very least, they have put up their proverbial hands to deflect the facts from reaching their heart. No sooner have they heard it, than they have shaken the thought from their heads. They straighten up their shoulders, close their eyes, and move through the pause that news of death insists upon.
It is not a malicious act of insensitivity. It is an act of self-preservation. To enter into the loss, the pain; to be swayed by the breakers that death hurls at the shore of safety, is to admit that they are not invincible. After all, it is the most terrifying kind of vulnerability to come face to face with mortality; to admit that every day is not a guarantee, but a gift.
For me, the lens has zoomed out, and has come into focus. I am not impervious to loss. To believe the lie that I am somehow sheltered from the final link that closes the loop in the circle of life, would be to separate myself from the world. It would create a belief of "otherness." I would be saying, "I am the fortunate, they are the less fortunate."
We are human. Our ability to love binds us, and our ability to lose unites us. If we are not in this together, then we are not in it at all. Life is a gift. As my father put it: "I cannot run from an aspect of the gift without running from all of it. If I run from life, I fail to live life. If I fail to live life, then I am unworthy of the gift. Right now, this morning, is life. Be a worthy steward of the gift. Embrace it all."
Monday, 4 April 2016
I sit and wonder how to best soak up my last moments of unemployment.
It’s the first of April and the sun is setting on this waiting game that started at December’s end.
Life is a volley between feast and famine,
And there’s no doubt I’m sitting firmly in the latter.
I squirm in my seat.
I can see the feast ahead.
But I’m not there yet.
No, no. I look around me and I see clearly – I’m not there yet.
I am right here.
I’m right here wearing my worn out shoes and outdated clothes.
But my bowl isn’t empty.
It’s full of rice and beans!
“Survival of the fittest” I joke with my Love, as we smile through tears at the state we’re in.
Secretly my mind is on that last piece of chocolate, sitting cold and preserved in the empty cheese drawer of our fridge.
We’re saving it for a rainy day, we say.
‘Cause right now,
with our garden that won’t grow, the cool that won’t stay in, and the mosquitos that won’t stay out –
It aint rainin’.
Oh no, that sun is shining.
It lights up this city and lights up this flat and lights up my baby’s eyes.
They can’t decide if they’re green or they’re blue.
They seem to spark when that dimple shows up on the right side of his face,
Hiding in that speckled scruff of a beard he won’t let grow.
I follow those eyes and I see – [gasp]
They’re lookin’ at me!
I look deep into those turquoise pools,
And I start to fall.
He smiles, my heart pounds, my lips are chasing his, I’m sure I’m gonna drown, and then he says:
“How ‘bout them beans?”
And then he laughs.
We laugh til we cry and we hug til we sleep and then we say goodbye…
To another day.
I’m one day closer to that shiny, new job,
One day closer to paying off that debt,
one day closer to something new in that bowl.
One day is all we got.
Each and every day is just a collection,
Of the here’s,
And the now’s,
And the moments we call: “present.”
We call them that because that is what they are:
A present, a gift,
Already unwrapped and waiting to be seized.
I wake up in the morning on my last day of unemployment and I see that sun is shining but I say:
“Sure looks like rain to me!”
I make a beeline for that fridge,
That patient piece of velvety dark chocolate, because I know..
No matter what the weather,
Right now is all we got,
And I’ll be damned if I’m not gonna seize a delicious piece
of that stuff we call,life.