It is so easy to take for granted that tomorrow will come, that another opportunity will be given to bear witness to a sunset, take a walk in the forest, feel the grace of a deer, or share a moment of connection with the one in front of us. But some part of us knows how fragile it truly is here, how tenuous, how shaky, and that this opening into life will not be here for much longer.
Before we realize it, we can so easily fall into the trance of postponement. The spell of tomorrow looms large in the personal and collective psyche. At the end of this life – which is sure to come sooner than we think – it is unlikely we'll be caught up in whether we accomplished all the tasks on our to-do lists, played it safe, “mastered” life, wrapped up our self-improvement project, or completed some mythical spiritual journey.
Inside these hearts there may be only one burning question: how well did I love?
There are soul-pieces and lost parts orbiting in and around us – unfelt feelings, unthought thoughts, unexpressed art, unimagined vision… the ghosts of our unlived lives. They circle and spiral not to harm, but to remind us of the rare preciousness of this human form.
One day we will no longer be able to look at, touch, or share a simple moment with those we love. When we turn to them, they will be gone. When they reach out for us, they will not find the form they once knew. The last moment to encounter the immensity of one more breath, experience awe at a color, the majesty of the sun, or the tenderness of the moon, or to enter into union with the vastness of the sea.
It will be our last chance to see a universe in a drop of rain, to have a moment of communion with a friend, or to weep as the light yields to the night sky.
One last moment to have a thought, feel an emotion, fall in love, or listen to a piece of music. To know heartbreak, joy, sorrow, and peace – to behold the outrageous mystery of what it truly means to be a sensitive, alive, connected human being.
What if today is that last day? Or tomorrow? Or later this week?
Knowing that death will come, how will we respond to the sacred and brief appearance of life?
Perhaps in the end our “life's purpose” has nothing to do with what career we create, what new thing we will manifest or attract for ourselves, or how successful we are in mastering life. Perhaps the purpose of our life is to fully live, finally, to touch each here and now moment with our presence, our warmth, our mercy, and with the gift of our one, wild temporary heart.
And to do whatever we can to help others, to hold them when they are hurting, to listen carefully to their stories and the ways they are attempting to make sense of a world that has gone a bit mad. To stay attuned to their sensitivity, to what keeps them up at night, at how they are making meaning here in this messy, chaotic, glorious place. To speak kind words to them and not forget the erupting miracle of the other as it appears in front of us. Perhaps this is the most radical gift that we can all give as we honor what has been given to us.
Photo by skeeze
Befriending Yourself - you are invited to join me and my friend Jeff Foster at our new online membership site at the intersection of spirituality, meditation, and depth psychology. Dialogues, teachings, practices, live meditations, and a moderated support community.
My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Yourself in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2021.