I dreamt last night that I was visited by a gentleman whose purpose was to help me plan, rather direct my planning of, my funeral. My sister was with me as well as my husband. I was surprised that this man was here, as I was not aware that funeral arrangements were required at this time. I kept asking him why and pointing at my husband and my sister, saying “What about them?”. I was feeling desperate and alone. However, he ignored my questions and kept insisting that I choose the drinks to be served and pick the music. He totally ignored my surprise, confusion, and despair. Interestingly, it didn’t feel like he was being unsympathetic, more that my feelings just weren’t relevant, the outcome was going to be the same. And then I woke up. Reflecting on this dream, I am struck by two points: 1) though we know death is inevitable, we never want it to be us and 2) time keeps passing regardless of how we feel.
In regards to the first point, we know it is common knowledge that we’d prefer to avoid death all the while knowing that is an impossibility. Yet, we spend so much of our lives actively working on avoiding it – we don’t take certain risks, we obsess about our weight and activity levels, we feel guilt for not keeping up with the latest healthy living trend. If we added up all the hours spent on worrying about avoiding the inevitable, I’m sure we’d all feel a bit foolish because ultimately that’s all wasted time. During every minute of worry, we were alive! We could have been spending that time enjoying our lives, giving more attention to whatever task we were partaking in, or better yet, being at peace. How about this as an antidote to pointless moments of stress? Just be. When worrisome thoughts pop into your mind try to focus on the space between them. Eventually, your mind will wander away from the fear-inducing, joy-destroying thoughts and you will be able to move on with what is actually within your control (i.e. how much effort you choose to put into whatever task you were trying to accomplish). All worry does is steal our progression in this life and once we start to stagnate we begin accumulating weight (the weight of fear, dread, self-hatred, etc…) which then makes it that much harder to move forward. If we replace the stagnating thoughts with openness and space within our minds, we will avoid taking on all that extra baggage and instead promote the dissolution of previously acquired gunk.
“When worrisome thoughts pop into your mind try to focus on the space between them.”
As for the second point, we all know the truth, we can’t stop time – it passes as it passes regardless of how we feel. No matter if we are prepared for the future or not, it’s coming and it’s coming for you! (And me, and your neighbour, and everyone else on the entire planet) So, though we are alone in one sense, we are totally connected in another, it’s really a beautifully balanced combination of individuality and community. Instead of focusing on how we feel, let us ponder the fact that we all feel the same emotions; therefore, we can help one another. At the root of all our fears is the one biggest fear -> that we are alone and must walk through life as lonesome creatures. We are the only us and no one will ever have our exact experiences. However, (and this is a big however), we can rest in the fact that this is true for everyone. This truth binds us together. The solution to our angst is community. Once we realize this, the notion that time keeps passing ceases to be of concern because we begin spending that time connecting with each other and those connections are what prepare us to face the reality of what it means to be human, to be born into this world alone and with nothing and to leave it in the same fashion.
“The solution to our angst is community.”
I’ll leave you with one final thought for today. We exist in a web of paradoxes one of which is that we are completely alone at the same time as we are all one. The best self-care is care for another. In this way, we exponentially increase the experience of love.
Blessings and peace.