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Life & Death & Awareness

We are born to die.

The usual verbiage is that we are born to live and die, as if existence is an arc, but as far as the body is concerned, living and dying are integral. Like a snake we continually slough off skin, layer over bone, rip connective tissue and re-solder it. Living, at the biological level, involves constant dying. Life and death are not just cyclical but simultaneous. Life and death are one. And the same. Our culture gives us so little affection for small, daily deaths.

Aging is a useless concept.
Changing is how life feels. Learning is how life feels. Our bodies change slowly, change continually, and mostly we don’t notice the change. We seem constant to ourselves, fixing an idea in our minds of what our bodies do and are, until something distinct, like a gray hair—okay! this is different—occurs. Then we reconfigure another fixed identity, experiencing self as an accumulation of  snapshots. Is this because we only notice our body off and on? Meanwhile, if we noticed, we would see our slow, continual transformation.

Awareness, Dear Diary
Lying on the bed, sleepless, full of breath, sinking into the soft surface, into gravity, my bones tumble into one another, pushing the flesh aside. In this room, in this bed, 50 years ago I was a girl. I wrote in a little red diary. I wrote ‘Dear diary,’  like Ann Franck. My emotions tangled. My smooth limbs folded and unfolded like butterfly wings.

That memory seeps up out of the crush of one leg into the other. It is part of noticing my body today. A memory fixing itself is the beginning of the memory’s death. It has risen from sensation but once it has left sensation behind and become an image, it has died, no longer redolent with the feeling-ness of life. Sensation never stays. It moves on and on. I am the ‘me’ dissolving into the next ‘me.’  Embodiment sharpens awareness. I cling to awareness, aware that the subject of this awareness is not fixed.

 

 

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    4 Comments
    1. I love your articulation about death and birth and life and change. I love “affection for small, daily deaths.” What are they? What does that mean to me? I notice the daily deaths, the changes from busy younger mother to woman who is really on her own, whose task, once all consuming and so purposeful, has changed and seems more cloudy. It is now more than ever the task of opening myself, of moving toward the final moment by living in the now moment as fully and as lovingly as possible………so easy to write, so often hard to do……..and these beings I birthed…….how do I relate to them as the mother/woman I am now…….not simple…….

      November 2, 2012
    2. Oddly, on first reading ‘beings I birthed’ were not children but moments of cognizance that are/were identities. Then I realized you were speaking of your children again. But I loved that ‘beings’ could be ‘being-nesses’. Amazing how that flashed open, because isn’t that really what we are talking about—what is the reality of the self? We are this moment certainly. So what about memory and what we have been?

      November 2, 2012
    3. Anastasia Blaisdell #

      In a way all the dying and changing, breaks my clinging heart…my children getting older, by the moment, possibly leaving something that doesn’t work….that’s where I am at…
      aaahhh…hummm, ho-hum….change…is so damn inevitable…. I remember now the first diary entry I ever wrote as a girl was with the sadness and mystery that everything was always changing…

      November 2, 2012
    4. I think the ‘breaking of the clinging heart’ is the small sort of death. It is happening. Having something. Losing something. Always.

      November 2, 2012

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