The poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, speaks of death as a "letting go of the ground we
stand on and cling to everyday," how we are like swans, "clumsy lumbering beings"
moving awkwardly until we enter the water, where we are transformed into the
graceful creatures we were intended to be.
Beginnings and endings, birth and death, origination and destination - between
them our brief biography. Death is inevitable for all of us, the only variable is when.
This certainty should keep us focused on addressing our life in finite terms.
reset button in our lives? Our culture of death denial is a barrier to the deeper
awareness we can gain on how to live. Overcoming this culture of denial is a
challenge perpetuated by our health care system and medical institutions in the
quest to prolong life artificially.
Our ancestors used to know when death was upon them, an instinct we have lost
as we cling to this mortal frame, prolonging our agony because we rarely
experience what graceful souls can teach us about saying good bye and letting go.
There is no such thing as a good death but there are some who face mortality with
such grace that it inspires the rest of us. My friend, Paul, recently surrendered with
such grace that it altered the conversation about death among my close circle of
soul sisters, who shared the experience with his wife.
Socrates on his deathbed asked his students to practice dying as the highest form
of wisdom. What would we do if we only have a year to live? What would we
change? What would we say yes to? How would we prepare those we love? What
are the things we have left unsaid or left undone? What would take on new urgency
in prioritizing how we spend our time each day?
In every moment, the quality of our life is at stake. We have the opportunity for
grace to shine and to let our humanity come through. Live like today is all you have!
He took a deep breath
and let it go.