Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Death Is So Close

Driving in to work this morning, it really struck me how close to death we all are.

Flying along the road, I was continually inches away from crashing into another car. One momentary misjudgement, on anyone of a hundred different drivers part, and the result would have been dramatic. More than that .... how many thousands of parts are in my car, and everyone elses, which continue to work and keep me safe. One component going, and any of us could spin off out of control.

How is it that we assume that this will not happen, that all the components in all the cars will continue to work, and that all the drivers will make good and safe choices at all times?

Obviously we cannot drive with fear in our hearts, expecting and fearing such things. And yet we don't drive as if they might happen, with safe distances, with safe speeds, with a 'what if' in mind either.

And more than that, we are usually not aware of the fragility of life, how we take it for granted that our karma which supports our life will not run out, and that we'll make it to work again today, safe, and in one piece!

It would make no sense to fear what might happen, and it would be truly difficult to drive in a way which would enable us to cope with these things happening, but an awareness of the fragility of life is something which is possible. Bursting along the highway, it's easy to feel that fragility at such speeds. And what is more, the flip side of that ... this precious human life, equipped as it is with all the conditions for the spiritual life .... how valuable that is, and how tenuously we hold on to it.

Life can end at any moment, in a thousand different ways. Some are swift, some are not, some are painful ... we have no idea when or how. But one thing is for sure ... it *will* happen. And when it approaches, will we think ... I wish I'd done things differently?

Will we care about those TV programs which seemed like such a need, mere entertaining trifles?

Will we care about the thousand and one things we possess, imagining they will somehow 'make things better'?

Will we care about promotions, money, ambitions, likes, dislikes?

What will we care about as death approaches? .... a life well spent, filled with love, and going deep into the nature of what is, an exploration of what it is all about?

Life is so fragile, death is so close. Driving in the fast lane brings that home, but it's that way all the time .... fragile and uncertain. How to make this life a life well lived?


Meredith said...

Dear Chodpa,
The timing of this post is synchronicity for me, as my dear father is very ill from a serious fall and resultant head injury. The idea of death has been with me as I sat with him and my already grieving mother yesterday. Fear seems a partner in death - to those clinging for...more. Very good to be reminded of the beauty of each moment, of purpose and blessings right here right now. How would I spend the last day of my life if I knew it was the last? Not on the computer, not in this office building, not doing the dishes or driving anywhere - not any of the purposeful things I do today. I would stand at the river bank, breathe in the fresh air, look up at the beautiful clouds, hold my friend's hand and be, just be, breathing, calm, centered, just being. How do we make this a life well lived? Mindful of each grace, each beauty, each sorrow and compassion, each kind word, each struggle, and each image of graceful presence within ourselves and others. There are so many, so many.

Al said...

This post hits the mark with me as well - first of all Merideth, I can't even fathom what you and your family are going through, I wish you all well...

This idea of fragility on the road really struck me the past few days - I was on a short trip for business and one of my colleagues, who I have not seen since his car accident, showed me the pictures of his vehicle. How he did not perish is beyond me. It was a head on collision at 70 mph. The girl who crossed the median into his lane died after her vehicle flipped over his. He told me he never even saw her - all of a sudden he saw two head light and he had time to say, "oh my G..." and that was it - his vehicle rolled - he walked away with relatively minor injuries beacause of a seatbelt, airbag and what?
As I drove the 3 hour trip back last night, I was continually aware of how at any time, one wrong move and that's it. When I arrived home safe, the wife and kid got an extra long hug.
I didn't bother to tell them why.

Chodpa said...

Hi Meredith, I too can find little to say directly. My prayers are with your father, and also with your mother, yourself and your family.

Chodpa said...

Dear Al, how precious all our loved ones are. May they all remain safe from harm.