Last week one of my coworkers retired, I thought – shit I’m more than halfway there my myself. Same week one of my friends told of shopping for a funeral plot for his father, and since it’s a family plot, for himself, too. My friend is my age. Damn.
And how did it get to be fucking April already? Wasn’t it just January? As a kid, I’d hear adults saying stuff like this and think – meh, it’s because they haven’t made use of their time well that they regret its passage, but now I know it is simply letting oneself become aware of one’s precarious footsteps. Once, on the face of the earth, there were not any footsteps that were planted by me. Later, there will be a time when I shall plant no more footsteps.
The number of our footsteps and heartbeats is limited.
Hurtling through time and space, we can see what happened a hundred years ago, through the blurry filter of film, pictures, and books, but those people who saw it first hand are no longer with us, and though it may be possible for us to live beyond a hundred, what happens a hundred years from now, we will likely not see.
With slow conditioning, I am stronger, more balanced, and have better eyesight than I did ten years ago. My body has grown younger, and this has in some ways blinded me to the passage of time, but it is true – we are time travelers, and every day we get to make a few choices as to where we will be tomorrow. Life happens fast. Pay attention.
But in all our striving, we are not the final beneficiaries. Each day brings us a little closer to the dreamless sleep and the final forgetting.
Meanwhile every dance, every Aikido practice, every laugh is to me like a salve, like a refreshing wind or summer rain. In passing we can smell, touch, see, hear, taste, maybe remember it for a time, but we cannot own it. Surely my old friend PJ thought this as she sat on her back porch watching, smelling, listening to, feeling, and tasting the summer rain in the last stages of her struggle with cancer.
She has long passed into the unremembering sleep, but I can remember for her. In a way bits of us live in friends and family, just as I can be happy when my brother tells me of his vacation, so therefore his vacation is partly lived for me. Similarly, I can take a few deep breaths, and think of the pleasure PJ must have felt to be alive, and remember her healthy (the sound of her nerdy laugh) and share this pleasure of breathing with her vicariously.
Our time is too short.
Long has it been since I have reflected on the shadow of Death, but he is there, a faithful shadow who has followed me through all time, quietly whispering to remind me to be my better self, and promising though I may forget him, he will never desert me, until he lifts me up, and with a laugh or sigh, we say shit, fuck it, and step out into the void.