"Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
Servile to all the skyey influences,
That dost this habitation, where thou keep’st,
Hourly afflict. Merely, thou art death’s fool;
For him thou labour’st by thy flight to shun,
And yet run’st toward him still. Thou art not noble:
For all th’ accommodations that thou bear’st
Are nurs’d by baseness. Thou art by no means valiant;
For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep,
And that thou oft provok’st; yet grossly fear’st
Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself;
For thou exist’st on many a thousand grains
That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not;
For what thou hast not, still thou striv’st to get,
And what thou hast, forget’st. Thou art not certain;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
After the moon. If thou art rich, thou’rt poor;
For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear’st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloads thee.
Measure for Measure (Act III, Scene I)
We are born with soft fists closed, we die with stiff hands open. Between the softness and stiffness, between the closed and open is this distraction we call a life. This moment - right now.
From the day we are born (and way before) we stiffen as we grow older. The rate of of emotional and physical repair decreases each passing year. As our knowledge deepens, our ability to acquire new ways of seeing and adapt to our environment deteriorates.
When we grow old, we still think young, but our options evaporate without any warning. These are the two ends of the journey, we spend most of our waking days oblivious to it all and every night free of the struggle.
Have you ever had that dream, you are in possession of the very thing that you most desire and then without warning, you awaken in the cold hard reality. After the vain attempts to crawl back into the comfortable futility you get out of bed and on with the routine of another day.
When we are born we bring every potential opportunity and dream like possibility. When we die, our hands are empty. There is nothing left - everything we possess, every person we know, ever worry and hope that contains us in its grip, opens up and sets us free. Gone. Forever.
If there is a heaven or an after-life, we have been given a hint of what it will feel like when we arrive. When we awaken in that new place, we will hanker back for the dream we have stepped out of. This life is a dream, we just too busy and self pre-occupied to realize it.
If we take time to enjoy and appreciate what we are, what we have and accept our impermance gracefully, we are able to relax and trust the universe, see the potential in its flaws, the beauty in its imperfections. All this 'stuff' that we are so consumed with will be over - soon enough
We need to do no more than look at our hands. Close your fists right now. Hold them closed in a soft embrace of the brith that we experience every time we wake up. Hold on - to that thought for a minute.
Bring yourself back from the needless struggles with the future and the past.
Enjoy the moment. Experience your mind slowly let go of its pointless struggle.
Stretch out your arms and hands palm up, stiff and still but relaxed. Experience the release, the free of all that busy-ness, allowed to be hands for their own sake.
These are the self same hands that our loved ones will stare at one day, only able to feel their warmth through misty memories of that dream called a our life.
I know you will not do this every day, you will get embroiled in the ceaseless struggle, but it's good to know that we carry two constant reminders of the joy of life around with us wherever we go. Soft or stiff, they came with us and they will leave with us. Everything else is just excess baggage.
"Friend hast thou none; For thine own bowels,
which do call thee sire, The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum,
For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor age;
But, as it were, an after-dinner’s sleep,
Dreaming on both; for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
To make thy riches pleasant. What’s yet in this
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid moe thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
That makes these odds all even. "
Measure for Measure (Act III, Scene I)