The Ups and Downs of Life

raindrops on pink rose buds
Image by silviarita from Pixabay

 

Rain clouds

help flowers grow.

Why should life experiences be any different?

 

Learning through Grief
I began this post before the untimely loss of my best friend — Bess my beloved 14 1/3 year old border collie.  Acceptance soothes my broken heart when acknowledging this will happen to each and everyone of us and everyone we love, that this behest of time is a transformation of life. I continue learning through my loss of Bess…such as doing what I can then letting go, and the power of thought and perspective. I anticipate sharing more from time to time on insights gained through this experience…


“All of life’s experiences are to be either enjoyed or learned from.”

— Alan Cohen

Bess gave me both.


I am curious to know how you process grief. A sage shared this short (18 minute) video with me. Hopefully, you will benefit as well — not just in a time of need.


In Loving Memory of Bess-1

Contemplating Compost

Death is not so permanent as one might think.  When contemplating compost, you more fully understand the cycle of life.  Fruits and vegetables provide nutrition to us.  Flowers offer beauty.  When their peelings, parings, stems and leaves are tossed into the bin to decompose, in time they become nutrition for the soil.   Black gold I like to call it.

compost in bin

This rich compost continues nurturing us by transforming the soil to produce nutritious fruits and vegetables, and flowers to soar the spirit.

And so the cycle of life continues.  Quite simple, really.  Nature shows us how.  So what is all the fear about?

compost dirt

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

artur-rutkowski-97622-unsplash
Photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash

The Beauty of Transformation

Dazzling green and metallic blue dragonflies transformed my summer to autumn.  Taking in the colorful, changing fall landscape yesterday amid September temps, I was mesmerized when a silvery gold dragonfly as sparkly as Christmas ribbons landed on my garden chair.  We both sat perfectly still for the next few minutes, its lipstick red mirrored dots on gossamer wings captivating me.

018 My dragonfly

Surely, clothing and fabric designers must get their ideas from nature I thought.  And then my view cast to the maple tree reflected in the pond, and the pathway illuminated from a myriad of golds, greens, browns, oranges and reds that painted the cherry, pear, oak, magnolia and unidentified trees.

cropped-100_1648-autumn-favorite-b1.jpg

 I felt awestruck that nature could be so endlessly beautiful, even while dying.

But, then I decided to look at it another way.  Just as the dragonfly transforms so does the tree.  It may shed leaves until it stands stark and bare but there is a regenerative undercurrent; it is not approaching death, it is transforming, preparing for another season, for another time, for the vitality of Spring.

My view of the seasons reflecting life — birth (spring), prime of life (summer), mid-life (autumn) and end of life (winter) — has also transformed.  No longer do I see only one life cycle.  Nature is teaching me more about life and what I use to call death.  More and more, I am convinced the end is not the end per se.  Life, for us, for trees, for seeds has many cycles.  I’d much prefer to think I’ll continue to grow and evolve than to die back and out.  The roses return.  Perennials too.  Trees grow new leaves and bloom in the spring.  Again and again and again.

How do they know?

I made a hearty bouquet last week of wild tiger daylilies and spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis that I placed in a cobalt blue vase to greet me in the morning and accompany nighttime meals.  This lively contrast of oranges and purples contained flowers in bloom and those in waiting.

On day 2, several of the lilies had closed and dried while others had bloomed.

On day 3, several other lilies closed and dried.  New ones bloomed.  The same held true for the spiderwort pods.

lilies and spiderwort 017 transformation

As this process continued throughout the week, I noticed that each bud seemed to be taking turns in its cycle of life.  I wondered, “How do they know when to bloom and when to die?”   

Transformation of Endings

Source: I Don’t Get It

In visiting another blog this afternoon, I was moved by the writer’s sadness and confusion of impending death and realized each of us is so different in how we think about and interpret life.

I came into this world contemplating death and vividly recall such thoughts as early as age 5. Death (separation) use to frighten me. I could not imagine being separated from the ones I love. (Note, despite my “attachment” to loved ones, I grew into an independent female.)  Oddly, the “death” of these individuals gave me a deeper understanding of “life.”  Someone told me that my suffering was because I was selfish in not wanting to let the dying go. That was hard to swallow but stepping back, I gradually understood what they meant and focused more on the moments I shared with that person or pet, rather than on the “loss.”

In my youth, I was introduced to a mix of Protestant Christianity (Presbyterian and Methodist doctrines) then investigated Buddhism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Several decades later I find myself believing in bits and pieces from all of them (aka take what you like and leave the rest). I do believe in God and that each of us may call it something different including “the Universe.”

But, it was working in the garden and being led to Taoism that transformed my fear of death to acceptance and understanding. Seeing a flower that buds, blooms, withers and dies, then returns each year gave me a concrete understanding of the cycle of life and hence, tremendous comfort.

If we are all interconnected, then why wouldn’t my life continue as it does for the flower that I cannot see during the winter but greets me each spring?

As in the photo I’ve included here…if I am not conscious enough to look beyond the winter grey, I would not notice the dwarf irises coming back to life in spring.

Reading about past life regression and end of life experiences also helped me arrive at my current view.  In 9 months, I lost 3 very important people to me — my mother, best friend of 20 some years, and spiritual guide.  In answer to my questions, a Unity minister responded that, “We cannot know another’s journey.” My resolution was that their work this time around was complete.

In the midst of processing these losses, I’ve also had a few scares with cancer.  Now, I am learning about the critical importance of our thoughts. And words. As Florence Scovel Shinn advised so many years ago, “Your word is your wand.” I try to be more conscious now in my thoughts and words…having faith answer the door when fear comes calling.  Sometimes I do better than others.  Afterall, this is reprogramming, “transforming” several decades of thinking.

More and more I have shifted my viewpoint to believe that endings are also beginnings. I heard a radio preacher one day say that death is the gateway to our transformation. Truly, I view death as not the end per se, but a transformation. I just have to have faith of where it will lead.