Life’s Bookshelf

Four helpful books in understanding death and living life

Incomprehensible.  Sixteen deaths in 2019, with six of them very close to me — friends, co-workers, family, and my beloved border collie Bess vanished in a six-month tsunami of clearing relationships from my life.

In weathering this heavy-hearted summer, a healing practitioner recommended The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Ripoche. Filled with foreign concepts, it hasn’t been an easy read. Often, I’m in between two or even three books so I picked up an oldie by Alan Cohen — I Had it All the Time.  While insightful, the ACIM thread doesn’t completely resonate with me. Still, I get what I need like the passage explaining that when our life is clearing out it is simply preparing us for the new. That message eased some discomfort. Because in all honesty, I’ve felt stuck. For awhile. Well, maybe a year or two…or more.

While preparing for my Turks & Caicos bucket list trip, I thought the quiet solitude and healing waters would elicit the ruminations my HSP self sought…that this sojourn would make sense of 2019’s rapidly falling dominoes of change.

I packed two other recommended books with my journal:  The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully by Frank Ostaseski. Much easier reads thus far, their varying perspectives underscore that “life changes in an instant,” and the importance of “forgiving,” “accepting life on life’s terms,” and “loving as is.”

I’m beginning to comprehend all of life — not just death — is a transformation. Like the ocean, there is no end. There is no beginning. It is simply a continuation from one moment to another. Change is not my enemy but a life giving force to move me along like a leaf in a stream, it burgeons my understanding of this journey called “life.”

Once again my island adventure transformed. The first day, the ocean and gale force winds kept everyone out of the water. Totally unexpected but accepted. Each day progressively calmed as the tide washed away the past and swept in fresh awareness. Shifting from fear and grief toward accepting life’s flow is freeing. Trusting that all is well and working out exactly as it’s meant to be releases the anxiety of not knowing. Having faith (and moving my feet) is all I can do. Then see where life takes me.

After a few days of reading, walking, swimming, exploring and resting, tinges of guilt crept in. Why are you avoiding dealing with this? Are you trying to elude those downcast feelings and well of tears? Why are you putting off what you thought you needed to more freely move on? Are your unwritten journal pages diminishing what loved ones meant to you? Why are you procrastinating?

My surprising response was that I was living in the moment. Observing and engaging in the present rather than rehashing the past elicited tiny but powerful connections to the here and now. I was in fact living in the flow…rather than returning to what was and is gone. By the last day of solitude I realized that my lost loved ones would rather see me happy than engulfed in sorrow. My journal entries were not about loss and death but messages teaching me to live and love fully in the now.

Smiley face balloon was a sign from deceased brother of his continued presence
When asking my recently deceased brother for a sign of his continued presence, this smiley face balloon appeared riding high in the sky over that magical turquoise water.

It’s all a Matter of Time

Daylight “saving time” is an oddity to me.  The only time I think I’ve saved is when I am more efficient like writing my store note while my phone call is placed on hold.  Other times it’s planning my route to accomplish the most along the way — or speeding up (just a little bit) to get somewhere sooner than later.

Being highly organized, I think I’ve saved a lot of time over the years but, sadly, there’s no place for its safekeeping — like a rainy day fund.   Boy, I wish there was.  Just think.  If you could bank all those hours — kind of like the vacation time or sick days allotted at work — and use them where ever and whenever you want — like when you’re rushing to an appointment, just pull out an extra hour and that traffic jam doesn’t matter.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

We could extend a vacation with extra time or in a macabre sense, have more time if diagnosed with a fatal disease.  A friend with esophageal cancer told me, “Six months to live is just not enough time.”  Think of it; if he could have been banking hours to extend his life,  he’d have enough time to complete his bucket list.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I could find the time.”  So where is it?  How can we find it?  Numerous articles exist on time management.  The one I offer here is by a favorite author of mine, Anne Lamott.

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Photo credit: Markus Spiske temporausch.com from Pexels

Regret often bears the lament, “What a waste of time.”  Yet, in hindsight and particularly if lessons were learned, it was not a waste of time but an invaluable training ground.

My concepts of time have changed as time has changed me through the years.  Going too slowly in my youth, they said I was wishing, wishing my life away when I could barely wait to be five, then thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one.

Years thereafter I lived in the past and worried about the future.  Too often what was happening in the “now” was unpleasant and not where I wanted to be.  It took a lot of retraining to attempt to stay in the moment.

Lately though, I’ve been so in the moment I’m wondering where did the time go?  Somehow its evaporated, transformed into one longer moment from this moment into the next until the day is gone.   Am I on accelerated speed?  Are the clocks running fast?  Time no longer lingers as when I was very young.

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Photo credit: geraldfriedrich2 on Pixabay

For most of my life, nature’s timing of the seasons seemed perfectly natural.  Until these last few years, there was a consistency I do not feel in my own life even though I’m often living from one task to the next, one project, one calendar page to the next.

Now, my time spirals like a spinning top that one day will just stop.  At least in the physical sense of here and now.  Like perennials that bloom then wither and die to return again next year, being one with Tao offers eternity.  But eternity sounds like “the future” to me.  The traumas I’ve experienced and bagged up thus far have been exhausting.  I don’t know if I could take eternity.  Better to stay in the now.

Here’s 20 quotes about living in the now

And did you know Daylight Saving Time was originally conceived by Ben Franklin?

If I could freeze this exact moment in time, my skin would stay supple, my eyesight strong, and I would remain spry.  So, even though I am staying in this moment in time, time itself is moving ahead — whether I like it or not — and I am running out of time.

The Daylight Saving Time change ill-affects me.  Preferring to keep things as natural as possible, I don’t want my circadian rhythms messed with.  They already have enough trouble from my PC, thank you.  The Earth continues to rotate in 24-hour cycles.  Are we going to try to change that too?

How do you perceive time?  Has it felt different as you age?  How do you feel about  Daylight Saving Time?  Does it have any affect on you?