Having a baby and contemplating death ... not on the same day though!
It's been a while since I wrote here and I'm feeling the difference a few months can make. There's been a whirlwind of emotions and things happening that have left me feeling tired, elated, joyful and busy!
In October, I welcomed my beautiful little baby-bear into the world. He was born after a whole day of contractions and a few hours of me repeating 'I can't do it anymore, why isn't he coming out?!' (Yeah, don't judge guys, a day is a really long time to be feeling like your insides are being wrung out like some dish rag!)
He has changed my life in so many ways ...
I'm more patient, accepting of things that can't be changed and able to manage on less sleep than I ever thought I could be! I have found a new appreciation for life and as weirdly as it sounds it has come from contemplating death.
In the first few weeks of his little life, I was crazy emotional ... I think that's pretty normal but I was a bit spun by it. I think one day I cried for about half an hour because I knew that eventually my little man is going to die and I felt bad for subjecting him to it! (I know, crazy emotional)!
Once I had calmed down a bit (it took about 8 weeks!), I began to find myself thinking about the day of my own death. The buddhists have built a whole religion around preparing for death so I honestly didn't think it was that strange.
Earlier on in 2019, I witnessed the death of my grandmother. Ok, to be clear, I wasn't actually there when she passed away but I saw first hand the slow decline into old age and finally the slipping into unconsciousness that preceded her passing. It struck me as immensely sad.
Here was this woman who had lived such a full, interesting and varied life and at the very end, there was only fear and panic left. She was a shell of her former, formidable self and over the last couple of years had seemed to have left behind every redeeming feature of her personality. She ended up treating those around her pretty terribly and almost destroyed some of her closest relationships.
I often wonder what happened. How could a woman live for 93 years and still be so lost in her own ego? How could she become so self involved and non-reflective after so long in the world? It got me thinking about how I want my days to end.
I'm not sure if I believe in an afterlife ... I know that might sound strange when I tell people I'm a yoga teacher. Surely, I should believe in reincarnation, right? The never ending samsara of life, death and rebirth until enlightenment is achieved and we become free of this cycle. Yeah, meh ... I'm not sold on it!
What if everything is just chaos? What if there is no 'god' or 'higher power'? What if our being here in this world is simply a giant accident and a great ball of coincidence? What if we only get one life? One chance to be/do/become all the things we've ever wanted? These questions have been gnawing away at my mind for quite a while now.
I started thinking about how it would feel to pass away and just go back to nothing. Dust to dust. It could have got me panicked and before the birth of my little one, I think a lot of my life was lived in a constant stated of FOMO. But since he has come along, I've relaxed about it. Instead of being a terrifying thought that instills panic and fear-based action, I've found a sudden stillness surrounding me.
This simple thought: 'one day, I am going to die' (and pushing a baby out of my vagina) has changed the way I live. Instead of jumping up and booking my bungie jump or month in Nepal, I have arrived at a deep place of acceptance. What will be, will be and no amount of panicking or jumping around will change any of it.
The other day, I got caught in a snowstorm. I was out with the baby in the stroller and the snow simply dumped out of the sky like some heavenly foam party.
On a normal day, this would have annoyed the hell outta me ... I would have starting worrying that the baby will wake up/get cold/start crying or that I will get wet, etc, etc.
Nope! I simply thought 'one day, I'm going to die and then I will regret not enjoying the feeling of the snow on my face!' There was nothing I could do about the snow. I had to walk home anyway so why not enjoy it, if possible? So I did! It was wonderful! I watched as the pavement and bushes turned white. I felt the sizzling snowflakes melting on my cheeks and tongue (yeah, I stuck my tongue out!). I slowed down and began to realise what a blessing having a finite amount of time on this earth really is. Imagine if we lived forever! Everything would eventually become boring and shit!
Death is the view from the top of the mountain of life. You’ve climbed all that way and seen so many things on the way up there and from the top you can see your whole life spread out below you. What will it look like? A valley of regret, FOMO or fear? Or a deep and unending acceptance of yourself and your journey?
I'm still afraid of it to some degree and I'm not looking forward to all the sagging that goes with old age ... but knowing it's there and having my family to share this life with me is already a beautiful way to live.