A Patchwork Life

We are taking a class based on Steven Levine’s book

    One Year to Live

at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Once a month we gather to think about and discuss our lives.

“How shall I live, knowing I will die?” asks Wayne Muller.

I mourn that we are such a “death denying” society. I had grandparents who died and I was only informed, never given the opportunity to participate in the ritual of last goodbyes.

My sister died in a one-car automobile accident when I was in high school and our family almost never spoke her name after that.

Here in San Francisco, a hospice volunteer/performer gathers people for a twice monthly open mike. YG2D or You’re Going To Die allows folks, mostly young, to process the deaths in their lives. Deep art is produced from this space.

So as I near my six month mark of the rest of my life, I find that I am energized beyond my wildest expectations. I have finished my book, am two thirds through my second, have an idea for my third. I am bravely going to share my work out loud and if there is no interest by publishers or agents, I will self-publish and keep moving on.

I am learning French five minutes a day with Duolingo in hopes that I will live long enough to exchange homes with someone in a French speaking part of the world.

I am learning to paint with acrylics, a bright and flexible medium.

And I am sitting, talking, and just being with people who know that they only have six months or less to live. What wonderful teachers.

And for my obituary, I am trying to get over the fact that I am a perpetual “emerging artist”, and am assembling a montage of my creations by year (if the various technologies developed during my lifetime will allow it.)

Thanks for accompanying me on this wild ride.

1 Comment

  1. When I was a kid, I had a lot of older relatives who died. My parents took me to those wakes and funerals from the time I was old enough to sit still. I remember when my Aunt Louise died; since she lived near us, my parents took me along when they went to visit her and help her as she succumbed to cancer. I remember sitting by her bed one day just chatting; I was all of about 12. So, I come from a family who didn’t deny death’s presence around us, but I was shocked to learn how many of my schoolmates had never been to a funeral by the time we all got to high school. And there were many who were shocked in return to learn I march up to Aunt Louise’s (and other’s) body in the casket at her wake and touched her hands.

    This fear of leaving our loved ones or having them leave us – you would think we’d all be more mindful of all this being finite and live accordingly. But denial is powerful, too. It makes the present easier even though there is a high price for that later.

    What you’re experiencing with a full embracement of the whole circle of being is just beautiful. Wild ride, indeed! How awake you are.

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