On The Turning of the Seasons
This morning I found this interesting article: Science fiction and fantasy stories that can help you deal with death
Go read this, and then come back when you’re done. I’ll wait.
Okay, are you ready? Since my previous post a couple of days ago I learned that our friend Diane’s father passed away. I think he was 85 years old, and until fairly recently he was a very active person. He was a wonderful, kind man who would do anything for you. He was also the father-in-law of my friend Ky, who spent a lot of time with him and who will also miss him very much.
The thing about autumn is that it’s an incredibly beautiful time of year and can inspire bouts of extreme bliss, as it did to me the other day. And at the same time, the dying of vegetation, the falling leaves and the coming of winter reminds us of how temporary life is, and makes us aware of our own mortality. It’s as if in its fading, life bursts forth in all its glorious grandeur, saving the best for last with the bountiful harvest and a blazing tapestry of light and color and busyness. There’s a delicious sense of melancholy in the Fall air, but it also reminds me that the fading of life on the surface is only that; the essence of life is merely sleeping beneath the cold earth, under the dimensions of activity that we perceive with only our eyes and ears.
I think part of the euphoria I felt the other day was in response to my underlying awareness (especially as I get on in years) of my own mortality, which makes the moments when I’m truly conscious of being alive that much more precious. How many more autumns do I have to experience? How many years to watch my children grow and change? How many more springtimes will I witness the renewal of the living earth? No one knows! And in a way, it’s not really important. All that is real is this moment. Now. Now I am alive.
And despite what my rational brain tells me, that after my body dies, my memories, my identity, whatever it is that makes me ‘me’ will also cease to exist; there’s also a part of my being that has experienced inexpressible states of consciousness and transcendence. A part that knows that the temporal, physical manifestations we perceive as ‘the world’ is only the tip of the multidimensional iceberg. And from time in memorial human beings have followed the example of nature, that life fades but is then reborn anew. And we still feel in our ancient bones that the universe ebbs and flows in cycles, like the seasons. So who knows? Maybe we do too? Quantum Physics tells us there’s a hell of a lot more to the universe than we can even imagine. In some way, nothing is really created or destroyed. It’s all the dance of Shiva.
But I’m really getting off into la-la land! It’s just interesting that the last few days, as All Hallows Eve approaches, thoughts of life and death keep popping to the forefront. Like that link above to some great stories about the meaning of death. And how the stories we tell help us cope with our mortality. Halloween, or Samhain to the ancient Celts, was all about honoring the spirits of the dead, when the veil between the realms of the living and the dead grew thin. It marked the end of summer, the season of life, and the beginning of winter. And it’s still a time to gather together with those we love, to savor the warmth of hearth and home and the eventual return of life.
So, I’m off to the funeral home in a little while to say farewell to a man who was a loving husband and father. Let’s all remember those that have gone before us on this All Hallows Eve.