All things must pass

February 16, 2014


Retro-DandelionAll created things must pass. Strive on, diligently.  ~the Buddha’s final words

Once we get older than 50 or so, people we know (or know of) start dying in greater numbers.  Or so it seems.  And that makes us think of our own mortality.

“I don’t want to die,” someone said to me once.

Well, I don’t want to die, either. I want life to go on forever as it is in this moment. But, this is a created moment and, as the Buddha sagely observed, “all created things must pass.”

We are created, too, and this life will end.  We don’t know when. Here in the San Francisco Bay area, a BART cop was accidentally shot by a fellow officer. The bullet entered a very small area not covered by his protective vest. A fluke, really. A sad fluke.

But my point is that some of us are suffering with disease and are constantly aware that mortality could be around the next corner, while others go about their lives diligently, like this officer, and die unexpectedly.

We don’t know when we’re going to die, but we do know that we all will.

Perhaps you don’t see that as a comforting thought, but in a strange way, I do.

And since I have no choice about going, I do have a choice about my attitude. Which is this:

I don’t want to go now. But when I do go, I want to be ready. I want to have done many of the things on my bucket list. I want to be current with everyone in my life who matters. I want to go while I’m continuing to live fully.

And I want to go with a sense of adventure about what comes next:

as if it were just another trip.

24 comments on “All things must pass
  1. I hold these same worthy aspirations, Carol. We cannot control when we die but we sure can control our attitude and as far as we’re able we can make choices to make our lives today worth being alive for.

  2. Jennifer Steck says:

    What a tragic loss for the officer, the family and his department. Very sad. I also plan to live life to its fullest while I’m still alive and kicking. Since we never know when the last breath will come, I’m updating my will and making sure my finances are in order, while planning my next African safari. Death is just another part of our journey. I want to be all used up when it’s time to leave.

  3. I’ve never feared death. I’ve got a morbid curiosity about it actually, that is intensifying as I age. That’s probably why I follow “Confessions of a Funeral Director” Caleb Wilde. Because I’m learning through him, that death is just death.. we all die. I’m not ready either, but I’m ready. You know what I mean Sis.

  4. Doreen McGettigan says:

    Carol this was comforting to me as I sit holding my friends hand, as her battle with cancer is ending. She is excited to go but sad to leave her young children. I just want her pain to stop.

    • admin says:

      I love that she is “excited to go”–I hope I will be the same way. It is so hard to leave babies behind I can’t even imagine. Blessings to her on her journey and to you for being there with her. I will hold her in the light and know that wonderful things are ahead for her.

  5. I’m not ready to go but, and, I know that I have little control over that. Last year I watched my ex-husband die and then 5 months later an ex-boyfriend. The end of life is tough and we have to make sense of life when people die early, or any time I guess…but it’s tougher when they die early or through unexpected circumstances.
    I guess I agree with Jennifer Steck, I want to be ‘all used up’ before I go.

    • admin says:

      Some things are inexplicable unless you have a belief structure that they fit into. I like to think that we have a very narrow view and what seems so unfair has a real purpose. In fact, I do believe that. Of course, if it were me, I can only hope to rise to the occasion.

  6. Diane says:

    Attitude is everything. Especially in the most trying times. And death perfectly describes that. I’ve been watching my 88 year old dad as he slowly slides a bit further each year. His health may be giving him trouble, but his attitude is inspiring. I want to be like him!

  7. Thought provoking post and commentary.
    Like the idea of being “all used up” I think most of the great ones would’ve said something like that.

  8. Very great post! For me, I have seen most of my loved ones go in not so great ways – cancer or disease of some sort. I don’t want that.. I want to just be gone.. if I have to go thru what they did, I am moving to a state where I can do it myself….

  9. Dying is a given, it is up to us to make the most out of our time here. I too relish the thought of being “used up.” Also it is my hope that one day grieving will be more accepted-losing a loved one leaves us changed.

  10. LisaDeerC says:

    Dumb I iPhone! So as I was saying… Trying to live in the permanent present is challenging for a mom. It’s taken me all of these months to get to i would rather be with him other than anyone. Whew! There I’ve said it. Embarrassed it’s taken this long but grateful I’ve gotten here.

    • admin says:

      It’s hard not to internalize all the hype about motherhood–and easy to feel lacking in some way. I am 100% sure you are a GREAT mom!

  11. Provocative post Carol…and one that should not be a stranger to our thoughts, especially at midlife. I think it’s because we don’t talk about it much that it makes it that much harder. Having both my parents pass a number of years ago brought the subject up for me in a big way. They both took very different approaches to the transition which taught me that we do indeed have a choice about how we will go that route. And yes, I agree that that I we MUST make the most of it while we are here…that’s why one of my favorite poems is by Mary Oliver:

    “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
    I was a bride married to amazement.
    I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

    When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
    if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
    I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
    or full of argument.

    I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

    • admin says:

      I know that poem–and isn’t it true that it’s often when our parents pass that’s our first introduction to mortality..

  12. Such a great attitude! I strive for it, but at this time in my life, with my husband’s double lung transplant only 5 months old, I don’t attain a philosophical level. I’m working on it.

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