Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Life, Death and Fear

Something about the Spring, the rebirth of a world that's slowly flourishing into new growth and full bloom after a chilly, bare hibernation- tentatively emerging like a reticent but radiant butterfly from a dark and crusty cocoon- makes you contemplate life and death, joys and fears.

Everyone is afraid of something. Some fears are rational; some are irrational. Fears of heights, spiders, close spaces, germs, the dark and lightening storms are some of the fears that many people are aware they have and willing to admit to.

But there is another fear, one that is much more personal and fundamental, and it's the one common fear every human shares. Whether it's acknowledged or not, from the moment we are born, to the moment before we depart from a state of "living" we all live tormented by this one single fear above and beyond all others.

It's the fear of being completely forgotten.

While some people enjoy their "personal space" to the extent that they might be considered by their more social counterparts as a "recluse", a "hermit" or just plain "anti-social", the fact is, no one wants to have lived and died and have no one morn them, no one remember them and no one care that they ever existed.

Humans are by nature pack animals. We live in groups. We travel in groups. We pair off and often reproduce to create a living assurance that our genetic code- a strain of our physical characteristics and personality- will remain after we have passed on to whatever comes after we die. We arrange events and activities to interact with people we've never met and those we've known for many years.

Holidays celebrate the 'coming together' of people. Indeed, nearly every event and holiday around the world is designed to gather large or small groups of people together, and typically, in some way, to cast remembrance on those who have lived and died before us, as well as marking and rejoicing in our own birth and life.

In some cultures, honoring or even worshiping ones ancestors is a way of life. Most cultures pass down history books, oral historical stories or pictorial displays of past generations. In ancient and modern times those in positions of power have often erected statues, monuments or elaborate shines to themselves, in a sort of reassurance that the future will know they left their mark upon this earth.

One of the last "Seven Wonders of the World": The Pyramids- an undertaking of incredible magnitude- were made from the blood, sweat, death and taxed hundreds of millions of people- partly in the honor of "gods", but realistically, in the memory and glory of the pharaohs or rulers who oversaw their creation.

People who played significant roles in documented human history have had busts mass-produced in their likeness; enormous life-like paintings have been painstakingly created and preserved at the cost of other's lives; buildings, streets, structures, weapons, tools, scientific discoveries, astrological wonders, forms of transportation and geographical locations have all been named after them. Whole religions are based upon the life and thought processes of those who have died centuries ago.

Chances are your first or middle name (and certainly your last name) is the same as one of your ancestors- recent or distant, it's still a nod to the past people who breathed the air around us, touched the landscape in which we dwell, and then fertilized the earth we walk on with their remains.

Most people don't enjoy living alone for long. They get room-mates; leap frog from one relationship to another; invite family or friends to stay with them or have children.

Some parents, even after their child have reached adulthood, try to tempt their children to remain at home- perhaps largely because they are afraid their child will become busy with their own life and the parent will lose that role of "needed nurturer and authority figure". They're afraid their child will fly from the nest and forget about them.

Some people help fulfill this need for companionship by acquiring pets- other creatures they can bestow love and attention upon, and by varying degree receive love and attention from.

Be it a persistent front and center worry, or a nagging thought that sneaks out in the quiet dark of night to send tremors of periodic anxiety, somewhere there is a latent worry about living the last few years of their lives: sick, lonely and forgotten. No one to call them or check on them to make sure their basic needs are being met. No one to send them mail, to celebrate the changing of the seasons with. To talk to and laugh with. To share life with.

We all ache to bask in the glow of affection, enjoy the comforts of companionship and to feel needed and wanted by others. Everyone wants to share their own version of what it is to be alive, with others; to have their feelings, thoughts and desires validated and reciprocated. We all want to be challenged, inspired and touched by others.

Physical touch is actually something that people cannot live without. Our bodies were designed to enjoy the sensations of things- including another person's skin- interacting with the millions of neurological sensors covering every square inch of our skin.

Studies have shown that babies in orphanages and hospitals (typically in less developed countries) who went for prolonged periods of time without being touched and physically interacted with by another person were not as healthy, did not grow up to be as intelligent or as comfortable socially, and in some cases died as infants from "unexplainable reasons" (often chalked up as SIDS- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

From phones, letters, pagers, fax machines, the Internet, emails, journals, messenger pigeons, Morse code (named after it's creator Samuel F. B. Morse), bulletin boards, newpapers, fliers, books, magazines, bill boards, and a multitude of other methods, we are all reaching out to others. Wanting to be acknowlenged. Accepted. Wanted. We all want to blend into the crowd sometimes, and other times to stand out.

We all want to be a part of this social, constantly changing world around us- surrounded by people who support and care about us. People who we feel we can influence, help, benefit and develop lasting ties with. People who will nurture us when we're troubled; comfort for us when we're ill; celebrate with us when we're joyful; and remember us when we've died.

Then, we don't have to be as afraid of the unknown called death, and we can more fully appreciate the wonder of life.

[MySpace Posted Tuesday, April 22, 2008]


Peter said...
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Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

What a truly poignant piece to the puzzle of our well-being here.
So many questions are presented here.
Questions like:
Does our living include the shadow of dying?
Do we focus on that shadow?
Does it creep up on us unawares?

And I enjoy the opening which brings me into the blossoming of life then begins to consider what these things mean and where the dynamics are birthed and how we may best come to peace with a seemingly untenable situation which is truly out of our control.
I also enjoy the attention to our social nature and the necessity of touch (I'll concur with the sensuality of slow sensitivity) and to the sometimes obsession of self-preservation.

I have to think we'd all mummify ourselves for our grandchildren if we could and that's why the procedures were hidden so well.
Besides that, no one would take the time or attention to do it properly any more so we'd end up just using polyurethane over the whole thing to seal it which I suppose would help with dusting anyway...

Joking aside, a response rises in me to the question of our fear of being forgotten.
It is "Do we honor our dying?
It seems to me that so often we keep it at the end of a sharp point on the end of a stick like a fierce and hungry thing?"

And so begins the questioning within and I inquire, “What do we give of ourselves to the knowing that someday we will change beyond our ability to reconcile or comprehend in physical terms?
Our bodies will rot and the life we are will depart to dwell in spectrums of energy that a very few humans are privileged to sense.

Do we give Love and tender Care to ourselves as we would to a child in need of reassurance or do we give cold-shoulders and deaf ears to what has been unanswered?
How are we treating ourselves in the moments we contemplate oblivion and void?
What are we calling our fear?

Here's a question to consider before I offer rephrase of that great common fear:
What if fear were physiologically identical to excitement?
I believe we've proven it is.
So if we're afraid, what are we also excited about and perhaps mislabeling as something undesirable?

From what I know of living and of my emotions and of searching within and of trauma resolution, I would rephrase the common fear of being forgotten to an awareness that we're all entertaining about being separate from our life, of being separate from the creative source that breathes the life we live.

I'd say it's not so much being forgotten as it is neglecting to love ourselves; neglecting to remember that we are Love and that we can never be forgotten because we are connected through all the layers of light and grace to the source of creativity and the well-spring of life that we personalize for our pleasure.

I've heard it called the God-wound and if you consider that God is unlimited, ubiquitous Love, it's obvious that we distance ourselves from loving all that is by our frequent judgments and justifications of judging.

In more physical terms it's the physiological memory of separation; the cellular memory referenced by the autonomic nervous system as a new mark on the chart of traumatic experience from being intensely squeezed through an opening entirely too small for our growing bodies and rather abruptly losing the life-support system of our placental nexus. Do we forget so quickly that air is the second thing we breathe?

Perhaps on a subconscious level we are determined to avoid that intensity again and perhaps we obsess over being neglected, outcast, forgotten, shamed, left out, invalidated and any number of other traumatic occurrences related to self-preservation. But I think not.

I think that we're neglecting our sweet selves. I think that were we to give ourselves the validation and assurance and open-hearted love and unconditional acceptance that we yearn for, we would not take offense or become excited when others turn deaf ears or even aim to destroy our bodies and the memories of our bodies.

Peter said...

I believe that we would see clearly that they themselves are lacking in the love and acceptance we judge them withholding. They are withholding such from themselves as well. They are not willing to be and give themselves such care. They are not willing to receive such care and they are not willing to receive what we are offering in that moment.

When we persist in "giving" it to them without their agreement, we create a place where no receiving is happening which sometimes becomes a dangerous situation.

What if we didn't need to prove we were right? What if we could simply acknowledge ourselves as the shining stars we are and lovingly allow those others to have only what they are willing to receive?

I use "we would not become excited were they to aim to destroy our bodies" loosely. I do understand that it is a natural and healthy survival instinct to preserve our beautiful, capable, sweet bodies, even when they are wretched and in pain.
I speak of the emotions here and of a larger understanding.

It's a deeper peace and one that is attainable with just a little effort. It is not hard. It is actually easier and takes less energy than the struggling to make sure we fit and aren't ruffling feathers.
...and it's incredibly blissful and deliciously invigorating.

Yet we like to entertain ourselves with ideas like "We are separate," and "We are going to be forgotten."

We like entertainment and distraction from the reality that we are sensitive beings who can sense when another is upset, hurt, elated, stodged up or fluidly and beautifully being full of themselves. We can sense what is going on around us when we turn our attention to that.

And in that sensing is a beginning to the recognition that we share one human organismic awareness. There is nothing of us to be forgotten. Each moment is brand new and full of possibilities. Each moment shapes and changes the potential of other moments by the experience we glean from our choices.
Each moment is truly brand new.

Peter said...

Doesn't every interaction we have alter our awareness and yet we walk around insistently ignoring the delightful ripples of awareness which inform us of so, so many things.
Every time we even come close to another, even in a passing auto, the energy we're being is registered.

We are that sensitive and when we choose to be aware, we realize that what we thought was ours is simply something we're entertaining in our parlor and that we can dismiss it with as much love and kindness as we would a beloved old friend who's going to be late for dinner if we don't usher them out the door.
We do, after all, get to choose the way we feel. That is the one choice we always, always have and it is all ours.

...and don't you just want to go up and snuggle with someone who's being all lovey with themselves? Isn't it naturally easier to be with someone who's radiating joy?
So what are you waiting for? Each time we choose to feel a little bit better, we invite more of that from others who are only all to head-over-heels to offer it to us in one way or another.
They may only know that it just feels good to be around us.
And that's enough.

Maybe one day they'll ask to be let in on our secret. Maybe they'll figure it out on their own; like you did.

After all, you already knew these things and you're just recognizing it in a different arrangement than you've seen it before.

It doesn't matter whether you agree with all I've said. You know what's good and true for you.
That's the beauty of being you.

It's like, What if the truth will always make you feel lighter, more expansive, more free?
and, What if a lie or something that's not good for you will always make you feel heavy, like a sinking feeling or like something sticky?

Sometimes there's a truth with a lie attached and you can always ask, "What's the truth in this and what's the lie?" and you'll know.
So check out for yourself what is good and beneficial for you right now, if you like.