Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Am Alive

last week i began my post with a title that was borrowed from the dalai lama.  this quotation is part of a longer affirmation that begins my daily meditation. this week i want to write about the next phrase in that affirmation: "i am alive; i have a precious human life."  as i grow older the preciousness of my life becomes both more and less important.  i know that the majority of my life is behind me, so each experience is all the more significant.  i have come to the realization that my life may end at any moment and so each moment is valuable.  when my father died a few weeks ago, it suddenly struck me that, just as both my parents' lives eneded, mine would also come to an end, perhaps sooner rather than later.

facing the prospect of the end of life, there is much i still want to experience.  there are places i want to see, foods i want to eat, grandchildren i want to hold, gifts i want to give.  in this way, i am not ready for my life to come to an end.  yet, i have had a wonderful life.  i am surrounded my loving children, a partner who is my best friend, beautiful objects, and dear friends.  i live a life of privilege in a country where even the poorest of us is better off that most of the world's population as regards the physical necessities of life.  in this sense, i look toward death without fear or craving for more years.  yesterday my wife and i jokingly looked forward to the year 2050.  my wife was certain that neither of us would be alive, and i reminded her of a recent newspaper article about a man in our town who had just celebrated his 105th birthday.  while such a long life is rare, it is becoming less rare, and it is possible that we, too, might live that long, which would take us to the year 2051.

so, when i mindfully breathe, i am aware that this is one more breath of life, and that this breath could be my last.  this present breath is precious, as is the next if i am here to take it in.  the next phrase in the dalai lama's (and my) affirmation is, "may i not waste it," a subject for another post.  i am alive to new breaths, new experiences, new opportunities, and, as my life moves toward the magic year of 2050, life is precious.  may i, and you if you're so moved, relish life, living in such a way that when that last breath is taken we will take it with hearts full of joy and peace.  shalom.

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