To begin, a couple of childhood flashbacks…
The first time I entered the woods with the boys who have grown to be my dearest male friends, I was convinced they were going to hurt me. It probably says something about the girl I was that I followed them to their forest fort, despite my certainty that I was about to become a victim.
A number of years after that dusky fall afternoon, on a bright summer day, the home I had known the longest was lost, along with nearly all of my belongings, to fire. I remember finding irony in the fact that the only clothing that survived the catastrophe were the items I had in my car for a laundromat run. The things I had worn and soiled were saved, while articles of clothing which had been relegated to my closet, perhaps for a “special” occasion, fell in ashes from their hangers.
During a recent solo afternoon ski, I encountered another skier, a male. We were in a secluded spot on the course, near the Normanskill, yet I never once felt threatened or in danger. I no longer imagined that someone I didn’t know wanted to bring me harm.
After the fire, I no longer reserved items for only “special” events. Expensive crystal stemware was used – and broken. My “good” clothes were worn and enjoyed. Discarding an item because of a stain, or an irreparable hole, was far more satisfying than seeing an unworn cherished possession turned into a pile of soot and ash.
What does all of this have to do with dying? It seems to me that there are people who spend so much energy thinking about bad things which might happen, that they fall victim to the ultimate tragedy – missing out on their life. When we try to anticipate every potential disaster instead of appreciating the wonder that is now, we neglect to experience all the beautiful moments life offers to us each day.
Make no mistake, the thought of my life ending chills me. There’s still so much I want to see and do and taste and feel! Any acceptance of death that I may have comes purely from living fully. What I’m trying to say is this – the only way I know how to prepare for the ultimate end of my life is to live each and every day. Donna Tartt expressed it far better than I. Here, read it:
“That life – whatever else it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open.”
What she said.