I was recently reading an article about death.
Not terribly positive I know, but as it is something we are all going to have to face at some point, I think it makes us human to reflect on it from time to time. Unless, you are one of those cool, calm, collected types that don’t worry about “things not worth worrying about”. Like my husband. Heh.
Anyhow…the article was discussing that generally, the fear of death was a young persons game. This theory was primarily attributed to a project that sought wisdom from older people on their own mortality. Some of the respondents appeared quite unafraid of dying as they viewed it as a natural part of living and approached it matter of factly – as opposed to the anxiety they had about it when they were young and felt there was much they needed to do.
It made me stop and think about my own life and what I think about this inevitability.
On reflection, the times I’ve feared death is because there is much I still want to do, things I am yet to achieve and predominately, because I want to watch my family grow.
I look back at my 20’s and mostly it feels like five minutes ago. Now at the age of 33, I can see that the next decade is going to pass even faster. Time is speeding up and becoming busier.
I live in a flurry of times: nap times, playtime’s, bath times, lesson times, cleaning times and on it goes. Alongside this are the endless playgroups, libraries and the monotony of housework. I am also squeezing in minor house renovations, poetry, spending time with husband and friends, and gearing up for the impending return to work in the coming months.
When did life become such a whirlwind of trying to squeeze everything in?
The importance of recognising what I want in life is becoming stronger. Perhaps it is having children that really cements the understanding of mortality and the reality that some day we will have nothing but our legacy.
Many years ago I remember attending a funeral where the poem “Death is nothing at all” by Henry Scott Holland was read. It begins, “death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you.”
So what defines “you”? What do you want “you” to be? It’s a big question with the answer never ending. But I do know for me it isn’t the petty things that seem to consume much of my time. So what will people remember? What do I want them to remember? The late Maya Angelou once stated that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I think part of what defines and shapes ‘self’, who we are and what we leave behind, are the places we live in and visit. I’ll never forget the beauty and stillness of a Wales landscape one very cold morning, or the clear blue Californian Beach one summers day, or the way a certain calmness swept over me in a little town in Tasmania one winters day in a very unexpected way.
“It is nothing at all” then to stop and reflect upon a places beauty and how it makes us feel, because that might be one of those feelings, those moments, that you pass on to others and which you will take with you to the next room.
So here in my memory bank is my Tarraleah (see http://www.tarraleah.com.au/ for more info). A little, chocolate box type town in central Tasmania where I spent a weekend of jazz music and reflection.
And where one of my most significant memories was that of puddles iced over and trying not to slip. And that feeling of awe as I stood in the freezing cold trying to sort out the mess in my head during one of the most poignant and upsetting periods in my life. A photo can say much. To others it might just be a picture. To me it was taken at a point when I was consumed with sadness. But for that very short, very brief moment I forgot about everything in my head and just concentrated on the area I was in and thought about its beauty. I took that moment that feeling of splendour back with me to the friends I was with and the melancholy was briefly forgotten.
So think about a place that really matters to you and how it influences you – whether positively or negatively.
That small moment may just be what is really important to you – and it might be a moment, one of those many moments that will be with you forever, and which you will take with you at the end.
Tarraleah in Tasmania