This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes again
If you don’t know, these are lyrics to the Doors song titled “The End.” I suspect that I have been self-sequestered for so long reading about all the pain, suffering and hardships that I have gone to the dark side. As a result I’ve been reflecting on my own death. No worries, my lifestyle is one of health, with daily exercising, healthy eating, meditation, writing, family life and socializing. In short, nothing has changed.
Okay, some modifications such as cycling alone or with one other person rather than a group. Timing my grocery shopping outings to the least busy periods. Riding my bike instead of taking the train. Wearing masks. Online teaching classes that begin in a few weeks. FaceTime, Skype texting interactions daily with family and friends in the US.
Welcome the challenges
It is all about attitude and perspective. Every morning after meditating, along with a series of other phrases as a reminder before beginning the day, I say, “Freedom is knowing I can go to a different window to experience and respond to life.” In essence, I don’t have to be paralyzed by one emotion. I have a choice as to how to greet life. I can be overwhelmed, angry, sad, grateful, happy, or any mix of those. It is usually a mix that is the richness of life. The key, don’t hold on so tight.
Loss is part of everyone’s experience at some point. Whether job, spouse, pet, friend or family member. Speaking from experience I have had my share over the years with the sudden loss of a brother, followed by the loss of a Father due to the stress of the loss of his son, Grandparents, friends, friends and friends.
Alone in a room I held my Grandfather’s hand during his last breathes. A privilege and one in which I was grateful to witness. What has come out of such loss is a beautiful life. Knowing time is finite, we never know, now more so than ever.
“If you’re not ready to die, you’re not living” This quote from Charles de Lint is powerful and worth repeating, “If you are not ready to die, you’re not living.” My quote – “Waking up each morning, I’m ready to die.” The only thing I would miss is my son growing up.
How do you envision your death? Not that it will play out that way. The actual envisioning is the beginning of accepting the reality.
I’ll start: I do not need much. No elaborate funeral. Simplicity is key. A gathering of family and friends (25-30 at most, I hope) at the local Zen Buddhist temple in the town outside of Tokyo where I have been practicing meditation. An open mic type set up. Friends and family members can come up and share stories, memories or simply bitch about me while everyone enjoys a healthy Japanese meal of fish, rice, miso soup and seasonal vegetables. Some of my favorite music playing in the background. In closing, an appropriate passage from my soon-to-be completed book. Preferably something funny. Laughing and crying are so closely related I want them to do both.
Afterward, I am whisked off to the burner for cremation and the ashes put into a nice simple light wooden urn, the color of my favorite Old Town canoe.
My final request, take the ashes and spread them in the mountains outside of Tokyo at the top of Tomin No Mori one of my favorite bike routes.
“In the end, live until there is no living. You will not know in the end. So go on and live!”