Engaging in a relationship with death and suffering

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I’ve been publishing and running this blog since March 2014. I think I’m beginning to understand why. Partly it’s because I have this compulsion, ever so often, to write and be read – doesn’t really matter by how many. And like many others, I want a platform that is singularly in my control, where people can bear witness to as much of me as I care to reveal. Barring my partner, our daughter, and our two cats, I don’t really reveal much of myself to anyone, mostly because I prefer building community with others at arms length distance.

(I’m a family man and misanthropic humanist rolled into one. This blog is sounding board, friend, and counsel.)

I realize I also want to leave a written legacy for my daughter for her to skim through in her own time.

This makes me fear death a lot less because there’s an authentic part of me, with these random streams of consciousness, that will always be left behind in this universe. If all goes well, I will die while Sus and Daya are both alive and well, but not before having helped establish a nurturing, secure foundation of love and community for them to continue thriving in. That is all I dream off and desire from this life. (Beyond, you know, the whole nirvana ideal of freedom from attachment and desire etc…for now, I’m just taking it step by step.)

It’s funny. I used to care a lot less about death in my teens and twenties.

But ever since the blooming of our amazing family, reflections on death (as well as more morbid, fearful thoughts around suffering, grief, trauma, and more…) have been an ever-present hum in my brain.

Try as I might I am unable to get rid of them.

On the surface it’s easy to see why. I lost my younger brother nearly fourteen years ago – three weeks before his 18th birthday – to a swimming accident. Our relationship has continued to grow and thrive in other realms, but I sure do miss him in this one. Issues with loss, and fear of the same, are likely to be lifelong companions. I have also seen a lot of suffering and trauma as a result of past work and activism. I know shit can get really, really bad, really, really fast, pretty much anywhere on earth.

Furthermore, I have never experienced as deep and spiritual a love as I have for Sus and Daya. Being a nurturer and parent is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Never have I feared losing two human beings more than these two. It is a fear so deep, so raw, that I can barely put it into words.

But I think another reason for those ever-present mental segues into death and suffering is because the universe is telling me to engage with those thoughts.

Instead of avoiding them, or rationalizing them, or getting tied down by them, I need to have a judgment-free, fearless relationship with them.

I don’t know what that might look like. Like any relationship, I suppose it will go through its ebbs and flows.

But I do know it’s a relationship that can get healthier only when I let go of my need to control it. I can’t really control when or how any of us is going to die. Nor am I, try as I might, going to be able to protect my loved ones from all the ills of the world. I know they are stronger than me and certainly strong enough to handle whatever life throws at them.

The only thing I do, in fact, know with certainty is that we are all going to die and we are all likely going to encounter some suffering in our lives.

Why not have a healthier relationship with that which is the only true certainty in this life of ours?

(You know, until we figure out the whole non-linearity of time thingy…a whole other mindfuck I can’t comprehend.)

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