Springtime and She Dances
“People living deeply have no fear of death.”
- Anaïs Nin
It’s not so different. Any day of the week, for a myriad of reasons, we can die. Our mortal body can fail us. An accident can occur. We can get sick. Any day.
So why does it feel so different now? Why is this pandemic so frightening?
Tell me, can you think of another time in your life that the entire world – every country - every individual – has been personally affected by any one thing? Perhaps there is something, but, searching my own memory, I find nothing.
Death is present all around us. She is dancing between us, choosing her partners. Each one will cross the threshold between this world and the next. And, more than ever, she is visible to us. Her face appears in story after story of heroic loss.
We have cast her in black garments, a thief who steals from us all that is precious. She is the penultimate outcast in our consciousness. Yet every single one of us must dance with her at some time.
We don’t want to think about that.
And now, we must.
Everything we are doing- staying at home, relentlessly washing our hands, doing away with hugs and handshakes and the most common greetings – is to keep death away. And yet she dances amongst us. Why? I suspect she wants something more than to simply open the ethereal door for those souls who are crossing. I imagine that she might be here to teach us all something life changing. Just maybe, she has come with gifts to share.
Death is a companion from our first breath to our last, always by our side. We meet her each time a petal falls from its stem, each time a relationship ends, each time we leave one job to begin the next or watch a particular day become night. Each time, something dies. Oh, we don’t call those experiences deaths – but they are.
It is a fact of life that things born into the physical world will die. But what is death except transformation? (I once heard someone say about death, “the light that is you will echo through all time.” I wish I could remember who it was.)
Why is this so hard? I've been considering that its Spring – a time of birth. Death is not "in-season." This is the time things are supposed to sprout and blossom. We don't want to face the possibility that our life, or the life of someone we love, might end. Not now. Not in Spring. And yet it might. Any day. Any time.
What would happen if we were to change our thinking? If, like some spiritual traditions suggest, we were to embrace the idea that all of life is impermanent. It is, you know.
What if we were to turn our attention to savoring this life because we actually understand that our time to do so is limited by our form and fashion of existence. Every morsel we eat would be more delicious, every kind gesture, more appreciated. Every color we see, more vibrant. Wouldn’t we slow down a bit? To look at the stars? To laugh at the antics of children? To love?
If we realized that we are impermanent, what is important - and what is not - would be so much clearer. Our way of living in this physical world would change dramatically and we would cradle the precious gifts that surround every single one of us….the inspiration of breath, the sound of water lapping as it flows, the sun's warmth beckoning the seedlings.
Death is dancing boldly amongst us - in spring - inviting us to remember that we are gloriously alive – and that, if we witness her dance each day our hearts will be filled with gratitude for each whisper of sentience, and our souls will be prepared for the time we cross the luminous threshold between now and forever.
This is not about whether we stay at home or go out. It’s not about who is President, or what happens to the economy. This is about LIVING. We are being invited to live differently. We are being shaken awake - to realize that we have been walking in a stupor, allowing the rich essence of our being to be lost in the fog of a world gone mad with greed and consumption.
So – whether you are on quarantine or slowly re-entering the world outside, whether you are afraid of death or have looked her full in the eye, wherever you are on the planet and whatever you are doing, just stop for a moment. Something beautiful is calling you.
On the bookshelf or counter top.
In the next room.
At the window.
Out in the yard.
As close as the end of your fingertips.
Something beautiful is calling. Go and find it. Spend some time with it. Give it your attention. Nothing is more important.
And, if you should notice Death dancing by – say thank you.
©Ahriana Platten, April 23rd, 2020