Winter, anxiety, death…

It has all been rather grey and moody this month as if life stopped at this place of no particular interest, a downward mood yet not particularly depressive. Confusion, uncertainty and anxiety have been at the centre of the feeling of it all although with a clear awareness of everything actually being all right. There has been motion yet it felt dragging. There has been laughter and warmth with odd moments of grief flying in from nowhere. Most peculiar presentation of the season I’d say, however thinking about it there is nothing really surprising about it. Winter and grief go hand and hand and death and anxiety are good old friends.

I have experienced it all it seems in just one month and something in me can’t help but wonder what the next month could possibly bring.

My body has thrown up another mysterious ailment. Usually these happen in spring for me, but this time it came in winter and I believe it is linked to both grief and anxiety. Those two human issues have been present in my life always and I have come to take it for granted and somewhat my body, the wise old vessel that it is, decided to remind me or rather slap me in the face with asking me to revisit what both of those mean to me. Is it actually good for me to be exposed to it all the time or is it time to admit it is not always the best? I realised that I abandon myself over and over again when faced with grief and anxiety and not only that both signatures go right through my body and always manifest in curious things. I am completely disarmed by them, it seems.

This time I was faced with not being able to breathe. That tapped into my death anxiety and having to face that and look underneath of what that presentation meant, not to mention lung being directly linked to grief and death. How vulnerable I am to it all and how clever my body is to jolt me into considering the consequences.

I don’t want to die gasping to air and I don’t want to live my life waiting for the moment when I can’t take another breath and die. I can’t placate my anxiety or avoid it with doing the exact thing that takes my breath away in a sense of killing me. There is so much connection and meaning to it all. All quite sad, dark and paralysing.

What I am trying to say here and learn from is that our body is so wise and knowing if only we listened to it and for sure there will be consequences if we don’t. That much is clear. I know my body for being friendly and always on my side despite a life-long abuse thrown at it. How much it had to put up with yet never left me and when the ultimate function of air in my lungs became compromised suddenly death stepped in with a possibility of taking me. Truly awakening.

What a month it has been so far. Scary, up and down and everything in between yet nothing at all. In the stillness of winter, indeed, we are often faced with the darkest faces of existence. It is stark in my mind the true meaning of the season this year. There’s a certain old and murky wisdom taste to it this year. Perhaps this will only amplify with myself getting old, who knows, but one just never knows what awaits us.

When great trees fall…

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When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of
dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

~ Maya Angelou

When death comes…

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One comes to realise that we are all but a temporary expression on an eternal canvas of the universe. This time last year she came in black clothing with a sombre expression on her unmerciless face and with a single gesture of her bony hand she froze us all in despair and sorrow.

When death comes in the final hour, when all stops in frozen time, when breathing comes to an end and there is no life left within a chest, it feels final… Is it? Is it really? We cling on to the indescribable feeling within, confused, lost. Is it really that the loved on will never again feel the warmth of life, tenderness of touch and laughter of a human beating heart? Is it really the end?

We are bound to a period of moaning when death comes. We are to revisit again and again that space in the chest that grips all senses and throws us off our feet. We are to make sense of it in our own time, in our own way and at a pace we can allow ourselves. Is it final? Yes, it is, but once a hope of virgin new light begins to creep in once again in time passing we can feel that beating heart of theirs within ours and we feel comforted once again. They live within us for eternity.

The season of transitions

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Autumn is the time when summer lingers still not wanting to let go, but carrying a deep knowing that it must surrender its hot days and green armor at the same time. As winter often fearful of leaving, like an ice princess it perseveres with its bitter bite and powerful winds, like spring that brings rain to a land in an attempt to overflow arrival of heat and steady sunshine, summer is too is holding on with its green leaves and surprisingly hot sunny days.

I go through transitions during Autumn when it is the time to take stock of the harvest and think about what to keep and what to let go off, what will serve us well and what is no longer needed. It is the waning part of the year with clearing space for the next stage, next season of our journey.

I walked to the woods this morning to witness the process of transition mirrored back to me. There is sadness, fear present and also surrender at the same time. Just like death it can feel final, lonely and utterly terrifying. I came across a dying hare lying on the path. I leaned down witnessing its struggle to stand up and run into the field, it couldn’t. I felt hopeless and helpless. Distress was so hard to watch and I felt its fear deep within me. I picked it up and moved it to the hedge on the side of the main path and sat with it stroking its long ears. It felt calmer, more surrendered and comfortable. I spoke gently to it. I then walked on leaving the hare to transition in its own time, giving it some privacy. The balance of involvement and allowing is so important.

In nature everything is always just as it should be. Trees stand in their patient postures rooted in the knowledge of things always changing and transitioning, yet there is also a degree of resistance, anticipation, and uncertainty of what’s to come. Nature walks through the cycles with confidence, as it is in the very core of life with all relationships, beginnings and endings, flourishing times and periods of famine and scarcity. Nature knows, yet trees are hesitant to drop its green lush foliage and insects are all around taking in the last warm air. The sun is shining, but it no longer burns, it knows it must die, but only to return again. There is such peace in nature’s presence, deep knowing and surrender and with every transition it teaches us to just be with what is, allow for things to flow, change and when time comes die.

I walked back. The hare lay dead on the path where I moved it from. It looked serene, peaceful and perfectly still. It left this world, the struggle was over and it looked beautiful with its beady black eyes staring into another space. I am filled with sadness, but also a relief that one journey ended and another will begin shortly and so it goes again and again with each turn of the nature’s wheel.

Blessed Mabon!

 

The Emptiness of Death

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When someone leaves your life forever, never to be seen, heard, experienced or felt on no level, never to walk the Earth again or breathe the air or see the sky, it feels empty to the one left behind.

Empty to a degree that nothing seem to fill that particular emptiness. It is a feeling of despair and disbelief and hopelessness about anything that can be done about it. We can’t change death, we can’t rewind the clock to stop things from happening, we are powerless at the hands of the force merciless and sudden.

It is one of the human experiences that is beyond comprehension. We can’t make sense of it with our minds and when turning to our hearts the pain is too much and unbearable when we tune into that hole, that emptiness, that nothingness that suddenly entered our lives.

Cruel – yes

Unfair – yes

Gaping emptiness – yes

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No amount of reasoning, pleading, conditioning yourself to it is going to stop it in its tracks. When it is time, it is time. How does one say goodbye to that, in the emptiness, in the hole with no sunlight, just emptiness. How to be, what to do, what to feel – all and nothing at the same time. Overwhelm of ripping claws of devastation created by an empty space or frozen in that moment when nothing else exists, no longer exists and you are suspended between living and joining that emptiness.

The pain is sharp. If it was to be described in tastes it is like it suddenly goes very bitter or extremely sweet when overwhelmed with memories, e.g. it is all about extremes of either unpleasant sensations to the max or the pleasure of remembering to a degree it is also unbearable when feeling a hand of a loved one in yours like it was five minutes ago.

Emptiness, what to do? All we can do is stay in it, stay still and wear whatever masks are thrown at you whether it is sobbing creature rolling on the floor whaling and howling like it wants no longer exist or flooding in the ocean of tears till you can’t breathe or see and all sense abandon you in that moment. A road to realisation that nothing will ever fill that emptiness is a long one and it might take for the rest of your life to even begin to feel ok with the knowledge there is emptiness.

Does it transform into something remotely comforting? I think we do need to aim to transform it into something even if it is something we create with our imagination. It is powerful to feel and know that something or someone gone is gone forever. The truth is they are gone, what we are left with is a feeling, a knowing, a memory of it once existing with life and passion and blood in their veins and laughter in their belly. We hold that image where the emptiness is, we make peace with it, we carry it within us carefully hidden in a sacred space of the heart. We can always access it and eventually we will feel more love than pain, more warmth and chilled sensation of an initial emptiness. It is not impossible, but it is a long process of first and foremost of honouring all the feelings that dance around that emptiness in unison with your soul crying. The rhythm of your heart beats as one with the Earth and the lulling comfort of the Earth gives us a reassurance that within the emptiness there is a hope for growth.

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