I think about life all the time. This life. My life. The life I am giving my children. The life they will choose as their own. The life this world will give to them, or sentence them to. The life my husband has chosen to share; the sacrifice inherent in that. The life I am touting (consciously or unconsciously) if anyone looks quickly, clearly, and/or closely.
The life that will inevitably end.
I think about life all the time. I think about global warming when I open a package or remark on unusual weather or sit in traffic. I think about the myriad of ways I am contributing to the problem. I think about the hopelessness I feel at our current political climate—and the many effects it has, and will continue to have, on our environmental climate. I think about generations to come.
I get a pit in my stomach.
It’s the same pit I get when I think about “forever”. What the fuck does that word even mean? That is perhaps the scariest word to me in our English language. When I grew up in the Christian church (Southern Baptist to be exact) “forever”—even in the context of an eternity in paradise—made my skin crawl. Maybe I am of little faith. I cannot picture or fathom or begin to sit with thoughts of eternity.
And commitment. And sameness. And never-ending.
But I think about life a lot. I think about what the point of mine is and how I’m ensuring that and role modeling it, and who I’m connecting with and if the time I’ve spent matters.
I think about death. I watch closely the process of grieving. I deeply admire the people in my life I watched walk through grief and come out the other side (or maybe it’s continue walking despite). I see some changed: wiser, more accepting, in possession of an uninvited understanding about certain truths of this world.
I want that but I don’t want to go there.
It must help me to focus on the outcome. To see the result of the process, even if the event itself (and the inability to avoid it) scares the shit out of me. It’s the other shoe I’ve been waiting to drop my whole life.
I think about life when I love on our dog. She’s an occasional little shit with a strong streak of Princess, but my love for her is so pure and brings such a sweetness and additional dimension to this life. I think about her life cycle and the assumption that I will be by her side throughout. I don’t expect to bury my babies, but I hope (in a somewhat sick way) to be by Mabel’s side letting her know we love and have deeply loved her until her end.
Almost every time I look at her, I have all these thoughts. I weigh the pain ahead and the joy right now and almost have to decide each instance, each day, if I can/should go in any deeper. Can I care for her more? Can I bond with her further? Can I go further in and still survive an inevitable loss?
I think how stunted this life would be if we shield ourselves from the hurt. If we build walls before the connection and the caring even starts. Many do. Most have (to some degree). It’s like staying at a resort in the wilderness. Comfort. Predictability. Control. But without the adventure. Without the risk. Without the highs and lows of survival. Lacking the payoff and the breathtaking sights, sounds, smells, fears, feelings and unending complexity this life is meant to lay out in front of us in great expanse.
I don’t know if my insight, my thoughtfulness, my persistent wondering helps me at all. I strive not to be chained by it, to acknowledge the fear without embracing it. It either adds meaning and purpose to my life or paralyzes me with existentialism. It all means so much and yet perhaps nothing at all.
And so I share with you. Perhaps you also carry this weight. Perhaps you have walked this path. Perhaps you have cracked the code (do tell). In the meantime, I will just sit here and think. And live. And further explore how those two inexorable actions increase/decrease joy, fulfillment, presence, understanding and/or feelings of purpose.