November 15 – Dying into Now – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“In the end, everyone is aware of this: nobody keeps any of what he has, and life is only a borrowing of bones.” Pablo Neruda

Three years from my surgeries, I am taking a shower, and there, on my head, along the scar, is the beginning of a pimple. In thirty seconds, I am tripping into a cascade of “what ifs.” What if this is another tumor? What if it is spreading? As the water pelts me, my fear runs wild. I can see myself in the doctor’s office, undressing for surgery, walking the halls in recovery, lying down for chemo, getting weaker, dying.There and back. In thirty seconds.

My heart is pounding, naked in the shower. I so want to live. I am so awake, finally at peace, but what if this is true? What shall I do? Where shall I go? But in this moment, the shower rinses me over and over, and I come home. If this is true, if I am to die soon, I know what I will do…. I sigh more deeply than I ever thought possible…. I will finish my shower….

In that moment I learned that everything is right where we are. No matter our pain or distress, all of life is in whatever moment we wake to. I could clearly see and feel how our fear of death makes us run, though there is nowhere to go. Yet mysteriously, I learned that there’s a ring of peace at the center of every fear, if we can only get to it.

Every time I shower now, I try to remember that we can-not live fully until we can first accept our eventual death. Otherwise, we will always be running to or running from. Only when we can accept that we are fragile guests on this Earth, only then will we be at home wherever we are.

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