Yesterday morning I woke up from a nightmare that I was on a plane with one of my best friends, and the plane suddenly started plummeting toward the ocean. Alarms were going off, things were falling from the overhead compartments, oxygen masks dangled in front of us, and people were screaming. My friend grabbed my arm, and I said, “We’re going to have a water landing.” Which is hilarious in retrospect, because if that isn’t a euphemism we’ve been taught, what is? All I could think of was my children. I woke up as the nose of the plane hit the water. Needless to say, it was not a great way to start the day.
There are all kinds of dream interpretations we could talk about with a scene like that, but honestly, I was just so happy to wake up and realize it wasn’t real, and that my kids were sleeping soundly, and that I wasn’t dead. The thing is, we get reminders all the time that we’re vulnerable. We have the seasons which teach us about birth and blossoming and withering and death, and birth again. Sometimes we’re reminded when we lose someone we don’t know how to live without, and sometimes we get smaller nudges when someone exits our life by choice or through necessity. If we pay attention, we realize the impermanence and ever-changing nature of our feelings. We see that everything is in flux, all the time.
We’re vulnerable because we don’t know day-to-day what will happen, even though we try to pin things down and make our plans. We simply have no idea what’s in store for us, or for our loved ones. Of course I hope we all live to be a sprightly 103 like my Great Aunt Tess, but we just don’t know, and that’s not an easy gig. In fact, it’s so uncomfortable, many people try not to think about it at all. A lot of us seem to accept that death is a reality, but not when it applies to us, or to those we treasure. That’s why there’s always such a shock, such a stopping of the spinning of the earth when we lose someone, even if we knew it was coming. It seems impossible that a whole life, a whole person, a whole world is just…gone. I think because of this, because being human is such a vulnerable gig, we ought to have some compassion for ourselves. We’re in huge mystery together, and we won’t really know what’s going on until our final exhale, and maybe that will be that, and maybe not. I believe in the continuation of consciousness myself, but you may believe we become worm food, and we just won’t know until we know. Or we don’t. I could go on like this for hours.
In light of this, we could be more forgiving with each other, too. Life is too short for grudges and lists of ways we’ve been wronged. It’s too short for score-keeping. It’s too short to cling to your rage like a shield. It’s too short to blame other people if you’re unhappy. It’s too short to leave important things unsaid or undone. And it’s too short to do anything but follow your intuition and your heart. Since we only have 103 years, let’s blaze through the world and give it everything we’ve got. Let’s sing those songs that are in our hearts. Let’s let people merge on the freeway. Let’s celebrate when something wonderful happens, and let’s be there for each other when we’re in pain.
Let’s not ever “waste” time, or “kill time,” because it’s so precious. Let’s look the vulnerability of this thing in the face, and throw our arms in the air, and let’s enjoy the ride. Let the not knowing inspire you to live every single day as if it were the last one, and hug your children too hard. If there’s someone in your life you love, tell them right now. Text them, call them, post it in your update, or tag them in this thread and tell them why you love them. Let’s make a little magic happen, shall we?
Wishing and sending you love.