I really want to write and the tremor makes me grateful for the computer, but my eyes keep returning to the waves. I hear the breakers crash, smell the ocean air, and feel the warm wind. Rhythm is in the waves, the tides, the days and nights, the moon, sun, seasons, and years. It is also in family, community, and the worldwide network of living connections between us, nature, and the earth. Life is so incredibly precious.
I almost died at thirty-two. A near-death experience sent me back to unfinished work. But within months, three people I knew died. I started a hospice and received the gift of being present at many deaths over the next few years. The moment of transition, the thinness of the veil, communications with the other side before and after the transition, and the resulting meaning and growth for the dying, their family and friends, all these were deeply significant.
I grew, work changed, and one day was working hard in my new yoga class. A spiritual mentor, extremely important to me, had died just two days earlier. While I was precariously balanced in a new yoga position, he zoomed into the room and simply said, “Stay in your body,” before zooming out again. I was startled, and so honored by his appearance. In subtle ways and over many years, this changed my life.
Now the tides have turned yet again. With age I give new meaning to something basically obvious: without my body, I am no longer living on this earth. This life really depends on the functioning of my body. I have no fear of dying; I simply want to live here, need to write, want to live in family and community, and share the joy and heartache of life.
I have long been energized by my passion for ideas or causes, and by pushing through, could reap the rewards. But now I crash, sometimes before completion — not how I want to live. My body hurts, wants to move, or not move. What is the pace? It is even more confusing because recent medical discoveries and new therapies have minimized thirty-three years of injury-caused pain and limits. Although those are healing, age has brought new aches, limits, and a slower pace. Is this the same body? How much can I accomplish today? Am I left with only these six years before I am the age of both parents at their deaths? Or another nineteen or thirty-one like my grandmothers?
New ways are needed to get through a day. I hear breakers crash, smell ocean air, and feel warm wind. Rhythm is in waves, tides, days and nights, moon, sun, seasons, and years. It is also in family, community, and throughout the entire network of living connections between us, nature, earth, the universe. Is there a rhythm in my body??? Life is so incredibly precious.