If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving
and for once could do nothing
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Pablo Nerudo, Keeping Quiet
What I mean to say is that you hear the Bat Kol (The Divine Voice). You hear this other deep reality singing to you all the time, and much of the time you can’t decipher it. Even when I was healthy, I was sensitive to the process. At this stage of the game, I hear it saying, ‘Leonard, just get on with the things you have to do.’ It’s very compassionate at this stage. More than at any time of my life, I no longer have that voice that says, ‘You’re fucking up.’ That’s a tremendous blessing, really.
Leonard Cohen’s wisdom as he gets older and is more aware of his mortality
photo taken from leonardcohen.com
is to touch with love
that which we previously touched with fear.
Everything is meant to be let go of.
A little more from Rilke, because sometimes he says it best. Changes of direction and endings are an inevitable part of our lives, but can be difficult especially if we do not choose them. Our instinct is to look for certainty, for solid ground, when in actual fact, the deep reality which we come to accept is that nothing is really lasting or solid.
And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.
We are asked to live in companionship with patterns and dynamics that are either disappearing, have not fully emerged or can never be fully named;
patterns perhaps already changing into forms for which we have yet no language.
It might be liberating to think of human life as informed by losses and disappearances
as much as by gifted appearances,
allowing a more present participation and witness to the difficulty of living
David Whyte, The Poetic Narrative of our Times
The start of November is the start of Winter in the old Celtic calendar, and even if we follow a more universal way of marking time, there is no denying the shortening of the days and increasing darkness. One can see why one of the themes associated with this time of year is letting go. Is is also easy to understand why today became All Souls Day, the traditional day for remembering those who have died. It is still celebrated as an important day in the Latin countries, such as Italy, where cemeteries are covered in flowers as families take time to visit and remember. Sadness on a day like today is related to love, when we cannot be with someone who is dear to us. Learning how to live life fully and gratefully in each moment and yet still hold things lightly is one of the hardest and yet most important inner practices in our every day and in our lives.
All I know from my own experience is that the more loss we feel the more grateful we should be for whatever it was we had to lose. It means that we had something worth grieving for. The ones I’m sorry for are the ones that go through life not knowing what grief is.
Frank O’Connor, 1903 – 1966, Irish writer of short stories