Saturday, 6 January 2018

A Story of Life and Death. And Life...

There are no people in this story, just cliffs and rocks, sand and water.  A whole ocean of water.  And it assumes that all life, from a single cell bacterium to the most complex mammal, is in the business of being and becoming itself.

Each of our lives are like a tide, it comes in and it goes out.  But perhaps not quite as we think.  For we think our life belongs to us, when actually we belong to life.

Our story begins when our tide is out.  The waters are low across the ocean but the pressure of water far away and the pull of the moon further away are already building momentum.  As the tide starts to rise, our story too begins, with our parents developing in capacity, strength and vigour.  Midway into the tide's flow, our parents' life peaks (at around 25 or so) when their striving in the world has prepared a life we children can be born into.

Life comes from life.  We are already alive before we are alive.  Every one of our parents' cells are living.  A live egg encounters a live sperm and those lives are changed, becoming a unique, different life.  While our tide is rising, we are born into that rising tide.  We grow in capacity, strength and vigour until our tide reaches its peak, at around 25 or so.

Some tides rise in stormy conditions and in some places waves at high tide batter cliffs made during other high tides.  Some of those waves bring down mighty rocks.  But most of us are born in gentler times.  Our impact is more like moving sand, smoothing pebbles, perhaps leaving a little flotsam behind.

But before we know it, our tide has turned.  As we approach 50 we notice our strength ebbing.  We still strive, but the urgency has gone out of it.  For we suspect life is about more than simply succeeding.

This second half of the ebbing tide is a time few notice and even fewer value.  Yet it is the time of greatest opportunity.  Greater than anything we can ever do.  We are approaching an horizon we cannot see beyond.  We will not see another tide, just the receding of this one.  But if we are lucky we can learn to die before we die.  This is the best time of life to realise (make real) what the words 'life' and 'death' actually mean.

The undercurrent is stronger than any incoming waves, though that too will soon weaken.  The water that rushed up the shore has almost all returned to the ocean.  With nothing else going on, perhaps we can pay attention to our receding water as it falls back into the deep.  The tide will come again, we will not.

Or perhaps (despite what everyone seems to think) our life never was our activity on the shoreline?  Haven't we always been the water, urged first forth then back, part of a rising and falling that is wider and bigger than our understanding?

There is still a little time left to enjoy life without the narrowed mind inevitably created by striving and knowing, wanting and doing.  Things are just as they are, and all is remarkably well.  Sometimes there are storms, sometimes stillness.  But always change, always Life, forever being and becoming itself.