Monthly Archives: June 2013

Forgiveness Is a Type of Dying

Because I could die any day, I’d like to be willing and ready to die every day. To remember that each day might be the last one in this body. And to practice this awareness over and over, as a preparation for the last day when it comes.

How does one practice dying?

I recently attended a writing workshop whose theme was forgiveness. It occurred to me that forgiveness is a type of dying, a way to practice dying on a regular basis. I also noticed that following my outbreath felt like a perfect way to practice forgiveness. Attending every exhale to its end. Feeling the fall of my chest and the soft warm rush of air exiting just below the nostrils.

Something about it – the peace and quiet I must embody in order to attend an exhale, the release of what I no longer need, the gift of my waste to the trees – something about it feels like a training in forgiveness. Maybe because each outbreath is a physical letting go. And maybe because if my attention is riveted here on the breath, it’s much less likely I’ll get caught up in things that are none of my business. Hence, much less to fret about and much less to forgive.

So I come back to my outbreath. It’s smooth, fast, light. It empties me and gives something away. It doesn’t mind if I write stories or not, if I finish what I start, if I call the people on my list to call. It is doing its job, cleaning me out, preparing me for a fresh draught of oxygen, tying me intimately with that spectacular old oak tree along the road.

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Porous for the now

I have a naked feeling of wonder about birds that sing at dusk, and new spring clover that’s folded and quiet under a fading sky, and the distant constant song of water. I feel like a sieve for splendor. And writing makes me a funnel between this – the closing-in dark with stars poking through – and you, whoever you are, reading. I want to give you the crisp air and porchlight yellow on the page and affection for grass creeping lazily onto the sidewalk. Sharing this feeling, this awake quiet wow, is the best of what we can give each other. We can write about our fears, and I’ve overdone that, but now as the earth sings into my body, all I want to write is the goodness that swarms in me, fills me to overspilling, lives richly in and around my skin. I want to share this watchful awe so you feel the wrap of cool sky, hear crickets pulse, understand the sensation of being mesh: riddled with openings, porous for the now to melt through. So you can lie down in the creek song and cricket song and fresh big blue-dark universe. Make yourself into a cup to be satisfied by this night. Darkening, humming, punctured with star-glitter, utterly unconcerned with tomorrow.