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.