Reaching Into the Universe

Gratitude for life

Gift BoxOver fall equinox, huachuma helped me confront and deal with the powerlessness I felt during my grandma's dying process. In that, I recognized that the powerlessness we feel over someone's death is not different than the powerlessness we have over their lives. This is the corollary to the idea that we die the same way we live. How we live is our choice, and in some senses how we die is, often, our choice as well.

If I value letting go of trying to control other people's lives then I get to let go of all of the regrets I've entertained thinking that if I had only done something different, pressed harder, helped more, she might have lived healthier and died later, or at least better. My grandma died the same way she lived; she lived "by the book" and she died by the book too. The helpful measures I suggested weren't in it.

Talking with a friend Saturday night, I found that those regrets, while false, turned upon something true. The wish for her to live longer was and is a true and good thing. It's when it becomes expectation or demand that it crosses the line. I came to the conclusion that it's best to think of a person's life at each moment as a gift.

When a person gives us a series of precious gifts, we don't balk when they spend some of their energy elsewhere. We don't harangue them to reorganize parts of their lives so that they may enable themselves to give us even more. Nor do we consider it proper to resent them when they stop giving.

That leads to the realization that if I looked in the mirror, it would be best to relate to my own life as a gift as well. This strikes me as the kind of "heart opening" effect the huachuma curandera said grief could have.

One day later and I'm talking with a different friend on Sunday night, who tells me about a dream he had about death, the punch-line of which is the appropriate response to having received a gift such as life : gratitude.

Next was my own dream, in which I felt a particular feeling, a feeling that I would soon read about in a blog post written by a cute bearish man in response to a question I asked him on Scruff (smartphone chat app for scruffy gay men). In my dream I remember thinking that if my life was a gift, being grateful for it would involve taking better care of myself. As his post says, "[G]ratitude is not just a mental exercise.  Gratitude is both attitude and action." He writes about the actions he takes in response to his gratitude for his car. What kinds of actions would most appropriately reflect your gratitude for your life? This 3-minute Uzazu practice video I received in my email recently might help you embody it.

I'm enjoying how these learnings are unfolding over a series of different conversations and synchronous events, across various relationships and media. It's like my life is a novel and the cosmos has introduced a new theme.