Relating to Death - The 4/20 Remix
Updated: May 7
You know that "Hold my beer" meme? That's exactly what 2020 has felt like from start through two-thirds of April.
I remember feeling a buzz of excitement, as in my case, the 40s are just on the horizon. I was feeling pretty stoked about all the time invested on the inner work and prospect at where Life could be headed at perhaps a second go at the so-called new 20s without quite the self-sabotage that rolled with me on the first lap. But to quote the great fictitious philosopher Forrest Gump, one of "my best good friends," Uncertainty decided to drop in.
If I am honest, the first two months of this decade sucked, month three wasn't all that great, and four has been a mix of meh and soul much wow (!).
But let's go back to January.
We lost Kobe.
Even as the world has shifted so much in a few short months, it's still hard to make sense of that, in particular because of all the lives lost in that crash: Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, and of course Bryant's daughter, Gigi.
All of their families, and the lives of those they touched in their networks, shattered in a moment. For millions around the world, this was untimely, unreal, and it carries a great degree of weight.
Little did we know of the foreshadowing of greater loss yet to come...
Like generations before, Kobe's departure was equivalent to the loss of JFK, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac, Biggie, Amy Winehouse, Nip, insert name here of countless other public figures who left seemingly too soon.
Over the years, the figures these souls became lived lives and created in their work in such a way, that collectively we were moved for (add reason here). The answers to this could be why historians have their jobs and I would argue it is also why art lives on.
Because somewhere, out there, where people die, their light leaving but shadows of dreams that came true, creations of living realized, in that void, there's a space in between where Loss can lead to Freedom for those of us left behind, left to dream on just a little bit longer.
Full-disclaimer, I'm not there yet.
I shutter to think what else Life has in store for me, what other Seasons of Loss lie ahead. During one particularly quiet moment of respite and meditation a few years back, I heard in Spirit - you shall lose everyone you Love. There have been moments like that, where quiet Truths have flowed that I can only trust that Life, Love, The Creator knows more than me. But as I said, I'm not there yet and as I navigate the current Season of Loss, the thought of repeating this on more occasions does not have me rushing to hit replay.
It has been said that when we expire, our work here is done and that's been one of the small Lights, which I carry with me. If only because I hope to see a bit more clearly when it feels like the Darkness is closing in.
Let's skip ahead to March because I'll save February for last.
March saw the Covid-19 marathon kick off. I could probably write ad nausuem about that but I'll guess that whoever chances upon reading this is running this race in some, way, shape, or form. And if not, oh well, I guess you can Google, and perhaps, virtual high-five because you're tasting a bit of liberation that the majority of the world is unable to enjoy. Enjoy your Jared Leto isolation retreat mind-state as long as you can because at some point, Uncertainty will be crashing your party all too soon.
March was pretty much filled to capacity.
Full of numbers, talking heads, comedy, concerts performed from/experienced on the couch, and people fighting to put on normal clothes to work at home. Somewhere between cats making their Zoom bombs (and in my case, messaging my boss while walking across the keyboard) and the discussions about toilet paper hysteria, it was the first time, probably in my Life, where it truly felt like the critical mass was aware of sharing this collective experience of Life, together.
If a handshake or a hug turned deadly wasn't enough to make a person realize the ability s/he has to impact a Life, I'm not sure what will.
January was a big come to (insert what you believe beyond here) for a great many. If only we would have known what lie just beyond February as we skip ahead, for Now, to March.
March was full of fear, in some cases hyped, in many cases, very real.
Life is balance, and though the drops of Loss and tragedy hailed down upon humanity, there were rays of Light through all of the Darkness of a different type of March Madness. March was definitely a whole lot of suck with moments of levity sprinkled throughout. Like a dry cupcake, where the frosting and sprinkles still make it worth eating.
I feel for everyone who is grappling with some of form of Loss that has found them. For a great many, it's a loss of livelihood, a loved one, simple freedoms. Loss can be bullshit unfortunately, but to quote the great philosopher from my teen years, Tai Wyban: Such is Life.
During what I'd consider my first collective Season of Loss, it came to be that I was was laid off for the fourth time. This is a story that I feel like I've already told before but I'll summarize it here again. Though our lives and experiences are different, we each feel, and in feeling I can relate to our Universal `Ohana dealing with this form of Loss for the first time, and those, anew.
When I got laid off the fourth time (which turns out would not be the last), it was a real what in all the fuck am I doing, and how will I make it periods of Life. I had prayed for years on end to be an instrument of the Divine, making what I thought were logical choices to be of service, so I was at a Loss for what I was doing and striving towards. Within two weeks of getting laid off, it was followed by the end of a relationship (which at the time I believed was destined for marriage). We lived together, we had pets, we were... no more. A day after that, my paternal Grandfather died.
It was intense for me, a pile-up battering into different facets of my Life, one after the other. Yet in hindsight, I view the learning that came from it as one of the greatest periods of my Life, as it set the stage for the decade to follow and helped me to grow Fuller, to Flow better with Life as it ebbed and Flowed about. None of Life since has been easy. I've grappled seasonally with my demons, questioned the Journey many times, reexamined my approach as only a Gemini could, and went to lower rock bottoms aka felt worst than I did during that time. Despite all that, Loss taught me that I could survive, giving tastes of what it meant to thrive, and through each rough season, if I've still breath, truly I am blessed by the gift that is Life.
The worse yet can and will be surpassed, but so will the best yet, and a better, brighter collective future awaits. I can't say, when, how, in what form that will manifest. But it's what I believe wholeheartedly.
Now let's take a step back to February because after three and a half weeks of writing and editing this (I've create manuscripts in the same time), I think I'm ready for February.
On February 25, 2020, I got a call from my Mom that altered my Life from here to the end because one of my greatest fears, losing a parent, came to fruition. On that day, my Dad's Soul exited the body and took the next step of the adventure in Spirit. I find myself saying 'Wow' quite often and aloud, in quiet moments, while reflecting, and here I am, still a bit in awe, and struggling because it feels like I'll never be able to put the words down that I'm feeling. I'm ready to write about it and share it a bit more fully than I have thus far, but I can't quite place the flavor of this sadly, beautiful smoothie.
The best analogy that has come is that the experience of grief is much like watching the ocean. There is high tide, where the waves are firing, and low tide, when it's mellow. There are both choppy and serene periods that varies throughout the day but make no mistake, it is All still there - the Loss, intensified by All the Love, mixed in with memories had.
Perhaps what is most crushing about it is though I feel so fortunate, the other side of it is that there are so many memories that will just never be.
As I have come to appreciate the seasons that I have been gifted to go through before, I am moving with this season as the breaths rise and fall. I feel blessed to have found beauty within this experience and can accept that it is a struggle because it's human to show up, flaws and all, to the rest of my life. If anything, I am just so grateful for the relationship I had with my Dad, what was, and to miss him. As much as I'd love the memories we won't have, it is too easy to pine for what could be. I have already been done told a few times that Life's not guaranteed and what is yet to be is full of Uncertainty. All that we can do is embrace where we are in each expression of the Now, so I'm doing what I can to Love as much of every moment I'm given that I can.
And Now here we are in April of 2020, many of us sheltered in place, on mandatory lock-downs, living with curfews, separated from our loved ones, losing the ones we love, and enduring wave after wave of Loss.
One of the greatest teachings my Dad gave me early on in Life was each day, to do our best. And here's the extra spice he added to that statement which I had not heard before he said it at the time:
Some days, our best is better than others.
Human + Beings, it might seem like we aren't having our best days right now. But we're doing what we can, learning, and rather than focus on what's not, I'm choosing to see the progress, because every day is truly not all good, but it's also not all otherwise. Every day just is. Soul Fill in the Blank is a required course.
And just as there is Love within even the hardest seasons of Loss, there is so much beauty in Life from birth through death, a beauty that is a reflection of our own Inner Truth as manifestations of Creation.
So the same as Uncertainty is never one to miss a party, RSVP or not, don't you miss the moment, whatever it is, and whatever is in it for you.
Life is messy. Imperfect. Impractical. But like my Dad said, do the best each day, whatever that best is. That's all we can do and what is in the past, has passed. Don't beat yourself over what was. If you find yourself doing that, give yourself a time limit for wallowing then set a goal to re-Flow that energy. Each day is a new day to learn what we can and apply that to manifesting a great, fuller version of ourselves, and more communities. Another Season is not that far off after all...