One of the greatest impediments to a happy life among humans is our obsession with death. Fear of it impedes us from making the most of every moment with which we have been graced. We worry about that which has not come to pass while the present flies on by without producing anything productive for ourselves, loved ones or our fellow creatures. How much more lovely would the experience of an earthly life be if we stopped wrapping ourselves up with the inevitability of death. We could live each moment to its absolute fullest.
But we as humans cling to things, be it other people, a beloved pet and/or an accumulations of “stuff”. Instead of looking within our own hearts and souls for fulfillment and worth, we seek happiness and acknowledgment from outside of us. But joy and real love do not come to us from without, they emanate from within. And we can never truly see the real beauty of life outside of us because we have not yet learned to appreciate the unique beauty that is our essential nature.
And so we become downcast, fearful and even paranoid. We arm ourselves under some delusion that something or someone is certain to come after us, our family or our accumulated stuff. We develop methods to keep the ailing alive although there is no hope for them to enjoy a meaningful future, all because we selfishly cannot possibly give them freedom from ourselves. We prepare for the future while relinquishing the present, the only true time of our lives over which we have full control. Then when things do not turn out as we expect, we look to the past trying to figure out what we did wrong, or how much better we had it back then. Meanwhile, the moments of our life are still escaping us and true living lost. In the end we become despondent, depressed, suspicious, bitter, angry and even combative. And we cycle this energy into everything around us allowing it to grow and spread.
What if we tried for one day to just live in the moment; if we let the past and future go for that one day? Without the noise of our obsessions clouding our awareness, we might take note of all the lessons that are continually playing themselves out right in front of us in the natural world. We might note the interplay among birds and how even when in competition, there is still tolerance. We might hear the music of the wind and notice how trees bend with its force, displaying both strength and flexibility. Perhaps we’d come to accept that death is inevitable yet supports life, be it the sustenance provided to another creature or the recycling of nutrients into the soil. And we might realize that death is normal at every age, not just in the elderly, making us appreciate the need to make the most of each minute we have been given.
The human capacity to rail against living within the cycles of nature has created an existence that is comprised of much more animosity as we’ve developed greater levels of selfishness and self-righteousness. Yet this is not how life plays out in the natural world. While every creature is focused on its own survival, it is rarely if ever at the expense of the greater collective. There is an innate understanding that the rights of the individual do not supersede those of the community in which it lives. This is why we do not see non-human organisms destroying that which supports their existence nor killing other creatures en masse or without due cause tied directly to sustenance and/or survival of a social community.
Somewhere as humans lost their connection to nature, we’ve also lost this invaluable wisdom, a realization that would allow us to live in greater harmony with not only our own species but also with other species and the Earth upon which we, too, entirely depend. If we re-establish our bond to nature, we can also restore a more peaceful and fulfilling existence. Make this one resolution for the New Year – to take just five minutes each day to observe nature and acknowledge another creature, perhaps a bird, a squirrel, a plant or an insect. Understand that it plays a vital role in the balance of nature which benefits all. As you do this each day, your innate wisdom will come back to the forefront, your tolerance and flexibility will grow and self-righteousness be tamed. Ultimately, it will lead to a greater understanding that while life will always present challenges it can be balanced with joy and fulfillment if we only learn to let go of the fears that impede us from this realization.
Blessings for the New Year.