Living Well, Dying Well

It is November. Many are astonished that this year is on its way out. But truly, what does it matter? The calendar is just a way of keeping track of our days and the way we use them. It reminds us of seasons, holidays, birthdays and, yes, anniversaries of deaths. Other than that, does it matter that we are coming to the end of a calendar year and will soon begin another? I don’t really think so.

What might matter more is how we begin each day, not each year. What is the routine we have established upon awakening, around meals, weekends and saying goodnight? How do we spend todays? Forget years, think days. Days bring us closer to the “nows” in our lives and those “nows” are truly all that matter and all we have.

So as I sat watching my astounding maple tree slowly become absolutely magnificent again, all ablaze with brilliant autumn colors, these thoughts roamed through my mind. I asked myself if the bad habit I had recently developed was how I wanted to start my days. Instead of rising quietly and slowly, present to a new day, I had gotten hooked on turning on the news to see the status of our world now in crisis. I finally decided to return to what was my more peaceful and helpful way of starting my day, i.e., conscious of what truly will make the hours more peaceful even as I read about strife and pain. So now I am back to my old and long-standing habit of rising present to the fact that I did indeed wake up and now have a new stretch of about 17 hours, more or less, to practice and live peace; and to be present as much as possible to what matters even if some of what matters is totally unpleasant, painful and frightening.

Rising and taking my little four-legged critter for a walk, taking in the fall colors while Brinkley marks his territory is far more rewarding than flipping on the news. Then I return home to meditate for a while. This routine got lost lately. Time to get back in charge of time.

Consider “a one day at a time life.” Just one day. Forget tomorrow as much as possible and be here now. The calendars will continue to come to an end, marking seasons, anniversaries and more. My job is to be present just for today and use the gift of these hours to be present to what is going on deep within; to live soulfully in a society that has seemingly lost its soul … for now. Author and friend Francis Weller tells us ways we can do this at www.francisweller.net/writings.html.

I was blessed in October to host Francis Weller and 34 soulful living students in Madison at what is becoming an annual retreat … one filled with reminders and presence and deep sharing. How grateful am I in this month of gratitude for this and so many other gifts that bless my life.