Tuesday, June 24, 2008

That final breath...

"Accepting all I've done and said
I want to stand and stare again
Til there's nothing left out, oh
It remains there in your eyes
Whatever comes and goes
I will hear your silent call
I will touch this tender wall
Til I know I'm home again."
~~Peter Gabriel, In Your Eyes extended version

I often think about the end of my life. I think about who I would want to surround me in those last moments. And I think about whose eyes I would want to stare into as I draw my last breath.

I wonder what the moment of death feels like. I wonder what it feels like in those few last breaths when you know that there is no more to be considered, no more to be experienced, no more to be won or lost, when you can give that final exhale and say Amen to all that is. When you can let go. Ahh, to let go, once and for all.

I imagine a smile spread across my face, a knowing that all that has come before has been perfect in its own way. That all was for my higher good. That every last tear, every last joy, every last glance, word, was perfect, sublime, divine and sacred. That all these moments, all these terrible, painful, exquisite moments were part of the great fabric of this life, of this universe. And as I let go of that last breath, that smile of knowing will be my last gift to my loved ones. The assurance that all is indeed well.

tall penguin

9 comments:

CyberLizard said...

I admire your appreciation of death. The thought of it still terrifies me. No matter how depressed I've been or how anxious, that path was never an option.

Death is the big unknown. The unknowable. I've never been good with unknowns. I'm a computer programmer. From that perspective if it's not known, it can be known. Death transcends that. Scares the heck out of me. So I try to focus on life and make the best of it. There's too much living to be done to worry too much about death.

tall penguin said...

Thank you for your thoughts here cyberlizard.

"I'm a computer programmer. From that perspective if it's not known, it can be known. Death transcends that. Scares the heck out of me."

I've known a few computer programmers in my life. You've made a very interesting statement here. I'm sure many people can relate to being afraid of the great unknown that is death.

"So I try to focus on life and make the best of it. There's too much living to be done to worry too much about death."

Agreed. No point in worrying about the inevitable. May as well get on with the business of living. Of course, living with an awareness of death makes the ride so much richer.

Each exhale of the breath is a little death. I think it's our basic training in the cycle of life. Learn to ride your breath and you will enjoy the rest of the ride. :)

matt said...

I'm so afraid of death -- I want to challenge all those around me to find a way to stop it. It should be what humans as a group should be working towards. But I don't think that's what life is about. Death seems to be an absolute we have to finally accept and see eye to eye with. I'm no where close to near though. There's too much existence I need to explore, too much love to unlock, too much to learn..

I think those with a history of computer programming can see death in a way others may not. Just as matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed, we can realize that our death is the birth of something new. That the patterns that were us are now those of something else. It connects us with the world around us (or the memory ;)).

What are we, Anya? :)

matt said...

"Each exhale of the breath is a little death. I think it's our basic training in the cycle of life. Learn to ride your breath and you will enjoy the rest of the ride. :)"

Beautifully said. If each breath is a little death, I will make the best of them. Time to hibernate. :D

Ged said...

I have no fear of death but I am afraid of suffering while dying. I wouldn't want to go out slowly and painfully, though it seems that's just how life ends for most people.

The sooner people gain the right to manage their own deaths the better. The right to decide when and where to end one's own life is surely the ultimate freedom. Many other freedoms flow from that concept, if you think it through.

mike said...

"I was dead for billions and billions of years before I was born and never suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." - Mark Twain

The Lorax said...

Hmm, it may be fashionable to romanticize death but as I believe we get one shot at life and do not find much reason to believe in an afterlife, I prefer Dylan Thomas' approach...

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

jdbartlett said...

I was thinkin' of that Twain quote as well, Mike.

Like ged, I'm more afraid of what comes immediately before death: horrible illnesses and violent accidents scare me, but death itself is just the price of life. I do worry about the people I'd leave behind; the emotional and other impact my death could have on others. I think people get it all wrong when they talk about respect for the dead at funerals and cemeteries; it's about respect for the living, hurting friends and family and helping them come to terms with a dreadful loss.

tall penguin said...

"Hmm, it may be fashionable to romanticize death but as I believe we get one shot at life and do not find much reason to believe in an afterlife, I prefer Dylan Thomas' approach..."

Hey Lorax, not sure I was romanticizing death. Unless you call complete acceptance of the inevitable romanticizing. I also don't believe in an afterlife, and although I appreciate Thomas' view, I don't intend to 'rage against the dying of the light'.

As ged aptly expressed, the ability to manage our own deaths and choose when and how we'd like to go is a great freedom. When that day comes for me, I intend to embrace it, as I attempt to do with every moment of my life now.