Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Expiration Date

     Once a month I teach a class at the Senior Center called Conscious Aging.  I volunteer my time doing this because I believe it is important to view aging in a positive way, not as what we've lost, but as what we can find.  There's a different topic every month designed to provide some psychology underpinnings to some common sense ideas and to give some thought provoking grounding.  Each topic has a positive tone, a you can do it tone.  I prepare the day before, going over my notes, deciding how I will present the class to leave room for lecture, groups, individual comments.  I am usually enthusiastic about the topic.  Not so the topic of today.
    The first time I presented this topic, Death, I glossed over and sanitized it as much as I could.  I was uncomfortable as I didn't really know how to view death in a positive light.  I still felt in a bit of disbelief that it's going to come to me one day.  Somehow I'm going to be the one person who will not have to face that deep unknown.  Oh, I know it's so, but I don't want to die.  I'm not afraid of death, I much prefer, however, living.  This time when I faced preparation for the class, I wanted to not shy away but present it fully and see what would come of it.
   I looked at the full title of the class, "Death Makes Living Possible" and I couldn't initially (as in the first time I gave the class and the beginning of my preparations for this class) understand the connection in any other sense that I can only die because I am living.  But then, the word living took on a different meaning somewhere in my preparations this time.  Living in this sense doesn't mean only breathing in and out and paying bills and figuring out what to have for dinner.  Living means the fullness of life.  Paying attention.  Being Conscious.  Coming to a moment and being in the moment and then going to the next moment.  A lightbulb!  Death makes LIVING possible.  If I know death can happen at any time, that nothing is promised, I can view life in a different way.  I can LIVE.
    The rest of the preparation for the class centered on this positive idea.  Live.  In my relationships, with others, with myself, with the world.  Live. In the sunrise and the sunset and in all the times in between.  Live.  In kindness to myself, to others, to the world.  Live.  LIVE.
     Some day I will no longer live, in either the sense of breathing in and breathing out, or in the sense of being present.  What will happen to my other-than-body, I do not know.  I do not want to know my particular expiration date, but if I had a glimpse of my best used by date, well, I wouldn't mind that.  Knowing neither, I will focus on death as the idea that makes my LIVING possible.

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