We have a mate (for life, we hope) so that we have someone special to share life’s journey and meaningful milestones with: celebrating career success, raising families, building homes, travel and precious moments.
But there is another landscape too, to traverse before life ends, and that is the internal landscape. Throughout life, things happen and people come into our world for a specific reason, namely to teach us something, show us something, give us something precious (it is said bitter experiences are the greatest teachers), so that the layers are peeled back, one by one, with each new experience. The same scenario happens again and again (like being in the wrong movie) until we learn what we needed to from it and move forward.
This is so that when we draw our final breaths, we glimpse the reason for life.
In the Western culture (I am generalising here), we fear death too much. So much that we forget how to live.
Many, many years ago, when my partner and I were no more that casual acquaintances with each other, we undertook a practice to think about our own deaths everyday. It came from the Tibetan art of living and dying. But when I was ill in 2015, he forgot that lesson. He fought very hard for me to live. I saw the stark terror in his eyes when my heart went into ventricular fibrillation.
We talked about it afterwards, endlessly.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I could not let go. Not yet.”
He tries not to cling, but he does. I see the desperation in his eyes, like the small boy’s.
This is the peach in my son’s garden. It had fallen down and left to rot on the ground because we were away and were not there to save it from the ravages of nature. But here it is, glorious in its death throes, providing food for insects, before disintegrating back to earth. And in the time it bloomed on the tree, it was beautiful, enjoying the brilliant summer sun. It had a good life and a beautiful end, made possible by the good hours of its life.