Being Within Zen
Zen is more than just a word
Zen is a way of life and being
Being a thing of mind and soul
Being a matter of acceptance
Acceptance that what is is
Acceptance without resistance
Resistance wastes energy I need
Resistance intensifies the inner pain
Pain can crush if I fight against it
Pain part of the process of mortality
Mortality brings permanent separation
Mortality is simply a fact of every life
Life and death are the yin and the yang
Life and death are forever intertwined
Intertwined in an endless circling dance
Intertwined and immutably inseparable
Inseparable as our two souls while we lived
Inseparable and each a part of the whole
Whole of the grief I feel at life’s impermanence
Whole of the pain at the loss of my marriage
Marriage of two human souls bound in one love
Marriage of life and death in perfect harmony
Harmony of corporeal reality
Harmony and flow circle and spiral
Spiral through cycles where we live and we die
Spiral of birth and growth and death
Death is the endpoint of each life
Death is the beginning of what’s next
Next breath next heartbeat next meal
Next level of consciousness or energy
Energy that maybe swirls through the air
Energy that might fuel the universe
Universe contains so much life and death
Universe holds more than we can ever know
Know that death is not truly the end of all things
Know that in some way he is still somewhere
Somewhere within this universe we share
Everywhere within the confines of my soul
Soul now bereft of his physical touch
Soul now with my own ever intertwined
Intertwined in life in ways that remain
Intertwined after his death in ways that sustain
Sustain me as I learn to live in new ways
Sustain through grief’s sharp jagged edges
Edges that are less distinct than they seem
Edges that soften when touched with Zen
Zen makes of death not only a sorrow
Zen blends bloom and decay into grief’s garden
I’ve often described myself as religious rather than spiritual. I’m not fond of doctrines or agendas, proscriptions and rituals that others devised, and I’m intended to follow whole, without question.
I need something more than that.
I need something that requires my active participation, my mindfulness, and my awareness that the life I live is more about my own choices than any external divine.
Zen matches my personality, and my approach to life – and death.
I come again to that Welcome to Night Vale quote:
“Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.”
We were all born, and we will all die. Those are immutable facts – the brackets of a lifetime. But that can’t be the whole of the story, because lives are fueled by energy, and lives touch other lives; changing them, creating memories, adding layers and levels to others’ living.
I am not who I would be if I hadn’t known Jim, and loved him.
If I hadn’t loved him, and agreed to make my life with him, our children would not exist, and all that they’ve brought to me life wouldn’t, either.
I would be a different version of me, living a different version of my life.
Life with Jim wasn’t perfect. He and I were imperfect people living imperfect lives, carrying the scars and wounds of a lifetime into our relationship. There were issues that cropped up again and again, and never truly got resolved in his lifetime.
But that’s not to say that it was a bad life – because it wasn’t.
It was very, very good – often magical. Jim and I didn’t come to each other from a place of need. When we met, we’d both independently decided we’d be happy alone rather than settle for someone who didn’t truly suit us. As a result, we complemented one another very well, and lived our lives together with a general state of harmonic teamwork. We were friends who delighted in one another throughout the two decades of our marriage.
So, while I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of heaven, I know that, as long as I live, as long as the children do, as long as there are people in the world whom Jim’s life touched and changed, he’s still here, in a sense. He lives on in the way he’s affected the world, and the energy he gave in his life.
It’s not the same as having him here, but it allows me to find the Zen of acceptance – most of the time – and to accept the lack of acceptance when I just can’t find it.
And, for me, that’s enough.
Which works out well, since this is the final day of the #atozchallenge. Join me again in May for the wrap-up festivities.