After working with the after school programs this afternoon at the orphanage I went to the boys house to work with one of the boys on filming his part for the music video I’ve been pulling together here. I finally got him to actually feel the music in his body and express himself as if he really felt the words to the song. As he loves music and dreams of being a performer, it was nice to have a sense of perhaps transforming his approach to music. After staying at the boys’ house for dinner and letting them all know that I’ll be flying out on this coming Wednesday, I walked back home in the purpling dusk, peering in the open shops, each lit inside like a three-walled Hollywood set, with all life’s actors playing their parts, open for the viewing public to see. I learned something on that walk, something about death that I find very positive and encouraging. I know, death and positivity don’t generally want to go together, but tonight I see that there is a strong potential thread. The walk home had a robust depth to it, because I was living my goodbyes with each step. As I walked and enjoyed my connection with my fleeting moments in Nepal, I sang an old song called “For All We Know” which I learned from one of my favorite films (Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont).
For All We Know
For all we know, we may never meet again,
Before we go, make this moment sweet again.
We won’t say ‘good night’ until the last minute,
I’ll hold out my hand, and my heart will be in it.
For all we know, this may only be a dream,
We come and go, like the ripples of a stream,
Tomorrow was meant for some,
But tomorrow may never come,
For all we know.
What I learned is that when time feels very limited, like it must feel when we are nearing death, an appreciation of every moment, every person, every smile, every interaction, every life, every sight, every sound can arise. It feels like wrapping your entire body with a warm blanket of appreciation and being snuggled tightly by all which you have come to love. We always think we are going to lose so much through death, but now I’m beginning to understand that through attention and practice, a deep appreciation of all that yet remains can arise.
While backpacking on my own many years ago in the mountains of California in the Emigrant Wilderness, I remember reading Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. As like during this summer with my reading a couple of Osho’s books and another book on transformational bodywork, I like to deepen my retreat time by reading more spiritually illuminating texts. That summer, while camping alone alongside a beautiful mountain lake, I remember being inspired by Sogyal’s book and I created a practice of walking toward my own death. Stripping down nude, I slowly began walking the 25 feet or so toward the lake, imagining that the entering of the water would be the moment which would signify my death. The walk toward the lake became, effectively, the last steps of my life. The first time I walked to the lake, I wasn’t very mindful, and by the time I got there I found I was completely unready to step forward into my death. I relaxed, regrouped, and tried it again, this time focusing on being as fully mindful as I could be: sensing my feet on the ground with each step, feeling my breath, hearing the sounds of nature, and feeling whatever inner feelings arose. By the time I reached the water, I was ready, gracefully slipping without fear into the water and unhesitatingly diving under.
Time does slip by, but our saving grace seems to be that with attention and practice, the slipping by can engender a deep appreciation of that which we actually have today, right now, in this moment.
Tomorrow was meant for some, but tomorrow may never come….,
For all we know.