A report from the Slow Lane
Life apparently thrives by occasionally knocking over the apple cart. Just when I think I have something figured out, I am plunged, once again, in over my head. Sometimes I think Life has a wicked sense of humor and is a bit sadistic. I usually occupy this sentiment when I am feeling sorry for myself. I’m not in that place now. So lately, in the midst of my unforeseen happiness, where I am feeling glad to be me, I have been reflecting on what is happening when I, and my world, get turned upside down. It looks like I am adopting a new attitude. It seems that these recurring dilemmas, as predictably unpredictable as they may be, are all part of a process that seems to be ripening me.
The idea that I am being ripened appeals to me. I know that soon I am going to fall off the tree. I know, that despite all of my illusions, protestations and elaborate projects and schemes, the end is coming. I’ve stopped worrying about it. But, I am still curious. So the idea that I am being ripened, that I could be the seed pod for some, as yet undefined, new life form, intrigues me.
Now bear in mind, as I am this minute, I am only speculating. I don’t really know anything. But, I keep imagining death as a form of transition, a shift from one form to another. In my mind, seeing death as a form of transition has a lot of explanatory value. Mainly, viewing things this way, makes the ordeals, the inconveniences of my life, the little broken edges, have more dignity. These recurring challenges are not a sign of my incompleteness; instead I am being ripened. Maybe I am being prepared, ripening like a wine grape in the sun, steeping like a good cup of tea, evolving like a caterpillar being chrysalized. The thought that even death is a part of evolution, that I could, once more, be becoming something else, fills me with a feeling that I am going deeper into the familiar, instead of being cast away, dried out, useless, and done.
Thinking this way also helps me appreciate the difficulties that keep arising. They may actually be Nature’s way of shaping me into a new form, one that I cannot imagine but can intuit. I know I do better, I play the hand dealt to me, am more creative in my responses to Life, when I am anticipating becoming. I may not know where I am heading, may not have any idea about how I’m going to get anywhere, but I have a sense that I am moving, ripening, changing, becoming something else.
This may be sheer delusion, certainly I have no science to back it up, but it still serves me. It seems to me that no matter what I believe, no matter how sophisticated I am with the scientific method, I still have to come to terms with the great inscrutable mystery of death. And, it also seems to me, that how I come to terms with death determines how I come to terms with Life. I live according to the way I envision death.
Ripening offers me a chance to participate, not like I alone hold the key to my fate. I am prepared to be alone, to take responsibility for this life, actually, I think ripening demands it. But, ripening, becoming, implies yet another stage, in another, I would say, greater context. I seem to be part of some larger, as yet unknown, ecosystem. If this is true, and in my current imagination it is, then there is this strange other, that I am part of, but that is unknown. I am simultaneously the new seed arriving and the old ecosystem receiving it. In my mind, I am being prepared to quicken a greater wholeness.
Death, in this line of thought, isn’t the end of the line, it is some kind of timely ripening. As the caterpillar entering the chrysalis, or a pupae becoming an adult, there is a change of states. The timing is semi-predictable, and the general direction is assured. Despite the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the energy in the Universe doesn’t seem to be running down, instead the Universe seems to confound us by conserving, even increasing its energy. Death may be another expansion of the Universe.
Ripening is a mysterious phenomenon for me. For instance it seems to happen by virtue of a combination of circumstances. There seems to be something inside that matures. And, while that is happening, there also seems to be something outside that provides the necessary stimulation. Ripening, to me, is a co-creative process. This thought thrills me. Maybe, by ripening, accepting the unacceptable turns on this thrill ride of life, going into the darkness of Mystery, and dying as I live, I get a little closer to the source of all this complex stimulation.
If this is true, wow, am I glad to be alive and to get to die! If it is a delusion, a fantasy of my own making, then I’m merely glad I had imagination enough to create an interesting way of life.
I hope you do too.