I don’t watch the news on TV anymore and stopped taking the newspaper a year or so ago. My husband argues that because of this, I don’t keep up with current events. I do in my own way. I pick and choose what I want to know about the world from my Yahoo home page. I scroll through the attention grabbing headlines such as “How your finger nails can tell your health.” or “Courteney Cox’s daughter likes to play dress up”. All earth shattering news! But once in a while there is a headline that does catch my eye, peaks my interest to read further. Today was one of those headlines “Grad’s Poignant Essay”.
It is the story of Marina Keegan, a recent
grad who died this past Saturday in a car accident. The article refers to a column that Yale University wrote to her fellow graduates. Yahoo didn’t share the article in its entirety, but bit and pieces of her wisdom. “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything... we can't, we must not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have." She said what she wanted out of life was "the opposite of loneliness," and encouraged classmates by saying "the best years of our lives are not behind us." Accompanying the article was a picture of a smiling 22 year old hugging what may have been her younger brother. Marina
When I hear of someone so young dying, my first thought is “such a waste of life”. Westerners don’t like to talk about death (in fact some of you may have stopped reading this already). We don’t even like to think about it. But death is part of the cycle of life. It just doesn’t happen to someone who has lived a long, full life. Death comes to all ages at any time.
There is a meditation I sometimes use called the Death Meditation (now the rest of you have stopped reading.) It is long and detailed but can be summed up in three short sentences. Death is certain. The time of death is uncertain. All that will matter at the end is our spiritual life and how we treated others.
When we first opened my yoga studio, we hosted a free meditation workshop and were thrilled that 17 students showed up. We shared with them the Death Meditation. Poor timing on our part, yep you guessed it, the next class only 4 people showed up and I don’t think any were ones who had attended the first one. We scared the hell out of them by talking about death. For those few of you who are still with me, you are probably wondering where I am going with this.
We need to live each day as if it were our last. We need to remember that when we say good-bye in the morning to our loved ones that may be the last time we see them. We need to hug more. We need to remember that it is not too late to make amends with someone from the past. That we are never too old to start a new hobby, learn an instrument or fall in love. Instead of running away or ignoring death, try embracing life instead. Follow the golden rule; we call it Karma in the yoga world, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
My teacher, Lama Marut, says that we should embrace a spiritual life with the same urgency as if “our hair was on fire” stop putting it off, resolve to start today….and just breathe.