Inspired by Roger Housden – Our Place at the Table

Posted by on March 26, 2013 in On Life | 4 comments

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table setting-framedby Christina Carson

This is no one’s favorite topic, but I persist, for more and more these days, as occurs in the natural course of aging, I ponder death. And you know what; it is truly the most powerful contemplation I have experienced yet. Now if you’re 40 or less, I get it; your hand is on the way to the “red X” in the tab or the close box command, and that’s okay. As useful an adviser as it can be, death is just too abstract early on. But for the rest of us, the value of opening to the reality that we are indeed a date-stamped item like all else in the universe, has tremendous power to free us from our fear and offer us yet another chance at authenticity.

 

I have stared into the face of death several times in my life through illness diagnosis, wild animal encounters and my own hand during desperate years. But even that didn’t encourage me to stand nose-to-nose with death to see why it looked so scary. It took a casual comment from a lifelong friend saying, “I hope I have at least 15 more years so I can share my life and music with my granddaughter,” to bring me up short. All I heard was 15 years…. I began to look at that time period. I’ve been in the States now 17 years and that has gone by like a blink. My next thought wasn’t the sage-like acceptance I would rather have enjoyed, but neither was it the panic I had endured in those other times when death bated me. Instead, I finally felt the power that ultimate deadline possessed. For consciously backed up against it by choice, it offered the most solid ground I’d stood on in a long time. And then as if in acknowledgement, I felt an impasse I’d been banging into for a while begin to shift, and the siren song of my smarter parts whisper, “Enough, enough. There are no games worth playing. Can’t you see that now?” And there in the face of a moving date, not yet established but definitely real, I could reply, “I see that, yes, I finally see.” As all that resistance and tension of a species constantly on guard dropped away, I heard the words again of writer Roger Housden:

Whoever we are, no matter how successful or lonely, sooner or later our place at the table of life will be cleared and we will be gone. When we remember this … something softens in us. We breathe a little easier. We remember that every one of us is in the same leaky old boat. So why not share our kindness while we still have time.

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Such wisdom packed into this short space! Why do we always have to make it more complicated than this? You just perfectly softened ME up. I’ve felt such a weight, lately, on this very subject. I haven’t yet lived, yet time grows short! A sort of desperation to get out there and do all that I never did, all that I put off, all that was denied me, all yet to do. Thank you, dear Christina, thank you. I can breathe now. Relax a little. Your words are always such a good tonic!

    • Christina Carson

      The beauty of what you’re seeking, dear friend, is that it is nowhere “out there”. You haven’t missed anything. Your only angst is that you are not consistently true to yourself. We know where that place is within us, and when we ignore it, we find ourselves in agony. Our pain and suffering do not come from those outside ourselves or external circumstances, but are the outcome of our knowing what is right for us to do, but not doing it. Just start, it doesn’t matter where or what.

  2. I never ponder death. I only ponder about today. Can’t do anything about yesterday. Have no idea what’s gonna happen tomorrow. Only two things are certain: I didn’t know anything before I arrive here and won’t know anything when I leave. And some say I know damn little just being here.

    • Christina Carson

      You’re a hoot, Caleb, and I always appreciate your stopping by.

Thoughtful comments are always welcome!

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