Experiencing Wearing Down

   [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

When we’re young it’s basically impossible to consider life past, say, the age of 50.  Now so many of us live in what was then called “old age” in better or worse financial and health conditions.  I just watched “The Notebook” movie again – probably for the 5th time at least.  I’ll never get tired of that story, it’s so well told.  You’d think that a love relationship with such stormy and crazy beginnings wouldn’t have any hope of succeeding.  But in this story, it does, and it’s ending is wonderful and perfect.

I like a line James Garner says in the movie: “I’m experiencing wearing down.”  Many people feel that way in my age bracket.  We are indeed wearing down.  A whole gamut of emotions follows this wearing down.  For some it’s a blessing, for most, I’d say it’s never acknowledged, and for others, it is feared and fought to the end.  It does mean that we are approaching our rendezvous with death.  However poetically one phrases that, it is not a pleasant thought – honestly.

I am of those, perhaps having been raised quite strictly religious, who not only believes that life goes on beyond the body, but that it does so in full consciousness and “I” continue to live my life, replete with choices and destiny.  Later, when I overcame the need for religion, and the need to be totally dependent upon the caprices of some god, the inner knowing that life is eternal and infinite did not go away with my religion.  It was, in fact, the one thing from my religion(s) that remained true, if only for me.  (I think that in the realm of eternity, such choice to believe or not is entirely up to an individual, a sacred belief that no one has the right to either deny anyone, or force on anyone.)

Does that awareness make it easier to face the reality of death?  Not for me.  I don’t like the idea at all, even if, being of those who remembers past lives, I’ve gone through the process before.  It is the place where one, alone and helpless, faces the ultimate stripping of attachments to this life.  

For those who cannot believe in continuance, death is the end.  The termination of all awareness.  That, to me, would be unbearable.  I think one has to be incredibly courageous to meet death with such stoicism.  

For those, like myself, who “know” (as in some sort of unshakeable awareness) that life continues, the passage nevertheless is fraught with questions and trepidation.  I know, for example, of the many things I did (in this one life) that makes me a poor candidate for any sort of, shall we say, graduation to something better.  Countless thoughts, words and deeds must be there, ready to accuse me.  Is there some balance, some way that thoughts, words and deeds of the non-selfish variety can outweigh the others?  I honestly do not know.  There must be justice, that I know.

So as I inevitably wear down; as I come closer and closer to death (of the body) I ponder such things.  I don’t know what to expect, not exactly.  I have some ideas, some thoughts, on the matter but where are the facts? 

There aren’t any.  So what do I have to offer, if indeed some sort of judgment is in the offing?  Very little.  I can offer a changed life, from selfishness to detachment and self-empowerment in order to practice compassion and develop empathy.  I can offer forgiveness, certainly, that having been one of the easiest lessons to learn.  I can offer my personal commitment to my chosen purpose of a life lived to serve others – however much that effort remains wanting.  Beyond that, I have nothing to give in exchange for some sort of pass.  Perhaps that “nothingness” is what is needed?

Life is truly short and throughout its meteoric passage it never stops from asking us to make meaningful and life-affirming choices in all things.  If only we weren’t so spiritually and mentally deaf to the teachings we are given so freely, and all the time.  If only such would suffice to turn us from our baseless fears and selfishness that make us such bad stewards of our world and of those who need our compassion now more than ever just to survive.  If only… 

Quotes: 

“Throughout history, empires and civilizations have collapsed once they degrade the environment below its capacity to carry the human footprint imposed on the environment.” – Paul Craig Roberts

“When you are small, if you reach out, and nobody takes your hand, you stop reaching out, and reach inside, instead.” — Amanda Eyre Ward

“Nothingness is a sigh of eternity, a casual avowal of the infinite.” —  Edmond Jabès, The Book of Resemblances.

 

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22 thoughts on “Experiencing Wearing Down

  1. gserpent

    I know exactly what you mean. For me it is the ignorance and deception that wears me down. Just remember you are a light in a dark world. That light may wax and wane, but at least you have that light. As far as death…there is a reason why the ancients celebrated death. It’s the resurrection of your soul being freed from this fleshy bondage. That’s the resurrection the ancients were talking about. I am actually really looking forward to it. 😉

    Reply
  2. franklparker

    A thoughtful piece, Sha. I don’t fear death – only the pain that might inevitably precede it. And I feel concern for my loved ones who will continue to experience life without me beside them.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Frank. Yes, the physical pain, and leaving relationships, that adds to the “problem” of death.

      Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      “The adventure begins” indeed. That’s more in my line of reasoning, but I’ve never been one to plunge into the unknown, which rather spoils the sense of adventure. Thanks for the thought, Roger.

      Reply
      1. Woebegone but Hopeful

        I guess, more by accident that design I’ve been given the right balance of science and religion.
        It is my intention once the mortal world is quit to ask if it’s OK for me to go flying about solar system and visit all of the planets and moons (that should fill in a million years)

  3. Regis Auffray

    The whole essay is thought-eliciting but the following struck me to the core because I feel the same way:

    For those who cannot believe in continuance, death is the end. The termination of all awareness. That, to me, would be unbearable. I think one has to be incredibly courageous to meet death with such stoicism.

    Thank you for sharing, Sha’Tara.

    Reply
  4. Rosaliene Bacchus

    Thanks for your soul-searching post, Sha’Tara. While I haven’t yet reached the point of “wearing down,” I currently ask myself the same questions as I helplessly watch my best friend (an atheist) battle lung cancer. Though we know that we are born to die, death can come upon us so unexpectedly and unprepared to let go of this life.

    Reply
  5. Lisa R. Palmer

    I saw this post yesterday, but didn’t have time to comment, and I wanted to…

    I agree with Frank that what disturbs me most about death is the process of dying, rather than what follows. I mean, I have “died” so many times in my dreams and memories, and it has never, ever, been a truly pleasant or peaceful process. And all the certainty of “life” continuing has not made it easier to transition.

    I tend to agree with you that consciousness survives the separation from our physical bodies, but if I am wrong, it hardly matters. If everything ends, and oblivion starts, I will be none the wiser once I’m gone. There won’t be anything left to feel disappointment or shame, nor will I sense anyone gloating over my dead body. I take some small measure of comfort in that…

    Anyway… Excellent exploration of a difficult topic, Sha’Tara! Thanks for opening that door for us… 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for that comment Lisa. I’m going to leave my response right there because (a) I can’t remember if I already commented, and (2) I already commented on the point you make with bethanyk above. As I pointed out, my “fear of death” is exactly about the point of annihilation – that’s always been an unacceptable condition of life for me. Luckily, I have solid past lives memories, so that’s something to stand on. If “they” want to terminate this one, I can always slip back or forward into one of the others. Crazy!!!

      Reply
  6. bethanyk

    As I also know there is more than just this, death scares me. The process scares me. Which makes no sense logically for me as I watched so many pass away with hospice, gently, yet, I am still scared of it.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      I think being scared of death is a natural thing. With one NDE and a few very close calls with death I’d be the one to state that death doesn’t scare me, but it does. Yes, the pain of physical death comes into it, but it’s much deeper than that, a psychological thing. Lisa mentions the possibility of oblivion at death, and that’s what my mind refuses to accept. It’s like a really dirty trick, like being condemned to a life in prison for a crime one did not commit, only much worse: for ever!!! All that investment in knowledge, in relationships, in pondering issues, history, those esoteric mind wanderings into the cosmos, “all these moments will be lost in time” as the android Roy Batty says in Blade Runner. The depth of sadness brought forth by that thought it beyond imagining for me, and the longer I remain here, the worse it gets. How did Snoopy put it? “I can’t die! I’m too young to die! I’m to me to die!!!”

      Reply
  7. Phil Huston

    When we see our reflection in the river we should know that it is floating downstream, regardless of how stationary it seems. And what we should be watching are the ripples, not ourselves.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Ah, thanks for that, Phil. What a brilliant analogy/metaphor! Indeed (and I should know being a river person, canoeist and kayaker of a life-time) we should be watching, not our reflection, but the movement. The narcissist watches her own reflection and fails to see the movement of life. Thanks for that.

      Reply
  8. Carol A. Hand

    The depth and honesty of your discussion of death are refreshing, Sha-Tara. As I approached (and now passed) my 70th birthday, the weariness I felt about the state of the world was (and is) difficult to bear. I don’t know, either, what comes afterwards, but I did have a vivid dream that felt real. I wrote about it several years ago. The dream was about an after death experience. A spirit guide accompanied me to make sure I understood the message.

    “Imagine yourself standing in a huge cavernous space urged to move forward into the darkness. With each step you take, you relive each moment of your life, each thought, each action, and each failure to act. Each step, you see the effects of your thoughts and behaviors on others. Dispassionately, you weight these thoughts and actions against a universal framework of ethics. You judge your actions on the basis of the path of life you were given to follow. For each “right” choice, you feel a sense of joy and gratitude, and for each selfish or thoughtless choice, you feel the pain of those you harmed. When you finally reach the present moment, you can choose to walk the path toward light or darkness based on what you discovered about yourself. There is no room for illusions about who you have become because of your own thoughts and deeds.” (https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/spirituality-and-rationality-the-liminal-space-between-cultures/)

    Is it true? I honestly don’t know, but just in case, I have taken the message to heart and try to live it as best I can.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Enjoy the journey, Roger. If you run across Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan or Douglas Adams, tell them I say “Hi!”

      Reply
    2. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you Carol for sharing what amazing vision. That kind of “passage” makes total sense to me. I can “feel” the weight of the choice to be made at the end of that walk. That is why I’ve been “pushing” the concept of self-empowerment. Not so much to create positive change in this present world, but to be empowered to make the choice for the light when I come to it, and to hopefully have enough “credentials” to qualify to make that choice: that’s the biggie for me. Thank you again for the food for thought… and for joining me on that 70th race. You’ll never catch me, you know! 🙂

      Reply

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