freedom in loss

When you’ve lost your job,
You no longer have to worry about pleasing your boss.

When you’ve lost your source of income,
You no longer have to be concerned with retirement investments.

When you’ve lost all your hopes and plans for the future,
You’re better able to live in the present.

When you’ve lost most of your friends and acquaintances,
You no longer have to wonder if they really care about you.

When you’ve lost your reputation,
You no longer have to consider what others think or say about you.

When you’ve lost your religious community,
You no longer have to think about thinking correctly.

When you’ve lost your sense of self-worth,
You really don’t have to care anymore if you live or die.

And when you’ve lost your will to live,
You no longer have any reason to get up in the morning,
Except, perhaps, for others who still see some purpose in your life.

© panthera2, 2012.


dust in the wind

I was certain the song title came from the Bible. But the closest thing I could find was Psalm 18:42, “Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.” The writer is talking about the annihilation of his enemies. (This is the Psalms, after all. What do you expect?)

So I went back to the Kansas lyrics.

I close my eyes.
Only for a moment and the moment’s gone.
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes with curiosity.
Dust in the wind.
All they are is dust in the wind.

Same old song.
Just a drop of water in an endless sea.
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.
Dust in the wind.
All we are is dust in the wind.

Maybe the words aren’t from the Bible, but the concept certainly is. All we are is dust in the wind.

Right now, my life feels endless and overwhelming. A lot of things have gone and are going badly. Suffering and pain are my closest companions. Getting up in the morning is tough. I think a lot about time and the meaning of life. I’m haunted by the past and fearful of the future.

Recently, I read The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. He says we constantly rob ourselves of the present moment by dwelling on the past and the future. I think he’s on to something. But excluding the past and the future by meditating on and living intentionally in the present moment is quite difficult.

Thich Nhat Hanh gives a lot of practical how-to instruction. And what he suggests does work. But it’s going to take a lot of time and practice for me to gain significant ground. (And there I go allowing the future to cloud my present moment again.)

It helps to keep reminding myself that we truly are dust in the wind. A few decades from now, barely anyone will remember or care who I was, or that I even existed. Just a drop of water in an endless sea.

Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.

On the surface, this all sounds pessimistic, and maybe even nihilistic.

The key is focusing on the “little time” before it vanishes away. It’s celebrating the moment before the moment’s gone, while it’s yet in existence. It’s acknowledging the drop for what it is — a drop. So what if it’s one in a zillion?

I may be able to explain all this, but living it is another matter.

© panthera2, 2012.