Updated: May 1, 2019
With any blessing, my final breaths will be many years from now. I’ll be in my bed, swaddled by the softest blankets you’ve ever touched. The room will be filled with silky natural light and the simple scent of springtime linens to serve as a gentle reminder: there is nothing to fear. And my loved ones will be sitting with me, with peace in their hearts and cheeks rosy with celebration and stories. They won’t be ready, but they’ll be brave and braced on the edges of their seats. At a certain point silence will drape over us all, and the overture will begin.
It’s a triumphant tune that feels like a free fall from the edge of a cliff. The string instruments coalesce and land safely where the soul lives. The vocals are enough to break hearts, only to rebuild, repurpose, and remedy them time and time again. Goosebumps impassion the surface of the skin and from the inside out, and I feel as alive as the infamous explorers like Alice and Vasco de Gama when they discovered their Wonderlands.
I’ve chosen this song as my portal. When I listen to it, I “go there” – to the moment of my death. I find it to be a useful tool. I dive into a lifetime of fear, regret, joy and sorrow. I often find myself burned by the book that sits unwritten or haunted by the donuts and chocolate and decadence going untasted. I glimpse versions of myself that remain unexpressed and estranged from the world. I feel overwhelmed by my triumphs, my shortcomings, and everything that has ever moved me. Grateful above all for my happy life by happenstance.
The miracle is that whenever I meditate with this moment, I get to decide what I come back with, where I go next, what needs to change, and who I want to be when the song is over. By imagining myself in my final days, I get to devise and revise a plan for how I want to live each and every day, each and every moment, until my “moment” arrives.
Sitting with a heavy heart is not part of the plan. Instead I’ll go for an uncharted run, then maybe smother my puppy and my people with unconditional love and laughter, and the truth. Instead of “getting dressed” in the morning, I’ll play dress-up. I’ll dance and sing and spend several unplanned hours experimenting with whatever I have in my fridge, or making a small area of the house as beautiful as I can manage. I’ll pour my heart into some words, and I won’t stop until the process brings me to tears. I’ll like, actually taste my food, and I won’t deny myself a single craving. I’ll do something that terrifies me, so maybe the next time it won’t be so paralyzing. I’ll strike up a conversation with a stranger out of curiosity – perhaps we really are more similar than we are different. I’ll walk through cemeteries, because despite what you’ve heard, I’ve found they’re some of the most beautiful and lively places on earth. I’ll work hard for a living like it has something to teach me. I’ll pluck petals from a wildflower, with no particular purpose, and I’ll pinch the pollen between my fingers and paint new flowers on the sidewalk. I’ll laugh fearlessly, and for real.
I’ll set extraordinary intentions for the future and savor every ordinary and precious step I take on my way. If I am lucky, this song will accompany me and call me to courage as I lay dying, just as it moves me to action as I remain among the living.