Writing Str8 Outta The Guts Regarding Death
Suddenly I realize — and it always arrives all of a sudden — that I had locked myself into practice and habit regarding my health, sense of self and daily activities. I continuously fall into this mire behavior, unconsciously lost in it, and then will experience a sudden shock-force awareness of being there(again).
One thing regarding it — and this applies to thought patterns as well as behavioral patterns — is that it’s antithesis to my teachings regarding personal freedom. I barter my own freedom in exchange for single-minded thinking and acting out. I fall into so many must-do’s and have-to’s set upon me by my very own self. Then I follow along as a train follows its tracks, seemingly unable to detour from the course. I get my own idea of individual freedom by enslaving myself.
I set up the usual paradigm of “musts” and have-to-do’s regarding my survival and extended survival as me — physically. Physicality actually being a stand-in for…what? Ego, perhaps. THAT’S the whole f*cking deal! The survival of the concept of Ricky Ferdon is key; prime; numero uno!
All of my life — the all so many fragments and facets of a human’s existence — every single one — major and minor — have been meticulously planned out. Not much spontaneity around in this ole boy’s life, no sir. Always thinking and planning two steps ahead of each step actually taken.
I write here while I have clarity of thought. It’s pouring out of me through the ink of the pen I hold in my left hand(I’m a southpaw and did write this in ink in a journal — as it flowed — before transcribing it here and now to the Medium platform). I had to get it down right then as such an occurrence is rare in my experience, and I sought to move it from thought to preserved form before it perished down the dark crevice of unattainable mind once again.
This falling into the same behavior patterns and then having a jolting awakening — as I am here — is a familiar cycle. How to break it? How not to return to this same old same old?
To lose oneself is to gain oneself.
A worthy quote, apropos in my case anyway. If I could but lose — kill — the old Ricky Ferdon. But how? Surely I’ve come across suggested methodology from the Walmart trucks full of reading material that I’ve engaged in over the decades and the ensuing studies. But I think I know:
It has been chasing me — consciously at least — for 52 years. For me it has never been the “Great Equalizer” — oh no! — but is and has always been the “Great Extinguisher.” This me whom I have loved so much and fearfully protected will die one day… and I cannot stop it. In all of the control behaviors that I play and have played, this is a destiny for which I have no power to prevent; to stop. The one thing over which my controlling personality has no control. I feel great dread just now, in a brief pause, imagining myself on my death bed. Or the sheer horror of having some terminal diagnosis due to some disease and placing me in the position of realization that the dreaded impending event has picked up speed, eliminating the comfort of no sure time frame for the ultimate destination.
Change what can be changed and accept what cannot be.
I have not been able to accept it. I seem unable. Even my fear of flying, or high places, or crowds and whatever else are but aspects of my trying to control my life in attempt to prevent myself from being in any position whereby chances of death are increased. Though I truly am Vegan for the animals, I seek relentlessly to make all of the moves possible to at least extend the number of days of life upon this earth. Whether attempts are nutritional, supplemental, or physical, I am eager to employ them.
Parallel to all of this is working towards enriching the life of others. Akin to the Bodhisattva vow:
To reduce suffering and increase happiness in all sentient beings.
It too is related to death in that I have sought a legacy. Maybe I can live on in memories of those beings whom I’ve impacted in some positive way. Alas, I seek a statue — YES! — that’d be the ticket. Or maybe the status of a great author or Nobel Prize winner would cement some type of remembrance. As it is, I may be remembered by some as my name is brought up — after I’m gone — but it won’t be as if my portrait is hanging in the rememberers’ homes and noticed everyday.
And why isn’t it okay? Why isn’t it okay that I won’t be remembered: here for my “time” and then gone, the Lion King’s “circle of life?” As time continues its relentless journey towards some vacant future my children and eventually their children will die. As my grandkids go, certainly that’ll be the last burn of the candle as far as any memory of me goes.
Ah! But such is the germ of the ideas of an afterlife: creations for people who cannot tolerate the idea of their own extinction. Your writer holds no such belief, so for him death is THE final act, the curtain fall on the last night of the play. This is a reason that myself, wise elders, gurus and the like speak of each present moment as life itself: each in-and-out breath; each heartbeat. That’s it, right there! There is no other existence. There is no other dimension nor parallel universe nor such mumbo jumbo. Nope. Just now. Here. This present moment.
I elucidate and expound upon this principle so very well. Aren’t I just the best teacher/guru/philosopher? Yet it’s all but words only: strings of characters woven together into sentences attempting to convey ideas. Just surface matter. They are not yet waves of the sea which are always but sea. Just stand-ins, never the thing described; attempts at explanation.
And here, a revelation: death’s quality is conceptual. Certainly, the body and every living thing dies. No question there. In my years of fire/rescue work and as a hospice house volunteer, I’ve seen quite a few dead folks. They are real, and they are dead. Yet as one codifies death, one celebrates or dreads it. This occurs through a total thought process — conceived as words — with ensuing emotional responses. Yet there is no fear without a concept to be feared. If we are free of concepts, then so too are word-ideas removed and what we are left with is what I’ll call “silence.”
Here I see — here I know — what’s been knocking at the door: that words are never “it.” Never the “it” of anything. To say that death is a “bad” thing is to employ words which lead to a concept readily accepted as fact, though such is totally subjective to the idea. One may use words to describe a love making session, or the experience of a war battle — yet the cleverest words are NOT the experience. Words are never the “thing.” Moreso, to this writer, especially where I currently am, is driven home the potency of silence.
Recently a light has shone on my ponderings regarding silence and its sister solitude. I’ve been relating the two to each other, with more concentration on silence. In application:
speaking less speak only when spoken to in as concise a manner as possible answer questions as compactly as one can with no elaborations allow people to SEE my life versus hearing about it know that the loudest talker, by far, is the EGO, who usually has nothing beneficial to say “he who speaks much, knows little. He who speaks little knows much.” Let me be the quiet one
What AM I to do? What is Ricky Ferdon to do?
LIVE WITHOUT CONSIDERATION.
Just move, breathe walk, live and do without thinking about life(and death).
(Here, I had taken a break from writing in my journal and attended to some chores around the house and yard. Then, I re-opened the journal some 3 hours after the last entry and finished this day’s writing.)
I realize that part of — or maybe the whole of — my main problem is old fashioned clinging and desire. This is what the Buddha alluded to some 2,500 years ago as the ultimate cause of suffering. I cling to the desire to be remembered and think that I was special. I want to be recalled as a “cut above”(now that’s some pure ego).
I am now, four days removed from my 63rd birthday and on the cusp — it’s right there — of almost finding liberation from all of this: fear of death, being forgotten, etc.. As this came to me there was a visualization of being at the precipice of a waterfall, in the flow of the water as it races to throw itself over the edge. But I’m not moving, not going over. If I can but let go — take the brakes off — and just release all of the rocks in the bag holding me back.
The waterfall is an analogy of that which stirred within me as I saw the answer. The vision is not of going over the top of the waterfall and then free falling into the pool or rocks at the bottom.
The vision is of just free falling in clarity, which my mind paints as a water-like shimmer in appearance, but — and I already used the best word for it — just clarity; pure clarity. As absorbed in clarity, as being the clarity and no longer singular, just…
As in life, so in death.