Sunday, 22 January 2012


Accepting the impermanence of our existence is surely one of our biggest challenges.
I have sat with people who are very close to the end of their lives. I have almost been able to see their skull, the detailed shapes that remind me of the anatomy and physiology classes I attended years ago. A paper thin layer of skin over their protruding frontal bone, that defined zygomatic bone - the cheek bone - the same bone that made it easy for her to mark out where to apply her rouge, attracting attention to her beautifully shaped face, a fading memory as life fades from her.
It would be too difficult, for me at least, to imagine throwing away all attachment or concern for the day to day turbulence's of life, but to recognise the transience of those events would only be beneficial to me.
The worry and angst of going over and over something in my head removes me from the reality and truth behind the situation. The truth being that life IS a mixture of pain and joy, frustration and contentment, and ultimately we are all here very briefly - so why give so much attention (and energy) to the areas that leave us feeling drained, stressed and exhausted?
Take time every day to give yourself even a minutes break from thinking or mulling over something that is annoying you. Just sit and stare at the flickering light from a candle wick, focus on the colours and the way the flame moves and dances. When a thought leaps into your head, just bring your attention back to the flickering flame. That minute of peace can be enough to remind you that your head (and body) appreciates a break from the relentless mind chatter.
"A lifetime is like a flash of lightening in the sky.
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain." - Buddha (563 - 483BC)

Monday, 2 January 2012

Sharing our memories.

In December it was 30 years since my brother David was killed in an explosion in his farm cottage. I can hardly believe that so many years have passed, and we have all grown thirty years older, with each passing year, life has simply carried on. Marriage (s!), having children, health issues, house moves, jobs, more losses in the family, it's the same for every one...and yet the memory of the one we've lost stays fixed in time. In David's case his youthful face is embedded in my memory, his funny cracked front tooth, his curly hair, the laughs we had when we played tricks on Dad and set traps for him! Nettles and thistle spikes hidden in pot plants ready to jab Dad when he did his weekly watering and weeding of the geraniums and spider plants in the out sized green glass bottle (it was the late 70's after-all!)
My memory of him can stay unaffected by the passage of time - but I have no "new" memories of him, and that makes me sad. I was only 13 years old when he was killed, and I still remember a poem I found which resonated with me by, "Anon" (at the time I wondered who that was!) It was found after the second world war, I don't recall now where I found it, but I remember writing it on my bedroom wall, in tiny writing next to my pillow where I'd read it every night. It read:
"It seems so long ago,
He fought, he fell, he died,
and still it grieves me so,
and oh, how I have cried.
I think of him so much,
and yet,
I never wish I could forget."
In December Dad received a call from one of David's friends saying that 6 of his old friends were going out for a meal and a drink to remember David on the 30th anniversary of his death. Understandably Dad was both moved and delighted by their invitation for him to join them. I rang Dad the next day to hear how it had been. One girl there said she still missed him and thought of him every day. Others reminisced about him and spoke of what had been going on in their own lives in recent times, 2 of his male friends are about to become grand-parents!
So, David lives on in the heart of many - not just his family but friends too remember him with love in their heart.
If you've lost someone dear to you share your memories with others who knew them, it's lovely to know that in his 18 short years on this earth David left his kind, funny mark on all of us who knew him.
"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy." - Eskimo proverb