The folk music legend Doc Watson died yesterday. I heard about it on PBS from appreciative fans and musicians who spoke of his musical genius. Throughout the day participants waxed on about how an era has passed with his death.
Eras pass with every person’s death. Do you experience it when a loved one dies? I feel as if a chapter in my life is over. Life with that person, our interactions, and the possibility of future exchanges ends, therefore the entire of landscape of my life is forever changed. I’m old enough now that I have lost friends and family who have been with me the better part of my life.
On a given day we busy around doing things and affecting people. We don’t know if our offerings will live on after we die; if our courageous attempts through life will be appreciated; if what we do today to help another person will be remembered.
Today is the last day of school for Meena. I went to the office to order uniforms for next year. By chance three people who do a ton of work behind the scenes were in the office. I thanked them for the school year and felt genuine gratitude for how these individuals contributed to Meena’s life.
For some reason, suddenly, I remembered dozens of endings from the past, which sparked a greater sense of importance about the moment–this moment in progress as I was thanking these special people would end, the school year had ended. I was interacting with these people whom I can’t be sure will be here tomorrow. I can’t be sure I will be here tomorrow or if I will have speaking faculties to thank them. What a gift to stop long enough to appreciate their hard work and appreciate them as people.
These powerful emotions didn’t cause me to begin to cry as I walked away from the office. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I thought about the endings that will come in the future.
Actually I wasn’t thinking; no particular future event was drawn upon my daydream. Only the feeling of endings to come gripped me. Then I thought about the endings that would make me cry; the endings that have made me cry. Which, of course, made me cry a little more.
I decided to end the crying and proceed with the day. I marveled how that chance meeting prompted my thank you. An expression of gratitude I felt was right and truly important as I spoke it and as I walked away. But I might not have said it if the individuals didn’t appear in the office as I was placing my order, which makes me think I need to bring more consciousness to my life. I need to think more about each time I exchange a word, a smile, or a look with another human being.
Every day, throughout the day we experience little and big endings. Today is the last day of May and I began writing again after a long absence. I am marking the day with a moment of silence as I pray and appreciate beginnings and endings and the depth of awareness they draw from me; the deeper awareness I’m trying to grow.
Who cares what anyone remembers after I die? I thought. I have today.
Little Meena may not remember what the adults in her life did to make her year educational, entertaining, and filled with love. But together we gave that to her. The year is hers, never to be taken away, whether she remembers it or not. We’re called to give selflessly.
Whatever endings the future brings, today I can selflessly give positive support, a smile, encouragement, love–something the person I connect with may not remember, but which possibly makes a difference for them today.
Or I can go through the day unconscious. That choice, I promise you, will hurt people. And we have an uncanny ability to remember the hurtful interactions even as we forget the kindness.
I hope today I can engage in positive, conscious relationships, even if those around me don’t ultimately remember. I remember.
With love for our choices,