January 24, 2006

Don't forget to LIVE.

Today I met death
and I said,
"Please, won't you let her be!"

And he said,
"Let her be what"?
"Alive", said I

He smiled, but shook his head
And asked,

"How do you know
she wasn't alive
till this moment?

Why do you feel the need
to stop me when I'm doing
what matters?

She was alive
She lived well
That's what you have to believe
And then let go"

I looked at him
a few minutes more
and said,

"I'm not ready
to accept this tale of life".

He spoke:
"That is not my concern
hopefully you will someday
until then,

Don't forget to LIVE".*

I came across two death related incidents today. No one I know really, but it affected me nevertheless.

1) My morning started out pretty good. I went to Tim Hortons for breakfast and enjoyed my morning, smiling at the other patrons and getting lost in the book I was reading. All this accompanied by a delicious cup of coffee made me happy. As I was walking back home, I went in through the mini-mall type area. Anyway, inside in front of one of the stores, they have a bunch of benches. In front of one of the benches were a group of policemen, a fireman, and two paramedics. I guess one of the elderly patrons who usually inhabit these benches, had collapsed. They tried to revive her - to no avail. I didn't stand around gawking like the other people, because I just didn't think it was nice. I left when they were giving her chest compressions and signalling to each other that she was well, a lost cause. (Sorry, I just couldn't think of anything else at the moment). I walked out, continuing on my way home, and I called my sister and said, "This life is short. Forget all the nonsense and just make sure you live your life the best way you know how. Really live Varsh". I got a surprised, "erm, didh**?" Then I told her what had happened and she understood where I was coming from. I kept thinking how stupid we can be at times, all the things we can get caught up in. And what matters in the end? To know that you really did the best you could and that you really lived.

What do I mean by really live? Well, act and behave in such a manner that you don't regret not trying. You might regret a mistake (if it hurts someone), but hopefully you'll develop the strength to apologize and move on. Life is short, especially when you want to do so much. Yes, sometimes I do fear death but then it seems on the other side, I fear living.

Anyway, here's the 2nd incident:

This same evening, I was about to walk into a store, when I noticed a sparrow - dead from the cold and don't know what else, lying on the sidewalk. I looked at it for a second and still walked into the store to buy what I had come for. But all the while I was thinking of the sparrow and if I should take it and bury it somewhere instead of leaving it on the sidewalk. I had never done anything like that before and how was I going to take him/her back in the car with my mom (who would freak out if she knew what I was bringing back with me was a dead sparrow). Anyway, I made my decision to stop letting fear guide me and I asked the cashier for an extra bag and went back out and gently picked up the sparrow and put him/her into the bag. I didn't tell my mom anything. After she dropped me at my apartment building, I went to the side of the building entrance and dug up some earth and burried him/her there. It was cold, snowing, my fingers were frozen (since it was hard to dig up the cold earth with one's hands and some odd branches) but at that moment nothing else mattered than giving this poor thing a proper burial. I said a two second prayer for him/her and left - fingers black, heart heavy but happy that I did this instead of just walking by and regretting it. I had a chance to really look at the sparrow and it was a beautiful little creature and I hated that it had died because of the cold.

Anyway, that's my piece. Go and Live.

As Eminem sang,

"Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?"

*I wrote the poem after the morning incident. I wrote it in 5 minutes.
** Didh is what my sister calls me. It's her version of Didi, which in Hindi means elder sister.


Gary said...

Thanks Vee - this post really comes from the heart. I've witnessed human death a number of times and have been left with a feeling of sadness, but also a sort of awe for how powerful the whole thing (life and death) is.

Your expression of compassion with the sparrow was also from the heart - it was taking breaths and flying not that long ago. Something is gone and it's worth honouring.

I heard once that some great saints in India sat around for years discussing big questions. One question they addressed was, "What's the greatest mystery of all?" After years of debate (and lots of chai probably), they came to the conclusion that the greatest mystery is "that even though humans see clearly that every thing that has a life, will die... they live their own lives as if it will never happen to them."

Could be a tall tale, but I like it.

Vee said...

Perfect tale -tall or otherwise- to bring my point home. Thanks Gary!

Gary said...

The poem is lovely...right from inside you on to the paper (or screen)...

Kaskuss said...

Hi Vee
The poem is wonderful. I always loved this saying about Death
"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss i what dies inside when you live".
You blog post re-affirms what I believe in. In this brief period between death and life, we have to be hapy , sad and mad !!

Vee said...

Gary: thank you! :) My sister can't believe I wrote that and sometimes I can't either.

Kaskuss: that's a nice saying you have there. You said it...

DA said...

You do not forget to live and capture the moment as far as I can read Vee. Thx for sharing that. Compassion for such a little animal (although passed away allready) I find moving. It sometimes is incredible how beautiful those little creatures really are but we only see it if we take the time to care.

I liked the poem. Your sister must feel blessed with her's :-)

Vee said...

Thanks Dimitri for your very kind words. :) It was the first time I ever did something like that.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Vee

I think you have reverence for life, which is the essenace of life, and what makes it precious for us.

Thanks for sharing these stories with us.

Some thoughts from Albert Schweitzer whose wonderful insight "Reverence for Life" I think is just as relevant for us to day as it was so many years ago !!

On Life

It is good to maintain life and further life, it is bad to destroy life. And this ethic, profound, universal has the significance of a religion. It is religion.

When we observe contemporary society one thing strikes us. We debate but make no progress. Why? Because as people we do not trust one another.
Because I have confidence in the power of truth and of the spirit, I believe in the future of mankind.

Nature and the Environment
Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world any more. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.

The deeper we look into nature the more profoundly we know that it is sacred and we are united to this life.

Best wishes

Vee said...

Thank you for your meaningful comment Lindsay. I love what Albert Schweitzer has said about Nature and the Environment. I keep saying, nature is the greatest painter.