Respecting death

When I was in my twenties, I used to like to hang out in cemeteries. Especially old,very old cemeteries. I'd take walks through them, or sit on a stone bench and eat lunch. Sometimes I'd write in my journal. Or, I'd just sit.

It's not as morbid as it sounds. It wasn't a fascination with death, or some quiet death wish. It's that my twenties were difficult. I felt a lot of things I didn't have the tools to deal with, struggled a lot and didn't know how to stop. I wasn't acutely miserable most of the time, but it was always at least a little bit hard, a little bit sad, a little bit scary. So death felt like a relief. I wasn't in a hurry to die, but knowing I would someday was comforting.

Thankfully, at the height of my attachment to cemeteries, I lived in Paris, France, which is FULL of very, very old ones. And aside from the odd fun of seeing where famous people are buried, the wrought iron and crumbling stone, half covered in wild grass is really beautiful. It was extremely common for me to visit once or twice a week.

It's been a long time since I've felt attached to cemeteries or visited one just for the sake of it. But I got to thinking about it today.

I still feel a certain gratitude for death. Not because my life is full of struggle but because I see it as release. And I'm grateful that parts of me -- beliefs, behaviors, habits -- can be released to die. Death is also a critical part of the cyclic turning of the wheel. And while I feel the same pain as anyone upon the death of someone treasured, the wholeness of that cycle comforts me somehow.

So today, I'm bowing my head to the presence of death, that I may appreciate my life, be grateful for timely release, and respect the wholeness of every living thing.

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