love and then do what you will.
I’m not the kind of person who normally takes comfort in the whole big world little person stuff that many spiritual people seem to get off on reminding you of. It’s never really made me feel any better about death for instance to be reminded that 1. My body is made of dead stars i.e. energy is neither created nor destroyed 2. My life is short and terribly unimportant in the scheme of things like the universe and time everlasting.
I typically want to feel more important not less, but something happened today. This weekend I’m going through training to be a volunteer at an AIDS hospice in the Castro. When the director of the program asked us would be volunteers if we had any fears about working closely with people who no longer harbored any misgivings that they would live forever, and in fact would probably be dead within months or days, I said I was afraid I would have nothing to say to someone who was knocking on heaven’s door so to speak. What could I have to offer these people facing the mysterious beyond, which I have never thought was actually anymore mysterious than the loss of consciousness and a wooden box in the dirt.
A man next to me turned to me then, and said that as someone who has been living with HIV for the last 20 years, and has watched more friends than he could count on fingers and toes die of AIDS his best advice to me was that there was nothing to be afraid of. There’s nothing wrong with death, he said, and you know I believed him. The only thing wrong with death is the dying, and the part that hurts, the rest I guess is just oblivion and stars.
Since I was little I have tried sometimes to understand what it will mean to die and be dead forever. It’s the forever part that I can’t seem to get around. I can clearly see myself sitting on the school bus in elementary school headed home on a sunny day and repeating the word, “Forever,” over and over in my mind as I pictured the Earth growing further and further away and the galaxy spreading out below my spaceship. I couldn’t imagine all the things I would miss, and I would miss a lot, we all miss almost everything but the 80 years or so to which we bear witness. Which is no problem, and if life is no problem and death is no problem, then it’s no problems. Your life, and mine.