I was alone the other night, when the temperature dropped and condensed. In Chinese traditional medicine, the Fall is a time of contemplation, sometimes grief, sometimes regret, when all the layers shrink and the energy of life flows inward to prepare for the long winter. It is metal shrinking, particles easing closer across the microscopic miles. And I was cold. Shrinking away. The water took a long time to warm up and I sensed a vague annoyance from somewhere: a notion of standing around shivering…later. The warm water sprayed my face and shoulders and finally ran down to collect around my feet. I don’t know how long I stood there with my eyes closed, but with every passing moment, I felt less and less until I was empty. I turned to gaze out through the shower curtain and instead of seeing green frogs playing with pink and yellow butterflies, there was flat grayness without a third dimension between the curtain and the wall. In that moment, nothing existed in the beyond. I was about to wink out. Would it matter if I stopped breathing at that instant? Would the course of history change? Would it matter? Really, after a few people cried, after a period of healing and forgetting? I’m replaceable and memories fade. And when those who might remember have gone?. nothing. I was a supernova, with all the colorful layers billowing off, leaving a dense core in the heart of some dark space. The water edged higher in the tub with the slow drain. Life was all wrong. Wrong choices and wrong causeways. Where was there to go from here? I could not see a future that made any sense. I wanted to start over and rewind back to when none of this mattered. I held my breath. Waited. I did not go back or forward. But I could not give up being by will alone. It seemed not my decision to make.
I poked at my office salad. Do plants feel pain? What a silly question. I felt guilty for eating the grape tomatoes topped with Annie’s Goddess dressing. (My favorite!) Life is so precious. How cursed we all are to know that we exist. But what a gift to be aware, if only for a few years. When we finally close our eyes, we are back to space dust. And atoms collide and combine but we know nothing of it. What a shame. Not a single plant or person or animal or dream should die. But there’s nothing to stop it.
“Love is watching someone die. So who’s going to watch you die?”