Robert Paterson wrote a moving blog post this week about his dog Jay who he had to have put down a couple of years ago. In it he writes of the inevitability of things coming to an end.
We all act as if life was a blank cheque that we never have to cash. We’ll try next time. It’ll be alright when x,y or z has happened. I won’t bother saying the thing I know I need to say now because I can always put it off until the next time. Ongoing attempts to “live in the moment” and “be present” get swept away in a constant stream of regrets about the past or fears for the future.
I remember reading a story many years ago by Thich Nhat Hanh in which he describes eating a mandarin orange. He carefully removes the skin and then peels the fronds from the first segment. But he doesn’t taste that segment as he pops it into his mouth because he is already anticipating peeling the next one. We truly experience so little of our lives even while we are living them.
I spent this Easter weekend with my parents. They are both around 80 and getting more and more frail. Despite them being game for their age and keen to keep doing things, life is getting harder. A lot of their circle of friends have died and in this, and so many other ways, their lives are contracting around them.
The inevitability of all of this still comes as a jolt. Suddenly time becomes precious in a way it should have been all the time. We can’t get back the moments we have sleep walked our way through but can only try to be more awake for those still left to us.