Where is the exact beginning point of a wave? Show me. Point to it with a red arrow.
And where is the end of it? When it ends, where does it go? Do we mourn its passing? Do we think to ourselves, “Ah, such a shame. There will never be another one like that.” Do we cling to it and cry, unable to heal because we will never see that wave again?
We sit by the shore and draw healing from the rest of its family, the next incarnations. The ocean pulls us out of ourselves and into the sky, the salt, the sudden rush of white curls and wet cool, carbonated foam edges retreating. And then the birds scurry in, their beaks punctuating the table of waterbrushed sand for dinner.
Our crowded, smaller lives are lost. We ourselves are found in a deeper place.
Death is like that. We make such drama out of it, like it’s not supposed to happen, like it’s wrong. Death is coming for us all, and it will come at exactly the right time, while we’re still in the womb, or on our wedding day, or while we’re at work, or at the hands of a soldier or a jealous lover, or a madman, or at the end of a hundred years of living. It’s coming. It’s not wrong. It’s like anything else. It’s just the next thing.
We grieve our losses. Sorrow and pain sear the heart. But that, too, is part of the wave arising, and passing away, dissolving like everything else.
Joy will arise and pass away. Irritation. Rage. Morbid fantasies. Sexual prowess. War. Boredom. Remorse. Grocery lists. Homes. Fame. Fear. Debt. Health. Hatred. Memory. New Year’s resolutions arise and certainly pass away. Light does. Darkness does.
Nothing is permanent. (You can read that sentence both ways.)
The exercise for us today is to watch the arising and passing away of everything, drawing succor from all of it, in the same way that we draw succor from the sea. Every wave. Every thought. Every reaction. Every blessing, every curse. Digging our feet in the sand, watching, breathing the salt air.
Maybe that will loosen our death grip on the way things should be
and open us to the truth of what is,
and what is ours
and what isn’t ours.