The impermanent nature of life

If we’re not reflecting on the
impermanent nature of life,
then there are a lot of
unimportant things that seem important
— Allison Choying Zangmo
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He who is not everyday
conquering some fear
has not learned
the secret of life
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I used to have a thing I did when I got on an airplane. I would stop and reflect and consider if I would be at peace with dying on the flight. I know, it sounds strange actually typing it out. It happened spontaneously and since I have been on quite a lot of flights in my life, it felt natural to consider that by every flight I took, that chances of me going down with the plane got just a little bigger.
Most of the times I was content, I felt fortunate to get to travel so much. I had left my family a message, my closest friends and felt as I was living my life to the fullest. I didn't want to die, but if it were to happen I would be at peace with it. The thought still hits me sometimes when I travel, and it's a good reminder to stay current with my intentions and true to my words. 

 

I've been pondering death the last few months. I know, it sounds a bit strange and when I was first introduced to the concept I wasn't so sure either. Little did I know that it would come to help me through a challenging time and help me find more gratitude in my day to day life.

It started with that my brilliant sister introduced an app to me called WeCroak. It's a mindfulness tool inspired by a Buthanese saying that to be happy, we must contemplate death five times a day. So just like death, unexpected, I get a notification five times a day reminding me that I too will die. A quote by a poet, thinker or philosopher shares a few wise sentences and I can stop, be mindful and sometimes I use it as an invitation for a short meditation. 
At first, I was shocked to see the words pop up on my screen. It is not pleasant to think of death.

 
Zen pretty much comes down to three things - everything changes;
everything is connected;
pay attention.
— Jane Hirshfield
Since death is certain,
but the time of death is uncertain,
what is the most important thing?
— Pema Chodron

Two months ago, death came closer than as a quote on my screen, or a thought on a flight. My dear Farfar (fathers father) passed away in a peaceful sleep while I was in New York. It was his time to go and he did so with family by his side so very loved. I feel so strongly that by reading and reflecting on death and thereby accepting it as part of life and being alive, it was a lighter process for me than it would have been otherwise.

Of course, I've still grieved. I have had day's when I just want to stay in and hide, sometimes the sadness floods over me and I have to let it be washed away by a river of tears. Other day's I think fondly of our sweet memories together and have to laugh out loud. His smirk and twinkles in his eyes when he winked after lovingly having made a joke about Farmor (father’s mother). The times when he peeled apples perfectly for me without letting the long thin string break, creating a spiral of rusty red colors hanging in the air. All the walks he took me and my siblings on through the hills of anemones in spring. All the stories of us as kids he would tell again and again everytime I visited. His sweet hugs, and how happy he was every time I called "from so far away". His amazement over that we could hear each other so well over the phone, even though our conversation had to travel so far. 

Today my dear farfar would have turned 85 years old,
he passed exactly two months before the day.
Tack för allt farfar, you will be missed. And happy birthday!