dharma monkey

embrace the monkey

The difference between life and death

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Each year, as I’ve grown a little older (and, in theory at least, a little wiser), it seems the contrast between the seasons has become more and more pronounced. When the trees drop their leaves and the temperatures start to dip, I really feel the loss of summer and the life it bestows on everything as the warmth slowly yields to the oncoming winter.

And once the flowers start to push up through the soil and the urban landscape gets it first dapple of green — the return of life! — the change stands out in my mind and seems to invigorate my soul.

This year is different. Chalk it up to screwy weather and global warming, but the transition from winter to spring, and spring to summer, didn’t register as usual. Instead, what I’ve taken notice of is the balance between the seasons, the literal difference between life and death: growth.

Each spring, Shawn and I plant flowers, herbs and vegetables in our yard. This year in particular, I find myself astonished each day by the rate these plants are growing, already bearing fruit! And instead of watching a barren tree outside my front door spring back to life, I look down from my bedroom window every morning and marvel at the how the branches are getting fuller by the day, even though it’s nearly June.

After my parents died four years ago, all I could see was death and transitions, but something — and I’m not really sure what — has changed. My niece and nephew get bigger each time I see them, and I’m watching as my 6-year-old dog is gracefully graying on her snout and around her eyes and ears. Rather than life and death, coming and going, it seems like everything is just growing.

Even as Grandma lay on her death bed last summer, she was, for the first time, at peace with herself. There in a hospice, I watched her grow as she got ready to die.

It’s an interesting way to see the world. Not a viewpoint that I was consciously trying to cultivate (I don’t think), but something that I’m content to watch unfold. And grow.

Author: Sean

I am Sean, a writer/PR guy originally from the Rural South who grew up and settled down in Washington, D.C. My interests include local politics, Eastern philosophy, languages and reality television.

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