No one here gets out alive

Life

During a discussion at my meditation group one of our members recommended an app that reminds  users that they are going to die at random times throughout the day. I thought I’d give it a whirl so I downloaded it.

The idea seems really morbid. Indeed, the idea of thinking about death seems really depressing.  But my gut was nudging me to try it.

So the next day I downloaded the app (We Croak is the name of it) and proceeded to have my day interrupted by notifications on my watch and phone saying “remember, you are going to die.” The first few days in my head I would read, “remember you are going to die soon” but I realized the terrible error of my ways and corrected my brain.

So yeah, five times a day I get a gentle reminder that I am going to die, with a quote to ponder.

I like it.

Instead of making me depressed it has given me a profound sense of clarity. This little gentle reminder of my inevitable demise is like a knife that cuts through all of the bullshit. It is making me realize that my time on this planet is limited. So how am I going to spend my time? I feel like this tiny bit of clarity is helping me make better choices.  Do I want to spend the next 20 minutes scrolling through Facebook, or do I want to spend the next 20 minutes reading my book? Or sketching? Or writing a poem? Or, or, or.

It’s been an eye opening experience and one I highly recommend.

You can find more info about the app here.

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“We are all going to die. Knowing one another is very precious. At the moment of death, the only thing that really matters is the condition of your heart.”

                                                                                            —Michael Stone
Random

How to die (if you are David Bowie).

Books, Music, Art, Movies
  1. Get Cancer.
  2. Don’t reveal to the public that you have cancer.
  3. While going through Chemo/contemplating your death, throw your creative energy into making a unbelievably amazing album.
  4. Release said record album to the public on your birthday.
  5. Die two days later.

Well played, sir. The world will greatly miss you.

Photo credit: By AVRO (Beeld En Geluid Wiki – Gallerie: Toppop 1974) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Impermanace

Photography

Impermanence

Today’s photo blog post is a tribute to my husband’s uncle, Tom Martin. He passed away last night after a battle with cancer.

When I heard the news I thought about this photo I took two years ago. Cherry blossoms represent the fleeting, yet beautiful, nature of life itself. They are beautiful but we only get to enjoy them for a short time.

Uncle Tom was a good soul. He literally lit up the room when he was in it and he always had a joke or a good story to tell. I am really going to miss him.

_____________________________

Geeky photo bits:
Camera: Yashica Mat 124g
Film: Ektar 100

My favorite moment from yesterday

Life

My dear friend lost her zen teacher last week, suddenly of a heart attack. Not only is this a great loss for her (which in and of itself makes my heart break for her) this is a great loss to my sangha. He was the co-abbot of Dharma Rain Zen Center, which is the “mother ship” so to speak. Our little sangha falls under the Dharma Rain umbrella. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for this, and in turn, we owe Kyogen a huge debt of gratitude. His leadership has set the stage for us, and has allowed us to be what we are.  I have never met him but I feel like he is a part of me because of his teachings.

Last night at our sitting group we had a beautiful memorial for him. This was the first time I participated in a Zen Buddhist memorial service. It started with zazen and about 10 minutes before we were done with zazen one of our teachers quietly made an announcement about the ceremony.

When I am sitting in the zendo I pick a seat that faces a window and has a beautiful view of Mt. Hood. Generally, when sitting in zazen you are supposed to face a blank wall so you don’t have any distractions. But I do allow myself this one luxury sometimes. I guess because I am still so new at this.  I will marvel at the view for a few minutes but then my gaze goes down to the carpet a few feet in front of me (like it’s supposed to).

When our teacher was introducing the ceremony she talked a little bit about Kyogen and how he has been so important for our sangha. As she was talking my gaze went from the floor to the view because something caught my eye. It was light that had caught my eye. Until that moment it had been a gray and dark, rainy day. I couldn’t even see the mountain from where I sat. But at that moment when I looked up there was the most glorious beam of light shining down on the foothills in front of the mountain. I kind of couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It gave me chills and I wanted to grab my friend who was sitting next to me and point out the window but felt that it would be inappropriate to do so. So I sat  silently in awe as I watched  the clouds light up with the sun.

It was a beautiful moment that filled my heart with hope and love.