ushering in the magic

“I am more vulnerable that I thought, but much stronger than I ever imagined.”– Tedeschi Calhoun

Some days I pretty much have it together. And to clarify, pretty much having it together means a sticker on the bottom of my foot (thank you friend for telling me in yoga yesterday), a dress on inside out with the tags whimsically blowing in the breeze and shit everywhere…literally, my baby took off her diaper and pooped on the carpet on Sunday afternoon.

I had it so together yesterday that a young guy walked up to my car and asked me if I was his uber driver. I said no and we both laughed as I drove off with my perplexed son in the backseat and an infant car seat next to him. Oddly, I was flattered which may be something I should explore with my therapist.

But really I am joking, I never have it together. The people that you think have it together probably have odd fetishes and aren’t that much fun.

Really, right now, I am sad. And grateful. And tired, napping in the middle of a sunny afternoon tired. My mom, my sweet, Oil of Olay and Tide laundry detergent smelling mama, is in New Jersey coping with cancer. Again. And I miss her. I miss our almost daily phone chats. I miss her visits. So much has changed these past few months. I want to be with her. I want to be with my kids and husband. I want to be on a beach alone. I want to be helpful. I  don’t know what I want or need or how to be of service. Mostly, I wish we could go back to the way things were. But I know that is not a reality. I try to stay present and thankful for what we do have.

This being human business is hard work.

I am rereading Broken Open; How Difficult Times Help us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser because I love it so much and need it right now. I read this passage yesterday and it gave me chills. I felt scared awe as Einstein called it. Tears glimmered in my eyes like the soft track of light from the sun’s rays on the water. The presence of soul…

” If our senses were fine enough, we would stand around with our mouths hanging open at the glory and grace of it all. We would sense the presence of mystery everywhere: the angels keeping us safe as we drive home from work; the spirits hovering around our children; the thin waft of light pointing us in the direction of The Road of Truth. All we can do is try to refine our senses. We can try to quiet the noise in our minds, listen for deeper instructions, and leap without fear beyond what we think is so”.

These times call for a lot of checking in and grounding in the soul. The sadness doesn’t dissipate but it is accompanied by a big blanket of love, acceptance, support and appreciation of the universal mystery weaving in and out of every waking moment. I am trying to let myself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what I really love like Rumi tells us to do, and trust that there is something bigger at work here.

And then, in addition to the sadness, I feel warmly alive, thankful, at peace (sometimes) and even happy (most of the time). I don’t take the abundance of blessings and kindness of friends and strangers alike for granted.

Being human is hard but more important than hard, it is sacred.

Connecting to others is a saving grace. And true connection soothes sadness.

Although, right now, I often want to cocoon myself up with a good book, I find when I have chatted with dear friends, over tears and hope, that it feels rich and life affirming  Like an unfurling rose. It leaves me feeling better because we just touched something authentic, sweet, and universal.

So often we want to run in the other direction but when we swim towards what is hard and face it together, magic happens.

Because we all suffer.

But in the fog of suffering, there are angels everywhere. My friends have reminded me in so many different ways of the beauty, joy, laughter and meaning in the midst of it all. No small act goes unnoticed.

Jenny told me to listen to beautiful music because it supports the nervous system and keeps the energy up. So I listen to music I love (when my kids aren’t yelling at our Amazon Echo to play  “Baby’s Got Back” or “This is How we Do It”) and it helps. Because of more music, we have been dancing more too. And singing. While my particular singing may not be beautiful, it does unburden my heart and tether me to something collective, something humans have been doing forever in every corner of the planet during good times and bad. My chest feels softer, more open, and not so achy. Glory, Glory, Halleluja, since I laid my burden down…

Stephanee mentioned grounding, supportive rituals and lighting candles. It too reminds me of all of the abundant blessings all around. All the beautiful light ushering in the magic.

I used to think I needed more time to engage in such rituals. That to meditate or pray, I needed to set aside special time. But now I just do it whenever however in my own imperfect, not together way. The intention is there and intention is big. I burn palo santo and sage. I light a candle while I do the dishes. I pray out loud for all of the people I love and know are hurting while I am driving around in my car. I write in my journal in the pick up line. I say yes to help and food and walks. And no to what drains me. I take a bath with nice salts and probably don’t wash my hair because it is too much work during a ritual!

Meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein speaks to this, saying that we don’t need to set aside time for spirituality, rather spirituality is simply unfolded into our days. The way we fold towels, listen to our children when they speak, and by being honest with one another about our feelings.

Grounding in the soul looks different to everyone and is often the medicine we most need. It may involve simplifying and prioritizing, getting in touch with what we hold most dear, and letting go of countless, energy depleting obligations.

This soul time means perfection has to go while compassion and self care takes center stage. Which for me means I must write this right now. But while I do, my baby girl is using an orange chalk pastel on the stucco wall outside. Sorry, Josh and thank you for understanding.

Engaging in small, meaningful rituals is a way to sustain the soul. Rest is always a good place to start.

Last week, I heard doctor and wife of Paul Kalanthi, author of the beautiful book, When Breath Becomes Air, say that while Paul was alive, he taught her that life wasn’t about avoiding struggle, it was about finding meaning.

One day, we will die but today we are alive. 

And our lives have meaning.

In Option B, Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, she discusses finding meaning during grief and how we build resilience. One activity that helped her after her husband died was to write down 3 things she did well each day before bed. Smalls victories, maybe seemingly insignificant ones like checking email but anything that kept her going, kept her knowing that she was doing what she could to be engaged with living.

We live with losses and grief and the older I get, the more I realize grief is never something you get over. Rather, it is something we learn to live with. And that anything, any small thing that keeps us choosing life, light, and living with compassion, kindness and connection is a good idea. Our souls know that we will be okay.

 

 

creating from struggle

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The other day while giving my heart a little love on the elliptical at the gym, I listened to writer, Elizabeth Gilbert talk to a singer songwriter on her Big Magic Podcast. The woman had suffered through the death of her sister and was paralyzed with the overwhelming weight of her grief. She wasn’t ready to write about her sister. But yet she wanted to write about her sister. She was conflicted.

On these podcasts, Gilbert calls other creative people for their take and on this particular call, she reached out to novelist, Ann Patchett for her advice on how to help this brave young woman.

Her advice was that she absolutely had to write about her sister. She spoke of the two different processes at play. She spoke about the creative process and that one can “never shut a door to creativity.”

Then after allowing oneself the freedom to write whatever needs to be written, the decision becomes what to do with it. Whether to share it and what parts to share, keep it, or get rid of it.

Whether to keep the writing to ourselves or share it is our decision to make. But we cannot let this quandary of what to say, how to say it, and what will others think, get in the way of expressing our grief. Or any of our emotions and experiences for that matter.

Patchett said in regards to her own experience with grief and writing after losing a dear friend, that it was like “sticking her hand on the eye of the stove.” “How long can I leave it there?” Some days the answer was not very long.

“How could what I write possibly be worthy?” This is the impossible thing she says, but “in facing the impossible thing, you tell the truth. You keep trying. You realize the limitations of words and music to possibly express this love.”

But you tell the truth, you keep trying. Even if you can only keep your hand on that hot stove for a brief moment.

I believe when we write or create from a place of grief or struggle, we change our relationship to it. It becomes part of our life and not something to avoid. I’m not sure grief ever fully goes away. But maybe it can be transformed if we work with it, create from it, move with it, learn from it, and ultimately share it.

Listening to this story reminded me of an Oscar-nominated documentary by Tomasz Śliwiński called, The Curse about a young couple in Warsaw and their beloved new son. The boy, Leo, had been diagnosed with an incurable disorder affecting his breathing. He could only be kept alive on a ventilator. It was agonizing to watch but also beautiful to witness such love. The father and filmmaker said this of his decision to  film and then share their story:

“That period of our lives was depressing and devastating. But shooting this film helped us a great deal. It kept us going; instead of succumbing to depression, we could direct our energy into something creative. At the time, we were not sure if we were going to show this film to anyone – it felt much too intimate and private. However, after a few months I realized that we had gone through the universal process of coping with any obstacle, even one that seems impossible at first. It was then that I felt that we should share this experience with others. I decided to complete the film.”

When I read this for the first time I felt the desperation in his chest. The desperation in his chest and in his throat. It was too much to bear alone. But channeling his suffering into something creative and then sharing it, somehow helped change the experience. It was still awful and hard but there was so much beauty and love around it too. It was uplifting. It was almost as if surrounding his pain with art, he also made a new opening, a new possibility, a new realm to another more understanding world where pain can be transformed and healing occurs.

In another podcast I listened to recently, Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned that the definition of the word responsibility is the ability to respond.

It makes me wonder…How do we respond to struggle? To suffering, to obstacles, to grief, to being human? Do we do it alone? Can we do it together? How can we try?

It can be scary living and creating from such a vulnerable and open place. And sometimes it is scary for those of us viewing it. But it is real. And at least we are trying. One word, one brush stroke, one touch of the stove at a time.

For more info on Elizabeth Gilbert and her wonderful podcast on creativity, go to http://www.elizabethgilbert.com

and for more info on Leo and his brave story you can check out his father’s blog at http://www.leoblog.pl/en/

 

today trascendence

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“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Eckhart Tolle

Our anger, pain, and our sadness is fleeting. Our bad moods are fleeting. These emotional states often have such a grip on our hearts. But they are not who we are. We are the observer, the witness, the one that notices the rollercoaster of emotions.We are along for the ride.

These emotions, they come and go like a dense fog rolling into view and limiting our visibility only to later be burned off by the warming sun. And when the fog eventually lifts as it always does, a more sparkly, clearer, and truer sky is revealed.

Our souls are not fleeting. At the core of our beings, no matter what turmoil is going on around us, we are pure magnificence. Compassionate. Genuine. Loving. Light.

Even in death our light shines like a million shooting stars showering down on the earth blanketing those we love with a glowing embrace.

We are together in this. Our hearts, our souls at the deepest level are the same. We are one.

“In the end there are three things that matter. How well we’ve lived. How well we’ve loved. How well we’ve learned to let go.” – Jack Kornfield

We as human beings have this amazing capacity to be reborn at breakfast…everyday this is a new day, who will I be today? – Jack Kornfield

 

 

 

Life is but a dream

 

Life is but a dream…

Row Row Row Your Boat. I sang this to my baby girl today. And she smiled. Such a bright light. A bright light drowning out the noise.

The sadness, the horror, the violence. I bet the mamas of those slain men sang them this same song when they were babies. When their eyes shone bright with innocence, purity, and trust. Like all of us moms, they had dreams for their children, the loves of their lives, the pulse of their worlds, that they would grow up to be happy, healthy, and safe. Certainly alive.

They can’t drown out the noise. They don’t have the option to do so like I do.

We eventually go to bed because we have to sleep. We shut our eyes from pure exhaustion. For a moment in the morning we think we have been spared, that the nightmare from the day before was exactly that, a scary dream. Or it was actually someone else that it happened to. Which doesn’t make it anymore terrible and heartbreaking but it doesn’t impact your every breath in the same way.

You have survivor’s guilt but you bargain with the powers that be that you will behave differently, will be more giving, more helpful to everyone. You won’t talk shit about anyone anymore. You will not take one minute for granted. You are so thankful.

If only you could go back ,you think, and do things a tad bit differently. Kept a better eye on them. Kept them on the phone a bit longer. Not have let them go there. Told them to be careful. Told them you loved them louder and more often. But you don’t want them to live life being fearful of their every move. That is no way to live. We are free for fuck’s sake. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave after all.

But it is not your fault. You know that.

After a few very brief moments, the pit in your stomach is there again and it’s growing all the way up to your throat. You feel like you could throw up or you want to go back to sleep but of course you can’t. You want to numb it, take something, drink something, feel something else. Anything but this. Please G-d, anything but this. It has to be a mistake. It feels so surreal. Like you are just going through the motions.

Everything is different. Everything is tainted. You will never be the same. This is not a dream. This is real. This is very real.

People who pray will pray. People who paint will paint. Many will talk. Many will cry. Many will help. Many will not. Many will post to Facebook. Most don’t know what to do. Those of us who write will write. Because we can’t just sit here and do nothing. We don’t want to be insensitive. We don’t know if it is our place to say something, do anything, because we can’t possibly imagine what it is like. What they are going through.  We were spared, we are so grateful. This time.

It will be in the news, it will be everywhere. Constantly. Until it isn’t. Until the next horrific event happens. Until the initial shock and devastation is a little less raw. A wound. A scab. A scar.

Some reach out, some hide, some can’t take it. Some say helpful things. Some say annoying things.

For a moment there is something that gives you a glimmer of hope. Again. A glimmer of hope and peace. A view of the big picture. We can’t know, we aren’t meant to understand. We will do better. But then the light goes out. Again. And it happens again. Again. Again. Again.

We say ENOUGH! Or NO MORE! OR shout something else. But nothing changes. Or does it? Is it changing? We just keep being asked time and time again to come together and love each other more, and let things go more. To be more compassionate.

We can protest. We can lead with our hearts. We can sign petitions and write letters. We can speak the truth. We can volunteer. We can raise money. We can speak from our hearts, from our fears and insecurities. We can give voice to what we really think. We can talk honestly with one another. With our neighbors, our in-laws, our friends, those who are similar and those who are different, our bosses, people that intimidate us, our kids.

But more than anything, we have to stop being fearful. Because we don’t want to live being fearful.

This is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But until we are all brave, we won’t all be free.

Pom Pom

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Sitting on my front steps this morning, stealing a few minutes of quiet before lawnmowers and obligations, I enjoy my watered down coffee while breathing in all of the signs of life around me.

The little marigold seeds sprouting up, the cool but humid air, and the Magnolia tree with its new white cottony blooms. They look like little pom poms.

This reminds me of my grandmother, my dad’s mom whom we called Pom Pom. The name, coined by my sister, had something to do with a hat she had made.

Pom Pom knitted beautiful sweaters, blankets, hats and scarves. My cousins called her Gammie and Gammie Maine because that is where she lived before she went back to New Jersey.

And before New Jersey, it was Scotland and Connecticut. That’s when she was Alice.

But to me, she was always Pom Pom.

When I think of her, I think of peach colored pants, the polyester texture dimpled like Ruffles Potato chips. Later, they were replaced with soft velour that my mom bought for her.

My mom would call her to check in and make sure she had enough chocolate. When I think about those phone conversations, they feel like a tangible example of unconditional love. My mom, always there for her.

Pom Pom was the most flexible grandmother I had ever seen. She would sit in a chair cross legged with hips as open as a book, watching t.v. enjoying a Scotch and maybe a cigarette.

She was so beautiful in her old black and white photographs. I used to look at them, admiring her elegance along with her perfectly coiffed hair and posture, stunning smile, and lovely nose. Sitting with her handsome husband; my dad’s dad and her three boys.

She looked happy. Before her husband died so young and she had to move back to the states from Scotland with my dad and his brothers.

She eventually married again. This time to a man with a son and a daughter. Thank goodness, she found happiness again.

I recall her saying things like, “Good Night Nurse” and “Watch your tongue, Bud” and telling me how lucky I was when I would pull a juice box out of the fridge.

I felt that I never knew her very well. But I always loved knowing that she was one of five girls, a colorful and beautiful bunch of sisters.

Sometimes when she visited us in Arizona or New Jersey, she seemed sad or distant. I wondered if she would have rather have been somewhere else.

But I fondly remember her the last Thanksgiving with my Dad before he died. She sat at our dining room table with the china with the letter B on it, wearing a cowboy hat that I put on her head while we listened to the song, “I’m too sexy.” She was a good sport that night!

This remembering today makes me feel incredibly grateful for my mom and my mother – in-law and that my kids have had so much time getting to know them. Being picked up from school, vacations, playing card games and Scategories, making macaroni and cheese along with various desserts, and the best part…hearing lots of I love you’s – indelible memories they will treasure forever.

It also encourages me to love the heck out of people even if they bug me or I don’t quite “get” them. It feels like a nudge to believe that people are doing the best they can.

I knew my grandma loved me even though it wasn’t something she said. And it was interesting, we never spoke about religion and I don’t think of her as being particularly religious. But before she died, she asked me to “speak to the Lord for her”.

It felt like a gift, like a window into her soul and an acknowledgment of mine. This, I will carry with me forever. And in some way, I feel like I am getting to know her more now, a slow and sweet unveiling of her spirit and her story whispering to me through the breezes and the blossoms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

welcome home

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” – Wendy Mass

Last week through tear-strewn eyes, I watched a movie called The Welcome. My dear friend, mentor, and founder of the Exalted Warrior Foundation, Annie, recommended it. Thankfully, she also suggested Kleenex.

The Welcome is a documentary about 24 veterans who, along with family members, partake in a therapeutic weekend retreat, and through writing, talking, and listening, they begin to truly welcome one another home.

What transpires in this room and then later in a sold-out theater in Ashland, Oregon is awe-inspiring.

I felt myself break open as I watched these remarkably brave men and women bare their bruised hearts by sharing their stories. Witnessing their courageous work, one learns very quickly what the true definition of a warrior is and that anything is possible when you face your fears and allow healing to take place. By sharing their experiences, they help us all to understand a little bit better about what it is to be a soldier, and most importantly, a human being.

Their tales of battle, injury, and death are chilling. And often life doesn’t get any easier when they come home.

This movie had a big impact on me and left me with the realization that one of the most truly unselfish things we can do for others is to help heal ourselves. It brings to mind the familiar analogy of the flight attendant on a plane directing passengers to “Please adjust your oxygen mask first before assisting others.” We are of no help to one another, if we can’t breathe.

The Welcome got me thinking about how many times each one of us must return home, and re-enter our lives. Maybe not in the literal sense of returning from deployment or from a trip, but metaphorically, because whether it is falling off the bandwagon or recovering from a significant loss, diagnosis, or accident, we must gather ourselves, pick up the pieces, and rebuild our lives again. We can’t go back, but we can start anew.

Last Thursday as we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, I sat with my family listening to the Rabbi’s sermon about life and death, mourning, and awakening and thought of the men and women from The Welcome.

The Rabbi spoke of the wounds and scars we carry with us. He spoke of how they may never go away, but that over time we can change our relationship to the experience, the suffering, to the very thing that caused the bleeding.

And that is exactly what these brave men and women did during the movie, they changed their relationship to their suffering. To me it was like watching them write their stories, and although they had no control over what already happened, they were going to create the best life they could from this chapter forward. And grieving and mourning and healing doesn’t just end one day, it is a gradual process that takes time and a heartfelt commitment. It truly is work.

Similarly, it is something we are all called to do and often many times in our lives…we welcome our hearts back into our souls with grace, perseverance, hope, and faith. And over and over again, we step back into our lives, our worlds, our homes, and align ourselves with our souls’ deepest wounds and longings and discover our greater purpose.

It is all in the welcoming, and how we welcome all of our feelings, not picking and choosing just the pretty ones. It is how we welcome our loved ones when they walk through our door, how we welcome our friends after they have been hurt, and the way we welcome back our service men and women as they return home.

We can honor our own individual struggles by finding our vulnerability and courage to breed the strength needed to share our stories in the way (and with whom) we want to share them. It is not weakness to admit to feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression, despair, and isolation. It is, in fact, the exact opposite. Coming home to our hearts even if they feel broken helps us find true freedom.

And home is inside, it is always available within as opposed to being somewhere else, somewhere out there. It is behind and beyond our hearts, it is beneath the noise, clutter and busy-ness, and it is deeper than our culture shock, wounds, scars, sadness, worries, and fears.

Home is the still pool of water. Home is here to welcome you no matter what kind of shape you are in or what kind of day you have had.

May we all find the strength, hope, and ability to welcome ourselves (as well as one another) home.

For more on the movie, The Welcome, please visit http://www.thewelcomethemovie.com.

To learn more about Annie’s efforts teaching adaptive yoga to vets and how you can support the cause, please visit http://www.exaltedwarrior.com.

 

 

 

 

 

i touch the cloud

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“Everything will take care of itself with unexpected grace. Death is perfectly safe. Death is not the enemy, holding to fear is.” – Stephen Levine

“Radical acceptance tells us that the best way to overcome a perceived threat is not to look for ways to ward it off but to change your relationship to it.” – Sameet M. Kumar

The famed psychologist Carl Jung once said that he never had a patient over the age of forty whose unhappiness did not have its roots in the fear of death.

But even as a young child, I feared losing my parents, and strangely, I worried about them getting in a car accident. When my dad died almost twelve years later, I wondered if my childhood fear was actually a premonition or if the worrying itself caused that awful wreck to happen. I grew panic stricken when I would hear people say “be careful what you wish for” and “your thoughts are powerful.” I am grateful to know now that thoughts are just thoughts, and we choose rather to listen to them or watch them go as quickly as they came.

And now my children ask me questions about death. This summer after my daughter saw a dead cat on a dirt path in Nantucket, she wondered worriedly if he was alright. Later in bed she asked me whether it is possible to talk after we die. And years before, my son needed clarification about heaven existing in the toilet after we said goodbye to his first pet fish, Nova, with a ceremonious flush.

These questions begrudgingly bring up my own fears and confusion about death. But they also remind me to be as honest, real, and present as possible while thinking about my answers. It is my heartfelt wish for my children and for all of us to be brought up understanding – and sometimes I think my kids get this better than me – that death is not separate from but instead is a part of life, and that everything is impermanent. I hope to never let the fear of dying obstruct living life fully (and not in an “I’m invincible, I can do anything kind of way.”) Lastly, I wish for us to all know that death is essentially okay. (And I know, too, that death feels as far away as possible from okay when something tragic happens.)

I am now more likely to meet their questions about what happens after death with the answer, I don’t know.

But I do know that when someone dies, he or she is still with us. And to answer my daughter’s previous question, I also think we can still talk after we die.

The night of my father’s death, he, in fact, spoke to me. He appeared before me while I slept in my high school bedroom with the bright blue walls. Although I was asleep, this meeting was more real, vivid, and vibrant than any dream I have ever had. In fact, it was not really a dream at all.

We had unfinished business, my dad and I, and it felt as if he came to console me. I needed him, and he was there even though he couldn’t be there in the way he used to be.

Wearing a navy blue suit and tie with his signature warmth, he told me not to worry and not to feel guilty about an argument we had had days earlier. He was relaxed, carefree and at complete peace. I heard his message loud and clear: everything is going to be okay.

This particular encounter, and subsequent experiences with people at the end of their lives, stirs in me the soothing, albeit enigmatic realization that when someone close to us dies, he or she remains in our lives forever. And not just in the obvious ways found in old photographs, videos, and memories faded and grown soft with time. This subtle reprieve lies in the knowing that our relationships survive death. And with hopeful watering and loving tending, continue to grow. There, flowers bloom where there was once only dirt.

It is often in the presence of beauty, nature, silence, and serendipitous moments, that we are shown that we too will be okay.

When I feel overwhelmed with the weight of grief or anxiety, I know it is time to simplify…to slow down and feel my feet on the earth. And to stop thinking so much…to not look at the big picture for a spell but instead try to narrow my focus with the eye of an eagle on the miniscule details before me…the hot shower, the dishes in the sink, and the pretty punch-colored petal on the ground.

And while I don’t know much about death, I do believe that when we die, we don’t just disappear. Energy doesn’t vanish, but rather, it changes and transforms. This is not simply spiritual discourse but is in fact the science behind the law of thermodynamics. This theory states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. Caterpillars become butterflies; the crushing of shells makes sand by the sea; and fires bring new growth to the forest.

I believe that the light we carry within us never extinguishes but instead transforms into brilliant, omnipresent, and eternal sparks. These sparks move through us. I have felt them manifest as smooth ripples in the ocean, in the smile in my son’s eyes, and the quiet stare of the hawk that visits my mom’s backyard in December.

Through my own misty eyes, I recently read of the cyclical nature of growth and life in Elizabeth Lesser’s book, Broken Open; How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow. She writes of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching on death. He says, nothing is born, nothing can die. In the below excerpt, Hanh offers this explanation:

Look into the true nature of the paper. What do you see? You see – in a very tangible, scientific way – that paper is made of non-paper elements. When I touch the paper, I touch the tree, the forest because I know that deep inside there is the existence of the tree, the forest. Right? I also touch the sunshine. Even at midnight touching the sheet of paper, I touch sunshine. I touch the cloud. There is the cloud floating in this sheet of paper. You don’t have to be a poet to see the cloud. Because without the cloud, there would be no rain and no forest could grow. So the cloud is in there. The trees are in there. The sunshine, the minerals from the earth, the earth itself, time, space, people, insects-everything in the cosmos seems to be existing in this sheet of paper. It is very important to see that a sheet of paper is made of – only of – non-paper elements. Our body is also like that.

I don’t know what really happened the night my dad came to me or what happens when we die. And death still makes me anxious and sad. But while it is hard for our human hearts to bear, I also believe that it is okay, just like my dad said.

*I referenced these beautiful and helpful books above and recommend each one wholeheartedly. A Year to Live by Stephen Levine, Grieving Mindfully by Sameet M. Kumar, and Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser.