Friday, November 09, 2012
THE DEATH OF DEATH
Autumn is sometimes a sad time of year for me, what with flowers fading and leaves falling and the finish of another year coming into view, but every so often I’m fortunate enough to remember that there’s really no death anywhere -- that death died when the world was born. What happens in the autumn is not death but transformation -- the slow and effortless conversion of leaves and flowers into food for future leaves and flowers. Leaves let go of their trees and flowers fade away only in order to take life to new levels in the spring. It’s not death, but the beginning of birth. At some point all of us will also have to let go -- or, as we sometimes say, “pass away” -- but this is no more than another of the universe’s transformations, the subtle and graceful giving way of one kind of existence to another. Leaves shrivel in the fall, and so, at last, do our bodies, but, like the leaves, our old bones and blood will work magic and make new materials for future lives. The atoms in our bodies, born so many billions of years ago at “the big bang”, will never die, but will simply shift into new positions in the universe and prepare the way for the unfolding of some fresh phase of existence. Our withered skin will shine, perhaps, in a future sunrise, and our sere and faded bones may break forth in ensuing springtimes. The brightness of each new-made morning is enough to symbolize this everlastingness of all things. Night seems to signal an end of so much, but the sun always rises to remind us of the endless presence of newness. Darkness surrenders, as it always does, to dawn, and a new day knows only the success of inventiveness. It happens over and over, darkness doing away with itself again and again, so-called death conceding defeat to the timelessness of all things.