A friend of mine just lost her mother, which causes me to reflect more and more on what the ingredients of life include. And as I think of this, I am so aware of how no one really prepares us for the exigencies of living and dying in our society today.
I think about how in tribal societies everyone is constantly in the presence of all stages of life. The community participates in the birthing of a child, the care of a sick elder, the death of a husband, the wisdom of the aging wise ones who have so much to impart. All phases of life and death are in the midst of everyday life, accepted as an integral part of being human and not something to hide or fear.
Today we are isolated in our bubbles, living in a society that keeps us there through media emphasizing eternal youth... someone else's idea of a perfect body, radiant health, and the ideal relationship. We are kept plastic-wrapped and away from our source, feeling more and more distant from what is real and vital, including all of our warts and rashes.
Of course this means we are losing our connection to the deep mysteries of life, not looking at the real truths that make life so rich and divine. We come to believe that life is what we see through the mixture, allure, and manipulation of marketing and publicity, as we lose our sense of going deeper. We forget that all that packaging is made up by ad campaigns to encourage us to consume, along with a finely tuned air-brush that makes us believe that it is possible to achieve a flawless life.
Today many of us reject the beautiful fragility and evanescence of life in favor of a life that holds no meaning at all, other than the challenge of trying to emulate a mirage. Aging, illness, and death have become anathema, keeping us unprepared for handling them when they inevitably come our way.
Isn't it much more interesting to acknowlege what it is to be vulnerable and flawed, which of course means accepting what it is to be so beautifully human? Requiring courage, it seems the only way towards growth and the full appreciation of what it is to be truly alive. Feeling disappointment, grief, ecstasy, and everything in between helps us anchor into what it means to be mortal and real, deepening the relationship to oneself, to others, and to all that life holds.