Life and Death

e1191109ebcdab31b6503debc3cbb179Guess what!? Austin Kleon reads obituaries too.  (Yes, I have mentioned him before!  I loved Steal Like an Artist and meant to write more about it) He describes obituaries as near death experiences for cowards.  I read obituaries. Not the ones of famous people but the ones about the heroism of ordinary people recounted with love by those they leave behind.  I usually cry.  As Kleon says in Show Your Work, they aren’t really about death; they’re about life.  In a wonderful newsletter this week, Maria Popova (Brainpickings) quotes illustrator and author Maira Kalman saying: the sum of every obituary is how heroic people are, and how noble.  I so agree with Kleon who says reading about people who are dead now and did things with their lives makes me want to get up and do something decent with mine. Thinking about death every morning makes me want to live.  For me, verbally acknowledging each morning that all things end, all things change reminds me to not take for granted for one second, the preciousness of life.

Like many people on planes last week I was more nervous than usual. I refrained from sending an email to family from the airport telling them who the authorities should check if anything went wrong.  That would have made them more anxious! (But why would you board a plan for a 9 hour flight with no hand luggage? Travelling light obviously down to an art! And what was that bandage around the hand hiding? Surely not just a wound. Ah, the blessing of a vivid imagination.)

I sensed a collective relaxing of shoulders when we did all finally land. Sheepishlyannaquindlen_shortguide exchanged grins that indicated our slightly embarrassed relief.  I’ve been on planes where the passengers applauded when we landed. This time the relief was not audible, but just as obvious.

Lately the realities of life and death emphasise the value of living rather than existing (and go straight to Brainpickings for more on this. Gosh Brainpickings is good. Have I mentioned that?) I think I’ll buy A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen.  This resonated so powerfully for me:

It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes.  It is so easy to take for granted the pale new growth on an evergreen…the colour of our kids’ eyes…it is so easy to exist instead of live. Unless you know there is a clock ticking.  I was reminded of that wonderful paragraph in Toni Jordan’s Additions where she says:

DSCN2559Most people miss their whole lives, you know. Listen, life isn’t when you are standing on top of a mountain looking at a sunset. [Mind you, that can be very lovely!] Life isn’t waiting at the altar or the moment your child is born or that time you were swimming in a deep water and a dolphin came up alongside you. These are fragments. 10 or 12 grains of sand spread throughout your entire existence. These are not life. Life is brushing your teeth or making a sandwich or watching the news or waiting for the bus. Or walking. Every day, thousands of tiny events happen and if you’re not watching, if you’re not careful, if you don’t capture them and make them COUNT, your could miss it. You could miss your whole life.”

As I was about to board the plane, and seconds before I had to turn off my phone, shots of my grand-child-in-utero, already besottedly adored, came through.  I allowed myself to feel incredibly happy acknowledging how profoundly vulnerable this made me.  I savoured those wonderful moments, cried, showed the man next to me and touched the dear face that appeared on the screen.  Quindlen says:

Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby’s ear. [my emphasis! Can’t wait. We do great ears in our family] Read in the backyard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because, if you do, you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived.



6 thoughts on “Life and Death

  1. genevieve

    So much good in this post! Firstly…really happy that you are on safely on the GROUND as I have been thinking about you…

    Secondly, congrats! What a fun Granny you will make!

    Absolutely the best bits of information for me to read today! Thank you dear far away friend because you really lifted my spirits today!

    1. Wendy Moore

      So glad Genevieve! You will never guess what jewellery I have on. Did I mention that a certain pair of earrings have travelled with me? So, no hope of them being a gift for anyone else now! Hope your day is filled with lovely things Genevieve. Savour those moments. Hugs from here, Wendy

  2. Pam

    Wow wow wow!
    Love this post and can’t wait to explore the rest of your blog.
    And follow all the fascinating links in this one post 🙂

    Very glad we met over at Resilient Mind.

    1. wendy Post author

      Hello you! Not all my posts are quite so…dense. But readers may beg to differ. I am glad we met over there and am enjoying the exploration Pam. It will be fun reading how we each integrate it all. Happy sitting!

  3. Pamela Parr

    Congrarulations Granny Wendy it has a certain ring to it,not sure that I will ever be a gran but I am still hopeing,I have “inherited ” 3 little boys 5 ,3,&5 months my new partners grandsons,
    hope all goes well in Malta,
    hi to Kopilla and all the ladies

    1. wendy Post author

      Thanks Pam. Maybe HAJUR AMA? I think inherited grandsons would be fun too. We’ll keep yu posted about Malta! And I will pass on your Namaste!


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