Mar 3 • 5M

Between Life and Death

A time of importance

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Here I share recordings of my weekly writings for those who like to give their eyes a rest from the screen. They might be personal reflections, short stories, poetry, published articles. I look forward to connection and conversation.
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The line between life and death is finer than a strand of hair. The arbitrary nature of our step from one realm to another, so simple it seems as if it might be effortless.

But to think we can lose the first delicious sighting of blackthorn blossom, the soothing gurgle of a gently rippling river, the warmth of the golden sun in a hazy sky—in an instant—is shocking. And yet, is it enough that this is what we have seen?

Walking around the grounds of a manor house close to where we are currently moored, I came upon a 500-year-old lime tree. “Can you think about the important events this tree might have witnessed?” reads the plaque beneath its gnarled branches, curling out within feet of the water. I stood pondering a while and tears pricked my eyes at the utter weight of believing we must somehow make this life worth something. “What have I seen?” I wondered. “What, of true meaning, is my life?”

I continued to stroll the windswept pathways snaking through the grounds, my mind lost beneath the tremendous weight we feel for making our life somehow meaningful. Passing through the lakes—ducks merrily quacking and gliding on the surface (do they care to justify what they have seen?)—I emerged beneath the church. A teenage friend rests here in this graveyard and I felt compelled to go and stand by his grave and say hello. “Forever flying free on the wind” reads his stone and I thought; now that is something to be experienced too.

So if we live or if we die in seemingly arbitrary ways—because even if we take our own life it is because we are predisposed to a feeling that means we are left with no choice—how can we make sure we see what we must see, and where is the marker that makes what we see, somehow worthwhile? For instance, if we invest all of ourselves into our children, is that worthy. Or if we go out and party every Saturday night and make our friends smile, does that count. Can we write a sincere letter to a loved on, or must we write a life-changing book. Is it okay to walk one heavy step after another, slowly, in tune with the heart or will only a timed scaling of Everest be acknowledged. If I have witnessed war and the polarisation of society due to a pandemic, am I somehow more worthy than a person who chooses to live outside the framework of this constructed society.

If I went to live on a mountain without connection what would I know but the glinting of a stream, the haunting call of birds of prey, the feel of hands sinking into dirt, the beauty of a rising and setting sun. What would I know of the emotions entwined with relationships, or the imposed rules that shape our lives. What would I know of my feelings towards war, other than what I feel in my heart. And yet, it appears that affairs of the heart are the problem. We become entangled with each other, with the media, with the demands of governments and authorities. And yet, on that mountain, we would simply be living.

Perhaps this is the thing. Our (so-called) evolvement has increased our awareness of all matters. Of where we should be, of who we should be, of what we must achieve while we are amidst this gift of life.on.earth. And yet, in reality, the line between striving to witness important things, and flying free on the wind, is so light it is barely noticeable. So, conversely, if we look upon death as simply a continuing journey, then perhaps we can shed the pressure put upon us in this earthly life.

I like to think of those I have lost in this way. I like to imagine their blackthorn blossom is laced with gold; that they are riding high on thermals, bathed in light and that, whatever it is they saw in this earthly life, was both worthy and irrelevant as their journeys continue. I like to think there is no particular thing we are meant to see—or achieve—just know that we have lived deeply and honestly.

Thank you for reading Alice Griffin. This post is public so feel free to share it.

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