Tag Archives: death

Caring for Oneself in these Trying Times

October 5, 2020

Culture and Society

I have to admit that all of this is getting to me. In the last two weeks alone, there have been thousands of more Coronavirus deaths, a massively chaotic presidential debate, a terrible outcome in the Breonna Tayler case, the untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, millions of acres of California burning in flames, thousands of more jobs lost after businesses have closed or downsized, and the October surprise of the US president testing positive for Covid-19. I am also feeling more anxiety as the US presidential election approaches on November 3rd of next month, and I have finally been able to admit to myself that I have been experiencing a low-grade depression for the last few weeks.

Yes, all of it is getting to me.

What bothers me the most is a feeling of powerlessness amid all of this death, injustice, and chaos. What is there to be done?

I wake up some mornings feeling drained and unmotivated. I sigh when I come across another news headline of something terrible. All of this is impossibly sad and frustrating.

I have been alive long enough on this planet to know that I need to take responsibility for my own wellbeing. I cannot keep spiraling down this path. I cannot let all of this gloom and doom get the best of me.

With this in mind, here is what I am planning to do:

  1. Acknowledge my emotions whether they be sadness, anger, frustration, or any form of depression. It is important to sit with these feelings and hear them out. Denying that they exist will only do greater harm. Writing this blog post is one way of dealing with this, and another is taking some quiet time to myself to think about it all.
  2. Exercise outdoors on a regular basis. I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog that I have been going on long walks every day. I will continue doing this, and maybe find other places to walk for a change of scenery.
  3. Stay hydrated and eat healthy. I am blessed to have access to homegrown food every day from our garden. I’ve been avoiding sugar since January 1st of this year. Thankfully, I am well-positioned for this part of my plan.
  4. Handle my daily frustrations with kid gloves. Whenever I am feeling aggravated about a mistake I made or something I utterly failed at, I will be gentle with myself. Take a step back. Take a deep breathe. Maybe take a nap or step outside. I won’t be so hard on myself.
  5. Connect with friends and loved ones. I do not have to experience the troubles of this world alone. I will reach out and stay connected with others, even though the dominant introverted part of me finds that difficult.
  6. Seek out opportunities to laugh as much as possible. Laughter is healing, and so I am on the hunt for the best comedic films to watch. I am open to suggestions.

This plan does not seem like much, but I have always believed that incremental changes across a long period of time make the most substantive and deep shifts.

2020 is far from over, and there will quite likely be more chaos and trouble to come. I am trying to figure out a way to cope with it all.

One way or another, I will simply do the best I can. This is all I can do,

Life Before Death

September 14, 2019

Culture and Society

I can remember the word “heaven” being tossed about since I was a child. At Sunday school, as an altar boy during Catholic Mass, throughout the parochial education I received in elementary and high school, and in virtually every religious ceremony I have ever attended, elements of an ethereal afterlife were always suggested.

When I was 10 years old, my homeroom teacher showed us a small painting of a world with billowing clouds and endless streets made of golden bricks (flanked on either side by singing choirs of angels no less). He showed this painting numerous times and held it as if he was dangling fruit to tempt the hungry.

I understand what that was now. What is deemed as an “education” by some is often a form of propaganda, even if it is well-intended. I see that now, and I actively question the need for the existence of heaven and any form of an afterlife.

I get it. Death is scary, and the fact that all beings are not immune to it does not make it feel any less terrifying. But does this justify the desire for a payoff at the end?

And what if the end is nothing more than blood and bones dissolving into the earth? Is that so bad?

For the sake of discussion, let’s imagine that when we die there is absolutely nothing else that follows. As bleak as that sounds, this scenario offers one glimmering possibility that comes to mind.

What if heaven is a place of our own making while we are alive and breathing?

During our lifetimes . . .

  • What if we chose to deeply and joyously love those who love us and to build long and meaningful relationships?
  • What if we relinquished scenarios and people who cause harm and unhappiness?
  • What if we regularly gave ourselves time to rest and refresh our spirits?
  • What if we invested intention and willfulness within every second of every day against forces that fuel our discontent?
  • What if that which gives us joy in real time is actually the heaven we seek?

No one truly knows what happens after we take our last breath. I imagine that, after years of steady engagement, the human body does not completely shut down immediately. After the heart stops beating and the lungs stop breathing, other, more remote, corridors of the body take their time to cease operations. Beyond the biological disintegration, no one truly knows what happens.

If there is, in fact, heaven after we die, then so be it, but whether or not there is, would we not be better off to make the most out of what we have right now? To have adventures and be audacious? To go big? Or, if it pleases you, to find depth and joy within the small footprint of your daily existence? Travel? Learn new things? Actively refuse to live a life of discontent?

I propose that we explore the vast, unlimited possibilities of life before death.

Heaven could be somewhere laid out right in front of you, but you have not seen it for what it is yet.

And when we die, we can go toward the unknown knowing the thrill and exuberance of the lives that we have lived already.

If you build your own heaven in the here and now, then come what may, you will always have the sweet and wholesome memory of it until the end.