Monday, September 20, 2010

Celebrate myself

We went fishing this morning, taking the john boat out to a creek lined with oysters.  We cast plugs into the riffles of ebbing tide and were rewarded by catching (and releasing) six spot tail bass.  Eating our sandwiches and drinking our tea, we enjoyed watching the oyster catchers as they walked on the bank looking for the occasional crab.  They are beautiful, just as the marsh is beautiful and the fish that swim at its edges.  It was a wonderful way to spend most of the day.

Yesterday I attended the memorial service for a long-time member of the Al-Anon program.  It was a simple service of the kind that he would have liked.  One of his favorite slogans was Keep It Simple.  There was some Mozart played, which offered a perfect opportunity to meditate and clear the head of unnecessary thoughts.  A few people got up to speak about what a gentle and kind soul this fellow was.  He sponsored quite a few people, attended meetings right up to the last few weeks of his life and truly showed what it was like to not complain even as he lay dying.  He said that he thought that death was just another part of the journey and a great adventure to really see what was beyond.

How appropriate that a part of one of my favorite poems "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman was read.  I think that this captures the spirit of someone who realizes that death is an adventurous trip into the unknown. 
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,

The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.

And my favorite part of Song of Myself is the following:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

This tells me that we are not really separate as we would like to think. We are all in this together, kindred souls on a great journey.  And what a great journey it is.


  1. Thanks for sharing this... beautiful!

  2. This is a positive message for me. It helps me to see that the end can be a new beginning, death makes way for life again. Thanks Syd.

  3. Today as I walked along the beach we came across a beached whale.
    We chose to stop and gaze at this enormous creature to pay tribute. It reminded me that life is brief and to practice gratitude.

    Zen teachers say that if you miss the moment, you miss your life. How much of our lives have we missed? Be mindful!

  4. That sounds like it was a lovely memorial service, Syd. Mozart is one of my favourite composers.

    "For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you."
    I've just been reading something very similar in a book by Deepak Chopra about the connectedness of ourselves to each other and the universe. :)

  5. awesome pic. awesome poem. thanks for sharing it as (for me anyway) it speaks very eloquently of what I have come to understand as 'non-duality'. I love !! to hear the same truths spoken in different times and places by unrelated people. I feel the same way. The concept of 'non duality' is no fairy story for me. It is as real to me as the monitor in front of me. Its just the way things are.
    My favorite poem for expressing the non dual was Call Me by My True Names by Thich Nhat Hanh
    I LOVE poetry, and I have reordered TNH book of poems called Call Me by My True Names because I lent it to someone who has lost track of it. I love TNH's poems.
    But yeah that new one is fantastic too so thanks for sharing it.
    The journey of life, the journey of recovery. its all pretty ! amazing really. Reality is just so ? breathtaking and awesome. I am so grateful to AA for opening the door to this way of life. We are very lucky.

  6. Mozart and Whitman I can think of few better fare thee wells to them I will leave behind me when I go. Though I might throw some Bukowski in at the end just to shake things up a bit.

  7. wonderful post Syd! Mozart does indeed help clear my mind and offer meditative focus. I love that Whitman writing as well! And what an awesome photo, is that your handiwork?

  8. Thank you for the Walt Whitman and your beautiful perspective on life... and death...

  9. sounds like a wonderful memorial to a good person, i am glad you went and shared with us.

  10. A religious friend and I were discussing our moments of epiphany as concerns our faiths. He had his at a concert and it led him to Jesus and I had mine under the influence of a bit of very pure LSD back in the day and that led me to the knowledge, certain and sure, that Whitman was completely correct- that every atom DOES belong to us all. All IS one on every level. This knowledge has helped me to be so much more compassionate and aware of the fact that we all need to take care of each other. And our planet, as well, because its atoms and every sprout are as important and connected to us humans as any others.

  11. I love Whitman. One of my favorite poets.

  12. I have a fondness of Whitman too. What an incredible way to view things, another journey to take......thanks for sharing this.

  13. Syd, what is a john boat, I wonder? ... gorgeous photograph and I'm hoping that's really the place where you were.

    When my mother was dying I listened to a lecture by Thich Nhat Hanh about "interbeing." He talked about how the cloud is present in the flower and how, without the cloud, the flower could not be... just as we cannot be without each other.

  14. And if we remember it, we need never feel alone again.


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