I found myself blurting out, “we’re all going to die.” Perhaps I felt free enough to say that to her knowing she is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practitioner. She agreed and added that we live as if we don’t acknowledge that.
In that short interchange I seemed to come to the answer of a kind of Koan I’ve grappled with most of my life. If we are going to die anyway, why spend any effort caring for this body, this life? I felt her boyfriend’s love and compassion and concern for the two little piglets, knowing he himself would eventually slaughter them. In that moment I was able to hold the dichotomy lightly in an open heart. Though I will die, nevertheless I care for and nurture this body with lovingkindness, to the best of my ability. This can be extrapolated exponentially to all areas of life which in truth is all arising and passing away.
Years ago a high school friend wrote a poem entitled “The Dichotomy of Alive.” I don’t remember the poem but I’ve never forgotten its title. It is a both/and mystery we all must open our hearts to if we are to live a conscious life.