I have noticed over the years that life, our very life, is without a doubt totally co-dependent on death. My ability to live life, as a human, demands that “others” give up their lives. These lives can be as unacknowledged as a coffee bean dying so I can have my daily life saving latte, to a more recognizable yet often unacknowledged, cow dying so I can eat steak. It can be as unseen and unnoticed as eating a grape picked off a vine in my backyard to the very noticeable soldier giving her life at war to keep me safe at home.
As I watch myself go through my days I am seeing more and more ways my tiny little life in Maple Ridge, as green and low impact as I am creating it to be, is still unmistakably reliant on death.
I take solace in the fact that I shop at the local farmer’s market. I support local growers, keep the money in my community, and eat fresh organic produce that hasn’t travelled from southern California, Mexico, or Brazil. I take shelter in knowing that I grow lots of food, vegetables mostly, in my own backyard and buy my beef and pork from free range ranchers that treat their animals with humanity and kindness so I can eat ‘clean’ meat.
As considerate as I am, as thoughtful as I behave, as caring as I seem to be about what I eat and who produces it and where it comes from, I still kill things or have things killed for me so I can continue to live.
What has this all got to do with a loved one dying you may ask? And I did too.
Like it or not, fear it or not, deny it or not, it is simply the uncomfortable truth we are dependent on death to live.
We can prepare to die a better human death if we are mindful of all the mini-deaths that support our lives. By practicing day-to-day gratitude for the cycle of birth-life-death-birth-life-death; by giving gratitude for the life lived or the life given or taken. I am finding that a daily practice of thankfulness for everything I have consumed in order that I can live most helpful. I demonstrate my thankfulness by;
- Saying a short of thanks prayer before I eat.
- Washing the dishes after I have a meal.
- Composting kitchen waste as a mindful offering to next year’s growth.
- Saying thank you as I pull a carrot from the garden.
- Joyfully watering the garden plants when they need it.
- Acknowledging the preciousness of life no matter how significant or insignificant I may judge it.
- Thanking those who made my meal possible from the farmer to the chef.
Let’s learn to be better host for death -what do you say?