Certain laws of the universe just seem to never fail:
That if we’re looking for something we’ll never find it;
then suddenly when all effort is abandoned, there it is.
The guarantee that if the appointment is conveniently close to home,
we WILL be late to it.
And the absolute assurance, when someone we love dies, that themes of living, truly living,
not just sleepwalking,
are suddenly as loud as sirens.
They say to be devil-may-care when you’re young, and cautious when you’re older,
but I have begun to maintain the exact opposite.
Young is when you should organize and plan,
so that effective longevity stands a greater chance.
It’s when you’re older, and with fewer days ahead than behind,
that the attitude of “what do I have to lose?” makes more sense.
The older I get, the bolder I get.
It didn’t used to be that way.
I used to grow increasingly conservative as the years went by
and the hairs on my head began to lose their color.
A little more cautious,
a little more nervous,
the sense of consequences ever larger and clanging in my head.
But in this past year, a shift of some sort has happened.
And, yes, I am indeed growing more into the “what do I have to lose?” category.
I believe the reason is that a personal record number of people in my life passed on this year,
and the sheer volume of it has dizzied me.
And perhaps with how untimely so many of them have been,
I’m simply being nudged to move with more deliberateness in my gait.
Because, after all, tomorrow could be my last,
as it was (too young!) for so many I knew.
And then what would’ve been the point in my hesitation?
This isn’t a gloomy thought.
On the contrary; it is fresh with hope.
Ripe and rife with possibility.
Inspiration to be gleaned from the seeming senselessness of death.
It IS senseless, that death,
unless we, the ones left behind in life, choose,
through it and because of it,
to be awakened.
“Be nobody’s darling:
Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
Or line the crowded
With other impetuous
Fools . . .
Be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.”
― Alice Walker
“And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly.
Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.”
― Maya Angelou
We are not born only once,
but many times over, when someone dies,
to a better level of ourselves,
climbing studied rung by studied rung,
to reach a self worthy of that death.
. . . At least we should be.
The Scottish song Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns
translates roughly to “times gone by,”
and was originally a commemoration song about loved ones past,
and never letting them be forgotten.
According to modern legend, Guy Lombardo popularized the song
when his band used it as a segue between two radio programs
during a live performance on New Year’s Eve in 1929.
Purely by coincidence, the song happened to play just as the clock struck midnight,
and a New Year’s tradition was born.
2014 was a rough year by just about all accounts of everyone I know,
and much of it had to do with death, for some cosmic reason.
So, as long as we’ve had to endure it,
it might as well not be in vain.
That’s up to us.
Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, is a recipient of the Heritage/Soulword Magazine Award in poetry, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD. Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.