Today, because I dislike leaving more mess than I have to for others to clean up, I will go with my wife to a lawyer and begin the steps that will lead to the creation of a will, a durable power of attorney, and a health proxy.
In aid of this adventure in mortality, I spent a lot of time yesterday gathering information, collating it, putting it down in such a way that, I hope, when I either die or become badly sick, there will be a little burden as possible. Bank account information, a few stocks, copyright data, burial rights as stipulated for veterans, and was there a discount for cremation.
It all took several hours of quite particular work, phone calls, and focus. No doubt the lawyer will have a laundry list of stuff I overlooked, but in the same way I dislike having others' cleaning up my mess within the family, I also dislike making more work for the lawyer than is necessary ... so my efforts were a start in a world I have never entered before ... so to speak.
But of course the stuff I was addressing was stuff I had accumulated over the years, stuff with which I was familiar to one degree or another. Possessions, like memories, pile up over time. And what I cherished or cherish needed to be seen from the point of view of someone -- my wife or children -- who might not cherish such things at all. What about the cruciform twig my then-small son gave me to put on the zendo altar? What about the tables I once built and whose wood I love? What about the picture my smaller son made in kindergarten or first grade -- the one I framed because of the words that he wrote together with a picture that was indecipherable: "We luv echuther."
Each of us has stuff we cherish, I imagine. But it is just what we cherish. And there is a usefulness in seeing that it just we who cherish it. Others may see it in a completely different and perhaps not-at-all complimentary light. The importance we invest in things has no inherent validity ... it's just a taste or love or meaning that we ourselves have found ... or, more accurately, created.
What is useful about this observation, I think, is that, once having gotten over the loneliness that may adhere to the understanding, we can release our clutching and see that what we cherish is just ourselves. That clutching is not so much good or bad as it is possible-rather-than-necessary. What I would call important -- no matter how many may agree or disagree -- is just what I see as important.
With this sort of understanding -- or some effort to put it in place -- things become lighter. We can say with the utmost force whatever it is we want to say, but the clutching need for agreement or support is reduced. What is sad is truly sad. What is woo-hoo is truly woo-hoo. But the topic is like a silky milkweed seed floating on a spring breeze ... delicate, intricate, beautiful, full of promise, and practically weightless.
Your milkweed seeds float onto my earth. My
milkweed seeds tickle your cheek. It's a wonderful dance.
Might as well learn to enjoy it, to be the angels who "can fly because they take themselves lightly."