Living between now and eternity
Living between the now and eternity..
It’s funny, the other day I was inspired by a facebook group that shares weird second hand finds and thrift shop treasures. What caught my eye, was a group of small vintage trees used for holiday decor. It was a little forest, a holiday winter scene.
I already have a mercury glass tree and a little few bottle brush trees spray painted and decorated with different colors and glitter, but I was inspired to create my own little forest. I went to my local antique market looking for trees to add to my collection. I found a mirrored tree and a little white bottle brush tree with shells and ornaments. My collection will be complete when I find a pink bottle brush tree.
The paradox is, I have been very careful with money. My practice has been slow. Who can forget we are living with the threat of impending death and sickness due to the pandemic? I am reconciling simplifying my needs to the basics, not spending money on anything, simply being grateful for being healthy, my children being healthy, work and paying my bills with the occasional splurge.
I could die tomorrow but I still need to celebrate life. On one hand I live as if there is no threat, without fear and on the other I take precautions, wear a mask and stay at home a lot to ensure my health, just happy to pay my bills.
Why did I go out and spent some money on kitschy decorations? It sounds like commercial but it brought me comfort, cheer and a feeling of playfulness. My still life grouping of decorative trees amuses me with colors and light- the basis of everything.
For many years, my kids have heard me say “I am not doing Christmas this year” only to relent at the last minute and then put up my silver foil tree or a real tree, decorate it with beloved ornaments and then go look for some meaningful presents.
This year, while strolling in different antique mall, I encountered a woman in the back of her booth decorating for Christmas early in October. I kindly asked her about the Christmas decorations so soon and she said “Well the sooner you decorate, the longer you get to enjoy them.” I took that to heart and decorated for the holidays before Thanksgiving, something unheard of in my household and yet I am happy to do it now.
My son was supposed to come for Thanksgiving, but his girlfriend’s Mother’s boss came down with covid, so they are isolating. We are down to maybe three for dinner. You never know how or when things in life will change.
I am trying to live mindfully like I have another 30-40 years, careful of my health, cautious with money, sensible about business, meanwhile also trying to live in the moment with some joy, creativity and an occasional frivolous spending. I need art and music. I want the flowering and fruits of my labor as much as I need the necessities.
I have my little holiday tree forest with all that it means to me: trees, life, air, Earth, regeneration, yes…carbon sequestration, Tannenbaum, oxygen, color and light.
I am living between now, uncertainty and eternity with my colored baubles and whimsical comfort. I might lose it all tomorrow. It might be with me for the next decades. I keep on as if nothing is out of the ordinary, maybe in part, in denial of existential threats.
I think about my 88 year old uncle. Chronologically he is closer to death than I. He must think of death quite regularly. I am only recently thinking about it, having turned 61 recently and now with the pandemic. Yet I talk with my uncle, all of the time, as if nothing will ever change between us…as if we can both live on for another 80 years. This is such a madness…Why don’t we talk about death more often, about loss, about our feelings of love? So, what is important to us if we must simultaneously consider imminent death and a long life?
It’s a huge mental emotional exercise to think about the immensity of those two concepts at the same time, impending death and a long life. I feel my mind get tired just trying. This paradox creates a lot of stress for people all over the world these days. It makes us angry, anxious, sad and depressed. It creates such cognitive chaos, that we might feel as if our heads will explode or maybe it numbs us into traumatic limbo.
How do we hold the world and ourselves at the same time? How do we hold daily life and daily death at the same time? How do we contemplate our own life, paying the bills, a world pandemic, global economic distress, the 6th mass extinction and climate change and the holidays at the same time without overload? It’s hard.
I remember the French movie “King of Hearts. It is set during WW2. It’s about a soldier in the madness of the war and a group home for people considered mad by society. In the end they, in a typically French way, celebrate life. They have a parade, put on a beautiful play, use the debris of war as props and embody a celebratory life and love story.
What can we do in times of crisis, death, continuing birth, growth, change, of immeasurable stress and daily ordinariness? How do we live in a time of great paradox?
Keep on living with love, care, joy and perhaps the frivolous little things that remind us.