Sunday, May 17, 2009
I've just finished reading "The Last Lecture" by the late Randy Pausch, who left an indelible impression of what life really means, even as pancreatic cancer took him steadily towards an untimely demise. I've never felt such a curious mix of emotions as I read a book... sad, inspired, annoyed, hopeful and finally peaceful. I think I am now a part of the thousands of people who wish someone like Randy had lived on, but cherish the legacy of inspiration and dynamic proaction that he has left for his family and the world.
There are many thoughts that had an impact on me as I went through the book... but I want to focus on one insight that really impressed me. Towards the end of the book, Randy mentions an incident wherea well-wisher wrote to him about Krishnamurti, and Indian educationist and spiritual leader. Someone once asked the great man, what is the most appropriate thing to say to a friend who is going to die soon. Krishnamurti replied saying "Tell you friend that in his death, a part of you dies and does with him. Wherever he goes, you will also go. He will not be alone".
I spent several long moments contemplating what this meant... the context is particularly relevant for me at present because my grandfather isn't in the best of health and several doctors have told us to be prepared to say goodbye. Now, I'm not exactly the most believing of people when it comes to what doctors have to say. I know they're speaking with the authority of scientific practice and I truly respect that. It's just that I've seen several medical predictions go into the dust because of factors that are beyond the purview of "modern" medicine. I'm willing to believe, even now, when he's just recovering from a pacemaker replacement, that he could make it and continue to spend quality time with his loved ones. Optimism is something I've adopted, because life has shown me that it works when many tangibles fail. So whether it is time for my grandfather for meet his maker, or if he has many years left amongst us, I want it to be spent happily and with as much learning and growth as possible. Reading Randy's words made me believe that more than ever.
As you can see, I also tend to get a little tangential when I'm in the mood to talk about something that makes me think! Let's circle back now, to Krishnamurti's thought, about a part of us going away with people we love, when it's time for them to leave this world. The first thought I had when I read this, was "How true! But maybe not exactly the way it's written... there must be more between the lines..." The only experience I've had with death is the passing of my grandmother, last February, and I've spent a lot of time thinking of what effect that event had on my family and me. Do I think a part of me died with her... not really, in that I don't feel like there's something missing in me. Our love does not remain in a form that can be perceived by others, but I believe that it stayed with me and went with her soul. She took with her countless lessons, insights and the gift of love that she received from the life she left behind. I think that's what we carry with us when it's time to move on... we might be unaware of it, but we're always packing for that journey (which makes me think... let's be careful and particular about the baggage we lug, shall we?). When our loved ones leave us, I believe they take with themselves powerful impressions of the happiness they experienced with us, and leave us with similar impressions. We are supposed to look back on these from time to time, to draw strength and inspiration from them, which we can channel into the present and our relationships with other people.
Another thought I had today, is that most of my dearest friends don't live in the same city; most don't even live in the same continent! We've all changed in some ways, perhaps even grown more distant than we'd have liked... but that's a part of life. Whenever we meet, the good times just come rushing back and our affection for one another is even more pronounced than it used to be... maybe absence does make the heart fonder! When we went our separate ways, I think we left each other with memories (impressions) of precious moments we had spent with each other - joys, sorrows, triumphs, defeats, revelations etc. etc. - when we go back to those moments it's almost like we're living them again to the extent that we can feel what we felt then and react in pretty much the same way (well... maybe a little more rationally now... just a wee bit!).
I think these are the "parts" that Krishnamurti talks about. About giving someone a derivative of what is essentially YOU, that they can keep with them for life (and beyond). It doesn't make you less when you give it because you get something from them too. It lasts beyond the tenure of relationships, social trends and even lifetimes... just read some books by Brian Weiss and Mitch Albom, if you haven't already.
Today, I wish you much love and the profound joy of fulfilling relationships, now and and forever.