“We do not own our lives. We just take care of them.”

Les Kaye (Zen teacher) in one of the books that I am reading.  So much shifting in this journey.  Feeling my impermanence so strongly.  How short our transient, little lives really are.  Does it make such a big difference to live for 50 versus 80 years?  Death is certain at the end of the road, no matter how long or short.  To really feel that, to live it.  Now that I have been touched by cancer, I just can’t escape the truth about how impermanent my life really is.  Yes, my prognosis is fairly good but there is no security that the cancer won’t return.  I can’t take life for granted anymore and I realize that I never really could.  But I did, anyway.

Now that I feel the shadow of death in the wings, I can’t shake it.  I feel how inevitable it is.  How my thinking of what is happening is like a tiny spec of the whole picture.  And that I am not in control.  I may be afraid of recurring cancer and get hit by a bus tomorrow.  We just don’t know.  We hold (and care for) this precious life, that’s all and we don’t know for how long.  But we are here now and behold so much.

Owning our lives is delusion.  Really it is our suffering.  Born out of fear, it gives us a feeling of control and entitlement.  Truly, there is nothing to hold on to.  We don’t know where we’ve come from and we don’t know where we are going to.  Thinking we could own our lives we attempt to cheat death.  But death will not be cheated, it will one fine day have the last word….  And who’s life is this anyway?  Who is the one doing the living and the dying?  Nothing to hold on to.  We try to define who we are and aren’t, we constantly try to find substance within ourselves, to solidify our illusion of something permanent.  We think that we feel better the more in control we are, but actually the opposite is true:  owning, clinging, being attached to our lives only perpetuates our suffering.  Ironically the very pain that we try to escape from we hold on to and even feed….

But when something happens that shatters the delusion, like realizing our transient nature, our mortality, we are truly set free and given a chance to awaken to a new life.  When we surrender our lives, when all is lost, when the rug is pulled out from under our feet, who is left?  Who is that person feeling immerse gratitude for being here now?  The one that greets every moment with appreciation and wonder.  Why are the colors more vibrant than ever before and every little thing counts?

Nothing taken for granted anymore.  Giving up our “ownership” of life, in the empty and naked space of our being-ness, we are invited to begin a stewardship of our lives.  To take care of this precious life, this body, this mind and healing heart.  Unconditionally, and without attachment to outcome.  The gift may be greater than anything we can even remotely imagine.

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