Death Meditation XVI

Daily Meditation #291–12/10/2022




I duck as the sound fills the living room, but I already know what happened.

Another fool of a dove saw a dog being walked, a loud truck rumbled by, or a breeze hit the trees a bit too aggressively frightening the gentle creature into an explosion of feathers and sound to escape.

I immediately looked to the window and saw a poof of feathers floating down and a greasy smear of liquid and pattern that was roughly bird-shaped imprinted on the large window.

Sighing, I got up and went over.

Laying breast-down in the dust of snow over the woodchips beside the step was a dove. 

Its tail was cocked slightly up, fanned fully out like a spread of paring knives.

Its wings were shaking in an asymmetrical, involuntary way.

Its head was laying in the cold snow, tiny eye wincing and little beak furiously moving.

Then, only maybe 30 seconds after the flurry of activity had begun, the beautiful creature was made perfectly still. I knew right then I had witnessed the soul of this innocent bird leave its body.

The tail slowly came back in.
The wings relaxed.
Its face was perfectly still, except the ooze of fresh, thick blood trickling out of its eye socket.

 — — — 

Life is fragile for us all. Not just lowly, gentle doves smashing headlong into windows in panics.

Are we really so different if a drunk driver veers into our lane, unexpected and in a moment? No, we aren’t.

Are we so different when hit in the head by accident while swimming, drowning unconscious? Not at all.

We are all “lowly, gentle” creatures with a soft, vulnerable brain encased in merely a quarter-inch of bone. 
We are all fools who with each poor diet or exercise choice shoveling one scoop of dirt onto an earlier grave.
We are all dying each minute of each day — and for some of us, today could be our day.

We wake up every morning laboring under the delusion we will live to 80 or more. Some of us will. But some of us will get cancer or be struck by cars or will drown, tragically.

Death is inevitable for us all, and we must think on it each and every day, remembering with reverence how fragile we are and how beholden to the power of death we are.

Death is the great contrast that makes us better appreciate life — the life of our parents.
The life of our spouse.
The life of our pets (including the wild ones at our bird feeders).

It is through death meditation we more appreciate living.

Follow for daily philosophical meditations.

These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Ancient Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”

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