There are a lot of scary things in life, aren’t there? And they usually start with a sensation of fear. Although we sense the fright in such a feeling, it can really be terrifying when it turns into thinking about something unknown. This kind of “thought”, the one we don’t like to hear as older adults, is usually, “I don’t have much time left to…” Such a notion comes to me, for example, while I’m enjoying the young trees my wife and I have planted in our yard and entryway, and I imagine seeing them almost fully grown, but my presence isn’t there. I wonder what might happen if I or others attempted to investigate such thoughts instead of reacting to them by retreating from their shadowy presence.
Perhaps, contemplating the statement, “I don’t have much time left to…,” that is, concentrating and holding it under a laser-like gaze of mindfulness might be quite surprising and helpful. Just being patient, it would lead us into the sensation of fear from which we usually flee. Once there, this is the part where we would really need the ability of equanimity to stay put, steadfastly observing the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise and pass away. If we’re fortunate, our patience might pay off, for as fear dissolves, we could find ourselves opening to and becoming one with a natural spaciousness, experiencing a clarity that is crystal clear. As we linger, we could abide in awareness, one that may offer insights, such as learning that immense joy is possible within each moment in nature, like being one with those trees and plants that humans love so much. Insights might come as though they’re specifically designed for us. We would realize we can make this journey of contemplation as often as we like, that our fear of not having enough time left to enjoy the things we love in nature or with other parts of our lives dissolves, and that what we have is sufficient, even if it’s a small while. It may even be that some call the final stage in aging, appreciation, becomes a living reality.
Investigating fearful thoughts, such as “I don’t have much time left to…”, by contemplating and following them to their core is transformative. It’s amazingly helpful as it resolves many of the difficulties we perceive and face in daily living. Finding that we can study such feelings while we’re in nature or wherever we are, not just on a cushion, we experience gratitude for what we have in each moment and let it go. And in doing so, we may find that letting go of our final moment in this life is one filled with satisfaction and unconditional love. Why not?