How you can smile in the face of Death

I looked Death in the face and did not blink yesterday.

Oh, it was brief. Don’t think you can tempt the Fates too long and get away with it.

For a moment, I felt destined to die right on the spot, with nary a second left to continue with my life. It made me think about life. And, more importantly, to question my Self if I was ready to accept it’s loss.

You see, I had meditated with eyes open, taking in my surroundings and sending out feelings for the “presence” of the Divine — that source within that warms my Being. I touched it. And I felt its peace. I also felt an urgent need to bring peace to my bladder by seeking the nearest rest room.

Leaving a breakfast table where I had completed most of my meal, I got up and walked to the restaurant’s public bathroom. Opened the first door and pushed at the second,  only to bump into a gentleman standing at the other side, near one of four sinks.

Silly me. I left my glasses back at the table. I planned to simply get in, relieve myself, and get back out to my “day-dreaming,” what  Dr. Carl Jung would call my conscious connection to the unconscious. A “musing,” a “seeing,” an attempt, in my words to “commune” with my “Higher Self.”

I could not make out the man’s details. He was younger than I, taller by a half foot, and dark-featured. Short haired. Conservative-looking. Nothing in the brief glimpse I got suggested anything sinister.

But, as I turned my back and stood before a urinal, I felt a presence of someone about to take my life. Kill me right in my tracks. Or, lack of tracks.

They say people who are experiencing a drowning, or some other near-death threat, see their entire life flashed before them. I felt Death behind me, about to deliver a painful blow and then . . . the end of all I know.

Nothing “flashed” before my eyes.  If anything, I had but one, and only one thought.

I’m Ready.

Ready to meet Death with no fear. No qualms with the loss of the only life I knew. I was at peace with my Self and simply “ready” for leaving. With no regrets, no clinging to any unfulfilled hopes or desires.

Was I “in the moment?” You bet I was! I was “seeing” the world for the last time. It was a completely new experience, one I never thought about, or wanted to contemplate from any readings I made of scripture, sacred books and holy verses. You can face up to Death, I thought,  if you’re ready to live in the moment.

It was not as if I “didn’t care” anymore. I was full of love and compassion from the meditative posture I had developed. And that’s why I could face anything with the same acceptance, the same “courage,” if you will. Don’t get me wrong. I would’ve defended myself — “go down swinging” — and not make it an easy slaughter. But if Death was calling me, I could greet him with a smile, look in his eyes and hit him with a little Greek “madness,” by wise cracking, “What took you so long, buddy?”

3 comments on “How you can smile in the face of Death

  1. The truth rings clearly in all you wrote….and though you were fearless, and in the moment, I’m so glad that the time was not yet and that in this world, we can companion on together a while longer…



  2. sparrow says:

    Thomas Merton; “Only a dying man sees his face upon the waters.”

    Zen Koan; ” What is your original face before you were born?”

    Beautiful post Michael J. . . as I read I thought you where graced to see your original face before your parents where born?


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