What Does Matter?

(Photo by Ryan Baker on Unsplash)

My beloved friend and cerebral soulmate of 34 years departed this material world today. She’s no longer in pain, no longer trying with such determination to continue a life she wasn’t ready yet to give up on. She’s now free, light, and one with all that is. So are we all but that’s not how we tend to experience ourselves.

For a long time, my friend was overwhelmingly burdened with years of back taxes, managing and moving around too many storage units of stuff, attending to the continuous needs of a long-disabled friend, moderating the incessant in-fighting of a dysfunctional condo association, managing her own healthcare needs so that she could be sure nothing would effect her long-term care insurance once she needed it, and dealing with a perpetual concern that she must keep editing other’s projects so she could accumulate more reserves for any unforeseen future financial needs.

Then the condo flooded, mold set in, and everything had to be moved out as quickly as possible. Her time was spent on where to live, where to put the stuff now coming out of the condo, contractor bids being weighed against bids from speculators who would buy and flip the place. All this was added to everything else already filling her days.

As I sat here today, alternately crying and staring blankly at the walls, I became filled beyond capacity with the intense awareness that none of it mattered. We are wasting the minutes and days of our lives with so much that we cannot see does not matter. I know you can say, yeah, but if you don’t die you still have to deal with these things. Instead I imagine now how I might seriously examine these minutes and days to see how I could live differently, spending my time on what does matter to me.

In no way am I faulting my brilliant and beautiful friend. She was only doing what we all do — dealing with what we think life is, with who we think we are. Rather, I’m trying to learn from her life and her death. I mean, consider — she has no heirs so there is no one for the IRS to hold accountable for those taxes. If there is an estate, they can figure out and garnish the taxes themselves. The storage units of stuff are a glaring reminder (to me, for sure) that our stuff cannot be taken with us. So why are we paying to house it and fretting about what to do with it? Get rid of it. The disabled friend’s needs are being taken care of by her own family now, as they should have been all along but they were only too happy to have someone else filling that void, even when it was at the expense of my own friend’s health. The condo in-fighting surely continues despite my friend no longer being able to hear it. The condo may not even exist anymore. And the long-term care insurance and the extra money are not needed. They never mattered. None of it mattered.

I am saying all of this to myself, and to you if it’s helpful, so I/we can learn from the loved ones that have lived and now gone on. How am I spending my days? Do these things matter to me? Are they what I truly want to be doing? Are they how I want to spend the precious minutes and days allotted to me? These are things we each get to make decisions about. Have I made some decisions that can and should be remade?

No doubt there will be some effort required in off-loading some of what I currently concern myself with, but I want to remember to not turn that into the next meaningless project as well. Everyone who has loved my friend as much as I have is only wishing now that we had had more deep conversations with her, more sparkling dinners in which we entertained each other in the most joyous way, more stimulating hikes in beautiful landscapes, more quiet moments together enjoying the sunrise or sunset — just making as many more of these memories as we possibly could. Were these the things she would have wanted too? I think so — these and many more.

Here was a person whose very essence embodied the qualities I value most — truthfulness, loyalty, generosity, enthusiasm, and most of all, she was a genuinely original person. With her, I always felt heard, understood, and appreciated. In our very first conversation, I recognized the uncommon merit and character of the person I was meeting. Her legendary playfulness only added to the wealth of knowledge and insight she brought to our ongoing movable feast. I want to honor her and myself by taking care to be so aware and intentional about my days. I want to be as free and light and one with all as I actually am but am not living enough as if.

3 thoughts on “What Does Matter?

  1. The absolute vital lesson to be learned. Listening to Alan Watts recordings in the car today and he, of course, was urging this same lesson. Life should not be wasted.
    Thanks for sharing your love for your friend and the sadness of losing someone with whom you shared part of the journey.

  2. Merci. Sharing your writing with us is a gift. I lit a candle for your friend, for you and for us, taking a moment to honor life. As I look for words to share with you…I turned to Thich Nhat Hanh, took a deep connecting breath and randomly opening one of his books for guidance. This is what he shared: ” We need to organize our daily life so we have more opportunities to be, to learn being peace, being joy, being loving, being compassionate. We need very concrete ways to do this. (…) Our society is so caught in our daily concerns and anxiety we don’t have time to live our life or to love. We don’t have time to live deeply and touch the true nature of what is there, to understand what life is. We are too busy to have the time to breathe, to sit, to rest.” Thank you for taking the time. Toutes mes sympathies.

  3. Extremely important thoughts–now let’s put them into action. I’m so very sorry about S… We really do need to learn and grow from each person’s death…our time will come way sooner than we’d like, probably. Let’s go on a road trip adventure, what do you say? As soon as it gets cooler? Enough of this shit.

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