Celebrating Life: Coping with Death – Ten years after 9/11

God Bless AmericaOn the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we stand together, a nation united by an event that touched the hearts and minds of both Americans and people around the world.  

While these lives were taken so suddenly ten years ago, there is so much pain that still lingers in the hearts of their friends, family members, and in the community at large. Let us come together to honor the lives taken on this day, and the many lives that followed. In addition, I humbly offer to you, to all who carry the pain brought about by this tragic event, a perspective using simple ice cubes, something we come across every day in our lives…to bring some comfort and peace.

I will start with the question, “Do you feel sad when an ice-cube melts?”

Most of us would answer the question with a quick “NO”.

Now, consider this situation.  Let’s say that you just spent $600 to have a fancy ice sculpture made for your sister’s wedding reception as a surprise.  It was a hot day and the group photos after the ceremony took a lot longer than planned.  All of you arrived over an hour late to the outside barn reception.  Alas, the beautiful sculpture had melted and your sister did not even get to see it in all its glory.

If I asked the same question again, “Would you be disappointed, sad or upset when the ice melted?” the answer most likely will be an immediate “YES”.

What do you see as the difference between these two scenarios?

The basic difference is that you are too attached in one situation while in the other you are not (detached).  Setting high expectations by connecting it to your sister’s wedding reception and paying money for the ice sculpture only increases the value and meaning attached to the piece of ice, which we all know will melt. 

We can link how we view the melting ice to how we view our body as a physical form.  All forms and bodies will disappear one day, just as ice melts with time.  When it comes to ice, however, we understand the mechanics clearly.  Ice melts into water and then evaporates into vapor.

Let us shift our perspective and accept the same logic to our body.  All we need is that we are open to the possibility that our body forms from a spirit and returns to a spirit. Consider this question, “Does ice become vapor or vapor becomes ice?”  It can go both ways, can’t it?  The peace we have in our life is based on how we approach this question.  If vapor is our starting point and we spend time as an ice-cube, we enjoy the experience, and when we turn back into vapor, we really don’t feel sad.  On the other hand, if we identify ourselves purely as an ice-cube, we will feel terrible when we melt.

The most important point when we come from the starting position of an ice-cube is that even when we are an ice-cube, we are nervous, anxious, fearful and worried since we know that we are going to melt, just don’t know when.  We fear and worry about the temperature, the pressure and so many other factors that might impact when we are going to melt, however, factors mostly out of our control.  This is a recipe for anxiety and misery.

If we embrace the notion that the spirit and the body are just different manifestations of the same being, we can learn to celebrate life and eliminate the fear of death.  Fear is the primary emotion of the Ego, but by accepting the premise that the body and the spirit are just different states of the same, we can create inner peace. When our perspective changes, and alters how we view the cycle of life, we can find peace and joy in our hearts.

In remembrance of this event, we can consider embracing the circle of life, one that carries with it a stark reminder that life is short, fluid, and utterly beautiful. Just as water vapor transforms into an ice-cube and then back to vapor, we too transform from spirit, manifest in a physical body, and return to spirit.  Even though we don’t want to ignore our feelings and emotions, we can grieve and remember that death is not the end, but rather a part of the wonderful and often mysterious circle of life.  

—     Krishna Pendyala

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