I started noticing the beauty of the sky at dawn. Also, the beauty of the birds in flight, crows and sea gulls crossing the wide sky above. I noticed the color coming into the sky and the smell and the feel of the air.
I also noticed the beauty of the sound made by the call of the Canadian geese as a pair flew overhead.
Then I had a thought about all that we must willingly "give up" and leave behind.
Someday, I thought, I will no longer live here. This has been my home since 1998 but someday I will live somewhere else. I started to recall my childhood home and how many temporary stops there were on the way to settling where I am now. But am I ever really settled in my soul?
I started thinking about the pain of giving up that childhood home and how long it had taken to let go of it. It is always there as a kind of psychic background, woven into my sense of identity.
I then started to recognize the actuality of death. Many of the people I care about are much older than me and several are reflecting on how short the time they have left may be. Of course, this is true for each of us, but that fact barely registers most of the time. It is much more keen and vivid for the people I know in their seventies and eighties.
When I die I will have to give up the places that I love. And the people that I love.
This is not news, of course. But I'm interested in the quality of consciousness that this time such obvious facts had. They had a different taste, a much stronger flavor of actuality.
Then I thought, I will have to give up this sense of self that is so rooted in my body.
My body does not survive death.
Then I thought, with a kind of clarity that was startling, I will have to give up this mind and its habits of perception and identity.
What am I making with my life right now?
Then I realized:
The sense of self is supported by a sense of place, both a "home" and also a larger context -- for me that is life in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. But it also involves all those places I have visited.
The sense of self is conditioned by this body its changes over time.
The sense of self is shaped by this mind, full of attachments to things and places and ideas and feelings.
When "I" die, I will have to let go of place, body, and mind, and what will persist? Better I learn to let go than feel everything I love being torn away from me. And what about consciousness or awareness itself? Does something else remain in the background. Not mine, but just "what is"?
That subtle consciousness that is beyond me or ego?
Is it possible that life is a process that involves an awareness or intelligence that is beyond form?
Awareness finds many forms, in the form of a human body, in the form of a spider or a jaguar or a camel or a whale. But, the intelligence that animates life is the same in each being. The form and expression is different, but the most primal animating energy is the same.
Seeing this I realized:
Depression, at least for me, is largely a reaction to clinging to place, to objects, to body, to mind, to images, to habits, etc. instead of opening up to magical play of awareness in all its myriad forms.
One can become frozen from fear, from refusing to move. One can be locked into convention and image. But life itself is always moving. Energy is always moving, or trying to move. It is a movement from obstructed joy, to joy itself.
This recognition is a deep basis for a background or sustaining gratitude