It is not easy nor comfortable to contemplate death. Some of us try to avoid the thought altogether. But this is our inevitable fate, a certainty.
We’re reminded, sometimes painfully, of our short time on Earth through the passing of a loved one. Or even someone not close to us.
We all have our different views on the finality of death. Some believe this corporeal life is just a momentary blip on the soul’s longer journey.
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, who, when calamity strikes them, say, “Innā lillāhi wa ‘innā ilayhi rāji’ūn”. [2:155-156]
“Indeed, we belong to God, and indeed, toward Hu, we are returning.”
Walking up the road, climbing up to where the power lines bisect the monte, I was able to get a photo of the village. We’re down there somewhere, trying to stay warm. Not shown is the town of Allariz, where there’s more liveliness. Ourense province is wiggling its way into my heart in a profound way.
Years ago, firmly settled into my evening routine among the stones in Sierra Leone, I painted the words providence in the wilderness on my bedroom wall. Not much an artist, I used words and phrases plucked from anywhere to decorate and inspire me. A mix of something in Malcolm X’s autobiography and Robinson Crusoe, I thought I was being philosophical.
I thought it represented my past-self’s idealized trajectory; starting with being a young, confused, but lively person in the world and maturing into someone confident, more focused, spiritually satiated, sure of things. I naïvely thought age and interestingly curated living arrangements would help me with finding that providence. The years pass and I count more grey hairs in my beard, but I feel no closer to that mythical providence in the wilderness than all those years ago.
Which isn’t to say things are bad. Things are great for me, actually. But maybe it is this dual thinking that grinds on me occasionally; that I take on too many externalities, like the state of U.S. domestic politics or global opinion on the existence of a dying biosphere, that are very much out in the wilderness for me.
So, enough with resolutions or promises. I know myself. I need better habits and routines. But since I have rarely had those, I feel more comfortable bringing a few intentions to the coming ten years.
Read more for pleasure, less for knowledge
Don’t be afraid to show yourself
Be mindful of spreading your general positivity too thin
A few days ago, we left the coast and moved into a small house in a village of around sixty inhabitants. Situated on a carretera secundaria, up a small monte, we’re a few kilometers outside a town of 6,000 people, from which is a 25-minute drive to Ourense.
We’ve met a few neighbors, who’ve already generously given us apples from a small orchard across the street and candied pecans. We have fresh bread delivered every morning and even though we are on a carretera segunda, there aren’t many passing cars throughout the day. We are almost definitely the youngest people in the village.
Yesterday, we took a walk further up the monte with Alqo. The feeling of having lush, beautiful forests to enjoy so close, without needing to drive, is unmatched.
I can get very used to this fresh morning air and quiet rainy evenings, dawn to dusk filled with birdsong and incredible views.