Whatever your current age or state of health, you have probably experienced moments when life feels exceedingly ephemeral, as if it could disappear in a split second. This is raw truth. We are here on Earth as human beings for a tiny moment in eternity, yet time itself is always relative—sometimes racing and sometimes “stopped.” As our lives move forward and evolve, we experience the various aspects of life and living and come to know both impermanence and loss. In doing so, our hearts may break, yet we grow wiser. And we begin to see beyond time to eternity itself.
When my mother and father were first married and living in Chicago, they went to see a show called Knickerbocker Holiday. In it, one piece of music, “September Song,” particularly touched them, and they carried it through their lives as their “favorite.” Every time someone sang it on TV or radio, they would pause, listen, and look across the room at each other meaningfully. The main lyric was “It’s a long, long while from May to December. But the days grow short when you reach September…. These precious days I’ll spend with you.” I have such a clear memory of this, which I’ve carried with me all my life. The songwriter, and my parents, had tapped into both the sweetness and the poignancy of life.
My parents were married 57 years when my mother passed away; my father died nine years later. I think I came to know why that song held such significance for them as I lived through their aging years and eventual deaths. Now, many years later, as I myself am aging, as well as facing breast cancer, it all takes on new meaning. In my heart, I feel strongly that I will survive this health challenge, yet you can’t live through such an unexpected and intense experience without being changed, without taking a hard look at your own mortality. Of course, my entire life I have been focused on the mystery of eternity and death, feeling both fear and fascination. (Maybe it runs in my family genes!) None of it coincidence, I suppose. This is my soul journey. Before birth, I chose the parents I had for exactly these reasons.
Over the years, my spiritual path has gradually led me to a “peace that passeth understanding” about it all. Particularly in the last few months, I have come to see an extraordinary beauty in eternity and the nature of the universe. Cancer can be both frightening and soulfully expansive. In recent weeks, I have experienced moments of timeless immersion in infinity, primarily in Nature, which defy description. The heart and soul cannot translate what transpires at those times. But you are transformed; the inner “enlightenment” you were born with rises to the surfaces and shines through your being. Fear no longer defines your days and nights; light does. And trust in something greater than the mind’s limited view. Your inner vision expands to encompass a magnificence and grace that spans all time and space.
Does every human soul eventually experience this as an incarnated being on planet Earth? I don’t know for certain. I can only express what I myself am living through. Still, the trust I carry within me whispers that this is the destiny of all human beings: to see the true nature of life and what appears to be mortality. In the calendar of life, the days we are given at first seem long, then short, then eventually become infinite, timeless—and “precious” beyond life, death, and meaning itself.
“You are infinity dancing in impermanence.”—Panache Desai