It’s remarkable to me how often life and death coincide. They seem cyclical, somehow thriving on each other through various moments that piece together the days of our lives. Life and death. Death and life. Forever entwined in their differences. I experienced this puzzle firstpaw today, when twice I saw my life flash before my eyes. Once in life and once in death.
Mom uses the word “sassy” to describe what happened when she let me outside this morning. Usually I wait outside the door while she hooks me to my lead, but there was no waiting period to be had this morning. Not with an entire family of bunnies within my reach! I chased after them, but their head start eluded me and I instead ended up exploring the back portion of the yard I so infrequently visit due to my lead.
And before I knew it, I was face to face with Crazy Dog. That’s right – the neighbor pit bull who has (unfortunately) never had any training (obedience or otherwise). The dog whose eyes terrify me to the bones. I didn’t have a moment to think before he came at me through the fence, panting and bearing his teeth. There he was, close enough I could feel his breath on my face, ready to attack me in my own backyard. An as I saw my life flash before my eyes, my instincts told me to ready for the fight. Yet in that same moment mom scooped me up and carried me inside before I could do anything about it.
Suddenly I was thankful for that lead again, but even more so for my increasingly regular trips to the dog park. If I can’t explore my backyard, at least I can run freely there. So you can imagine my excitement today when mom and I discovered a new dog exercise area nearby. It’s more expansive than the other one I’ve been to with a lot more space to run and roam and explore. And run, roam and explore I did.
As I ran to mom when she called me across the field, it didn’t matter that I was a football field away from her. It didn’t matter that there were several humongous puddles of mud between me and her (which promptly soaked my recently groomed self to the bone with a mud bath). All that mattered in that moment was how alive I felt in it. It’s remarkable how moments in time can make us feel so alive. My life flashed before my eyes again, this time lit brilliantly with the glow of gratitude.
My experiences today reminded me a bit of the thoughts of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. “Life and death are one thread,” he said, “the same line viewed from different sides.” Today I saw the single line from both sides. Today I stared sudden (seemingly imminent) death in the eye and smiled. Today I felt alive in moments of life and death. It really is remarkable how often those two realities coincide.