Around the same time I learned of Star Uncle Anthony Bourdain’s passing, I was looking at a picture of a FB friend’s grandson being born. She’s a Prince fan’s Prince fan, and was musing about what a boon it would have been if her new lil’ man had been born on Star Uncle Prince’s birthday. “But he had other plans”, she said.
But he had other plans.
That phrase stuck to my awareness like a gum wrapper at the bottom of my purse. Tuh.
We sometimes look at people who appear to be living life’s pinnacle. They’re rich and good looking and world famous and have overcome these incredible odds to be in a place that we can see them. A place we might trade our seeming invisibility for. And then they choose to die. It rocks us. If these people–the seen and heard and “valued”–those whom we may look up to– are jumping ship—wtf are WE here for?
We may have wanted them to live. But they had other plans.
Then we look at the people who were very much like us, seemingly invisible, but whom became world famous in death by way of a hashtag. Pick one. In these many, many cases, from five minutes ago on through human existence– somebody else was deciding somebody’s life wasn’t valuable enough to keep.
These somebodies may have wanted to live. But somebody else had other plans.
Death is a wonky topic to tackle. Our relationship with death is based on what we think we see. Some folk may have a more intimate relationship with death because of a near-death experience or through intuitive gifts; but for the lot of us, we experience what we know of death when somebody close to us dies. And maybe based on whatever world religion has been a part of our upbringing. If we’re honest, we don’t understand it. It’s hard to wrap our brains around it. We may even fear it. Death, to most, is the ultimate end. And the ultimate reminder of our own mortality. How fragile each minute can be. How few of our breaths are promised. It’s easy to view suicide as selfish because we’re the ones left behind to make sense of a death we weren’t prepared for.
And yet, we forget ourselves.
We forget where we’ve come from. How we got here. Why we came to start. We forget that we are each a cosmic imperative. I love how Brother Ishmael Tetteh puts it,
“We didn’t bring ourselves here. We can’t afford not to be here. We cannot resist leaving here.”
When it’s time.
No one leaves early. No one stays late. We all go when it’s our time. Even if it looks like someone is forcing God’s hand… God’s hand cannot be forced.
Isn’t it saner to believe that each life– whether sharing the planet with us now, or still living beyond the veil—is doing God’s work? That divine design is perfect, even if we don’t understand it? That the things we experience are reminding us to wake up. To shake us open and remember ourselves. If this is true, should it matter if we stumble? Should it matter if we make a mess of things? If we’re still here, sucking in all this good free air that we take for granted, doesn’t it mean we’re supposed to be? No matter our wrongs or rights or in-betweens? And if this is true, shouldn’t we treat each other accordingly? I mean, like cosmic imperatives–rather than as invisible? Shouldn’t we start to see each other?
I don’t have any answers here. Anthony Bourdain will be missed. Deeply. So will Kate Spade. As will the many souls who seem to choose to or seem to have been forced to leave this life plane and move on to whatever is next—life after life— for any number of reasons. There are names we don’t yet know and those we may never know. All of them are our ancestors now. The pain they may have been burdened with is no longer their cross to bear. They are free of their mortal body. And one day, so too shall we be. Until then, I do believe we can honor the legacy of those who’ve moved on by making the most of being alive. By remembering our cosmic imperative and acting accordingly. LOVE up on each other. LOVE up on yourself. What does the world need?
Peace, be still.