So, this Sunday is the one year anniversary of the death of my friend Meg Perry.
This has, of course, and inevitably, led me to a lot of introspection and thought about the nature of life and death. The past year has been irrevocably changed by Meg's passing--and my life as well. It's a little strange for me to say, because we weren't that close. We worked together on organizing and social justice work, sat through hundreds of hours in meetings together, moved in similar social circles, and had a few random encounters outside of those large-group settings. But I never did hang out for the afternoon, or spend one-on-one time with her at all. Although I did help with doing PR and fundraising for the trip down to New Orleans, and my best friend was on the bus with her that day.
Nevertheless, Meg's death has prompted some great changes in my life. I can honestly say that I probably would not be in grad school now, nor would I be taking romantic risks, nor have this excellent job. Her death prompted that (of course, and again inevitable) consideration of my own life, and what it would mean to me if I should die tomorrow and would I be happy with my life choices in that situation. I think that I can now say yes, which is pretty incredible.
I recently read a book called For the Time Being by Annie Dillard. It helped me a lot in thinking about the overwhelming sense of Life On The Planet--as in, more people have died than have ever lived; my life (and Meg's life, and everything I know) is just a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the amount of human life that has and will existed. In the face of this, how to go on? What's the point? Et cetera.
The quote that I wrote down from Dillard's book is this:
Ours is a planet sown in beings. Our generations overlap like shingles. We don't fall in rows like hay, but we fall. Once we get here, we spend forever on the globe, most of it tucked under. While we breathe, we open time like a path in the grass. We open time as a boat's stem slits the crest of the present.
And also, this quote, from the same book, by Rabbi Tarfon:
The work is not yours to finish, but neither are you free to take no part in it.