The Internet Vagabond

A Good Friend's Father

A good friend's father died. He was quite a strong figure in my childhood. He was compassionate, endearing, strong, and happy. He is succeeded by two of my best childhood friends, and his second wife. I will always remember him as smiling, or laughing, or even sometimes frustrated with his children.

When I learned of his passing, I immediately thought of my position in life. My father is roughly the same age, and my mother slightly younger. Was this death too early? Is there such a thing? If I stick to my philosophical beliefs, then death is fated, regardless of where or when; never early, never late. When I told a friend of the passing, his remarks were expectedly typical: "That's fucked up. He died so early. He died so young." The trick with beliefs is they are always tested. I found myself caught up in grief and worry. Surprised at the passing, worried with the thought of my parents dying. I even grew anxious of the funeral and calling hours. Suddenly this anxiety was like a weed, finding it's way into the cracks in my beliefs and understanding, unsettling and disrupting my peace of mind. Instead of mourning the loss, I tangled myself into an emotional knot, and selfishly so.

I sat, a few days after the news, watching the rain. I considered how the rain falls where it is due, regardless of what it falls on. The rain cares not, it simply is. I considered the millions of drops falling on the millions of people all around the globe. Their situations in life as unique as each drop; in structure similar, yet in action ever slightly divergent. In life, I cannot decide where or when I exist, I can only decide how to perceive my existance. Epictetus wrote, "man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them." My perceptions were skewed, my understanding flawed, and thus I was disturbed.

One of my favorite analogies is Bruce Lee's metaphor about water. It is a reminder to be fluid and formless, adaptable and potent; "If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves." There's no way for me to know what will be asked of me, as my life moves forward. I must be shapeless, so when obstacles appear I flow around or through them, without hesitation. I cannot affect when or how these obstacles appear, only how I perceive them. I had forgotten this.

A good friend's father died, and he reminded me how to live.

Bill Niblock 2015-07-09
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