Shaping Life

I’ve been thinking today about consciously shaping one’s life. I was in the middle of a rambling post about how to live, how to die (yes, Shakespeare, every third thought is my death) when I was interrupted by a call from a weeping family member. She asked me if I had some suggestions about how to talk to a five-year-old about death.


What do you say to a five-year-old about death? I wish I could give her a hug. Some things are best communicated through presence, the embrace of a body, a very literal reminding that someone is loved and that you are here—right here—for them. I can’t hug her, though. Too many miles between us. So I gave her some words.

Words are what I have.

I like words. I like people who like words.

Why am I with them so seldom now?

I enjoy a luscious phrase cascading. I savor a well-written verse, even as I struggle to release the logical mind seeking specific meaning, absolutes and open myself to the sensation of the words. Invoking, dispelling, confounding, revealing: the craft can elevate or demean and always, always I am reaching.

I am so happy when I’m with people who understand what it is to fall through a page and come out the other side changed. I expand in the energy of people who create: words, images, music, dance. Who are aware that life, too, is a creative choice. But the choices I’ve made in my life, sometimes from love, sometimes from fear, have not led me often to be with them.

I think it’s time to change that.

What do you say to a 53-year-old about death? Death is a long-time companion of mine. We’re on familiar terms. I know the dust waits.

I am considering my life, considering it as a creation, choosing the shape it should take. When “I” am over, who do I want to have been? Yes, I know: the poets and philosophers have always been delving this mine. But for most of us, these moments of crystal awareness are few. We should heed them. At least I should.

I’m going on a quest for words, and the people of words. The images will come along the way.