One day I won’t be here

I’ll be honest, right now, my family have had enough of me talking about death, grief and ecocide.

It’s not like it’s the sole topic of conversation, but they are right to highlight the rapidity to which I keep returning to the subject areas.

These days I’m not trafficking in anything particular. Sure, I’ve updated my profile on Twitter and LinkedIn but I’m no longer active in the legal (or any) market, trying to make a fist of things.

I go to work; do my thing; and come home. It’s all very simple.

But, and here’s the kicker, it’s not enough.

And when I say enough, I mean to say that it’s not enough to talk ad nauseam and nothing else.

I need to act.

What’s holding me back?

It may sound strange but, about six weeks ago, I booked to attend a day’s workshop with Stephen Jenkinson. Again, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen that my timeline is replete with mentions of his work (podcasts, books and events), particularly around death and dying but more particularly because he’s someone who asks us all to live in the question and not to try and come up with a one-size-fits-all answer. I remember one of the radio hosts who interviewed him describe him like a small, irregular pebble in his shoe. I took that to mean he can be bloody irritating or at least thought-provoking. In my case, I’d say that his books “Die Wise” and “Come of Age” have caused me to think deeply about my limited, time-bound existence and, quite frankly, have, at times, left me wrecked in not knowing what to say to his provocative questioning — which is mostly a conversation I end up having between the ego-driven psyche and something much closer to true self. To put it another way, I’ve been forced to consider (but not yet come up with an answer…) how I make sense of a world wrought in its (i.e. our) own image. Anyhow, having booked myself on his workshop, I’ve deliberately held back from trying to plan or act on another (often) whimsical idea about what I should be doing next to answer my call. To be clear, I don’t expect him to come up any answers — that’s not his stock in trade — but I do expect for the dust to be shaken out my bones and to wake up to something new. And if my family’s observations are anything to gy by, that is what’s required now. Historically, I’ve seduced myself to believe that if only I tried a bit harder, if only I lived up to a morally-infected life and if only I’d stopped moaning about things, then everything would, in some lightbulb moment, resolve itself. It hasn’t — ipso facto, I wouldn’t be writing this post, or spent the last 35 years thrashing around for meaning.

As best I’ve been able to craft the foregoing paragraph, I don’t expect you to fully understand what I’m saying. How could I? Unless you’ve read Jenkinson’s material or attended one of his Grief and Mystery performances, you’ll think I’ve gone into full hero worship mode, whereas, perhaps, I should be undertaking a solitary period of reflection to understand what’s really going on in my life. I may well have to do that but for now, I’m keeping myself sane by continuing to blog and read a selection of books on climate change, grief literacy and nature.

The event, assuming that it still proceeds, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 1 June. Allowing for any issues of confidentiality or embarrassment (me), I expect in time to write about my experience. How much I’ll share online remains to be seen but I do know that I can’t keep up the current gig for much longer and I’m really hoping I walk away from the event with a clear idea how I should spend the rest of my life.

Take care.

Blessings, Julian

Photo by Ellen Qin on Unsplash