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The Other Side of Death

We strive so hard for permanence
in this fragile temporary place
on the other side of death.

We collect as many materials as we can
lay firm foundations, build tall and complex structures
to create an illusion of stability
on the other side of death.

Then we shelter inside, behind our walls
repeating our routines, enjoying our comforts
dulling our minds with distractions
to forget our precarious state
on the other side of death.

All the time we sway between two worlds
teetering towards the precipice
with only chance to hold us here
on the other side of death.

How would we live if we could sense
the millions of processes that maintain our lives
and could malfunction at any moment
or the accidents that avoid us every hour
and allow us to stay for longer
on the other side of death?

And because we cling to permanence
we weep when our hold begins to slip
and we feel ourselves falling, and crossing over
to the other side of life.

As if a forest fire is tearing towards us
and we’re forced to flee our home
and abandon our treasured possessions,
we feel the searing pain of loss
of giving up everything we’ve gained
as we run towards the darkness
on the other side of life.

So why build structures on such unstable ground?
Why search for security in such a restless world?

While the gift of life is ours
while our bodies still function
and accidents still avoid us
let’s accept impermanence
and savour life’s fragility.

Let’s live lightly, like nomads
open to the elements, shifting with the seasons
never collecting more than our hands can carry
ready to uproot when conditions change
only ever building flimsy structures
as fragile and temporary as life itself.

Then when we cross over to the other side
there will be no fear or pain or loss.
We’ll pass smoothly and softly from one world to another
like a ship that sails into another ocean
without sensing any boundary
between either side of death.

Steve Taylor

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