Sunday, February 19, 2012
Impermanence and Mrs. West
I woke in the wee hours this morning, as I sometimes do, and got up to get myself some water. I checked my computer while I was up -- why, I'm not sure. And on Facebook I discovered the shocking news that one of my favorite high-school teachers, a woman who undoubtedly had a huge influence on my life, had died.
I was so sorry to read it. Mrs. West was both an English and drama teacher. She's the teacher who inspired me to visit Stonehenge, and she's the one who helped me gain a tremendous amount of confidence in high school by participating in drama. I think she recognized something unique in me and the value of her support was immeasurable.
She wouldn't have been young, of course, so I guess her death isn't all that shocking. But I had stayed in touch with her, on and off, over the years, yet was unaware that her health had apparently grown precarious.
Then I got the second shock of the morning -- a friend from the Zendo I attended in New York is gravely ill. I'm still not sure what the story is there -- because I'm now something of an inactive member, I haven't been privy to the circulating news about her condition. But I sent her a message and I'll be sure to follow up.
All of which is a reminder of the impermanence of our lives. We don't like to think about these things -- we just coast along, getting up every morning and making coffee, doing laundry, reading books, taking an occasional trip. But our time is so limited, and so valuable, and our ties to each other so important.
I'm glad I'm going back to Florida in a few days to visit my family. I think the universe is telling me to get on that plane.
(Photos: Buddhas on sale at the Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam.)