It was a clear black night in the Richmond District in San Francisco. I ventured to Lake street near the beach and hiking trails where parking was plentiful. In a quiet street I found a spot that had breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the cold, gentle, bellowing current of the ocean that night was music to my ears. A slight midnight echo guided by the gentle gusts of tail wind rustled the tall trees. The moon was surprisingly large and bright during this warm night in November and the lack of street lamps made way for a beautiful shower of cosmic light from stars. These days I take meticulous mental note of everything I see. I believe being mortal is the single best gift given to us by the unknown because everything is more beautiful in its impermanence.
I recount a time when I ate an apple only to be overcome with gentle tears that couldn’t quite make there way down my cheek due to my coarse beard. An apple tree…plain and simple to some, gives us nourishment and was once no bigger than a few grains of sand; how it becomes a tree with the aid of earth, water, and sun and how a single apple tree can feed mankind is beyond me. The amazement of life never seems to cease in my heart now. The infinite workings of some esoteric power puts my heart in temporary states of surrender.
I got out of my car and prepared to grab all my belongings which was becoming an arduous task since I routinely park a quarter mile out from my place. I figure this is why many fork over the extra $400 a month for parking, supposedly a bargain in these parts. I grabbed my belongings and proceeded to my long walk down 25th avenue. After walking a few blocks I had the compulsive need to go back to my car and make sure it was locked and that street cleaning was infact happening next week. My paranoia is due to the many parking tickets I have had to incur due to my ignorance and the cities insatiable need to have a fine for every damn thing. My bitterness was short lived as I did infact forget my laptop. I opened my trunk and cleared the empty water bottles that have been waiting to be recycled for the past year and got my computer. I closed my trunk and was suddenly struck with fear, grief, bewilderment, anxiety, and curiosity all in the matter of moments. I looked to my left and had an encounter with a wild coyote.
We stood a few feet from each other. Our eyes locked and the coyote sized me up. I had no idea what to do, so I retreated to a memory from a scene from the 1st Jurassic Park movie. I thought about the tour groups first encounter with the T-Rex and how Dr. Alan Grant advised Lex to be still so as to remain invisible. It seemed like the best idea at the time, but now that I think about it, it was quite ridiculous and funny. We looked at one another as if we knew this moment in time and space was to occur. I quickly glanced at the dark trees as the slow flow of fog began to cover the view of the ocean and I could see that this coyote was not alone. About 7-10 were slowly gaining towards my direction, but were careful not to make any sudden moves because the Alpa was in front of me. The unearthly striking yellow eyes of this majestic animal did not once wither from my gaze. It’s coat of brown and grey fur blended in with the sea-cliffs peninsula. It’s ears were propped up. I felt the creature listening to my heartbeat and looking for cues of fear. It was almost midnight and the street I was on looked like a deserted town. A part of me was in fear, but a another part of me made peace with this moment. It took one step towards me and I remained sedentary. It let out a slight growl and then slowly backed off and retreated to the Lands End Trail. The troop of other coyotes ensued; each one looking at me one by one and in their faces it seemed that they were telling me I escaped death.
That night in bed I wondered about death. I thought about what would I say to those that I love if I knew I was going to die? I was at a loss for words. We don’t think about death too often, but I was beginning to wonder why? It’s a destination we all share, but very few discuss travel plans.
The next evening I went to my friends house and we discussed stoicism. We talked about how the ancient greek philosophers practiced this as they observed death. I came out of our conversation with some interesting insights.
Death isn’t some morbid transition from life, but rather “death”brings about the need to be ALIVE! Everything that we see before us will perish one day.
I take death with me wherever I go now because in its glorious doom, we can find that what we know as life is more precious than you and I can ever imagine. Every thought and every action of every second is death reminding us of what is to come, but I have found a way to escape death. It’s to simply live like every thing in this life is a miracle. Our fears and joys, pain and pleasures, life and loss, etc.. are all meant to be enjoyed with vigor, excitement, and extreme love. There is nothing clandestine about the infinite universe. All the answers that we need to seek in one lifetime is here. It’s more apparent to me now than ever that dying and living are one in the same. I can only live this moment NOW. Everything else is simply pretense.