Yesterday I was walking along the beach thinking, once again, about the idea of not being afraid to die. I hear people say this a lot: “I’m not afraid of death.” Whenever I hear this, I feel a combination of shame and bewilderment, because I am completely afraid of death, and if all these other people aren’t afraid of it, then what am I missing and where am I falling short? The surfers were out on the waves and I stopped to admire them the way I always do. Sleek black bodies springing up on their boards, riding the foam into shore. Watching them, it came to me that I was confusing a fear of death with a fear of not being alive. They are two separate things, and I don’t want to not be alive. What I want is more life. More love. More laughter. More surfers. More more more. And then this poem by Galway Kinnell, who died a few years ago and whose poetry I have loved all my life, came singing its way into my head.
Prayer, by Galway Kinnell
Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.
So beautiful and so wise. I’ll learn it by heart. Thank you for sharing!