my mortal, cuddly bedtime ritual
and the ten minutes that changed my life
I discuss my work in end-of-life care in this week’s essay. If this feels like too much for you in this moment, please feel free to jump ahead to what’s happening in my studio. Sending so much love to whoever needs it.
When I’m snuggling with my pup before we fall asleep every night, I think about something that sounds sad and feels weird to admit here but I’m just going to tell you: I think about how he’s going to die, and I’m going to die and then we won't be together anymore. It ephemerally floats through my mind, and then I cuddle in closer, squeeze him a little tighter, and feel grateful my phone isn’t allowed in our bedroom because I don’t want a single distraction while I soak in the feeling of his soft ears on my lips and the way his perfect little paws curl up under his head. I do this every single night. If I’m lucky, we will go through this little routine over four thousand times. Each time is wildly precious to me.
I have similar sad-seeming thoughts at other times, too. When I’m throwing my pots, I’ll sometimes wonder - when will be the last time I make a pot? Will I know it’s my last pot? When I’m curled up in my reading chair in the evening, snuggled up under the bookshelves Jack and I made with our own hands, I’ll muse - how long will I live in this magical space? When I’m tucked into a booth of a local restaurant with Jack and we’re sipping wine and the appetizer arrives and our faces are glimmery in the candlelight, I’ll briefly contemplate - will we be doing this until our bodies are too old and frail? I hope so, but who really knows anything? And then I’ll joyfully go back to throwing my ten thousandth pot and reading my thirty-eighth book this year, and enjoying Jack’s presence as we glide into another glowy evening together. I allow this little bitter moment of mortality pass through me and it somehow makes everything feel sweeter, I steep deeper, I appreciate it all on a whole new level.
The seeds of these thoughts were planted when I began my work in end-of-life care. My hospice training included a ten minute activity meant to put me in the place of someone who was looking at what’s really important to them at the end of their life, ensuring the time they had left embraced everything they held dear (I’ll include a version of it in this week’s personal peace toolkit below!). Those ten minutes completely shifted my perspective, giving me a method to understand my priorities and actively create a life that embraces them as they shift and change over time. We’re all human and we’re all going to die and we never know how close we may be, so shouldn’t all of our days be shaped toward embracing what we hold close to our hearts? My own personal little secret is to comprehend the fact of my mortality, but not allow it to forebode my joy. To ensure the pain of my mortality is ephemeral, to let it enhance the pure delight of living my precious life.
May we all find the courage to face our humanity and let the fleeting beauty of life heighten the joys of living in tune with our values.
Brooklyn! My cozy pots and I will be hanging out at The Invisible Dog Art Center in Boerum Hill today (sunday 10/23) - come stop by! Details are right this way.
And my messy studio photo this week is actually a *clean* photo of me in my pristine sweats after a morning of throwing brown clay with no apron on!! Some kind of magic.
The personal peace toolkit is your own catalog of accessible mindfulness techniques to fold into your life in 30 seconds, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes, bringing a little more calm to your days.
This week our practice is focused on steeping in the joy of beautiful life moments and holding the present close to our hearts, including a shortened version of the hospice training activity that completely changed my life so many years ago.
If you’re not already a paid subscriber, I hope you consider joining and building some peace and reflection into your life with me <3