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Monk Notes 25 - Life Is a Series of Births and Deaths

Life is births and deaths.

Hidden in every birth is the death of something old.
Hidden in every death is the birth of something new.

Each transition in life holds both a birth and a death, however small or large they may be. As we’re being born at the very beginning and at the end as we draw our last breath, we face the biggest transitions of our lives. But a baby’s first act is always to cry; it’s worth considering if birth is actually experienced like death in that moment.

Graduation, exciting as it may be, marks the death of an era. A wedding day, with all its beauty, marks the death of singleness for two people. Each new opportunity
means you need to set down something else, often parting ways with things we love and people we love in the process.

At the same time, the loss of a parent marks the beginning of a deeper understanding of oneself. The loss or change of a job begins of a new life in potentiality. Moving across the country or even just across the street comes with both anticipation as well as sorrow at saying goodbye to a house and sometimes a city that had become your home.

During moments of substantial transition, there are two possible errors we can make.

For some of us we tend to only focus on the births, ever hopeful, never taking the
time to experience the gratitude and grieving appropriate as something dies. We need to learn to mourn each death. For others we may only wallow in endings, never allowing ourselves to feel excited about the new life that is coming precisely because of a death. We need to learn to dream and to rejoice each new birth.

The difficult invitation is to fully experience both the birth and the death that we’re
currently facing, whether that be just a new year, or a significant transition.


All the best,

Steven Lawson

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


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Featured Art: Bust of Louise Brongniart, Jean-Antoine Houdon (1777)