Egyptians wrote about passing, as if someone got off the Nile and passed into the reeds. The Nile was life. Anything afield was not. They lived within a mile of the water, and what was beyond the reeds remained a mystery to most. The Romans called it alleysium, as in Gladiator before battle “if you find yourself alone, riding in green fields, with the sun on your face, do not be troubled, for you are in Alysium, and already dead”. Even in a movie, chilling words. Homer referred to it as the Elysian plain…where life is easiest for men. No snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain, but ever does Ocean send up blasts of the shrill-blowing West Wind that they may give cooling to men.
If death could be this close for any of us, why then are we so shook when it strikes so near.
I struggled with all this. Why him. Why now. Why this. Why here. Why this way. Anger. Denial. Bargains. Acceptance. I have never had so many people close and known to me get off their boats and intentionally head for the reeds. Covid itself took none of them, to my knowledge. But the side effects of covid left it’s indelible marks; pressure, uncertainty, despair, disruption. None of it adds up to anything sensible, until one realizes that acceptance is the only way to let go.
It was a choice, and it was theirs.
And when death came, it was only a transition to another realm where one would live eternally in a paradise. The Field of Reeds, known to the Egyptians as A’aru, was a mirror image of one’s life on earth. The aim of every ancient Egyptian was to make that life worth living eternally and, as far as the records indicate, they did their very best at that. I feel like my friends and neighbors measured up. I just had a hard time letting them go.
This year has taught me once and for all, life is a River, flowing in one direction. We can steer our ship. We can make it go faster, or slower. We can bring others aboard. But life leads from the headlands to the delta without fail. Perhaps its best just to build as nice a boat as possible, and bring those you love aboard as often as time allows. Some will get off mid river, and some will ride it out to the end. It’s not your choice, and it’s not under your control.
Best to let it Flow.
The French, for their part, named a Boulevard Champs Elysee. It’s for shopping, which makes perfect sense…