You are not leaving
you are arriving. —David Whyte
What a twist! As I see the seconds of my life fly out my window, and as I realize that each breath I take is a gift, especially as I am getting over pneumonia, I am floored by that line. I’ve been feeling that I’m just a disappearing act—hoping that I leave something worthwhile behind. So where might I be arriving?
If the Israelites made a 40-year journey in the desert to the promised land, and if they didn’t even get there, were they arriving? And none of us will complete the work, so did we arrive?
Is this Pollyanna talking? I heard that an old man is 100% authentic. Is that arriving?
Is arriving coming into a wisdom? Is it finally understanding why life operates as she does? Or is it understanding that some things can’t be understood?
Arriving? Some say that we shouldn’t focus on the destination but rather on the journey. So what is this arriving business?
Ah ha. Whyte said you are arriving. Not you have arrived. So it is still a journey, but is it just a reframing? Is that it?
Arriving where? I reread my mom’s autopsy an hour ago. It told the weight of her body parts, and described a mysterious scar 27 centimeters long from a Cesarian section. None of me or my siblings were born that way. What don’t we know? Where had she arrived? She never wanted to be sick. So she went from health to death. She left a cool family behind, and a husband who would live and thrive for another five years. But where did she arrive? We saw her leaving, that’s for sure. Did she come home? Did she return from where she came.
Yesterday I was thinking about the Zen riddle—when the me that I imagine to be me actually came into my body. Was it at conception? Was it at birth? Where was it before it came around to me? Where had it been lurking? Did it arrive when we joined forces? And did my mom’s “me” jump ship right before she died. Now is her “me” waiting for a new host? We still have some of her ashes—or do we?
Arriving? Getting there? In Buddhism we talk about crossing the stream... and dispensing the raft that we don’t need anymore. Is that arriving? Some say you shouldn’t put your foot on the opposite shore until all beings are saved. So, in that case, you have not arrived. You are just arriving. I’ve never liked that word just… “Are you an artist,” she asked, “or are you just a photographer?”
So I like that word, arriving. I feel a breath of fresh air. I feel a new lease on life—a new view of an old journey.