This is a Good Day to Die.

May 13, 2022

This is a Good Day to Die.

May 29, 2023

The Siletz river banks are high from yesterday’s Tsunami, created by an underground volcano off the island of Tonga. NASA said the resulting blast was hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

The only visible change is a higher surf with bigger swells and rising sea water bringing the river closer and closer to the shoulder of this two-lane twisting county road off Highway 101 on the central Oregon coast. The deciduous trees have lost their leaves, their January skeletons stand like sentries dotting the roadside.

It is Sunday morning, 10:45 am. I’m alone in the car, listening to an NPR interview about the writer, Joan Didion, who recently passed away. I am extremely content. There is no one on the road. The air and river are both completely still. The river is mirror-like reflecting wispy clouds in the periwinkle sky, a lavender hue hangs close to the water. The sun can’t be seen directly, however, it is full, reminding me the day is still young. The morning is deliriously calm.

And in this moment, a thought flashes through my consciousness. “Rocky, this is a good day to die.” My mind examines this thought. “Why is this a good day to die?”

As America begins a third year of Covid with continued political upheaval, I think about my closest relationships as they scan across the tabula rasa of my mind. My husband, Richard, is home resting from a vertigo episode. Vertigo stops him in his tracks. He awakens with a true appreciation for life when once again, all is right with the world. My siblings and their partners seem healthy and prosperous and our many adopted nieces and nephews are engaged, living full lives. Our dependent, Chandrashekhara in Mysore, is finding his way and pursuing more education. Members of our DCI Yoga cohort are mindful, purposeful and committed to their practice.

I realize I am tether-free of anyone in my meaningful inner circle. My relationships feel complete. I recognize in this moment I am free of attachments. From where does this sense of completeness emerge? The car tracks beautifully through each curve, forty miles an hour is a perfect speed to feel the road and remain part of the tranquil scene. I feel one with the road, the river and the dormant landscape all around me.

This is my six-hundred and seventy-second day of contiguous yoga. At the end of an āsana sequence, we practice śavasana / corpse pose, to be more fully alive. How deep is this serenity of completeness living inside me? Will I experience this beautiful moment again? How do I stay connected to this calm? It is a sense of separateness and at the same time, feeling connected to everyone and everything around me. There is no other.

The 13th century Japanese Buddhist priest, Dōgen Zenji (1200-1253) writes, “If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”

I realize driving up the river at forty miles per hour on a crisp and clear January morning that Truth with a capital “T” is right in front of me. Truth can come in the most ordinary moments. I know this “new thought” will come again and again as my dominant thoughts tend to repeat over and over. How will I respond the next time I imagine…this is a good day to die?

Rocky Blumhagen, Stanford DCI, (Distinguished Career’s Institute, Fellow/partner Class of 2019) is a yoga and mindful practitioner. Follow Rocky’s 1000-day yoga challenge at https://rockyblumhagen.com/this-is-a-good-day-to-die-expanded-thoughts

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