The first time i died i was only fourteen years old. There was a volatile and visceral reaction happening inside of me as i confronted my avarageness. i had brown hair and brown eyes. i was the exact average height and weight for my age. i had decent grades and decent morals and decent hobbies. i went to church every sunday and to ballet class twice a week. most people were friendly to me, and i was friendly to everyone. The only thing that may have set me slightly apart from the crowd was my exciteable nature. Even navigating through this fairly unremarkable Life, everything put me in a state of awe; a constant fascination with potential. But my tipping point of teenagehood imbued me with just enough angst to be dissatisfied with the thought that i might not be reaching my potential. Even though my young mind would not have termed it this way, Death was the only solution.
i think for others the process may have come slower. For myself, it was basically over night. One morning i woke up and the reflection in the mirror no longer matched the interior. There were green flecks in my eyes and something burning up my insides. i impulsively grabbed a picture of Billie Joe off my dresser and ran to my hair dresser. ( i had recently been getting into punk culture, and admittedly Billie Joe from Green Day may not have been the biggest bad ass around, but keep in mind that i was a church going ballerina. For me this was a huge step.) When i handed the picture to my hair dresser and said "just like this" she looked at me as if i had lost it. In all the years i had come to her, i never asked for more than an inch off of my waist length hair. But i was resolute.
To this day i can still recall that glorious sound. Some people associate Death with the sound of angels or a death rattle. All i can recall is that precise slice as the scissors broke through the thickest part of my ponytail. Without consciously knowing what an ego was, my fourteen year old self watched pieces of it fall to the floor. What fell away along with it were notions of playing it safe, pleasing people at the expense of my own joy, and being normal. In my newly claimed wild and free form, it had been easy to confront Death. With new ideals implanted in my head from punk culture about self expression and shattering the status quo, the Birthing process that followed my Death became a limitless Joy. It was only a few weeks later that the idea came to mind to start painting my face. Every day for the next ten years, this would be my ritual. Each night my old self would die. Each morning someone new was waiting to be discovered, and it was my delight to give this person her new face.
In the initial years of incorporating Death into my Life the focus was mainly on the exterior, but mirrored by a slower (yet steady) inner revolution. When i hit university the interior Deaths began to increase with intensity, and for the first time i felt fear and hesitation in letting these transitions happen. To allow ego to die, you must constantly face what you have grasped to as a means of identifying yourself. While Death at a younger age had meant letting go of my safety net and indulging in things like psychedelics, face painting and impulsiveness, those very things had now become my safety net. For the first time in my Life, Death meant letting go of things i actually enjoyed Being and Doing. For a few years i resisted Death too content with my position and confused by why i should be asked to leave this comfortable place. But Death is patient, and ego is limited. Once i found that i had fully experienced Life the best i could through my current lens, i knew there was only one thing left to do.
Even though i was now at a point in my spiritual journey where i had a far deeper understanding of the process i was inviting into my Life, it still did not prepare me for the speed. I went from experiencing Death once every few years, to only months in between. In a two year period it enveloped into weeks, and during particularly intense moulting periods, sometimes i was dying two or three times a day. It was never clear to me what my Deaths were experienced as to the exterior world. It pained me to know that some of my drastic and sudden changes had shocked and perhaps even hurt those around me who had grown accustom to the old reflections. Other times i felt that most people did not notice.
This fluidity and acceptance in the face of constant fluctuation is part of what it means to be a master of Death. There are traits, beliefs, values, paradigms, and interests that are always being disintegrated from my Being, while new ones are reintegrated. Behind it all is the steady immovable core that is the Truth of our existence. Seated from this place we are capable of feeling familiarity even as the vessels before us morph in and out of Becoming. The core is not unique to each individual. There is only one Centre place. The more i embrace Death the closer it takes me to this Centre. Over the years Death has come to me in many ways. Cutting my hair, leaving my home town, dropping out of art school, vows of silence, moving houses, and changing jobs. Sometimes it even comes in as simple a form as a change in heart about grammar.
I becomes i. life, love and gratitude become Life, Love, and Gratitude. death becomes Death. Whether or not you believe in reincarnation after physical Death, there is no reason not to believe in reincarnation while you are still Living. Putting to rest all you have believed yourself to be can be difficult, but as a reward you get to reform yourself through the limitless Truth of endless possibility.
Having walked hand in hand with Death for so long, naturally made me contemplate my one last physical release from this realm. i am not afraid. i believe what i have learned by dying during Life is True even in the final Death. It is not a permanent state. It is not the end. It is simply a platform for a new Beginning.