First blog

I began the process of dying at age 21.
The journey began in a covered gazebo near beautiful Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin.
Often, after work, I would take walks and stop at this large, oak gazebo sitting on an inclined street overlooking the lake.  Sheltering visitors from the rain, snow, wind, and sun, it was a comfortable place to enter and it appeared many did, evidenced by the carved initials, the hearts, and the marker messages left for the intended and others to read and think about.

One late afternoon, I was taking my usual walk. As I approached the gazebo, I thought I saw something hanging from the middle of the ceiling. As I stepped closer, I noticed that this thing was a very thick rope, motionless, hanging straight down. Due to the waist high wooden sides enclosing the gazebo and because I was on the lower slope of the incline looking up, I could not see the bottom of the rope.  As I continued to walk towards the gazebo, my heart pounded a little faster and my mind raced into questions. Should I continue? Should I walk away? Where are the nearest police?  What if…and I continued slowly, tensing my body, bracing myself against a visual image I conjured up in my mind so, if I saw what I imagined, the shock might be lessened a little. I hesitated. I questioned my intention. I took a few more steps until I saw…. There, at the end of the long, heavy rope was a tight, well knotted noose. Although I was relieved to see something other than what my imagination had seen, I was shocked to find a heavy noosed rope hanging motionless in this open gazebo filled with hopes, declarations and messages carved into the wood.

Deciding the rope was not there as an artistic statement, I took the rope down. As I returned home with this heavy object, I thought about life and I thought about death. As I carried the rope into my living room I asked: “Now what?” I didn’t want to throw it away because I didn’t want to be responsible for someone else finding it and using it as I imagined it had been used, walking up to the gazebo. So I wound it neatly on the floor with the noose centered in the middle hole. The rope became a centerpiece of conversations, one of which I was reminded of at a recent high school reunion. A classmate, who had visited me in Madison, asked me if I remembered what I said to her when she asked about the rope laying on my living room floor.  Not recalling that conversation years ago, she told me that my statement had made a huge and insightful impact on her. I told her the noosed rope was a reminder that until one fully dies, one cannot fully live. So at age 21, I began the dying process.

Since then, I have climbed many jagged edge and dark crannied mountains. I have witnessed their glorious vistas and thin air. Since then, I have descended those mountains to the valleys below where I have tasted the abundant fruits and seen the wind sweep through barren lands. This dying process, which began at age 21 on a daily walk around the lake, took me up and down mountains, across and through valleys and ultimately to Life.

It is to living a life of meaning and significance that I invite you to join me on this blog- focusing on what’s important and sustaining what matters. Please, make yourself comfortable. Bring your tea, hot chocolate, glass of lemon juice or other favorite drink du jour.  Read, listen, imagine, and build for yourself, your life of significance, as you read from the experiences I have had.

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