Is the dirt worse these days or is it that we know too much?
When my daughter was 16 months old, I posted a picture on a private online photo album of her drinking from a hose. It was pure and innocent, a refreshing reminder of how I often cooled down on hot days as a kid. Yet I received several concerned messages from well-meaning friends and family members telling me it was not a wise thing to let her do.
But I believe that it was wise. Very wise, in fact.
Death Is Already on its Way
The fear of “germs” lurking on surfaces, an obsession with hygiene — even being grossed out by perspiration dampening our armpits — are all ways that we express our inherent fear of death, called abhinivesa in yoga.
Why? Because the discomfort bred from illness or other betrayals of our bodies reminds us of our mortality. It reminds us that we have very little control over when, where, and how we die. And that scares us into trying to control more than we can.
How to Conquer the Fear of Death
The work that matters most, according to yoga, is to live with the understanding that death is a reality of life. That doesn’t mean we chase after death. We don’t go licking sidewalks or eating food covered in mold. In fact, Ayurveda’s guidance of eating food that has been cooked that day clearly guides us toward the wisdom of doing the most we can to invite fresh and clean energy into our bodies.
Instead of obsessing over the inevitable in the form of a million Clorox wipes, the work of accepting death requires us to spend each day wondering: How do we want to live?
Me? I want to live wholly, fully, right from the hose.
No matter how hard we try we will not sanitize our way out of illness and death. Sometimes a life well lived is worth some risk.