In Memory of Caryn Amy Shalita
For most of us in this culture, the permanence of our lives is a widespread illusion. I know, even as I stand here, that one day, I'm going to die. But the persistence of Life itself is so deep, so thorough, that I routinely take for granted the miracle of waking up each morning. I crawl into bed at night to close my eyes and simply trust that they will open again a few hours later.
For most of us in this culture, the permanence of our lives is an illusion so widespread, that we have unspoken cultural rules on even discussing death. So, for the most part, it's not discussed: it's reported. And even then, we soften the words. We often substitute the words "passing on" for death and we politely refer to the dead as "the deceased".
Caryn would laugh at all of this because she believed and freely communicated that death was and would be simply a transition to another plane of her soul's existence. She talked about death openly with me and with many of you. It will continue to be one of the greatest gifts that she gave to me.
We all have spiritual teachers in our lives. Caryn was one of mine. With Caryn, I've debated, discussed and dissected many mind and body-altering topics: karma, the tarot cards, astrology, life after death, reincarnation, psychedelic drugs, spiritual and energetic healing, yoga, organic eating and living, and the awesome power of love, surrender, and forgiveness - especially the forgiveness of self.
But Caryn and I also shared another love: laughter and comedy. And we'd laugh about everything. Her last email to me, dated September 4th of this year was entitled, "Ooooooh boy this is so calling your name..." and was, simply, a link to a webpage featuring a group of comedians presenting a show called... "The Asshole Monologues". The show was, basically a one hour comedy show about people's experiences with poop.
You sure seem to like "shit" humor, I'd tell her laughing. "No, Koff: I know you like it a lot, so I just send it on to you when I see it..."
"Well," I'd say, "You sure seem to see a lot of it, don't you..."
There wasn't a time I went to Caryn and Rich's home when I wasn't fed, given a job lead, introduced to a woman, cared for, shown a funny website, engaged in debate about politics and culture. There was wasn't a Passover feast that I can remember that didn't include an explanation by Caryn about the concept of slavery. Not, historically speaking, the slavery of our Jewish ancestors, but rather our self-imposed slavery. Caryn spoke simply and eloquently each year about how we hold ourselves as slaves more often than we care to admit. And was there some way for each of us to release our minds, our very thought patterns, our negative core beliefs and emerge out into the spiritual light of our own Freedom.
Caryn has her freedom now. She is free from this life, free from her body, free from the physical plane of existence. It is no surprise that one of Caryn's favorite bands is "The Grateful Dead" because if there is any soul I've ever met that would be grateful to have lived on this Earth, it is Caryn.
Today, for me, Caryn is The Grateful Dead and I, the grateful living. Grateful to have walked down the road a ways with her and Rich and learned more about myself and the mystery of what life is and can be,
And while I give myself full permission to mourn her death, my intention - over time - is to celebrate her life instead. That's what Caryn would want.
That, and perhaps, a few more doody jokes.