prepare to merge

Prepare to merge.
Prepare to conflate time, people, and events that we so diligently see
as separate and sequential. That is not how the real world works—
the world of deep, interdependent, inter-thriving connection.

But… But… But what about my own unique identity
that I’ve sweated and fretted over for 68 years?
What about all the parts of me that make me me? If I merge,
as the traffic sign advises, won’t I lose all that
precious and hard-won distinction? How will I know who I am?

Time is fluid, radiating out from the center and branching
in any direction it likes. Any tree will tell you so if you care to listen.
People are not so different from each other. Joni sings
she sees something of herself in everyone. We are stardust,
all of us searching for a way back to the garden,
back to that feeling of belonging. Events and their exact dates
are not as important as my history teacher insisted.
When was my brain cancer diagnosed?
Did the ambulance take me to Denver on July 19th or July 22nd?
I was so certain it was the 19th I was thrown for a loop
when two doctors and the ambulance bill confirmed my error.
It took some time to see that time is a loop and not a line.

Nothing like a hospital to convince me that this is true.
Here we all are—bits of stardust endlessly reconfiguring in a multitude
of forms within the looping spiral of time: birth
and our attendant geysers of hope; the vibrancy and vitality of youth
effervescing our visions and dreams; the long-strided surety
of those of us in our prime; the suffering and fear
when we are stricken and bogged down before we have a chance
to do or say what it is we came here to do or say; the souls
that are dying and passing over to the other side—
still stardust, but reconfigured beyond recognition—
whether we do so with confusion; resentment and resistance;
fear and loathing; or consciously and willingly.

Prepare to merge, the sign says.
Prepare to merge and conflate our hearts
with the ancient, inter-connected, and ever-present roots;
the endless possibilities of branching;
the flower, the fruit, and the seed
all sprouting forth from the fecund, generous,
and nurturing wisdom of all that has come before us.

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