“X” is for Xing Part 1 – Mindfully Crossing

When I started blogging the ABC’s of Living Well my intention was to share the things I have learned from walking alongside hospice patients and their caregivers. Given that I am now almost to the end of the alphabet, it seems fitting to delve into the subjects of dying and death. Mindfully crossing (conscious transitions) at are the foundation of Further Shore’s mission and my continued community service. I chose “X” is for Xing (pronounced “zing”) because it describes transitioning, moving, or crossing from one situation, location, or state of being to another. Xing road signs announce various kinds of crossings with “X” (representing a “cross”), followed by “ing”. On the road, Xing signs provide a safety measure to prevent collisions, letting drivers know what kind of crossing is ahead, so they can be alert to the possibility of a pedestrian or animal in the road, or an oncoming train! On life’s winding road the practice of mindfully crossing can be cultivated to help relieve ontological anxiety and help us to prepare for the ultimate Xings (dying and death). Let’s explore what that means!

Ontology is the philosophical study of being, or existing. We humans typically find ways to accept our ontological state of “being” and believe that we exist. Ontological disturbance or discomfort arises when we are faced with a transition that threatens our perception of being or existing. From a purely biological standpoint, the dying process (crossing from life into death) is the ultimate threat to our existence. There are many metaphysical considerations about the nature of existence beyond biology, but that is for another post. For now, it’s safe to say that during life, both biological and metaphysical aspects of “being” will experience changes, transitions, and crossings (Xings) of all kinds (i.e. health, relationships, finances, career, marital status, education, agency/ability, etc.).

Keeping an eye out for signs of a pending crossing can help to avert ontological “collisions” or existential crises. Becoming aware of a pending Xing is the first step toward navigating it, if not safely, then at least with minimal ontological damage. Signs that announce or precede a transition can be quite subtle and are often ontological in nature. Unlike Xing signs on the road, it can be difficult to notice or read Xing signs that relate to our own well-being, or the beginning or end of an era. Thoughts or feelings of restlessness, boredom, overwhelm, chaos, unhappiness, or frustration can indicate a need to cross into new territory; take that step; make the change. It is useful to be aware of these feelings before they give way to a total ontological crisis. Once aware, steps can be taken to begin the mindful crossing. Consider your own life’s Xings as you reflect on these questions:

  • How do you generally handle life’s various Xings?
  • Are some Xings more precarious or difficult than others?
  • Do you ignore or deny important Xing signs on the road of life? If so, why?
  • What are your feelings about changes in personal ability as you age?
  • What kind of body, mind, or emotional responses arise during a significant Xing?
  • What do you let go of; what do you carry forward into each new situation or era? 
  • Are you currently in the middle of a Xing? If so, who are your allies? What is needed for stability and balance while you are in the act of crossing?
  • Are you noticing Xing signs in your life experiences? If so, what are the messages?

To recap, Xings (crossings) are a natural part of life. Practicing mindful Xings is useful for all types of transitions and can relieve ontological anxiety associated with dying and death. There are Xing signs in our thoughts and feelings that can help with mindful Xings.

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