Just lately a recurring theme has been plucking the chords in my stream of consciousness: death. Not so much what it means to live but what it means to die. Why are we afraid of it? It is being not. You are nothing at all. I dont’ believe in life after death or heaven or anything like that. Nor do I think our poor minds would remain trapped in a decaying body. You just end and everything you were is no more. I’ve never been afraid of dying but have always wondered how to live. They say, in songs and books, that only when you know how to die can you know how to live. Those not busy being born are busy dying. And one day standing in a soft-lighted bathroom with blue paisley curtain, it hit me. The room seemed brighter. What was that revelation? I can’t remember. I didn’t write it down. So, I am left with the fragment of that beam. And then I watch this film about The Flaming Lips and Wayne Coyne says: “This is how you die; there’s no music, there’s no significance, it’s just random, it could have been anybody.” He talks about being afraid when you are a kid and how silly it seems when you are grown and know of real things that terrify and you cannot run away or turn on the light to make them disappear. It reminds me of my irrational agitation during horror flicks, even ones that are comedic. I refuse to watch them because I don’t like the suspense, the way my heart races and the feeling of not being able to get away. I am still afraid of these childish things because I’ve never really known terror first hand. I’m only starting to come to grips with the fact that bad things happen to people, even people you know. This divorce is truly the only dark cloud that has ever crept into my life of sunbeams and rainbows. Whatever dream-state I’ve managed to maintain since childhood is morphing into a vivid reality not unlike images associated with The Lips. The other night I decided to walk when I went out to meet a friend, impulse lead me out the back door, down the alley, alit with snow and a little rabbit darts out from the bushes in front of me. He ran down the alley and round the corner, heading exactly down the path I was to take, even onto the sidewalk before jumping in the brush again! I laughed as I chased this vision over booted, glittered path and wondered who was moving who into the night. I lead a freakishly charmed life and I do have fear because there is no reason for it, I haven’t earned it and worry that if I enjoy it too much, I’ll allow myself to forget that something terrible is always lurking around the corner and one day be rudely awaken by… death?
Image: Embryonic, The Flaming Lips
I am not an expert on anything. The thing I am farthest from being an expert at is reading people. I have no idea what people think of me. My lack of perception is astounding, most especially when I’m nervous. Oh, that is when things really fall apart. And so silly I feel! Next, one of two things happens; I laugh and talk way to much or zip! my lips clamp shut. Neither of which is conducive to anything. Tonight I may have actually blushed in front of this young man… later rebuking myself for assuming. But I laugh and am glad to feel like a young girl again, a bit exhilarated at the unknown…
Image: The Inquistion, Stark vs. Dr. Dog
Lately I’m just wondering what is this thing we’re all putting down in the world. I’ve never had so much time to think and all I can think about is what people are doing. Then I marvel at how I’m not doing anything. What propels people? I watched the film Adaptation and it said it is passion that drives people. I read on a lamp that you can either be a flame or a mirror. In biology adaptation is defined as: a change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment; the process of making such changes. In the movie the leading lady says she did not change of her own will but that it just happened to her. Is this so? Because everything you read says that change must come from within, you must be willing to change. How does this explain my situation? I’m like a fish trying out my new legs while everyone else is running circles! Why am I so far behind in the game? Have I not adapted out of circumstance, there was no need to change? Or, and more likely, is it that I pride myself on remaining the same regardless of my surroundings? It’s funny and it’s true, I do. Look at me, unfazed! But that is impossible! To be alive means to be constantly growing, changing moving at least towards death if nothing else. Is that the only thing I’m moving towards? Why do I have no niche? Why have I never? And why does part of me love that and part of me panic? I am enamoured with people who follow their passions. I cherish them and put them up on these little pedestals, I revel in their audacity and will do anything to help their plight. Yet I sit! Only a mirror. A two-way mirror! On the outside looking in…
“The best song never gets sung, the best laugh never leaves your lungs, it’s so good you won’t ever know, and never hear it on the radio.”
-Wilco, The Late Greats
Image: Heather Reinhardt, My Head Is Filled With Song Part III
This morning on my way to work I felt myself speeding down the highway through tunnels of snow. The sky half-lit and everything glowing white, whirling. Buildings pass, the cement of the freeway turns, the heat from the vent making my little white car into a cocoon. I peer from this vantage point of driver, chin buried in grey, soft knit alpaca. I am in control of my destiny… or at least the only witness to it unfolding. I love days like this, romantic days of gloom and brightness intermixed. I decided I like it best with the whites a little whiter, the shadows a little deeper, more intense. Does it make me smiley happy, carefree easy all the time? Hell no. But this is the way I prefer it. Amongst the swirls of gold and grey, I thought, at least I was following something deep inside me, not following the practical route Heather would usually take…
Image: calderdalefoto, Christmas Morning
Sometimes I feel surrounded by water. My head is swimming, drifting and I’m swaying with the tide, just letting go and floating on. I’m regaining my strength for the next surge of willpower. Time heals, right?
Image: Kurt Tong, Gosling Lake
Today I am on the cusp of something new. I can see the future spreading out ahead of me and I can see the past smoldering behind. I cry when I think of how things could have been but smile as I imagine what is yet to be. For all the things I didn’t say or do that I would have liked to, I will have ample opportunity to try anew. Time to make do with what I have learned, keep those I loved in my heart, and be strong.
“Memory is a part of the present, it builds us up inside. It knits our bones to our muscles and keeps our hearts pumping. It is memory that reminds our bodies to work and memory that reminds our spirits to work too. It keeps us who we are.” —Gregory Maguire
And one of these days I am going to take time to cry.
“Ah, no nostalgia hurts as much as nostalgia for things that never existed!” —Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Image: Kristen Drozdowski, Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California.
I had written previously about experience and recently heard a phrase (from Emerson?) that stated the closer actions are to thoughts the more divine the man.
Today I heard these lyrics:
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance
–Mumford and Sons, Timshel
I realized I was missing a piece of the puzzle; purity (innocence) cannot last, but goodness (substance) can, and that is the challenge, to not become disheartened by experience (death) and lose virtue.
Image: Audrey Kawasaki, girl in static