06 March 2014

Beyond Understanding

I have forgotten the specifics of the trigger but something recently drew my attention to a keen awareness of my mortality. In fact, it hit me like the proverbial "ton of bricks"; I actually had to sit down. In the moment of the trigger, it was as though my understanding of the finality of Death shifted, like one wall of the philosophical, theoretical room of my Comfort Zone fell down and the stark stinging sweaty painful inevitable "gone-ness" of Death was visible for the first time. It had been turning and turning, a surly, billowing cloud on the other side of the wall for a long time. I'd occasionally glimpsed it through a narrow slit window but now I could feel the cold bluster on my face.

Artist:  Stephen Player "Fountain of Youth"
I have often said "I don't want to live forever." Immortality is not the Super Power I would wish for.

"Nobody gets out of here alive" is a favorite adage. Death, being out of my control, is not something I give much thought. What is there to consider? Contemplation of what comes after Life is a game. A mystery. Ineffable.

Fertile ground for the play of artistic exploration. "Here After Here" remains one of the most cherished and valuable of the many artistic sojourns I've experienced.

Although sadness was a tiny emotional component of the breakthrough moment of awareness, mostly I had an expanded sense of and compassion for other people. I thought about my intolerance for the 9-to-5, steady-job lifestyle compared to the pride and devotion some people have for it. For them, perhaps, the work connects to largely unconscious beliefs about Death. Perhaps work is a distraction from painful awareness of their immortality; or it might assuage feelings of frustration or fear:  they are doing their best to leave something behind, a kind of defense against them being unable to exist forever.

I don't want to live forever. The lonely existence of vampires is well-documented. And any work or other enduring vestiges of our time here are merely entertainments for the living. Even if there is a way to know after Death what the living make of us, would we care? Caring about what others think of us seems uniquely attached to the living/breathing human condition. Can you imagine FaceBook in the Beyond?

Concern about the experience of loved ones in the immediate aftermath of dying is fairly universal, at least in the Western mind. So we purchase burial plans and life insurance and compose a Will. It's widely accepted as a necessary courtesy the dead extend to the living. I suspect my minimal concern places me in the minority (again) and is perceived by some as "irresponsible." 

The best I've been able to do so far is to diligently limit the amount of stuff I leave behind. I'm not disturbed by the idea of the whole lot being trashed -- my own body included -- after I breathe my last. I admit it is irresponsible to care so little about the expen$e attached to the disposal; but let it be known:  I will not haunt you if you don't pay any costs that my death incurs. I will not hover restlessly as a moaning ghost. My journey to where- and whatever comes after Life will not be impeded.

I'll be on my way like a whisper. And I wish you sweet dreams and a wonderful life.