Tuesday, August 4, 2015

You only live a day

          My family visited my grandmother at a care center on Sunday, where she was recovering from an emergency hospital visit. I never want to be in a care center. Even an hour long visit is too much. The sterility and fluorescent light, and cafeteria food makes my stomach turn. We talked about babies and moving and school and power of attorney. Every stage of life wrapped up in one conversation. It reminded me about how much thought is given to how we are brought into this world (water birth? epidural? c-section?) and so little thought about how we leave. A sobering thought in a sad conveyor belt of a building.

From my walking loop a couple weeks ago

          Maybe it's because people feel so helpless in the presence of death. There is so little you can control. You don't start considering it until it's right in front of you. For most of my life, my past experiences with death had been fleeting. They either left me half-sad and confused, or they didn't seem to affect me at all. I quickly brushed off any concerns or uncomfortable feelings I had. It was inconvenient for me to ponder on those things. Plus, I was young, so why should I think about them anyway?

From here

          It wasn't until I read Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go" that I started to think about death in any sort of real way. I realized death was the most cruel and fair thing. After my dad passed away, I was forced to look at death head on and what it meant to for me. I had to dive into those thoughts and swim around in them and I don't think I will ever get out. It's fine. Necessary even. I've mourned the loss of family and friends, as well as myself. I began to search death out, reading article after article after article. The dread you feel when you begin to contemplate everything ending, or everything never ending. It's the same feeling.

We don't talk about death, to our detriment. I recently found this excerpt from a talk given by Alan Watts that offers some insight on the subject.

         Gillian Welch our dealings with death and how it relates to the tradition of tragedy in Southern Folk music in an interview with Salon. Talking, writing, or singing about death helps make us more human, "They let us know that these things happen to people—and if they haven't happened to you, they could. And they tell you, you need to have compassion."

So, come on night

          In my death searchings, I found a syllabus for a course on "Death and the Christian Hope". My dream college course. I'm considering following through the reading list and creating my own little book club, though I think I would most likely end up the only participant. Despite all that, we need these conversations. I hope to have more of them. I believe that talking about death helps us to build a better life. After all, each one of us is a hopeless case. And isn't it beautiful?

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