Monday, March 23, 2009

Going to the Other Motherland

So, I think I have to lighten it up around here.




Going to England next month, London and some hinterlands. Can't wait. I've only been to Heathrow twice on the way to Amsterdam. It's the Other Motherland. (England as the Motherland, that is, not Holland... but Amsterdam in another way and of course, Africa in general. So many Motherlands, so little time.)

I guess it's a new cycle, so we'll 'get happy' and enjoy life, shall we? Yehsure!

Put Buddha in the ice box and contemplate the heat.


(Photo of Buddha ice sculpture in a Ice Box at the Queens Museum of Art.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Some Thoughts on Death

The creature in the sky
Got sucked in a hole
Now there's a hole in the sky
And the ground's not cold
And if the ground's not cold
Everything is gonna burn
We'll all take turns
I'll get mine, too

This monkey's gone to heaven
This monkey's gone to heaven
This monkey's gone to heaven
This monkey's gone to heaven

Rock me, Joe!
--"Monkey Gone to Heaven," The Pixies

Oh yeah, I know it's an uplifting subject, but I have to get some thoughts out about this topic as it flows a bit from my last post on Rick Warren's appearance at the Inauguration of President Obama and the confluence of religion in my life.

Let's get one thing straight from the get-go: I am scared shitless of dying. And I'm not ashamed to say it. I know it's not something that anyone wants to think about very often, but I was forced, at a young age, to think about death all the time.

And frankly, I still haven't stopped.

I think one of the things that frightens me the most is that nobody has done this thing called death and lived to tell about it... unless of course you believe that Jesus did in effect come back to life to tell about it. I find this account unlikely but hell, what do I know?

Anyway, since there is no demonstrable proof that this one dude (or some other deities of the male and female sort) have actually made it to the other side and back, I don't know of anyone who has personally done it.

Hence the fear. What happens on the other end?


But end, it must. We're all so (or some so or I so) busy thinking about what happens after life that we ruin life thinking about the end so much. Egads. Is that all there is? Is that all there is, my friend? Then let's go dancing...

And so what if it were all that there am?... or something like that. haha.

Life is so short and so sweet. We sometimes ruin life by our inner struggles to come to grips with death. Some people face death through illness, others war, old age, accident, plague. Some face the thought of death through the mask of religion, others don't give a thought about death much at all.

Simply, it's the act of dying that terrifies me. The Buddha tells us to face and embrace it head on. Christ tells us to face it by believing in him to avoid hell; to embrace the Divine so that we don't face death alone but find comfort in 'knowing' that a better life awaits on the other end. I'm not sure if either one is particularly comforting.

My conclusion? Just call me Thomas. I've stuck my fingers in enough to know that the end may be neigh, but no one has been able to explain it to me. I can't fly by pure faith. It's too tenuous, too flimsy to hang on to.

I'm thinking about these things right now because events, on several fronts, seem on the brink of death. Or, at least, imminent collapse (which isn't the same as death because you might live through whatever catastrophe occurred; with death, it's over for you, a done deal, if you will and you don't have to worry about the wreckage afterwards). And you know what? A lot of political and economic bullcrap can be solved by a major realignment of the way we deal with each other on this planet, from the core of the beast to the reach of its oxygen. Cie la vie.

I like life too much to leave it. I think living, on the whole, is great. I've been lucky to have a relatively peaceful and art-filled life. I've had that luxury or urge even through difficult times and depression. It pains me to remember how sad I was and how many seconds of happy gratitude I could have lived if only I wasn't so blue. Luckily those days are mostly behind me, and I make great efforts to do fun things and look at the sky and smell the roses, etc., etc.

I have, however, been so programmed to fear death that often, I stop the enjoyment of life. And I think about death. It still scares the bejeesus out of me.

At this point, there's no need for, "oh you shouldn't fear it or fight it" or whatever. Listen, I'm well aware of what will happen in the end. I will die and either something or nothing will happen. I deal with it. We all have to deal with it.

Life, if you happen to make it to birth, is precious. I'm not sure if I hadn't been born, though, that I would have missed it. I'm not sure after it's done, if I'd miss it either.

But I will miss the people of my life and the newest teevee or theater season. A new show, a new smile, a new potato in the pot. Another chance to see a dog play or hear a bird sing or an aeroplane fly. I think it's so incredibly sad that there is unhappiness in the world. Particularly, since life is so short. It lasts just a moment and then it's gone. Yeah, I know it's sad that we don't get our dreams or hopes or wishes, but let's pretend that everyone can have the opportunity to be happy. After all, the Buddha said that the only thing everyone ultimately wants is happiness.

Just for a second.

And then it's gone.
Just like life.
Enjoy it while you can.
Face it as well as you possibly can.