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Wednesday, December 31, 2014


helen frankenthaler

A little bit ago, I was looking for somebody in the obituaries, faces and names, some familiar. The most interesting thing about it was noting that most of the people died younger than I am now. I'm in that zone where peers drop like leaves from a tree, one at a time, each one by surprise, an unpredictable sequence. In younger years, I dreaded this zone. Now that I'm in it, and have been in it at least a decade, I like it. I wouldn't be so casual about it if I were one to see death in the conventional way of the Peter Tosh song, Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. I remember hymns in church, Won't it be wonderful there, having no burdens to bear. Joy bells ringing. What could be better? And what do we fear most? What it takes to get there, dying. I have to confess to some apprehension about it. I think I've come to terms with it some time ago. I remember when it went away. I've come to see this side of the veil is consciousness, the other side of the veil is consciousness. The self called I, the conscious self that sees our dreams, the self that never sleeps, consciousness, remains the same this side of the veil and the other side, if it can be called another side. I suspect it will be different. The ones who have been there and come back say when we start the journey there's no looking back, like finding a secret door, opening it and seeing everything you've ever wanted and more than that. The light of unconditional love embraces like the mother holding her baby. Whatever. I don't project by imagination onto what it might be. I think I'll know it when it happens. I want cremation to be sure the soul doesn't have a body to cling to. Not that I have much question of soul wanting to stay with this body. I don't believe it will. I've an idea that no matter what is happening when it's time to go to the light, I won't look back. 

This side of the light, I feel like I am in light, too, having an earth experience, but not outside the light. I have the light of the sun, the light of life within, On earth, we live in light. We seldom give it much consideration. We have switches in our houses. Cars have headlights for night. Flashlights. Cities put out so much light their nimbus outshines the stars. I am consciousness in a human form at this moment. The mind distract's attention from the consciousness within that is too quiet for mind that rages like a tree full of monkeys. It's so quiet, it's like the sky. We don't pay it much attention, it's there, but we have other things to think about, unless we're operating a sailboat. I've come to a place in my own life, in my everyday life, that I don't care when that line from this side to that side is crossed. I don't want to leave my friends who are dear to my heart, but that's not my call. And I'm not really sure we leave anything. I'm looking into the unknown and see nothing, like the dark in a cave, absolute unknown. There are scriptures from all ages that tell what's on the other side, though it's in language you almost have to have the experience to understand what it means. How can we tell about any experience in a way that really conveys the experience? A young woman lawyer is driving through Winston-Salem on her way home to the mountains from visiting the prison in Raleigh. She's pregnant and locked down with her office, husband, parents, relatives, made her choices. Depressed that she doesn't have a life of her own. Only her car is her own. Drives by a dealership of a place that has just the car she'd like to drive, stops in, signs the papers, drives home in a new car. This is a brief outline of her experience, but nothing even close to her experience as she lived it within. 

brice marden

I can say I don't have fear of dying, but if a SWAT team broke down my door, big machine guns pointed at me, my hair would stand straight up from fright. I don't think I'd sit here calmly and say, "How you fellers a-doin?" Walking in the mud by the donkey den, I slipped and went down faster than thought. I know when falling not to put my arm straight out to catch the fall. I can be aware of that when the fall is slow enough I can think. When it's faster than thought, the automatic response is to put arm out. With time to think for a flash, I'll tuck arm in and roll. Maybe I can say when I have a split-second to think about it, I have no fear of death. Without that time for thought, I believe my automatic reaction would be fear. I don't know. Probably. Whether or not I'm afraid of dying is something I don't think I can know for a certainty about self. If I fell out of a helicopter, I'd probably yell all the way to the ground. Or maybe not. Might be too scared to yell. I think I'd more than likely at the same time be saying, "Oh shit, this is it," and start praying to open the door, here I come. From where I am now, death and dying is a big question. From the point of view of the ones who know the secrets of life and death, it's nothing, nothing at all, the blink of an eye. I think about it and I don't think about it. Going through the obituaries earlier, I was struck by mortality. I'll be featured there one day. Somebody will do like I did today, see somebody whose face I have known over several years, but never knew who it was, and say, "Oh, him. So that was his name." My neighbor, Allan, asked me one day to write out what I want done and said at my memorial. I said, "What? What do I give a shit? It's none of my business." I have not been able to get my mind around that. 

sol lewitt 

Come to think of it, there is one piece of music I've requested be played, Dvorak's String Quartet in E flat, Op. 58, by the Alban Berg Quartet. I keep the cd case attached to the will by a rubber band. the reason I chose this particular piece of music is it resonates with me, feels like I feel inside. I feel in touch with my inner self when I hear this thirty minutes of music. Everything I hear by Dvorak sounds just right to my ear. It's playing now. Pulls me into it like Prince. It's not background music. Puts itself right into my foreground. I may sit with it soon and do a visualization, see where it takes me. The few times I've done a visualization to classical music have been unforgettable. I start where I want to be. It's always sitting in the donkey meadow. Be still, hear the music, let something visual happen in the music, flow with it and see where it goes, not directing it, but following it like a leaf on a mountain stream. Good music, good humor keeps us going. Though I do very little physically, I have a full life going all the time. Even when I don't leave the house for days I never feel like I'm lacking experience. Too much experience is overwhelming. I get plenty of social experience on a trip to town. Today was one of the most beautiful days of my life. We had wet snow that stuck to the tree limbs that were cold, and melted on the ground and the road. Driving up the mountain, the leaves on the ground were wet reddish brown on the forest floor, and all the trees and branches, the pine needles were like spray-painted white. And a mild fog. Didn't have camera along. Had to remember it. I'll never see this again.    

robert mangold



  1. Your words resonate with me. The donkey meadow and Dvorak, eh? I am glad for to read of those joys so well portrayed. Good luck in the next stage. I too share your short time and think like you do of it all.

  2. I just found your blog (via Daily Creative Practice) and like what you share. Thanks!