Friday, January 16, 2009
The Grim Reaper and Me
Time to get personal. My relationship with death. My first experience with death was when my mother’s mother died, probably in her 60s (I was under 10; I was her favorite). I recall crawling up in a ball on the floor and crying, but not much else. After that, my next encounter with the Grim Reaper was when I was 22 and one of my closest friends, of the same age, was killed in a car accident—every bone in his body was broken. I was traveling the world at the time and didn’t return for the funeral.
After he died, I had the following dream. I was outside sitting on some grass with him, and we were eating grass. I looked into his dark brown eyes and I suddenly remembered that he was supposed to be dead. I asked him about it, and then if he remembered dying. He was confused at first, or puzzled, then he looked at me closely and said, “You don’t understand, you’ve got it backwards. I’m not dead. You are.”
When I woke I knew that he was referring not just to me but to all of us. This realm I had woken into was the real “dead zone.” And yet, although I do believe this to be in some sense true, I also believe that the difference between the realm we are in now and that in which the dead “reside” is that here we have the option of change, while the dead do not. They are in Eternity, where nothing can ever change, because everything is in the eternal Now. So the “writing” of our lives that we take into death stays fixed upon our souls; it is only while in the realm of life—of individual self-ness—that we have the option of changing or erasing the marks which we have engraved on our souls, through the acts of living.
As a culture, we have agreed to agree that death is a regrettable thing.
It’s sometimes suggested that I am too “negative” or dark, that I focus on things to fear rather than things to delight. But is it negative to focus on things that people would rather not look at, even if it’s to place them in a context by which they can be more clearly seen, not as negative or fearful, but merely as what is?
More personal disclosure. I don’t trust happiness or happy people. It’s a bent of mine that has been there since childhood. (It’s even there in my astro chart.) This is partly because I was raised around a lot of inauthentic “happiness” (alcoholism), and because I developed at a very young age a sense of the transitory nature of “pleasure”, that whatever gives us joy will soon pass, and the joy along with it. In fact, as a teenager I couldn’t even have the thought of being happy without plunging into instant unhappiness—the curse of consciousness. So I eventually associated happiness with stupidity, a lack of (self-) awareness. Such neurotic distrust has allowed me to see through fake joy or superficial well-being that depends on a denial or ignorance of what IS, and prevents a full and tender awareness of our impending death.
Part of the reason I chose to relinquish the role of "prophet of doom" (until recently!) is that I realized I was arrogantly assigning the same level of comfort—the same strange affinity—with death, destruction, and Plutonic transformation that I had been hard-wired with from birth. One man’s wine is another man’s poison.
In the end , what I am really saying is that I know, beyond all doubt, that I myself haven’t done the work integrating my darkness, and that I am not ready to make my peace with it. Count of C asked me to share what I truly know and it is this.
Whatever present or future we can create for ourselves, as individuals and as members of humanity, will be precisely measured by the extent to which we have integrated the dark, disowned aspects of our psyches, and so attained wholeness.
We as a race, as much as individuals, have to be spurred to change, grow, evolve. Without death driving it, consciousness itself is inert.
Besides my own neurotic personal imprints, it may be that I rail as I do against what I perceive as unfounded optimism because I believe that the wonderful forecasts of (premature) peace and harmony would truly be the death of the species. We simply aren’t ready for Eternity. Or at least, I'm not.
One other thing I know: I need a full-on, soul-smashing, ball-dropping, head-to-head encounter with the Adversary before I am ready to celebrate my emancipation from fear and dive headlong into the everlasting joys of galactic one-ness.
Am I the only one...?