Saturday, April 13, 2013

1000 x petite mort =

from the Art Nouveau tarot, Antonella Castelli 

This is the loveliest Death. Of all my tarot decks, this one speaks the most to me and my image of death. Gone is the dark-hooded, scythe-wielding skeleton figure who strikes terror in the hearts of men. Instead, this harbinger of irreversible change leans upon a staff as if to catch herself from falling mid-step. In an act of unveiling, she takes down her mask to reveal a repose that is calm and reflective, not sorrowful or distressed.

I am between selves. Death came to my house ages ago, forcing me to strip down my constructs of self, of who I think I am and what I want. I don't know what comes next, or who I am becoming, but I know that it does not end here. The woman I was is not who I will be. My grief for that girl is complete. She served me well, but the life I go to now I cannot approach with outdated modes of thinking.

This is a difficult thing to nail down. I've been deleting and rewriting the same sentences for days. The things I thought I wanted to say refuse to budge.

For some time I have been aware of my complications in sympathizing with others about death. It is difficult for me to refer to death as a loss, as in: I'm sorry for your loss. I never know what to say. "Oh." I had to train myself to apologize at the mention of a loss of a loved one, a pet, a distant relative. I was never comfortable receiving the same apologies, and I'm still not. Prolonged mourning or denial also makes me uncomfortable; euphemisms for death seem strange. Is it prettier or kinder for someone to pass on or away? Is death not kind? I don't want to tart it up--to pretend death is something other than what it is. I don't wish to lessen its impact, or absolve my own fear of the unknown.

Once, I was fascinated by car accidents. I thought I was prepared to die. I wasn't suicidal; I didn't have a particular death wish; probably these thoughts were how I processed the last summit before my father's slow decline. At the time, I thought I had freed myself of the fear of what comes next, and should death come to me, I would go willingly. I wanted to know what everything was like. By rejecting youthful invincibility and instead embracing mortality, I believed I somehow achieved a connection to the elusive infinite.

But I had no concept of the future--or I recognized that my concept of the future was so far from the likely reality that I would rather face death than give up the ghost of the great hereafter.

These days, I do not fear death, but I do not welcome it either. The more I grow into myself, the less I spend late-nights contemplating my insignificant position in the universe. The more love I receive and project, the more I wonder what life is like, and I am not as concerned about the mysteries of death.

During my years of attempting to "live in the moment", I was more like a goldfish than a Buddhist, and I didn't plan much for a future that seemed so far away. Despite this, I seemed to continually have a picture of who I wanted to be next and succeeded in that, for good or ill. One characteristic falls off as it is replaced by another, again and again, until a new persona is built without experiencing any loss at all.

Now, in the future of my departed discontent, I am on the precipice of a greater shift, after a deeper death. In this I am flying blind. I dismissed my former self without an idea of what comes next. Since moving to Minnesota five years ago, I have gone through stages of denial and acceptance, of trying to fight it and eventually letting it win.

I know this is the process of turning 30, and consciously transforming from a directionless, 20-something wanderer into a wife and a mother--someone who isn't afraid to become deeply rooted. But during this period of transition between death and life I find myself repeating: I don't know her name, I don't know the person I am becoming. It's been frightening to take leap after leap of faith into the unknown, praying each time I will find my footing without stumbling too badly.

But there are some things I know for certain: The person I was before is of no use to me now. The new incarnation will be the best one yet. I will have a home and be loved. There is no reason to be afraid. This is the loveliest death.


  1. "To die would be a great adventure"

    I wish that was my motto, but as it is, I'm afraid of my own shadow. I don't fear death, but I'd imagine living by that creed would consist of an abundance of courage and the lack of fear/anxiety on a wide scale.

    However, I believe in the beyond, beyond the beyond.

    I think this had played a part in me being quiet indifferent with death. More recently noticed due to family losses. I feel awkward in those consoling moments.

    We are constantly changing, learning, growing. Shedding our old selves, discarding them to be left for others to ponder at; those unaware or unwilling to accept our change. Be mindful you fully accept it yourself, or you may find when trying on your old skin it doesn't quite fit the same. It will never fit the same.

    More to say, but as I type I am idly eating chocolate frosted chocolate cookies. I may not fear death, but I do fear an amputated foot.

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

  2. Living courageously or without fear or anxiety is not something that comes naturally. As I will state in a near-future blog post, it is to be constantly at war--until you win.. if it's possible for the war to end, even. I don't know yet. Sometimes I am paralyzed by fears that my mother, or Kevin, or I will die. And I spend hours thinking how I would react, as though I'm preparing myself. But this isn't healthy or productive. It still happens, and I have to fight against it every time.

    In the past I spent a lot of time not wanting to acknowledge changes in myself. Trying to shirk them, feeling that iI should still be able to live the way I did when I was 17 or 20 or 24. I hoarded nostalgia and made frequent attempts to live that way. Stay up all night! Drink everything! Go out and party, eff responsibilities. But by doing that, I was not only living by the wrong ideals, but I was preventing myself from enjoying and respecting myself in my current state. Trying to fit into old skin is frustrating, damaging and ultimately pointless.

    Some people never come to this conclusion and sadly, get stuck in their lives. I don't want to do that. /rambles