Thursday, May 14, 2009


We are immersed in a culture so afraid of dying that it’s only purpose is to live, at any cost, in any way that one can manage. And yet each one of us will die eventually, despite our best effort to outmaneuver death. In the end, we have not lived at all, we were always avoiding death and doing things based on whether or not they might lead to our demise or to bodily harm or to shame. We might long to see the step pyramids nestled in the pulsing wet bosom of Central America but choose not to take the trip because the politics of the region are unstable, there are scorpions and snakes in the jungle, there are thieves and murderers waiting for victims outside of the airport and the plane might crash before they can even get you. You might be sold into white slavery, your organs might be traded in the black market, you might be arrested due to a minor misunderstanding and rot away in a third world jail cell where you may contract a life threatening disease.
So, for all of these reasons, you do not do the thing that you long to do. Instead, you go to work and come home and pay your taxes and change the oil in your car and watch the movies that Netflix delivers to your mailbox, like some crawly thing creeping in the shadows hoping that the hungry crow won’t find you. But she will eventually, she always does, no matter how skillfully you avoid living, you can never avoid death.
One day you will go for your routine checkup and the doctor will tactfully announce that they have detected something abnormal and would like to run more tests and after more tests he will solemnly explain that you have cancer but might recover if you undergo chemotherapy. You’ll agree, clinging to the idea of complete remission, a full recovery, so the treatment will begin and it will make you feel sicker and your hair will fall out and you will have trouble paying your medical bills and, within three years, you’ll finally die with a bad taste in your mouth, hooked up to an IV in some hospital, leaving your family buried under a mountain of debt.
You will be dead without ever having seen those pyramids where kings and priests plucked beating hearts from warm bodies and held them out before the eyes of the mesmerized crowd below, before rolling the now cooling body down the steps and bringing out another hot screaming live one. You will not know what it is like to walk in the jungle listening to the monkeys scream and the insects hum and catch a glimpse of the vivid plumage of the quetzal bird before she flies away after the blue butterfly. You will not know what rich heart you sacrificed when you opted to stay safe and comfortable rather than embrace an experience of the real, will never receive the secret communication that was meant for you alone and might have been transmitted to your deepest being, coursing from the ancients stones into the soles of your hiking boots and up your legs until it bursts in your chest and washes over every cell of your brain like waves crashing over a breaker. You will die without understanding why you should have gone, without guessing why you should have spent your days under the hot brilliance of the glorious sun without fear of the hungry black bird that circles perpetually over head.
You will die without ever having lived.
Staying alive is not the purpose of life and death is a doorway which you will definitely cross.
In both life and death, keep your eyes wide open and place fear aside, like an old battered hat.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This one I love! The descriptions and visuals are so grabing and penetrating. It is very well written. Something carries through with this one.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something carries through to you.
To you.

1:45 PM  

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