20.3.11

pulverem reverteris

it's another full moon. a lenten moon.  shrove tuesday have passed and those who observe, has been marked with small reminder on forehead: ashes.  though the city has been sprinkled with green bits celebrating st. paddy's day, which turns itself into a weekend-long celebration, there is a definite scent of solemn silence.  it's a funny thing isnt it- st. patrick's day somehow became a reason to drink silly and be less-responsible.  however st. patrick was promoted largely to create pro-christian slant to the pagan irish, initially.  but supposedly in this world where there must be no co-relation of religion and society (which is impossible anyways), st. paddy may be happy enough to be recognized, even for selling another pint of guiness.

memento pulvis es, et pulverem reverteris (genesis 3:19). in one of the most important book of western civilization, the bible, we are reminded of the 'end,' that to dust, we shall return.

there has been much stories of unease: the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactor malfunction, lybian nonsense, egyptian election, the list goes on and on.  and it doesnt even account personal trials- the one that each and every one of us have to face on daily basis- the life of living.  in a sense, whenever i think of this 'return to dust' idea, i am somewhat relieved at the thought of being a handful of dust.

i am hearing many different stories from others, including ones who faced 'death.'  in one of the radio interviews, one of the earthquake experiencer (the person has experienced but being a foreign national, he was promptly evacuated in best manner possible, so to call him a victim seems a bit overwhelming at this point) talks about the fact that (he) may die and at least he could die with friends.  he was afraid. like most of us would be.

but why is death such a foreign thing?  i am not being critical of him, but i am curious rather, of why this fact that we are born and we die is such a surprise.  people often get defensive: it's not about not knowing, but that it may be unexpected.

with the average age of population growing older and older, it's quite a shock to think that no one wants to die.  surely, if anything is 'fair' in this world is that we, who are alive, will die, someday, somewhere. one does not select one's parents nor birthday. and similarly, we will all leave the world, one at a time-

we will all die alone.
alone in a sense that one's own consciousness will fade all by itself.

being in proximity of another in death, does it make it better?

i cant help but to think of all circumstances- gabe died in the car and his accident was not reported until the next morning around 8am.  coroners assumed that he crashed around 1am.  everyone was expecting him to be alive. but no, a minute later his death, he ceased to exist.  in contrast, in concentration camps or racial wars of rwanda, depending on what one's label was, one would be simply added to the 'appropriate' pile.  there has been all kinds of personal communication to the world during this tsumani.  i was reading up on one japanese young man, who twitted right to his death, worrying about not being able to take care of his parents and grandparents, that he does not want to die.

we all die alone.

like the full moon, which will be totally dark again, yet the moon is a moon, bright or not.  just because one cant see it doesnt mean it cease to exist.  we are conditioned to celebrate birthdays with all kinds of artificial events and activities.  and when one is dead, often they are embalmed for the public, as if their decorated appearances- a continuation of 'living' condition, is the most appropriate choice.  often an inexperienced gardeners will pull out perennials by accident while they are being dormant.

is it impatience?  or a simple denial for the matters that are little bit more complicated/difficult?  or have we simply become so detached from the world that we think we can outlast the course of nature?

i had somewhat demanding teenage years.  i still carry bits of scars around resulting from anger, though i am no longer angry.  those years made me think through the matters quite throughly- what death may mean, how it comes and how does it manifest, etc.  and only answer i arrived to was a bit too simple: one is born and one dies. one does not get to choose how the course of life goes. there are things that happens out of one's control.  i am sure if i could go back to the past, i would do many things differently so that i wouldnt be such a moody depressed teenager, but since i didnt seem to have a choice, it's all okay. at least it wasnt a complete waste of time. haha.

and then a small yet real hope: when the time is right, then things may happen.  a cherry tree in winter will never bloom. a gardener who wants to make miracle happen not only wastes his energy, he also puts tree into a stress.  a tree will simply bloom when things are right, when it can manifest in its fullest.  but even without the bloom, it is still a cherry tree.  this is the first teaching of thich han nahn i found in his book: no death, no fear.

during the turbulent travel of minnow in shaken japan, i wasnt worried about his emotional health as much.  i was worried he wasnt sleeping enough.  however, knowing the person he is, it gave me much assurance that he also understands what death is.  and like the cherry bloom, if it was time for one to go, death will manifest. and there wont be much anyone could do.  and since we are born, it is inevitable. with such thoughts along with the human connection and love, i felt at ease- that we'll be alright.

as it's a full moon, i cant help think of my little brother.  and i cant help but to think of all who are lost. and all who will have to live with such losses.  it does hurt, yes, even when the result: death is completely inescapable.  but like anything, awareness would help one's understanding and progress through such simple yet difficult journey.  and many are forced to walk the path this wk.  perhaps it's not just this wk. just different events, may be.

may all who walks to the path to dust be blessed and may they know that they are loved.  that a human loss is never a singular incident but of a collective experience.  and let us be kind to the ones who has left and ones who are busy sending them off. after all, we are all waking the same path. much love to you all.

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