Ancient teachings

I know that some of you weary of my drug experiences, but I would ask for your compassion as I travel the dark road of pain upon which guides are few. For now, the marijuana is taking me more deeply within, and although it is a frightening journey, it is the only way that I know to proceed. Daily pain that lasts for years and leaves one increasingly disabled is not a shallow experience, and it requires all the depth and courage that I possess to live a rewarding life in its presence. Sometimes, every new day feels like a new failure, partly because I know that there are those who are doing ten times better despite being in twenty times more pain. I can’t even tell that I am growing. I used to know who I was; now I have lost my life, and I don’t know where to look for it.

The worst fears come when I go to bed. They are many, but Peggy’s death is the greatest with my own death being second. The fear would be there anyway, but since my nightmarish trip on marijuana, the drug has consistently taken me to the edge of panic. Yet, I continue to use it because I must look into the pit. Pain and terror are within, death is at my heels, and there is no place to run.

Yesterday, I came home from my daily bike ride to the library with books on aging by Ram Dass and Jimmy Carter. These men are religious (Carter is a Southern Baptist, and Dass defies labeling), but they write from the heart rather than the pulpit. This absence of dogma enables me, an atheist, to hear them, and to find common ground with them. It is a very good feeling. Last night, I started with Dass.

Ram Dass had a stroke in 1997 when he was just a little older than I, and he still needs 24 hour a day care. When a man like that talks about pain and fear and death, I listen. As I read him last night, peace settled over me. When I was ready for sleep, I both ate marijuana butter and smoked marijuana, and it was very good. This morning, I found the courage for hashish, which can be thought of as a concentrated form of marijuana. After I smoked it, I put on some harp music, and Peggy massaged my shoulders, as she does every morning. My mind raced, but the fear did not return.

Increasingly since the bad marijuana experience, I see death everywhere and in everyone, the young as much as the old. Like Buddhist monks who meditate upon impermanence as they sit beside decaying corpses, so has my life become a meditation upon death. “I surrender,” I said to death last night. “From now on, I will do all that is within my power to embrace you.” For guides, I, like Dass, must turn to other cultures because my own society is but a shallow wasteland.

I’ve been helping Peggy with some research she has undertaken about ancient Greek and Roman mythology. I had no idea how many gods they had, and I was even more surprised to find that so many of these gods speak to my experience, or at least to what I would like to be my experience. For example, Thanatos was a gentle and benevolent god who ruled over non-violent death, but his sisters, the Keres, were fanged, screeching, taloned women who wore bloody garments, and reveled in violence. Their power was such that even Zeus could not restrain them. Acheron, the lord of pain, was also a benevolent spirit. He had been transformed into one of five rivers of the underworld, and was considered an agent of healing rather than punishment. Old age was Geras (the Romans called him Senectus), a malevolent spirit who was portrayed as a shriveled old man. Homer described him as standing: “…someday at the side of every man, deadly, wearying, dreaded even by the gods.” I see my own life in such descriptions, and their timelessness comforts me.

I’ve watched ten or twenty people die, and I’ve helped prepare scores, at least, of others for burial. I was fourteen when I saw my first human death; seven when I watched my first dog die; and eight when I first killed a living creature (oh, how I regret shooting that little mockingbird). For some reason, I remember individual corpses better than I remember individual deaths. There were the newlyweds who tried to clean their gas oven with gasoline. As I stood over their black and swollen bodies, my heart was as heavy as if I had known them. They didn’t deserve to die for trying to clean their oven. Then there was the carpenter who had a heart attack. As I removed his striped overalls and untied the shoes that he himself had laced, my eyes were repeatedly drawn to his face. We would have been such good friends, I thought. He was gone, yet I could almost imagine that he was there beside me. I still imagine that he is beside me. So many dead bodies! People who I kept looking and smelling more or less alive so that their mourners wouldn’t be reminded of the putrefaction of the grave. The more I worked in funeral homes, the more I came to regard the American handling of death as a sickness.

I am horrified to think that I too will rot (I want to be burned, but that’s just an accelerated form of rotting). Yet, the worst thing that I can imagine would be the very thing that my mother wanted, which was to be buried in a concrete vault so that her remains would be prevented from nourishing other lives... When I picture myself as a corpse, I worry that I will have died with my eyes open, and that no one will close them. Being dirt doesn’t frighten me; it’s the getting there that’s the problem. Yet, I will rot, and so there is nothing to do but to embrace death. After all, I will be dead infinitely longer than I will have been alive.

53 comments:

Sonia ;) said...

Death is a term Im not good at facing either. Scares the hell out of me.

Marion said...

Wow, you're thinking some deep thoughts, Snow. I don't fear death because I believe the soul lives on, although I don't want to die before my husband. THAT sort of scares me...being alone. I find comfort in the Bible, the Tao, the Bhagavad Gita and the writings of Buddha. But more than anything written, Nature gives me the most comfort & hope. When I plant dead-looking little seeds in the Spring and watch them bloom, blossom, then die, I find comfort and hope.

As I read your post, I thought of this quote by Mark Twain: 'All say, "How hard it is that we have to die" - a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.'

Hang in there, my friend. xoxo

Snowbrush said...

Sonia, Peggy is that way too. I've started asking other atheists how they feel about death, and some say they're okay with it (including a woman who is 87), and others say that they're afraid. I should think that those who envision a heaven to go to in which they will be reunited with everyone they loved in this life wouldn't fear death at all, yet I haven't observed they that they deal with it any better than do atheists. This makes me think that their professed belief is of little substance.

patsy said...

oh, death where is thy sting. I don't fear death I embrace it. If not for my faith I would end my life today.

Snowbrush said...

Marion, I appreciated learning that your religious exposure extends far beyond the Bible. You obviously find your own way rather than succumbing to any one authority, and I admire that.

Patsy, I've wondered how I would fare without Peggy. I've no doubt that millions are in the same boat you are.

Snowbrush said...

P.S. " If not for my faith I would end my life today."

You know, I would be interested in seeing suicide statistics that were compiled on the basis of religion--and the lack thereof. Having been a person of faith and then lost my faith, I have come to think of religion (dogmatic religion anyway) as a sickness. You might be completely in the opposite direction, as would anyone who holds their particular religious creed as the most precious thing in the world.

Linda said...

This is a really wonderful post Snow. I like to think there is more to older age than pain and dying, but bottom line is that is what it becomes. I don't fear death but then I don't think I am that close. I believe I will become worm food, but at the same time I believe there is a possibility of becoming one with whatever. Still MY body, soul, and spirit become worm food and that is alright with me. I think people have such terrible fear of death and losing their egos that they go so far as to believe in fairy tales, but if they would really stop and look at what death is they might think differently. I suppose I am fortunate in that my experience has taught me there are worse things than death.

I went to a talk with Ram Dass before he got sick and he helped me so much with aging simply by talking about the lines in his hands.

Right now, I'm just happy to see you here since I was beginning to wonder if you had become a bit too friendly with Fentanyl.

Beau's Mom said...

As Linda said, I was wanting to hear from you. That alone is testament to how well you write and how we relish your words.

Thankfully, I don't fear any afterlife, since that is merely a common dream humans have. It gives them peace to believe they won't just disappear from the universe.

I was declared clinically dead in my twenties. All I felt in the final process was an ease of pain and an endorphin rush of peace (at the last moment) like you wouldn't believe.

What I fear is being left alone, without Joe. I know that a person can love more than once, or even eight times. But he is more to me than love. There's some kind of umbilical cord of life that runs between us and I need his strength.

I'm also a coward in considering a horrifying death in the form of a flaming six car pile-up or being tortured by a psychopath.

And unlike you, I can't even blame my paranoia on marijuana!

The Elephant's Child said...

Thanks Snowbrush, a thought provoking post as always.

I am reasonably comfortable with death. Probably not today, but someday. And I am leaning towards minimalist burial - a readily decomposable coffin or perhaps just a shroud. They are starting to offer that in some places here and you can choose a tree, but not a headstone in those places. It makes sense to me, and the tree (if I choose it wisely) will live a lot longer than anyone who cares about me. I am also happy about feeding its growth. I think it is the obsessive gardener in me.

Snowbrush said...

Mom said: I know that a person can love more than once, or even eight times.

Yes, Mom, you certainly can love more than once, but marriages made late in life tend to be more companionable than romantic and also to involve less intimacy.

Child said: I am leaning towards minimalist burial

You can also choose such a burial here where I live in Oregon, USA, but this is very liberal area. The local undertaker would probably burn your family's down in most places in this country.l

patsy said...

snowbrush, i think killing one self maybe the sin that can not be forgiven. so I can't end my life but I pray often for God to end it for me.
Of course you don't have the belief i have and i wonder what it would be like to not have a belief of life after death.
as for rotting i am going to be cremated. I don't want to be a burden to my children after i die so I have paid for the cremation. i didn't have the cash for the stick me in the ground so i will be burned.
I am really sorry for your pain and your fear of death. i wish there is somthing I could do to help you. alass there is nothing one person can do to help another because death is a one man trip.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

You are always an interesting read Snow!

kj said...

snow, i've come to believe the line between life and death is very thin. i mean that literally. i can't (usually) (often) communicate with people i am close to who have died, but i know they still walk the path with me.

i helped my father die and i stopped being afraid of dying after that. for one thing, i've learned that nobody leaves alone. it might be an archangel with wide wings or one's childhood teddy bear steering a rubber boat, but my friend who has witnessed hundreds of hospice deaths tells me this is so: we could leave by ourselves. i am comforted by that

i admire your honesty. damn fear. it freezes us shut. i am now 64 and i know i am older.

i am so sorry for you pain. i know how immobilizing it is. i admire that you live your life anyway.

with love
kj

River said...

Dying and the subsequent rotting of my body doesn't bother me at all. It's the way of nature and all living things. I'm proud to be part of this journey. I am, however, concerned that I might die before I'm ready to go. I want to see my grandchildren grow up and have their own children, this is a possibility since I'm not yet so old and two of the grandchildren are already 17.

middle child said...

I am with Patsy. I have lost a husband and both parents. Burial means nothing to me as I will already be gone fro that body. I fear the act of dying but being dead is gonna be so cool!

All Consuming said...

I've never feared my own death, since I was a child my mum has always gone on about what happens afterwards and she worries about it alot. It helps that I've almost died. My only fear of death is the effect on others if I go before them, and the effect on myself if they go before me. It has taken psychological counselling to get me to a position where I'm not focusing on the death of my parents, who are now in their mid 70's and will die. If hubby were older then it would include him too. I'd say try seeing a psychologist as it helped me out of a situation where I felt rooted to the floor with fear about their death. Drinking made the whole thing worse and I would cry for hours on end. I'd also say try a different strain of pot for definite. In my experience they can vastly differ in their effects. If you take grass just now find out if it's skunk and stop straight away if you can get anything else as skunk is renowned for giving people the kind of thoughts you're having. Start with sorting out the pot. Even if it means getting another supplier, it will be worth it. Thinking of you dear xxx

All Consuming said...

ps. Don't be concerned that you're posting is on the subject of painkillers often,if you wanted to constantly post about your arse hair I'd say that's entirely up to you and be glad you were writing what you wanted/needed to. It's your blog.

Snowbrush said...

Patsy said: i wonder what it would be like to not have a belief of life after death.

For me, it's hard. For many atheists, it's not. A lot of us walked away from religion at an early age, and never looked back. It took me decades, and I'm still not okay with the implications of a godless universe. Yet, the alternative just seems too fantastic to be credible. I think that a belief in god might be a bit like homosexuality in that you either have something akin to a belief gene, or you don't, and I most decidedly don't. Over the years, various bloggers of faith have tried--in a very kind way--to win me over, not realizing that there's really nothing they can say that I don't already know. In fact, as far as the arguments for and against belief go, I generally know more than they do.

KJ said: i've come to believe the line between life and death is very thin.

I witnessed my father come so close to death that his head--which was bloated with fluid--fell over and he sat drooling for the better part of an hour. I parked the truck we were in in the driveway of his house, and waited for him to pass away. Then he woke up, looked around, and asked if the mail had come yet. This kind of thing happened enough that the line between life and death did come to seem inconsequential. His question about the mail even made death seem mundane.

All Consuming said: if you wanted to constantly post about your arse hair I'd say that's entirely up to you and be glad you were writing what you wanted/needed to. It's your blog.

No, no, no, I write for me, but also for my readers. Sometimes, I write humor, but I never write fluff, because I want coming here to be meaningful for you. Of course, I wouldn't write fluff even if no one came here because my writing is my life and my art, and I want it to be of consequence.

Middle Child and River, I envy you your lack of fear regarding decomposition. You might well point out that such a fear is unreasonable since what "I" am will have departed the body, yet people fears are often illogical but no less real for it.

Snowbrush said...

All Consuming said: It has taken psychological counselling to get me to a position where I'm not focusing on the death of my parents.

You will survive it, darling. Peggy and I both used to cry just thinking about our parents dying someday. Now, mine are gone, and her mother is dead. Losing parents is inevitable. Losing a child is unimaginable. I have no idea how people survive that. Now, my fear is surviving should Peggy die. I just don't know if I could. I hope I would find the strength, but I can't even begin to anticipate what it would be like.

Helen said...

Dear Snow,
I never tire of you ... whatever you write!

I'm not afraid of my own death. I lost my dad when I was just sixteen, suddenly. Here one day, gone two days later. I never had the chance to say goodbye or I love you, which I regret. I held my mother in my arms as she died in May of 2007. Peacefully, with grace and dignity the way she lived her life. I can only hope for the same tranquil exit.

I do have fear when it comes to leaving my middle son who was born with mild developmental disabilities. He is quite independent in that he holds a job in our local Safeway, manages for himself when I'm away from home for extended periods of time ... is generous, sweet, funny, caring, the perfect housemate. He has an older brother, a younger brother, a younger sister + two half sisters ~ all of them adore him. My oldest son is his designated guardian when I'm gone. In spite of it all I still have anxiety when I think of him without me. Probably a little selfish on my part, don't you think??

As I approach 70 next month, I find myself thinking more frequently about my own death ... but refuse to let it 'get to me.' So much to live for as I watch my children and grandchildren maneuver through life.

Snowbrush said...

Helen said: Probably a little selfish on my part, don't you think??

Oh, you sweet baby, I ain't touching that one in the way your question suggests. I wouldn't even want to. It's way out of my ability to judge.

I would say that, as for your son, naturally you worry about him. He's vulnerable in a way that the others are not. Of course, he might outlive them all. They might have strokes and accidents that lay them low while he keeps chugging along. In the final analysis, it's not just who you--or how strong you appear to be--but the cards that fate deals you. How does the quote go, something about fate and fortune befalling all men.

Helen said...

Snow ... you might enjoy this poem I wrote ~~

link_words

Snowbrush said...

I thought your poem was wonderful, Helen. It's like what I try to post in that it stimulates interesting responses.

I said to Peggy today that one of the things I enjoy about blogging are the comments I get, and then I boasted that most bloggers don't elicit such thoughtful responses. She said that maybe my followers simply have more depth than the followers of most blogs. I think that's true. Of course, like most of us, I have far more followers listed than the number who actually (to my knowledge anyway) visit my blog.

kylie said...

snow snow snow,
i have no idea why we put up with each other!
i come here and have no idea what to say about your health or your drugs except that i wish it were different for you.
i believe myself to be a thoughtful person but i dont post comments of depth here, for one thing i am usually overwhelmed and for another i have no answers and for another i mostly blog for fun. in other words i am all the things you are not.
and that is without even touching the question of faith which i cling to doggedly even tho it makes little logical sense to me.
i post fluff on my blog, my writing is my art but sometimes i just want a chat, you know?

anyhow, now that i've said all that nothing and wondered whether you can ever respect me i best be off to see what other methods of procrastination i can find.

xox

Chrisy said...

Yes we all say that we know we'll die but really coming to an acceptance is a scary thing. I remember about a year ago when very ill being hit with the inevitability of dying / not existing and it was horrifying...I vomited for 24 hours in terror.
Now I'm not sure what other drugs you're taking Snow but one that I've started that's been very useful for nerve pain and anxiety is Cymbalta...just thought I'd mention it in case it might be useful for you too.

Mim said...

my first thought on reading this was "aw shit"....."too heavy".

But death is a funny thing. My dad begged for it, got it and hasn't haunted us yet. My MIL didn't want it, feared it, hated the thought and haunted her bed. Her fear was in that bed, I tried to sleep in it, had awful nightmares and had to go buy a new bed. (to be honest, she died in a hosptial bed, but spent alot of time prior in the other bed)
I worry too about losing my DH. What would I do? How could I go on? yet so many do.....

I'll come back again, this is interesting stuff.

Camp Fustian said...

I am an atheist (raised by irreligious Buddhists) and I don't fear death; I rarely even think about it: there's just no point.

We get this one chance - everything is impermanent; the only dependable thing in life is that everything changes!

If you meditate on that, you'll realise that fear is pretty much pointless - whether you fear death or not, it will SURELY come about.

...There was this Tibetan lama who'd visited Taiwan soon after a major plane crash. A journalist asked him whether he was afraid to get on a plane so soon after a crash. He answered (paraphrased here) - "if a plane I am on is to crash, whether I worry about it wouldn't change a thing. So I don't."

If you let yourself consumed by fear, you forget to enjoy the present moment - with your loved ones.

PS: Why would anyone want to live an eternity with ANYONE, even loved ones anyway? That would be BORING as hell and, what would one learn from such a dull/unchanging existence?

Cloudia said...

A near death experience convinces me that death will be a wonderful liberation and a gateway to a truer life & self than we can be here.

You are on an honorable quest! I salute your courage. While you seek the wisdom that is yours, i would urge you to consider REIKI, a modality that has helped me enormously physically, spiritually, mentally.

Best wishes to YOU with Aloha from Waikiki;


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nollyposh said...

i know you don't see things the same way as i do, but i believe that you should fear not my dearest Snow because i believe that *You* won't be dead just your body will be... My Pa was a non-believer, saw much death during his years in the army/war, but since his death he has been around us, his family, as you say are the memories of the dead you have witnessed... He does funny things like he used to do when he was alive... Pops out the foot rest on his recliner chair regularly until my Nana tells him off (Lol!) and flicks the lights at my house until i recognize him by name and then it stops... You are on the journey to your Soul i believe Snow, so strap yourself in tight as you already know it can be a very rocky ride!

Catz said...

I find your insight and musing thought provoking Snowbrush.
Dying is BIG subject and one that I think every cancer patient thinks deeply about. I know I have thought very deeply about it since my diagnosis.
Thanks for making all of us go deeper.

Snowbrush said...

Kylie said: in other words i am all the things you are not.

Vive la différence, Kylie. It would be a boring world if every blog was like mine. I have no complaint about yours. In fact, I enjoy yours. You knew that though.

Chrisy said: one that I've started that's been very useful for nerve pain and anxiety is Cymbalta...

I've heard of it, and went to the Cymbalta site just last week to check-out the side-effects. I have three problems with it. One is that it doesn't come in a generic, so it would cost and arm and a leg here in the U.S.. The second is that relatively new drugs often prove to have some really nasty side-effects that didn't turn up during the product testing, but do turn up once a drug has been on the market for awhile and millions of people have taken it for a few years. The third is that I'm desperate to take fewer pills rather than more. All that said, maybe at some point, I'll check into it more. I very much appreciate your having suggested it.

Mim said: Her fear was in that bed, I tried to sleep in it, had awful nightmares

I sold my father's bed to a little boy (the bed was perfectly clean). I couldn't tell him that, oh, by the way, a man died in your new bed, but I felt funny keeping quiet about it too.

Fustian said: I don't fear death; I rarely even think about it: there's just no point.

Thinking about it can help keep our priorities in order, but you're right in that worrying about it serves no practical purpose.

Cloudia said: i would urge you to consider REIKI

I've seen a DVD about it, and a friend or two have practiced on me, but I can't even begin understand how such a thing even might work, at least not in physical terms. If it works for you, Cloudia, it works for you, and I'm not here to knock that, but I would need to see some hard data before I would consider it. As Nollyposh can tell you (see below) that's just how I am, especially when it comes to spending even more money on healthcare than I already do. Remember, I'm in the States, so I have to pay for every pill, surgery, doctor's visit, x-ray, MRI, blood test, etc, etc, etc. Medical bills eat up a major portion of my income.

Nollyposh said: i believe that *You* won't be dead just your body will be...

I know you do, dear, but I'm a million miles from being convinced myself.

Nollyposh said: He does funny things like he used to do when he was alive... Pops out the foot rest on his recliner chair regularly until my Nana tells him off...

Anytime I hear about a ghost doing something, it's always something trivial. I should think they could get it together to help us out instead of annoying us by moving furniture about and waking everyone up in the middle of the night. I don't get that.

Catz said: Dying is BIG subject and one that I think every cancer patient thinks deeply about. I know I have thought very deeply about it since my diagnosis.

Gosh, I guess! Of course, the older a person becomes, the more he's in the same boat with a young person who has a life-threatening illness. Peggy read a book by a young woman who had a heart transplant. Her life-expectancy after the operation was put at 5-10 years. When people asker her how she was to bear-up under that, she said that it's simply like being in your mid-seventies in that you know you don't have a lot of time left. Of course, people in their mid-70s already have a lot of living behind them, but on other hand, 5-10 years to a 75 old is like tomorrow compared to what it is to a 30 year old.

Snowbrush said...

Cloudia, you ARE in the U.S., in Hawaii no less. Do you ever get it into your head that someone lives in someplace other than what they do, and then you can't get it out of your head even when you know better? I did that with you, which is pretty strange since Hawaii isn't just where you are, but a major part of what you write about. So, then, exactly WHERE do I have you placed? You're an Aussie to me, dear. Go figure.

nollyposh said...

Then my dear Snow you have not read some of my 'encounter' stories? They do a lot more than little tricks, they have been known to give me direct advice about my life when i have asked for it... i donot just 'believe' for the sake of it... i am very stubborn & have required any 'answers' to my questions to come to me three times in confirmation before i have accepted them... This is how i discovered that i am so well supported by 'Spirit' (Surprised the hell out of me!)... i will dig out a story for you if you like and post it? (Or repost an oldie?) x (
Ps) Snow you remind me of the me i once was when i labelled myself 'Agnostic'

Zuzana said...

Oh dear friend, this made me sad. But somewhere in the corner of my mind I seem to recognize your thoughts and the way you feel. I am not preoccupied with death these days, as happiness, joy and life rule my world, but I have been there, in the darkness, many times before, haunted by similar thoughts.
I have only seen one corpse and that was in the autopsy room. I do not like revisit that memory at all.
Have a great Monday.;)
xoxo

rhymeswithplague said...

Speaking of Tibetan lamas, the ox moves slowly, but the earth is patient.

I suppose Keats said it best.

The fear in some of these comments is, I think, the prospect of nothingness. I, on the other hand, believe death is not The End, but truly The Beginning.

Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Sissy said...

Have I already told you I love your writing? No? Well, consider it said; I do. So much you say applies to my life. Reading this post made me ask myself: why is it I can't magically put my thoughts into words as I wish. My mind is always aswirl, awake or unconscious, always swirling, leaping, dancing, planning. With time flowing away, am I to leave as a flying wisp of fog caught by sun's rays, to become just a forgotten memory?

They say "man is an island". This should not be. Yet I am waiting with hope to see what life's seawaves brings to me.

Blogs such as yours keep this island afloat for the present. Thank you Snowbrush. Thank you.

Beau's Mom said...

Just a sidebar: We had visitors last night. Three Mormons wanted to talk and we had nothing better to do.

As the evening proceeded, I asked a few polite questions. Joe asked some in-depth questions. We knew the responses before they were given. Memorized biblical quotes and platitudes.

As they were leaving, the eldest said he was grateful that he could give us the answers we were seeking.

I said "I don't remember being given any ANSWERS."

So it boils down to "let each believe as they want and leave others to do the same."

So it is with death.

Intellectually, we know we will one day die. MENTALLY we can't comprehend it.

I fear the moment when I must "accept" that it is actually HAPPENING.

RNSANE said...

I seem to be preoccupied with death these days. I guess, as my 67th birthday approaches, I can 't avoid the fact that I'm on the downhill side of life. I hurt - but, thank God, not like you do, Snow...I think I would pray for death then. I guess what I dread is being alone when I die.

I'm headed to India in October for six months - I don't want to die there - far from home - but, when I return, I have no idea what life will hold for me. I'll move from this house of 13 years before I go, put my things in storage, what I have disposed of on Craig's list, and I'll have to find a much smaller space for myself. I'm a bit afraid. I never felt so scared before - when I was earning a decent living, I felt much more secure. Now, having to subsist on a retirement income, I'm frightened and I feel my age and I worry what is to come.

I've always had one of my boys around...but, my oldest son will be getting his own place in April when he returns from some AF training fo six months and I'll be heaven knows where. It all remains to be seen.

Robert the Skeptic said...

The only thing I find more frightening than death is the idea of Heaven. Eternity praising god - give me the black merciful nothingness, please.

Dion said...

"Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear. I will
permit it to pass over me and
through me. And when it has
gone past I will turn the
inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there
will be nothing.
Only I will remain."
Dune


Wish we could share an afternoon of conversation, Snow.

Marion said...

Having watched my daughter die of suicide, being with my mother and mother in law as they died peacefully of old age and having worked with Hospice for awhile now, I have noticed once the moment arrives, there is usually a warm, loving energy that can embrace the whole room and everyone in it. Even with the people who feared death, who had no beliefs, there comes a time when peace reigns over their speech and features.

I believe death is a beginning, or a transition to a different plane. I am not religious, but I think of Creator in everything around me...the plants and trees and sky and clouds and other people. And I believe everything is connected to Creator, or Source, or whatever.

I believe my soul will live on to experience life in another way...recycled if you will. I know there is a certain energy that visits after death in various ways...be it in a playful manner or by imparting wisdom/advice.My daughter is forever steering my granddaughter on to the right path, by being with her and helping her find the right one, again in various ways..

I know I will miss my family. But it isn't here yet; when the point of death arrives, I will have to deal with that. But I don't fear death itself.

I agree with Michele. There are various kinds of cannabis...your grower should know what will target your pain, without the dreadful anxiety.

This is a superb post, as always! xx

Snowbrush said...

Zuzana said: I have only seen one corpse and that was in the autopsy room.

I was fortunate enough to see an autopsy my first day at work in a funeral home. It occurred to me as I watched that when you cut up a human being--especially a fat one--he looks remarkably like a slaughtered hog. This awareness didn't upset me, but it did give me a lot to think about.

Sissy said: why is it I can't magically put my thoughts into words as I wish.

I've had decades of practice, but I still edit a post for many hours--if not many days--and then edit it many more times after I post it. Thank you so very much for your kind words, by the way.

Beau's Mom, how in the heck did you rate three Mormons? They must be taking a new tact, one of trying to overwhelm the opposition through force of numbers. How interesting that one of them would assume that his answers satisfied your questions without verifying it with you.

Rhymes said: Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Rhymes, my friend, you no doubt realize that there's no comparison between botanic germination and death except for the fact that both involve being covered with dirt (unless you're into hydroponics). Whatever the poetic strength of the metaphor, it's still nonsensical in regard to what the experience of death. By the way, corn was exclusively an American crop for upwards of two more millennia after Christ.

RNSane said: I'm headed to India in October for six months - I don't want to die there - far from home - but, when I return, I have no idea what life will hold for me.

Wow, you're a gutsy young lady. Do you have friends in India? When I read this, my first thought was that, oh no, you won't be able to blog from India--or will you?

Robert said: The only thing I find more frightening than death is the idea of Heaven. Eternity praising god - give me the black merciful nothingness...

Endless years spent wearing choir robes singing the Hallelujah Chorus doesn't appeal to you, eh? I think that to make any sense of heaven at all, you have to think of it as a realm out of time. In other words, you would be in eternal now and eternal bliss with no awareness of the next moment or the last moment because the next moment and the last moment wouldn't exist.

Marion said: your grower should know what will target your pain, without the dreadful anxiety.

It's not the pot; it's me. Since reading Dass, my experiences with marijuana have been positive except for one little problem. The drug lays waste to my memory.

Marion said: I have noticed once the moment arrives, there is usually a warm, loving energy that can embrace the whole room and everyone in it.

I watched my father gurgle green froth for his last twelve hours (he sounded like a percolator), and I only got to my mother's side moments before she died in an apparent coma. Other deaths I've witnessed were in ambulances, often in the midst of blood and terror; or in hospitals where I was a member of the team that was working frantically to bring resuscitate the patient.

rhymeswithplague said...

Not to be pedantic or anything, or get us off topic, but "corn" appeared in the King James Version which was produced in England in 1611 just four years after the first permanent English settlement in America at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. So the likelihood that the translators were referring to the American plant known as corn or maize is next to zero. Actually, the Greek word translated corn, kokkos, appears seven times in the New Testament and was translated as "corn" once and as "grain" the other six times. It's 17th-century language for grain, kernel, seed. I am not a complete idiot (well, not yet, anyway). And since Jesus was apparently referring to his own approaching death in the 12th chapter of the Gospel of John, I believe I will stick with what He said instead of your statement that the metaphor of botanic germination is nonsensical regarding the experience of death. Sorry.

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes said: I believe I will stick with what He said instead of your statement that the metaphor of botanic germination is nonsensical regarding the experience of death. Sorry.

I don't know what it is that you're sorry about. You made good points, and told me things that I didn't know. This discussion does lead me to wonder the extent to which you regard the Bible as inerrant. Growing up Church of Christ, I believed in its complete and literal inerrancy except in cases in which an obvious metaphor was intended. "Corn" as used in the KJ (119 years after Columbus sailed) is an obvious error, so, I would ask, how important is it to learn the original languages?

Rhymes said: I am not a complete idiot

You're taking this personally, and I didn't mean it personally. I never for a moment meant to attack your intelligence. As to whether you knew that corn was a New World plant was another matter though. I rather doubt that it's common knowledge, although I'm not surprised that you did know about it.

rhymeswithplague said...

I did know that corn is a New World plant. The 1611 guys didn't say CORN, they said "a corn of WHEAT" with the then-current meaning as "grain" or "kernel" or "seed" (Greek, kokkos, remember?).

It is extremely important, crucial even, to learn the original languages (which I haven't done, shame on me) because only in the original languages, within the context of the times in which it was written, and knowing by whom, and to whom, and what problems they faced on a daily basis, and a knowledge of their idioms, can the meaning be understood. Everything else is interpretation and cultural cross-talk. I also actually realize that when Jesus said, "I am the door," he didn't come equipped with a latch and hinges.

I didn't take it personally, Snow. You just got my dander up a little for a minute or two there.

The point was supposed to be that death (the topic of your post) does have meaning, according to Jesus, and even if He was referring only to His own death (I think otherwise), that "much fruit" is the result.

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes said: It is extremely important, crucial even, to learn the original languages...because only in the original languages...can the meaning be understood.

The problem is that the scholars don't agree with one another, and some of them have far more knowledge of the customs, political background, religious divisions, etc. of the various eras involved than the average person would have even if he learned the languages. I always thought that an omnipotent being could have managed to make himself clear, and the fact that he failed so miserably in this regard does appear to throw the whole enterprise into doubt.

"I also actually realize that when Jesus said, "I am the door," he didn't come equipped with a latch and hinges."

It certainly would be possible to ascribe meaning to latches and hinges, and this raises the point of how far to carry a metaphor, and then there is the whole issue of what's a metaphor and what isn't. You know, of course, that people have plucked out their eyes due to just such a metaphor.

rhymeswithplague said...

I do. Snow, you should read Flannery O'Connor's novel, Wise Blood.

Robin said...

I KNOW I am late coming to this highly emotional and (to each of us) personal post. (*Living* at SF Opera during the world premiere of an opera based on 9/11.)

Death.... a powerful and sometimes fearful word... it comes to all of us, old, young, beauttiful, not-so, there's no avoiding it.... so better to just accept and live one's life - healthy or ill - as best as one can. I lost both parents when I was quite young...and also (you can relate to this) several pets whom I loved like brothers and sisters (as I am an only child)... As a Catholic, I do believe in an afterlife - but as a *Robinesque Catholic*....I am not too sure what that entails...no harps, etc....but definitely something..some form of continuing to exist - but not in this body. I don't think about *rotting* in the ground, rather that I will be helping to replenish the Earth with anything that was *good* about me. Burial is the way for me...

You....have had to deal with so much pain in your life - far more than most....and one of the many reasons I applaud you is that you remain brave, intelligent, humourous, loving (oh yes, loving).... I am really glad we have *met* and are friends....one day, I hope to go North and make a stop at "Chateau Snow" to meet you, the wonderful Peggy and of course Blue and Brewsky.

Big hugs to you and all the Family,

♥ Robin ♥

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm dealing with a lot of issues of aging myself right now and am not handling it well. I worry a lot, feel some constant fear. I actually look forward to sleep so much because in sleep I dream and do not think about dying

Strayer said...

I don't want to die, but I will die. I don't like the thought, hopefully I will go suddenly or be in so much pain death is a welcome relief. What I don't want is to end up rotting alive in a nursing home, with low paid strangers changing my adult diapers while they discuss their latest sexual conquest or how they'll procur their drugs or the disgusting nature of my old body.

That is the most demeaning horrible end I can think of, ending up in a nursing home.

Everything dies. Even the animals fear death and fight it to the end. We elevate ourselves as special, "saved" so our deaths are somehow more significant than animal deaths or even deaths in third world nations or the deaths of people we bomb the hell out of. We're all the same. Nothing alive wants to die. But everything alive does die and we have to live with that end game.

I remember a line in "The Rose." .."the soul afraid of dying who never learns to live". I like that line.

nollyposh said...

Dear Snow, Thinking about you & hoping all is okay (((Hugs)))

Joe Todd said...

Hope to see ya on the "other side" some day

KleinsteMotte said...

I totally embrace your vision for I am at peace with that very fact. I must give back to the earth for what it gave to me. It is part of a cycle.