Saturday, 13 December 2008

Through the Fog, up the Mountain

The last few days hve been full of surprises, of various flavours and forms.

On thursday I went to a conference which helped me substantially with one of my projects where I made quite a few interesting contacts and learned some very interesting facts. And where a few ideas became clearer.

On wednesday I had found out that my gran had died in one of the strangest ways ever. While having some soup she choked on it, some of the soup went into her lungs, the firemen and the ambulance fortunately came in time and managed to keep her alive with oxygen, enough to take to hospital but, due to yet another stroke (probably her 6th or 7th major one) she was rendered very weak and, after a few hours, she passed away.

I was sad but perhaps not as much as I'd expected. After all, she'd been bed ridden for quite a few years and it was clear that she was never going to recover and that she was slowly drifting away from life.

So, on friday, early morning, i was on my way to luton, heading to Lisbon and then to Sao Martinho do Porto where the funeral was being held.

I started writing a short story on my way there that I finished on my way back. It mixed some of the elements of the situation and some lessons that sometimes I feel people could use with really learning.

The strangest thing happened while waiting in line to get into the airplane. Someone collapsed while waiting in line and, to date, i do not know if the person made it or not. I mean, there i was, going to my gran's funeral and, suddenly it seems that the subject of death comes "alive" somewhere ahead of me.

I was instantly consumed by the fear and the pain and the powerlessness of the situation. Even thinking about it now still bringsthat intensity somewhat back.

This whole situation helped clarify what I actually feel about death.

Inside me there is still some fear and quite a lot of resistance to the prospect. But, at the same time, there is also a core certainty of the beauty of the moment - if we are given time to contemplate. And this, I know it within my heart, transcends and overwhelms all the fear that I could possibly feel.

I've had some weird experiences in the past and they have all led me to the conclusion that death can be an amazing experience. In fact, that death can be (as Neil Gaiman so brilliantly put it) The Time Of Our Life. When the whole of our system knows that this is it, suddenly all the boundaries that have been in place to "keep us safe", can be discarded and the world's of experience can really be opened up. I firmly believe that in those last few moments we can live more than we ever thought possible. I don't think any experience whatsoever could possibly compare to it.

In any case, there I was, waiting in line, powerless as somebody fought for life. Hearing the despair, surprised at the inefficiency of response services within the airport. It felt as if it was more important to to keep up appearances than actually help the person (for a while people were crying out for a doctor or nurse amidst the passengers and, yet, there was no information on the speakers - or, rather, the speakers continued to blare the usual stuff about flights and delays).

What I felt was that it was the being in that moment, sharing that transition, and especially the fear and concern and pain and support that people were demonstrating with their body language, that really affected me.

I say this because when I was looking to my gran, lying in her coffin, I couldn't feel much. It was clear to me that she wasn't there. That that body wasn't her. That she was gone. It was so clear that I couldn't do anything about it that no attachment was present.

My relation with my family and with my own feelings has always been somewhat complicated. So many contradictions that sometimes I am lost amidst them.

This time I was so absorbed in being there that I didn't really notice the usual "they cry for themselves rather than the dead".

What I observed that really turned me inside out a bit, anger boiling alongside a somewhat cool contemplation of it, was with me listening to the priest saying the mass. This was the first time that I heard most of it. And I felt completely betrayed. I couldn't stop seeing and feling the deception being played.

(I'm not saying that it was, just that that was how it felt to me)

i understand everybody's need to come to terms with that indefatigable event taht no one seems to be able to dodge, but the way the priest was performing that service just felt, ultimately, as an act of subtle cruelty.

The key to all this was the tone of voice. So artificial and rehearsed that I felt at points like choking the guy.

I guess people prefer to listen to what they wish they could believe than in what they actually feel. I guess that, when confronted with death, we all need a supporting parent. But seeing someone taking advantage of that vulnerability was becoming unbearable. Feeling and knowing what I was feeling, both enhanced my ability to control my emotions and to more fully express them inside myself.

This is my issue of course. My inability to accept when people do not talk from their hearts or even from their minds but from something they simply have been told to believe.

So why am i enraged at everybody else's relinquishing of their inner freedom to find their own truth?

Partially beacuse I know that I am afraid of being exactly like them, only in a different way. Instead of having a seemingly solid external system to back me up, I have a, perhaps steam like interior system backing me up.

Also because I quite obviously and egotistically believe that my beliefs are better than other people's.

In sum, because i, like most people, have a warped vision of reality. This being caused by the existence of an ego, to a great extent. If there is an I, if there is something that recognises itself as being separate from the rest, then this I will tend to see itself as most important than the rest purely as a survival mechanism.

Why am I writing this?

I honestly don't know. For many reasons I guess. Probably all the ones you can think about are probably true to one extent or another. It doesn't really matter.

Partially I wanted to give a background for these last few days writing and to record in some way the transformation of my perception.

This probably has to do with a sensation/thought that I had on the 436 going back to lewisham this afternoon. I had the clear impression that after (or before) the funeral of my other gran, almost 3 years ago, that I had had a vision or a dream or something that i was at the funeral of this gran that died a few days ago. It was a deja vu, of course, but this one had a memory attached to it of actually having written down this sensation all this time ago.

Obviously I don't have the faintest idea where I wrote this.

In any case, it was simple. I had the feeling I had dreamt or foresaw the whole situation around having to rush back to portugal for my gran's funeral after having been only a week ago.

i know that deja vu feelings are simply a way of dealing with our pain, with a situation that we feel we cannot resolve. But this one clearly felt different from the usual ones.


On wednesday I reviewed a bit more of LAND OF FOG. I had felt that I was spending so much time lately with A VIEW OF THE MOUNTAIN and not so much with this project (that I still want to have a first draft ready before the year ends - actually, before x-mas comes....). Not much and quite slowly. I spent more time playing the guitar (and recording various tracks) than reviewing. Sometimes it's just the way it goes. I didn't feel like I should force myself too much on that day. And so I played thinking of my dead grandparents and let what I felt out in my own way. Turning the emotion into some sort of grandeur. Death should not be small and squandered. It should be celebrated and be able to lift us up even closer to life. Those tracks were a bit a bout that. Starting with simple structures of half a dozen notes, repeating themselves in loops but with some rhythmic variances that gave them fluidity and vertigo. And then, at some point, thinking of The Go-Betweens, i shifted the scale and made them all happier and lighter. In some i returned to the beginning riff, in order i did not. Above all I just wanted to use that liberating energy that i was feeling and captured it somehow so that perhaps one day I can share it and help others reach that state. maybe telling them the story of how those songs came to be and then playing them so that we can all participate in an experience of communion and some degree of truth.

Today I finished typing up the rest of the stuff for A VIEW OF THE MOUNTAIN. There are still some more panels to write up but I think I can do them all in a day. Maybe this coming wednesday. It would be nice if, by the end of this weekend, I could have both first drafts finished. It's quite possible, but I have to be more focussed than I have been in the last week or so.

And this is how things are at the moment.

Hope you are well and happy.



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