death compells me

After Amy died, I dug through all of my photographs, looked for every one that she was in. Some were beautiful, representative, classic. Others were mundane, she was in the background, making an awkward face, no one was looking at the camera. Still my first step was not to separate these out, they seemed, to me, just as sacred, just as full of some truth I was looking for, just as necessary to study… I ended up separating them out because I figured others would not be as interested… but my first impulse would be that people would want to examine them, to study every image of her to piece together meaning, understanding, truth… those moments in between, the interstices, doing the dishes, listening intently, sleeping, digging through records, driving, moving a kettle…in some ways they seem more intimate, more profound, more lovely, hard to reduce, ineffable, the sacred daily movement of how we are with ourselves, not in the moments that others see us in, but the moments where we are unseen, unglamorous, the moments where perhaps Amy was with herself, rather than with the lens of a camera.

Tonight I went out to my garden; in West Oakland, I live in a compound where duplexes, apartments and houses are surrounded by one gate with a central garden, it’s a community, but we each have our own spaces too. The corn rustled as though there were living things breathing heavily hidden between the rows, the cloud cover had rolled over, the earth was wet with dew and it smelled sweet and healthy…

From the garden I could see my neighbor Caitlin moving in her kitchen; the movement and activity of late night cleansing, finishing, and moving in silence and without note. Like Amy, her movements seemed sacred, quietly poignant, full of some bittersweet element that says, “this, …this too.”

A gift I received from Amy’s passing is to see what I see with fresh eyes when I think of her, and with a softness and appreciation that moves in my chest cavity delicately, patiently, observantly. From some place of faith, love, and willingness to discover silver linings I have woken more deeply to the very small details of this world.

In it all, life….well, life is….and it is unexpected… and we ought not take it so seriously…and we ought appreciate…and we ought love….and we ought laugh… and we ought to be better to each other, love more fully, speak more truthfully, be ourselves more freely…take care of life, and each other. Take care of each other.

Perhaps that sounds meaningless, but death I suppose has forced me, compelled me, to experience both paradox and simplicity in a way that has shifted for me, what I am capable of sitting with and the level of abstraction that actually makes sense to me. Death has compelled me to see with new eyes and sense with new senses; to take closer note of the infinite subtle pulses of this world.

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