Wednesday, June 03, 2009


As we enter the realm of the Autumn of our life, we have to accept the fact of our mortality, the end of our life on Earth, our demise, or to put it bluntly, our personal Death. In our culture, we seldom talk about such things, or ever even see a dead body, unless they’ve been gussied up and put on display in an expensive, beautiful coffin, where they look really comfy for their trip underground.
Since my work has involved research into ramifications on each project I’ve begun, I have finally begun to research my own death. How does one do that in this environment? After we’ve answered the main question: “What is the Meaning of Life?”, ( Monty Python’s movie of this didn’t really answer my question.) , then we begin to ask what happens to our miserable body when confronted with the actuality of it? Aside from exloring that question, there is also the problem of the degradation of the body, especially if it takes a long time to die.
Many years ago I read lots of esoteric tomes such as “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”, “The Egyptian Book of the Dead”, Kubler-Ross’s “Life after Death”, and many other dissertation on what occurs after our physical form expires. I recently came across a similar book of Kubler Ross, “Life after Life”, which is a compilation of near death experiences related to a doctor by his patients. It’s pretty amazing that most of these experiences are fairly similar, traveling in a dark tunnel to a light, beings kind of around you, looking at your body and the real world activity happening around it. Most of these people had been clinically dead for several minutes, but somehow regained their tenuous hold on Life. These experiences were similar to one I had while on a particular peyote trip. There I was, all of a sudden, floating up on the ceiling, ( it seemed about twenty feet high), looking down upon my body, lying there on the bed. I had no idea how I had gotten there, but more important, how I was to get back into my body down there. I remembered that we (Who’s we?) are connected to our bodies with what is called the Aka Thread, but wasn’t sure if I was cogniscent of it. Needless to say, I did get reconnected but after reading all these experiences, was I in a near death experience? But also, most of these experiences are very similar to what the Masters of India have been describing for centuries, the experience of the final stages of meditations, where one can experience “Death while Living”, kind of a resolution of “The Question”.
But I digress. What I really want to find out are the problems that occur during the dying process, especially when it is a prolonged affair. However, I would like a really quick death, like a heart attack, like my friend, Dick Osborn, who had a heart attack while on vacation in Hawaii. Since we can’t program such ends, I do have to look at long hospital stays, with all the financial miseries that could entail.
A book that has been very helpful has been “Talking about Death Won’t Kill You”, which, after reading I bought another copy to send to my children, who will have to make those decisions that most of us don’t want to make. I’m assuming my wife will be totally useless during this time, as she refuses to talk about all this, my kids will have to cover for her. She may be getting the message as she now is beginning to realize our relationship someday may end, which switches on her Koala Bear mode to my Eucalyptus mode and wants to hug a lot more. I sometimes have to move her next to the refrigerator in order to scrape her off on the door handle so I can do my kitchen chores.
Although I’ve written out a “Do Not Resusicate” form, it seems even with that, you could be kept alive for long periods. And I never knew what putting you on a ventilator meant, which I now understand that they have to cut your throat and stick it in your windpipe, which means that you have lost the power to speak forever. Or , as most doctors aren’t trained to deal with patients dying, they may keep you alive even as the poor patient is really wanting to die as they know their time is up. And maybe dying at home with your family would be really neat, well, better than a hospital.
How about when our work is done here and our old body is in bad shape, instead of dragging it out, we go into the “End Room” as in the great movie “Soylent Green”. You are given a great drug that will let you ease into the unconscious and finally death. However, we needn’t go so far as to recycle the body into a green potato chip like food in order to keep the rest of the living alive.
Is there some significance that one of the only galleries that sells & displays artistic funery urns is located in my building here in Graton? Funeria, has gained an international following in the short time it has been extant. I have taken advantage of this and procured my art urn so that Joy can have my ashes on the shelf, displayed as a significant piece of art.