[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]
(Preamble: What does one do when one day away from one’s 70th birthday and having been living for 20 years in what I call sudden death overtime? I don’t know about other people, but for me thinking about dying seems a logical and proper mind exercise. After all, the closer one is to departure, the more likely one is to think about it. About what will be required at the gate, and about the destination, of course. Who goes on a trip and doesn’t know, or care, about their destination? So, let’s do some thinking about dying.)
Yeah, I’ve thought about dying. In fact, I’ve thought about dying lots of times. Before I began to think about dying in English, I used to think about dying in French. Somewhere in between, when I worked with Central American refugees from the White House’s Assassin–in-Chief Ronald Reagan whose CIA contras specialized in capturing, torturing and murdering unarmed Guatemalan native campesinos, I learned a bit of useful Spanish, and then I thought about dying in Spanish. I learned to sing Guantanamera in Spanish and sang it as close as I could to the original as sung by The Sandpipers, ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm1anurhbeg ) then I learned the English translation. “My words are like a wounded fawn seeking refuge in the forest… Before I die I want to share these words of my soul…”
When I was little I thought about dying because I was afraid of it. I knew, even then, that I was born to die. I remembered a previous life in which I had died painfully and violently; when I had spent a lot of time in a cold, dank prison, thinking about dying; about how nice it would be to just go to sleep finally one night and never wake up. When you are being tortured, you think about dying. Dying is a gift the gods are very reticent to grant you because, I suppose, the gods invented suffering and death and they feel cheated if you arrive at the one without fully experiencing the other. They get off on man’s pain and suffering, you see.
I still think about death a lot. I think of it as the bottomless, endless topic. But I no longer think of death as an escape from reality. I’m experienced now, and I remember that death was never an escape. I learned that whatever I was; whatever I’d become; passed with me through those black doors. Whatever I was, that was inescapable reality.
I cannot escape what I am. So when I think about dying now, I have to remember this simple lesson and prepare myself for death accordingly. It’s no different than planning a very, very serious trip. It could even be a journey if I beat the odds this time around and I don’t find myself right back here with only a few months, or years of interim fogginess of mind. Death is funny that way; it likes you to go through its doors over and over. Death has a magnificent set of ebony black matte revolving doors and he’s unduly proud of them. The more times people pass through them the shinier they get.
How did Death design his doors? I’ll try to make a long story short. Think of all the doors of the world designed to keep something, or someone, from escaping. Think prison doors, and how inventive, clever and imaginative man has been in designing prison doors to create a sense of utter hopelessness behind those doors. Take every design of every prison door and put that into one set of massive doors. Pretty impressive. It’s psychological. You’re supposed to think; to believe; that when you cross that threshold you’ll never get out again. So you lose your mind; you go into a coma; you remember nothing when your time’s up and you are set “free” for another round at the wheel. They wipe your memory so you won’t remember. The reason is simple: they want you to die all over again as if it was the very first and only time.
They want you to live in an inescapable fear of death. Those who fear death are easily manipulated into unthinkable antisocial acts against anyone they believe can rob them of life. Fear of death is a belief in serious limitation: one life, then nothing. Or for a dwindling number, one life then a judgment by a god of terror. Some choice. I remember that god of terror. He was even more frightening than Death because he held those eternal chains that would keep you in a burning hell forever. I remember doing the math on my chances at an eternity in heaven instead of hell: the odds weren’t good. And I remember thinking also, how can I be sure that an eternity in heaven with a psychopathic god will be better than one in hell? I thought, it probably compares to voting Republican or Democrat. Liberal or Conservative. The lesser of evils is still evil.
Then I grew up some. I learned some tricks on how to access deep memory; the part they can’t wipe out before they send you back. The data wasn’t great and lots of it is corrupted, but there was enough to reconstruct some memories; to remember. From delving into those remains of past lives I reconstructed some of them and learned Death’s great secret; that it isn’t an end, nor is it a passage into a predetermined eternity of bliss or the most terrible of eternal pain. It was a revolving door and if I came to that door again I could hold some seriously powerful bargaining chips with which I could bargain for my freedom – if I did the work that is.
So I’ve been thinking about death a whole lot more since the day I exposed its secret. When I think about death now, I do it while looking at this world. I think of all the death that accompanies what passes for life here and the termination of a body allowing me to push through those revolving doors in self-empowered mode isn’t an issue anymore. The way I look at it now is, I’m living a free life in sudden death overtime.
Here’s how John Donne put it:
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.