Saturday, January 25, 2014

Death... Why Complicate it?

Death… Why Do We Fear and Complicate it?

What is it about Death, Dying, and the Dead that we insist on making so complicated?

Why do humans insist on getting scared, fearful, irrational, or shocked when the topic of death is at hand?

Why do we have such a hard time grasping, understanding, and accepting death?

Why is Death A topic To write about today? Well, it is always a topic, daily… But recently I have been seeking more answers. Nope, not because I have recently encountered more death. But rather, because I have recently moved to a new neighborhood. Yeah, yeah, I know that will throw ya! You wonder how a new neighborhood could be more about death? Well, it really is about that. My walk-to-work daily now passes many things which bring this topic to the surface. The very first thing I saw the day I moved here is this:

This is a “memorial” that has been created on a street-corner. I absolutely hate these. (I will explain later).
The next thing I noticed was this:

It is a cemetery I walk past daily. (I will go into more detail about how I feel about these later).

But the reason I stopped to write about death today is because of a walk I took last night. (I will tell about that later, too ).

It is no secret that I accept, embrace, and even love the topic of death. (Note, I said “the topic of”… I will explain how that is different from loving death a little later) I do not get freaked-out, shocked, or even question death one-bit. Some would go so far as to say I am insensitive, unfeeling, and not caring about others’ lives. Some would say I am morbid, even a freak. It is easy for them to say these things, because they want to quickly dismiss my views without attempting to understand, or grasp what I know. If they have lived, and experienced what I have, they also would likely embrace my way of accepting death. They say ignorance is bliss… I disagree. I say information, knowledge, experience, and understanding are bliss. As a good example, I can compare how death affects most people, verses how it affects me. I am not the one who does irrational things when death is near. I am always balanced, accepting, and understanding. Those who do not have knowledge, understanding, and information are the ones who are in shock, disbelief, and have a hard time functioning.  

Now, Let me make it clear: I am never happy about a death, Never. Also, some think death does not sadden me just because I am not seemingly sad on the surface: My level of sadness when a living being dies is much deeper than just an outward- appearance for others to simply see on the surface. To understand and grasp the sadness I feel, one would have to tune-into my soul, my spirit, my energy, my every-cell. The way I am tuned –into feelings, energy, spirits, and souls, unless you look into the same areas, you will never understand what I feel every time a life ends.

Just because I love the topic of death, does not mean I love death. There is a huge difference.  The topic of death means learning, understanding, grasping, accepting, and being at peace with it. Because death is something that happens all around us, all our lives, and to every living being upon this earth, I choose to learn about it, instead of choosing to hide from it.

What I do not understand is why so many people seem to be shocked when death happens. I also do not grasp why so many pretend this is something they know nothing about. Why do so many think one kind of death is more of a loss than another kind? Why do some think it is so much worse if it is a child, compared to an adult? Why do people think a death occurred “too soon”, or “unexpectedly”? Why do some people think someone “left us too soon”, or that an age, any age is “Too early”?  There is no such thing as “dying too early”. It is not possible. A death can only happen when it is meant to happen. It cannot happen too early, or too late. No matter the age, when a death is supposed to happen, it will. Never a moment too soon, never a moment too late. A death is never “unexpected”. We learn from the moment we are created that this world is not ours, not our time, not our decision as to what happens, and when. We learn early in life that things happen when they are supposed to. If we choose to say it was “unexpected” that is only because we seemed to think we somehow had control over our universe. We do not. We must expect death, since it will happen to all life. This is something most choose to not admit, and why they are shocked when it happens. Every Life ends. It is not unexpected, unless we choose to not accept the truth.

Why do the news-agencies focus and highlight one type of death over another? (Such as a story that features the headline “Nine-people died, and One Child was lost”, or worse, they divide our humanity, based on country of origin: such as “In this horrible event, twenty people died, Five of them were ‘Americans’”. Or they even divide further to say what someone’s “ability” or “disability” was, such as: “In this event, Six people died, One was Deaf” (Or “in a wheelchair”, or had “Chrones disease”, or “had cancer”) Chooses any topic, and they seem to think they should label that person according to some special category. This is absolutely ridiculous! EVERY LIFE IS EQUAL. EVERY DEATH of ANY LIVING being is Equal. It is NOT a GREATER LOSS because someone was (Fill in the blank). We are all the same in the sense of life. Once it has ended, it is not a greater loss, or somehow more tragic. Stop dividing us. We Are ALL HUMAN. No age, no gender, no religion, no sexual-orientation, and no nationality is more important than another. Death does not change that.

The same is true, if not more-extreme, for actors, actresses, or famous people. Why is it when someone famous dies, so many people really freak out over it? Most of the time, those who are most-affected have never met that person.

EVERY DEATH IS THE SAME: It is a Life that has ended. It is Not a Greater loss, or somehow more important.  One of my biggest complaints about our world is the way people attempt to divide, instead of attempting to unite, and be as one world.

So, you might wonder what makes me such an expert on death? Ha! Hardly an expert. I just choose to learn from every experience in life. I choose to understand what life is all about. I choose to learn, and know what I have control over, and what I do not. From the moment each of our own lives was created, we are headed toward death. What we choose to do between creation and death is our own choice. Some choose to never learn, never grasp, and always be shocked by things that are common occurrences. I choose to find a way to be at peace with my world. I have been accused of noticing more details than most do. That could be by my own choosing, or it could be that I was gifted with an ability that enables me to focus on those things. One of the most important things I choose in life is to learn. I choose to learn from every moment, every experience, every feeling, every encounter. I choose to understand the things that were once a mystery. There is not enough time in a life to grasp everything we do not understand, so we must choose the ones we feel are most important to us. Why have I chosen to study, embrace, and understand death? Because of how it affects us if we do not. I can choose to not study how an engine of a car works, and continue to be baffled by it. Not understanding an engine will not send me into a tail-spin if suddenly it stops performing. Likewise, that is why death is something I have chosen to focus on. Not understanding why a life ended can have a major affect on my own life. We each must choose what areas of life we want to grasp. Most never want to grasp death, that is why it affects them so horribly.

For me, not learning about Death was not an option. I am not sure if it would be considered a blessing, or a curse to have experienced death often early in my life.  But I did. I had many deaths around me from the moment my own life began. Many do not believe a human understands what is happening around them from the moment they are born. You are welcome to believe anything you choose. I have always felt, seen, and grasped more than most think is possible. I was told as a child that I blew people’s minds by what I noticed, felt, and understood.

We ALL are surrounded by death from the moment we are created. How much we choose to notice, or are tuned-into is what varies from each of us. Sure, some are people we never knew. Some are close, and some just happen to be somewhere near our own little world. IF you wish, you can google lists of those who have died in your own lives. For me, the list is quite long. I Do not recall at exactly what age I was conscious of what exactly death was, but I know I learned and began to undertand it from the moment I was created.  I know that from the age of three, I DID ask why people were so weird about it. My parents were a bit surprised that I grasped what death was, and asked how I knew about it. I explained how many people had died that we knew, or knew of. They asked lots of questions about what I understood. I seemed to think it was weird that I knew about more deaths in our city than they did. I told them how I felt the deaths.

By the time I was five, I freely told people why I hated wars, and why I would never join the military. I do not like the idea of looking for conflict, and looking for reasons to kill others. I understood early how people joined militaries because they enjoyed conflict, and wanted a reason to kill others. Then they would pretend to be shocked and upset that they actually killed others. I never bought their excuses, and never pretended to either. I told them how they went looking for conflict, and they found it. I would tell them that no military exsits to create peace, and the only reason militaries exist is for war. People who join any military are doing it for conflict, killing, and to be more powerful than others. Death is part of military life, and when those who freely join seem shocked that they killed others, to me this is not a good excuse to pretend to be shocked. Yes, I totally understood the difference between those forced to join, and those who voluntarily joined. But even, so, Nobody joins any military with the impression it is for peace, or could claim to be shocked they had to kill someone.  

By the age of nine when Elvis died, I was not at all shocked. Yes, I knew who this famous person was, and listened often to his songs. I knew plenty about death by then. There were plenty of deaths in my life prior to that, and I remember asking why people were acting so strange about his death. So many told me “because he was famous”. Well, to that, I asked, “Isn’t Every Life Equal?”

I have learned that people do really weird things when a death happens. People do not understand how a soul, a spirit works. This, too, baffles me. Because I have always been tuned-in to what a living-being is, I had thought everyone understood this. But in life, I also have learned that the things that baffle me, also baffle others in different way. For each thing each of us understands, there is something we do not. 

Death, souls, spirits, and life are some of the things many do not, and never will understand. I do. No, I am not boasting, or saying I am better than anyone in any way. I am simply aware of what I grasp. This is one area of life I was gifted with that others were not. Each living being is gifted in different areas. That is what makes each of us all the more important in others’ lives. We must all join together to help each other learn, understand, and survive. My areas of strength are often the same areas that isolate me from others. So many people do not understand my strengths, and it scares them away. So many see my reaction (or more importantly- lack of reaction)- when a death occurs, and it makes them push me away, instead of them coming closer to learn more about how they could better understand what death is.

How does any of this have anything to do with my recent walks? Well, last night, I got an answer to one of my own ponderables that has perplexed me for the whole time I have lived in Vegas. Last night I decided to go for a walk through Sunset Park. From the very first time I visited Sunset Park three years ago, I have gotten an odd-feeling about it. Much like so many places in Vegas that are called “nature” it is hardly something I feel fits “nature”. Nature, to me is not sports-parks, bright lights, concrete, and man-made. To me, nature is a place where the earth is free, not built by man, and the vegetation, animals, and spirits are free to be as they would without man-forcing their own upon it. Sunset Park, to me from the moment I entered it should be Called “Sunset Memorial Park”.  I heard all about how this park had a lake, had lots of nature, and was a great place to escape. The very first thing I noticed when I got there was a feeling I could not place. It was a kind of eerie-un-resolved spiritual conflict. To me, it felt much like a mausoleum, modern cemetery, or one of those road-side memorials.

I have visited Sunset Park many times, and each time, it has the same feeling of spiritual imprisonment, and conflict. Until last night, I could not place why it felt that way. Last night, it hit me. What I noticed last night, was not what I could see, but rather what I could not see. The entire park recently had a complete renovation. What I noticed last night was the lack of what I thought so odd the first time I visited. Three years ago, Every tree in the park had a memorial plaque at its base. Now that the renovation has been completed, many of the plaques have been removed. (Whether removed just by accident as machinery re-shaped the ground, or by choice I will never know.) I also noticed many of the older trees had been removed, and many new ones were added. The new lighting, the concrete paths, and the way the park is now made, is a complete conflict, and has absolutely nothing resembling nature. It screams of man-made, removing all that is natural and free, and purposely placing what this culture wants to call “nature”.

This brings me to why Death is a topic today. I recently noticed how our culture has changed. It used-to be that when someone died, they were buried in the earth, and the cycle of life continued. 

As death occurred, humans used to place the body in the Earth so it could give back, and add the nutrients it once received. Cemeteries used to be places where you could feel the energy of positive release of the spirit. Even before cemeteries, once a body was placed into the Earth, it was allowed to be absorbed, and become free. Often a burial took place in a spot the life had thrived. This was the cycle of life. Even those who were cremated, gave back to the Earth. When their body was burned, all that was solid became the air we breathe. Their ashes were spread, often in a place that person had loved, lived, and thrived.  Farmers often would bury their dead in their own fields, knowing that it would bring greater harvest the following year, and years to come. You can even go back further, and look at how our Natives used to do burials. They understood how the cycle was supposed to go. Death Gives life.

My friend Andrea recently visited upstate New York, and posted pictures of really old cemeteries. In her pictures, you could feel a freedom, a peace. Here is one of those from Her:
Yup, I stole this photo from Andrea! (She knows) :)
 It feels like a place where the bodies were freed, where they are not sealed forever. A place that is not sterile, but healthy, full of energy, and has free spirits.

When did our world begin to treat a body as if it was somehow something bad, something that should be sealed up, never to again rejoin the Earth, never to become nutrients, and give life? It was her photos that made me realize what was wrong in today’s deaths. Now when a body dies, it is sealed into box, and placed in a vault. Some are buried in the earth, and some are sealed into a concrete structure above ground. 

No matter where it is placed, it is placed in a way that it will never be free. It is placed in a prison, forever. I do understand why Cemeteries became common. We as humans have a need to group, categorize things. We as a whole feel we must have a place where we can call a “final resting place”. We also are lazy. Most people would not go to the effort to dig a hole to properly bury a body. The lack of proper-burial caused problems, and laws were created making it illegal to bury a body in the Earth. Some say that decaying bodies pollute the water and other places. The Earth is amazing in how it takes care of itself. The ground is a natural filter. The body is absolutley not toxic when reunited with the Earth in the right way. When a body is placed in the ground, it is reclaimed by the earth in a natural way. It only becomes a problem when it is encased in a box that suddenly allows all the decay to become free, and only then is it toxic. The old cemeteries are wonderful, because they still allowed the body to decay. You can feel the free-spirits, and rejuvenated life created from death in those places.

Now when a body dies, it is immediately sealed up, and forever held captive, never allowing it to be free, never allowing it to give back to the Earth it got life from. Each life we seal-up, and forbid to give back, depletes our Earth from all the nutrients it needs. Then, when the “catastrophe” happens (such as a flood, earthquake, or other event) which causes those sealed remains to open-up, we have sudden pollution, sudden toxic events, and sudden spiritual releases. These cause conflicts, which could have been causing peace many years prior.

Now, when people die, people flock to where the death occurred.  People go and make memorials in the place the death occurred, seeming to want to hold onto the death, instead of finding a positive way. Now people want to forever remain in this moment. People, Let the spirit go free, do not cage it. Allow peace to happen, not create conflict. Celebrate the life that had been. Treasure the love that was shared.  Why on Earth would you want to focus on the death, instead of where the person thrived, where life, love, and freedom occurred. These memorials created where a person dies is a cruel, selfish act.  It is saying to the dead, “I do not want to allow your spirit to be free. I want your spirit to forever be trapped in this moment that took your life.” When a life ends, we have a responsibility to embrace the life, not hold onto the death. 

Their death means they have done all they were supposed to do on the living side of this place we call Earth. Allow them to move-on, and continue as they need to in their spiritual journey. Caging a spirit will not bring peace. Seek peace, focusing on peace, embracing peace, you will have peace. Seek conflict, seek to hold onto death, and seek to embrace that place of death, you will always have conflict.

Now, back to why my walk through the park brought me to writing this today:

I have always felt that instead of these horrible memorials placed where a person died, you should do something positive to show that person you learned from their life, their love, all they gave. Do something in a place that will spread joy, free their spirit, and allow others to feel their love. One way I have always felt was very appropriate, was to plant a tree in their honor. Or you could do something as simple as take a picture of something they loved, and display it where others can see, feel, and enjoy it.

Well, here in Vegas, it is a common belief that people can do whatever they want. People believe here they can create their own reality. Vegas was created originally because people felt they could do as they pleased here, they felt there was no God here, and they could make things how they wanted. How people perceive “nature” here is a common example of this. Here, people have come to a desert, a place where “nature” is quite a different creature. But, they want to create their own version of nature, play God, so to speak.  To Vegas, nature means concrete, lots of harsh lighting, and water where no water would normally exist. To Vegas, nature is not what is natural, but what they can build and call their nature. Sunset Park is a prime example of this. Nothing you see in Sunset Park is natural here. It is all man-made, man-sustained, and as unnatural as could be. But this is what makes Vegas happy.

The first time I visited this park, I noticed all the memorial plaques at the bases of the trees. Last night, I noticed most of them were gone. I actually had to search to find any. I found a few. Some were buried and I had to dig them out to be seen. This one sums it all up quite well:

“Born of the wilderness, Free as the wind” … Harldy.

Last night I realized why this park always felt so much like a spiritual battle-field. Because it is. So, Yes, the people of Vegas did attempt to create a memorial using trees, and attempt to create a positive place to make the memorials, but they failed by forcing man-made creations and forcing “nature” where it would not normally be. For a spirit to be free, it must be how it would naturally. That is how sprits work. We cannot control them, nor create a place where we think they should exist. The creation of this park, plus the way it was recently renovated to make it what man wants, instead of embracing what nature provided, only created more conflict. What happened to the rest of the memorials that disappeared during the renovation? Simple: they were in the way of what man wanted, so they were removed.  Again, this falls into the category of why this park feels like a spiritual conflict. Because the humans were lazy, needed a place to group all their memorials together, and create nature in what they wanted it to be. None of these memorials was placed someplace a person had loved life, had found his/ her spiritual path, had taught others to be as free as the wind.  A memorial placed in a forced location, will always cause spiritual conflict.

Once I unearthed the above memorial, then looked around at how this park is made, it all made sense. This is what our world has come to. Today, people want something that is only what they create, not what The Creator has provided for them. Today, people do not want to embrace death, but want to create their own expectation of what that person’s life was supposed to be. When people say a person died too soon, they are being greedy, and had somehow convinced themselves they knew better how the Universe operates than The Creator. All the memorials that so harshly disrupt our land, at the place where a death occurred are creating spiritual conflicts. When did people decide they know more about life than our Creator? Why won’t people welcome and embrace all that is free for them to enjoy? Why do people not want peace?

This is how the park feels:
So much conflict, not natural...

I will never claim to be an expert about life and death. But If I have found peace, understanding, and acceptance of Death, don’t you think I might possibly have a grasp… even if only a tiny grasp? I learned early in life to find people who understood things better than you did, and pick their minds, their heart, and grow from their understanding.  I certainly do not yet grasp all there is to know about life and death… that is why I am still alive. None of us can grasp it all while we are on this Earth… on the living side of life.

I do know what causes conflict, what causes peace, and seek to learn more every day. How about you?  

Oh, and speaking of cemeteries: Why do people think they are morbid? Why do people feel death is scary? It is part of life. It is the cycle of life. 

I remember when I was 13, my Mom got a new apartment. I chose to go live with her.  I took the trash to the dumpster, one night at sunset. As I approached the dumpster, I noticed an old trail overgrown with ivy, and brush leading thru the dark forest. I set the trashcan by the dumpster and followed the trail, not bothering to tell Mom I was wandering off. Deep in that little forest, I discovered a pioneer cemetery. Yup, it was dark. But it was so peaceful, beautiful and filled with wonderful spirits. I felt the lettering on the moss-covered tombstones, and embraced how wonderful it was. It did not take long for Mom to realize I had not returned. She went to the dumptster and saw I had not even emptied the trashcan, but left it there. Of course she did not worry. Instead she asked herself what I discovered to do instead. She went back, got a flashlight, and looked around. She found the overgrown trail, and knew I had gone that way. She followed it, and came to the same place I was. She was not worried. She was happy. She knew me well enought to know I was safe, and found something wonderful to discover. That cemetery was so peaceful, and wonderful. it was like our own littel secret escape. We visited it often for years after that day. 

Care to take a walk through a cemetery with Me? You might just find peace :)