Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pensando en morir-Thinking about Dying

Acrylic on canvas, 7.5 by 10 inches.

Soon this space will be too small
And I'll go outside
To the huge hillside
Where the wild wind blows
And the cold stars shine

Soon this space will be too small
And I'll laugh so hard
That the walls cave in
And I'll die three times
And be born again
In a little box with a golden key
And a flying fish will set me free

Soon this space will be too small
All my veins and bones
Will be burned to dust
You can throw me into a black iron pot
And my dust will tell
What my flesh would not...

excerpts from Lhasa's song “Soon this space will be too small,” on the album “The Living Road.” Friends will recognize the laughing hard part ;)-

Thoughts about dying came as I was rolled into the operating room and was being prepared for my breast cancer surgeries. I thought, soon I’ll be under anesthesia and I’ll “fall” out of my consciousness, and then as suddenly as with a snap of the fingers, I’ll be in it again. Whether the surgery lasts for four hours or ten, it doesn’t make any difference. It is truly “lost” time, where the “I” doesn’t exist. I got to thinking that’s what may happen when I’ll die: I'll fall out of my consciousness, abruptly, but I won't fall back into it., no more snap of the fingers, I'm back. I myself won’t suffer from being dead, “I” won’t even know. Those I leave behind will.

It’s that absolute fragility and unbearable abruptness of the moment of dying that makes life itself much more precious to me now. It makes my loved ones’ lives and my friends’ lives much more precious as it does the moments in which there is “real contact” with people I meet along the way of living. When in that meeting, they’re present in the moment and I’m present, something intensely beautiful can happen. Another thing I realized is that I now have a heightened respect for bones. Bones sum up all the precious fragility of that specific person. The bones contain it all.

I based this piece on Frida Kahlo’s painting, “Pensando en la muerte.” She puts the insertion on her forehead above her magnificent eyebrows. I wanted to put it near my heart. With every existentially important moment I got/get a physiological sensation that my heart “opens up.” I’m not talking about the psychological impact or about emotions, maybe rather the physiological fiber of that... So, it seems only right to put the insertion there. The heart marks the spot.

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