Monday, May 24, 2010

The Art of Dying

Last night I hit a deer. Actually, the deer hit me. I was travelling Northbound on Highway 11, coming home from Burlington to visit a friend. It was late at night and all I wanted to do was get home and crawl into bed.

I had fled there for some solace, to cry on a friend’s shoulder about the slow demise of a very difficult and painful relationship. My reverie was shattered when I noticed in my peripheral vision a large deer jump out of a side bank and there it was.

I tried to brake but it was moving at a terrific speed and smashed into my right side, taking out the fender and front headlight, pushing in both doors on the passenger side. I was driving under the speed limit, but that was no help in trying to avert disaster.

It seems indicative, that I am unable to change the trajectory my life path is taking. One thing that living alone forces you to do is reflect. I think about our human longing for fellowship. We crave companionship and dread the idea of being irrevocably alone, or dying alone.

In my job I have watched over and over the path that those are dying take. How it affects each individual and their families. For some it’s a letting go, and a relinquishing of their hopes and dreams, looking back on their lives as a celebration of what has been, others it is a terrible struggle, anguish, pain, even savagery.

I have started reading George Bowering and Jean Baird’s book The Heart Does Break . It is an anthology of grief and mourning, personal poignant accounts of loss. I have been mourning the loss of a relationship that was very important to me.

Like the author, I find that the way to make sense of something is to research it. I seek books, information, knowledge on loneliness and despair, to help me through this time of dying and mourning.

Today was a very difficult day...I spent a lot of it in tears and the only thing I could really accomplish was this drawing of a jack-in-the pulpit plant in one of my gardens.

These elegantly shaped plants are one of my personal favourites. The jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) plant is also called Indian Turnip. They are apparently pollinated by flies.

I have associated this plant with death, and the folklore surrounding them dates back to certain aboriginal tribes that used to chop the corm and mix it in with meat to be left for their enemies. It is the oxalate acid and asparagine in the jack-in-the-pulpit which make it poisonous.


Kerry said...

I am going through a similar experience to you: breakdown of a relationship, though I am not yet alone I am in a way more isolated. I have also tried the way of reading and evaluating but for me it didn't work. I do hope that for both of us in the long term things work out well. I send positive energy to you across cyber land. I am also so sorry to hear about the deer. I hit a stoat last year, despite attempts to avoid it, and I felt totally desolate.

Eleanor Thorel said...

Hi Kerry,
I am so sorry to hear you are going through troubles.

Thank you for your good vibes. I send positive energy (the best I can) your way as well.
Some things we just can't avoid some times. And I hope for the best for the two of us.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Sorry to hear of your troubles but I see that you are escaping through art, which is something I spend a lot of time doing.

Eleanor Thorel said...

Yes, it's good therapy!

TotalD said...

I don't know what the chemical process is for falling in love but I know that nature made it horrible and painful to lose someone you love. I suppose there was a survival reason for it to be so painful. Horrible if the person is not right for you or something in the relationship that is hurting one or the other . You don't stop loving people really, you just learn to suffer the pain of loss.Like energy it does not end, it just manifests another form.

I've learn to trust nature now and not to fight instincts and I realize now that while I am in a sense alone I never am. You for example have a son who will love you long beyond our demise Ellie. Who will carry your thoughts, your feelings and everything you gave him to his family and children. How beautiful that is.

Like the deer we never have an idea of our end or even the mark of our own hand in it. So we just move forward. My favorite quote is from American Beauty:

.......Lester Burnham: [has died and is narrating] ..........I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time... For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars... And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined my street... Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird... And Janie... And Janie... And... Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure ........ but don't worry... you will someday.

Eleanor Thorel said...

This is totally beautiful! Thank you, I get it.