I’ve been meaning to write a post about death for the last couple of days. It just seems that death is everywhere right now. October, is all about death. Which is a good thing to put attention to once in a while, you know? A little ODE to DEATH. A little hello, how are you. A little acknowledgement that- oh yeah, death exists. Everywhere, all the time. Just as life exists, death exists too. And in October in particular this year, it seems to be significantly present.
First and foremost is the way the leaves on all the trees are dying. This is the time when free-spirtited, sunny, hot summer transitions to cold, intense, icy winter. Here are a few recent photos of the trees and dying leaves around my neighborhood:
The amazing thing about this time of year is that even though everything seems to be dying, it’s incredibly beautiful. There’s a change taking place in the environment that is not only visible externally, but also felt internally. I know that this time of year can be hard for a lot of people. It certainly has been for me- a lot of questioning, inner turmoil and struggle taking place. And yet… it seems like it’s a good thing, despite the fact that in moments it can be very challenging. Even though it’s just the beginning of a long, SNOWY winter. BUT- and there is a but- there is always rebirth on the other side. All those leaves will bloom again, things will grow back fresh and new, and we will appreciate it all once more as if discovering it for the first time. And that’s what I appreciate about changing seasons- it’s an opportunity to get in touch with a cycle within our own selves that reflects the environment around us- a cycle of death, hibernation, rebirth, and growth.
Other things about death this month- well obviously Halloween. It’s like suddenly everyone is obsessed with the morbid. Part of Halloween is about dressing up in something completely out of the ordinary, while the other part is about celebrating the imminent death that lurks behind every corner. Our own little ZOMBIE world. As a tribute, I’ve found a lovely zombie animation from vimeo:
zombie! by animation block
And then, of course, we can’t ignore the recent death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Obviously, this is a huge victory for the people of Libya who for 42 years suffered under a man who “warped his country with his idiosyncratic vision of autocratic rule.” (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/20/gadhafi-was-a-brutal-unpredictable-leader-killed-b/ Washington Times). I am very happy for this new (and surely challenging) phase in Libya’s history post-Gadhafi. And yet- is any death a celebration? There’s nothing wrong with fictionalized zombie movies and the imagination of horror, but when the real thing is played over and over on the television screen, no matter how important it is for so many people, there is an element of disturbance that goes with it. What if Gadhafi had lived, and had to pay for his atrocities in another way? Would not that have perhaps been even better? In the same way that the death of Osama Bin Laden was celebrated this past May, there is something fundamentally wrong with celebrating any person’s death, no matter how atrocious they were. I can’t say what is right or wrong in this situation, and I don’t in any way want to undermine the importance to the Libyan people in this moment of rebirth from a very long and dark period in their history. But… I wish there was another way to heal wounds besides death in this situation- it just seems like a never ending cycle.
In the end, it all comes back to that cycle I described in the beginning of this post. A continuous cycle of death, hibernation, rebirth and growth. Internally, externally, and for people and communities all over the world. We can only hope for the best in every situation, and remember that death, in its essence, is meant to remind us of our own precious lives, and to be thankful for them. Perhaps the best death there is is the imagined death- the death that becomes a means of artistic exploration and acknowledges with a light heart that in the very end, despite everything, we’re all going to die.