I have only been taught one thing: curses.
“The world is a hostile place.
Drive the car like everyone else is a maniac.
Keep a key between your fingers when you walk home in the dark.”
But what about the daylight?
The white sky still burns as it distributes into nightfall. Those that are nestled at home begin to light their seasoned candles. Streetlights illuminate themselves.
As I traverse through it, I can tell from the world’s bearing that it will rain soon. Something in the wind.
I am prepared. I am always prepared.
Peace is a beggar’s bargain when you’re your only known source of it. Though even then I often struggle to find it in myself.
What does it really look like, anyway?
I find myself panhandling for morsels of it in the faces of passing men.
“Touch me, touch me, touch me.
Say a sweet word.
Tell me they were wrong.
Tell me that I’m safe to be me.”
Take the man at the street corner with the orange bouquet…
He smiles at the air, awaiting the moment when he can spark a happiness. I instantly like him. You can sense he is not bloodless.
Someone will be receiving that.
I am so tired of having to ask to be loved.
It’s supposed to rain but the clouds just hang and linger.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Waiting for what? Why don’t they cast down their power? Why don’t they demonstrate who they really are?
Who they really love?
In between bated breaths, yellow trees rest softly against dimming gray skies. I carry my enormous umbrella, swinging it proudly as it strengthens my strides.
I feel I must be a weary warrior. Here I am, bearing my sword. My muscles swell with power.
I have fought a great battle.
An arduous quest for the ones with the hands that can soften the stone and bring me bubbling and effervescent.
Can’t someone spot the eye of the tornado?
Put a needle through it. Tell me, “This is the center, this is the center. All the rest is noise. And I will stand here with you as the chaos moves around us.”
I’m tired of cooing with sugar, a walking birdsong, who sways her plumage hips.
I want to be a force of nature and still be loved for that.
Perhaps flowers only go to the women that are more demure. Less commanding. Less protective. Eager and open. Not seeking the storm.
They get all the love notes…
All the rings…
Me? I’ll have to marry myself first.
Oh, isn’t there another way? Can’t I live and breathe without this? Are my only options really to be soldier, madonna, whore?
These thoughts drag me down like raindrops. I feel like a wounded animal left out in the cold. Cagey and untrusting. I am the beast in need of beauty.
I see a blackbird fly through the sky. It catches me. It does not roam in a straight line. It twists and turns, trying out new directions. No one there to scare it from experimenting.
I return home, my feet longing to be free of their shackles. And on my way through the door, as the sky picked up a lavender lacquer and the wind began to bustle, I couldn’t help but wonder if that had something to do with me.
The next day when I go out, I see a bird, a blackbird, dead with its arms spread wide, embracing a bag of trash.
Again, I can’t help but wonder…
I am my usual armored self out in a mutant world when suddenly, out of sky’s blue, an old man passes me by.
He smiles at me innocently, nodding his small bird’s head.
As if he’s seeing a familiar friend.
I mimic the gesture and as we pass in distance, I feel myself…
Melting, melting, melting.
Hot tears stream down my cheeks.
A monologue permeates through my head:
"Can’t it always be this simple?
Every tear from heaven’s eye.
No matter what.
No matter who.
Your defenses are made up.
You need not a thing.
Be here, be here, be here.
Curses can be broken."
How To Make Death a Happy Thing
Almost three years ago, my grandmother was given a dire prognosis: two weeks left to live. I anticipated the process of her dying to be just as all deaths in my life had ever been: horrible, depressing, but most of all, tragic. I went on this way, ceaselessly grieving, until I received a truly radical proposition: what if I celebrated her dying?
This notion seemed utterly perposterous to me at the time, but I was eager to be taken out of my pain and willing to try on what seemed to be a revolutionary perspective. The effort became revelatory. Never have I been taught a greater lesson.
If you are in a similar place of wanting to be freed of pain, I have laid out the steps that got me to finally believing that death was, in fact, a happy thing. If you try these things on the same way I did, I guarantee you will feel the same swath of peace and joy that I did. The benefits will long outlive you.
1. Let all of the initial grief out.
Our bodies seek to protect us from the unexpected, the unknown, the loss of something we held that seemed stable. Your body will likely react. Let it.
2. Make peace with the past and how life has been thus far.
You already know this: you cannot change the past. You do not have that kind of power. The one power you do have is how you interpret your life. If looking back on the past brings you pain, how can you reframe it so that you feel empowered right now?
3. Start getting excited about the departing’s big adventure.
It is entirely possible for you to see death in a playful way. It is but one more reframe. Do you know what happens when you die? Most people who do know don’t live to tell the tale. The mystery can be exciting if you choose to make it so.
4. Take the time to celebrate the life they’ve had but find ways to celebrate the next one.
Maybe you could interview your loved one. Or interview the people who know them. Where can you find the beauty you may have missed in the grand poetry of their life? And what of the poetry that could come next? Science teaches us that energy cannot be created or destroyed, so technically, your loved one, who is made up entirely of energy, isn’t going anywhere. You just won’t recognize them anymore. The new space they occupy could be just as extraordinary.
5. After they go, think about what beautiful lessons they have imparted unto you that you can use in your own life now.
It helped me to think of my loved one as an archetype. I wrote down everything they taught me and combined it into an essence, a character, that I could embody whenever I wanted the strength of their wisdom. How can you do that with your own loved one?
6. Find symbols around you that will connect you to the deceased forever.
My loved one told me that when they died I could find them in the butterflies. Your loved one may not have offered you this, but if you followed Step 5, it may be easier for you to conceive of the places, creatures, or things that leave you feeling as if you are in the presence of the one you love. These things can become your talismans, your touchstones, and help you to know that your connection was never broken by the circumstance of death. Every time I see a butterfly now, I feel utterly supported. What can you create that’s like that for you?
7. Live your life in the present, with the underlying awareness that you too will die.
Be okay with this! This fact need not punctuate your life. It is just a gentle reminder. The more you understand that you too will fertilize the soil and be part of creating new life in the world, the more you can foster peace and confidence around all other fear of “death” scenarios (deaths to your reputation, deaths to your identity, deaths to friendships and romantic relationships to come). Loving the beauty of your own death can make you unstoppable.
8. Celebrate the world of life and the world of death at all times.
Nature, when you pay attention to it, is simply a grand display of transformations. Life into new life. Death to forms, yes, but neverending reconfigurations to all life-force. That is what all of nature is made up of. Cycles, rebirths, transformations. Seeing death in this same way helps you see that your own life is nothing but a series of births and rebirths, deaths to all that is inauthentic, bringing you closer and closer to your truest, most real essence.
I truly hope that this has helped bring you peace. If you’d like to hear the detailed version of my journey in this process, below is a link to a video from my Youtube channel all about the fear of death and how I personally overcame it:
“Fear is a spell.”
That’s what she told me the moment before the door got pulled by her leaking frustration. I knew she meant it to be something that would stick to my teeth for a while. Something to chew on.
Here I am with the cud firmly scoured and torn in my mouth.
I’m a witch.
So be it.
I am sitting by the kitchen window, watching the butterscotch sun pour over my coffee like honeyed milk. I want to drink it in and feel light. But how can I, when I know that everything is wrong?
I didn’t bother to pass the mirror this morning. I was so full of my wanting for her that I knew if I saw myself, all I’d hear was, “How can you have hope in a world such as this?”
I can’t bear one more thought.
She had come over like she always did. A burst of affection and life-fire. She must’ve gotten something out of being with me, otherwise why would she keep coming back?
I always thought we were a balance to each other. Yin and yang. Now I’m not so sure.
I may be overwhelming.
Just hours ago, we were sprawled out on my bed. We were ready for a feast. Her creamy hands eagerly twisting at my dark silk sheets in anticipation.
Some blackness was dancing in my eyes. It often was, but this time I couldn’t keep it hidden from her scorching, searchlight eyes. She spotted me. And I was left the clueless criminal.
She placed a finger solidly on my temple and began to rub me there.
“There’s no doom here, my love.” She sighed my sighs. “Only possibility.”
She knew it was the one that would ring the church bells in my ears.
The great spell-killer.
“Just come right here, lay with me right here and you will feel the magic of which I speak.”
An ancient trick to snap me back to where everything was perfect: the moment.
My shining star and all her wishes. She knew I couldn’t really do that.
She was always talking about creating. The latest painting, the newest friend, the growing excitement. I was stuffed on my envy of her joy. Yet she never belittled me for the lack of mine. She just smiled at me in a funny sort of way. Bemused. She gave herself to me all the same.
But that blackness…no. This time would be different.
There was something she wanted me to get. Something this whole time that I was utterly blind to.
She knew I was afraid she was beginning to doubt me.
See, I was always talking about destroying. The latest government scheme, the crumbled social calls, the growing anxiety.
I thought she understood, but suppose she didn’t? How could she, when she was so different?
When the shadow over us didn’t pass, no matter how many times I softly pleaded at her chest, she chose to remove herself from my manipulations. She said it wasn’t because she didn’t love me. It was because “some of the best transformations come when we look at our desire for separation.”
Did I want to be separated? No. Not from her. Not from the whole world. Yet here I am, away from them all, knowing that were it not for the sorcery upon my mind that I then imprinted upon the world, well….we’d all be a lot happier.
“I am my own undoing.”
The most destabilizing thought.
She wanted it to motivate me:
“You are also your only hope.”
Fine. Fine, sweet angel. Then why do you want to save me?
The sun ever so lightly
on the edge of twilight’s sky,
just like the promise in my ear,
the beating of the lie.
If you toil, work sufficiently,
at last therein your dreams,
but nearly not so lovely
as the land upon the seams.
Brick buildings of the deepest red
like autumn's dark ravines
will fortress you in parallel
with glassy-blue moonbeams.
The colors ache
my blackened heart
and ravage all the scene,
and there in night time’s distant sigh,
a star cries for me.
The silver nightshades blossom
in the streetlamp's bright abyss,
and I plunge further into
my sole dream’s loneliness.
This was all so beautiful. Oh, don't be sad...I'll see you in the next dream.
The heart quakes eternally in the realm of shame and fear: "I am not enough."
Roses are red,
oh the blood is too,
and my hungry love
will outlive you.
BEGONE (Death Has Two Voices If You Listen) - REPOST
When you see me coming, open. I am a warning that you have been called. You must play this part. I am firm. There is no return to what has been.
This is the beginning of what you have never dared imagine. The patterns through which you are working are leading to your end. I will be more and more ominous to you now. I will strike fear into your heart — for I am kind and you cannot understand it.
Listen and let me make this a comfort for you: You will continue to be a part of this. You always have been. You’ve forgotten that it was supposed to feel like a dream. A string of moments bound together in what some might call poetry. And now I am shaking you from the bed. There’s nothing to be afraid of. This is the design.
All I ask is that you transform. Make everything anew. If you surrender to me, I assure you, the process will be glorious. You will only feel pain if you believe in it. Do not try to hide. Do not resist the form that awaits you. For I will come again.
My arrival could draw out your delight. If only you would understand. Remember that you wouldn’t exist if atoms hadn’t exploded and died for you.
Trust in me. You will see this world again. And so will your friends.
Look at this: Maybe next time you’re a bee that feeds off of their flower. Or a fish that swims in their pond. Even if you’re an oak tree in America and they’re a cherry blossom in Japan, you’ll still be breathing the same air on the same planet which is here because of love.
Darkness blankets around me
like the comfort of a friend.
I know it bears no ill will.
Just a reminder that I may want to get quiet,
and be here in this.
And in due time, see
that darkness indeed glows
like a kind
A vessel to remind all of their divinity, of loving their humanity, and freeing themselves to express as they please.